Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

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"A tribute to Sarah Palin, set to the music of R Kelly."

Or this, from the Smashing Pumpkins' camp. (Press release on the new drummer follows the jump.)




BILLY CORGAN has announced that Mike Byrne has joined THE SMASHING PUMPKINS as their new drummer. The 19-year-old Portland, OR native will make his debut with the band on the Pumpkins' next album--about which a major announcement is expected in September--and tour. "I'm super excited to be playing with the band," says Byrne. "Dream come true, man."

Byrne--who's played in such indie Portland bands as Moses, Smell The Roses and the Mercury Tree--heard about the Pumpkins' open call for a new drummer on the Internet this past April and submitted his materials. Byrne was immediately called to attend an audition in Los Angeles, where Corgan liked what he heard--a lot. "We didn't actually play songs at the audition," says Byrne. "We just kind of jammed for about 15 minutes and then talked about Fugazi for the other 15 or so minutes."

Playing drums since he was 11--"I think if you're born a drummer, you know you're going to be a drummer for your entire life"--Byrne formed his first band at 15, Mercury Tree, which played some shows in Portland. His influences include post rock bands like Mogwai, Maserati, and Maps and Atlases as well as the Pumpkins. "It was a really good time in my life to hear the Pumpkins music when I was 13. It just connected with me and it was sort of a window into something really different and eclectic. The band was a little bit more willing to take risks than a lot of the stuff I had been listening to. That was exciting and fresh to me. And then delving into a lot of it just definitely resonated on a creative level with me." Byrne had the chance to see the Pumpkins two years ago when they performed on tour in the Portland area.

Asked about how he feels his young age plays into the new music the Pumpkins are creating, Byrne says: "I've always thought that Billy's interpretation of music was a real fresh one," adds Byrne, "and that because the band was so rooted in the idea of kind of being like a musical shape-shifter, I feel that honestly it would work just perfectly. It's not so much that I have some fresh point of view that he's not already investigating so much as every time they release something it's sort of a new direction and so working with him is easy in that we're not operating on any founded musical principals. We're starting from scratch and just working our influences up into something totally different."

Says Billy: "Through the open audition process, I was astounded by how many great drummers there were that wanted the chance to try out for The Pumpkins. We counted over 1,000 submissions, and what made Mike stand out was he just seemed to have that X-factor that all the great drummers have, a stunning blend of power, speed, and grace. I'm excited to work with him moving forward--he truly deserves this opportunity. I believe in my heart he will push me to be a better musician."

Byrne will join Billy at six solo Southern California small club dates August 26-31 with special guests Spirits in the Sky--the band Billy assembled to play at a tribute show in Los Angeles at the Echoplex in July for late Seeds frontman Sky Saxon. Spirits in the Sky includes Mark Tulin of The Electric Prunes and Kerry Brown of Catherine and the Ancient Chinese Secrets.

The BILLY solo shows with Spirits In The Sky are as follows:


Wed 8/26 Visalia, CA Tazzaria

Thu 8/27 Santa Barbara, CA Muddy Waters

Fri 8/28 Long Beach, CA Open

Sat 8/29 Pioneertown, CA Pappy & Harriet's Palace

Sun 8/30 San Diego, CA Che Café

Mon 8/31 Los Angeles, CA Hotel Café

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I have no response to this either.

Except the douche is a bigger douche and now has a fresh mind to play head games with, let's hope this new drummer will ,make decent enough pay to make it worth it.
the smashing squash is really a band of musicians looking for work, they cannot possibly interfere with THE MAN KNOWN AS SMASHING PUMPKINS ahem PUMPKING corgan

at least people finally caught on that they really suck without iha d'arcy and well apparently chamberlin who is no innocent lamb for milking and parading the cash cow of SP

Wow, Cooch, I lament the demise of the Pumpkins too, but I haven't seen that kind of anger at them.

I'm not entirely certain that the reason the Pumpkins Mach II suck now is because Iha and Wretzky and Chamberlin are out. As we all know, the majority of the band's material was the Great Pumpkin himself; the others, with the possible exception of Chamberlin, were pretty much hired help. What's changed, though, is that King Billy lost the plot, forgetting how to channel that righteous teenage angst into the rad prog-pop melodies of yesteryear. That's why Zeitgeist felt like such a rerun: It had all the classic Pumpkins rage without any of their former inventiveness or tunefulness.

That's where I think we'll diverge. If Zeitgeist had been awesome, I couldn't have cared less who was playing on the record. I mean, the Wilco that just put out a new record isn't the same incarnation as most of their other albums; everything about the band has changed but Tweedy and Stirratt. But Wilco (The Album) is a fine piece of work. Zeitgeist, on the other hand, was a piece of crap. Add that to the fact that there seems to have been no rhyme nor reason for Billy to bring the Pumpkins moniker back other than, as you point out, "milking and parading the cash cow of SP," and you've got a recipe for disaster.

It's too bad, too: my inner twelve-year-old really wanted the Pumpkins to roar back ferociously rather than whimper into irrelevance.

Brendan, while I agree with your sentiments, you must remember that the current lineup of Wilco has actually (and surprisingly) stayed intact for three whole records now...

Sorry Glen Beck, Frostys are not served with Oreos (see the Sarah Palin video). What a douche.

Billy hasn't suddenly lost it, he lost it years ago when the Pumpkins were still together. From my vantage point after Mellon Collie (which I am not a very big fan of) he began to drift off course and ultimately crashed.

Brendan if Billy is the ultimate core of the pumpkins and the rest essentially hired help, wouldn't that pretty much make everything he does a pumpkin record regardles of what he calls it? Similar to Son Volt where Jay can hire any three guys and call the band Son Volt.

@ Geddy:
I only count two studio records with this lineup. Or are you including Kicking Television?

@ Mark:
Jay Farrar may be a drama queen in private, I don't know; but he's not one in public. When he reformed Son Volt, he did so because he'd already booked studio time and because people knew the Son Volt name. That, of course, sounds similar to what Billy did, but it's not -- at least, not exactly. People actually liked Jay Farrar's solo stuff; I seem to remember a LOT of critical praise for Sebastopol. And, if memory serves, those solo albums sold approximately as well as early Son Volt albums. Billy's problem is that there was no way Zwan or TheFutureEmbrace could possibly top the Pumpkins discography, and thus, Zwan was essentially Wings while TheFutureEmbrace was akin to McCartney. Neither had the kind of special kick to it of the Pumpkins' very best work. But Billy, it seemed, could soldier on, especially after those farewell Pumpkins shows. Then, ever the drama queen, Billy scooped himself by boldly and audaciously claiming in full-page newspaper ads, "I want my band back." But he didn't; he, like Farrar, wanted the name back. The difference was that while Farrar simply went on with the new guys, Billy spent months during which he fed into what speculation he could. Also, once he finally did debut the "new" Smashing Pumpkins, he made deals that allowed corporate interests to eff with how his record was released, giving specific corporations specific versions of the album so that any truly die-hard fan would have to buy several different copies of the same record, even if they only wanted those two or three "bonus" songs (to me, that was the breaking point; that's the kind of thing you do to market albums in different countries, not different stores at a shopping mall).

The point is, Billy Corgan is more of a hype machine than a musician anymore. His decisions do not point at a will or desire to serve his music but to serve his ego. Farrar has his faults, too; but rarely do they seem as audaciously outrageous and as bottom-line calculating as King Billy's.

The Aragon show last year should have been the last as the Smashing Pumpkins. It was pretty epic and would have been a good sendoff for that band. Of course, the Metro shows when the full band broke up were quite a send off as well. I guess there has to be one more sendoff with Billy as the only remaining member playing with his 19 year old drummer and two other hired musicians.

Wow! Another posting designed to hold Billy Corgan up to a higher standard than any other rock musician while also tearing him apart and denouncing any talents he holds. From the basis of this, no other band should EVER change lineups again or is it just Billy? The Wilco comparison is a great one as that band is allowed to not be the same as the band of its past but as long as James Iha isn't with him, then HOW DARE HE continue to use the name!

With Derogatis, it is obvious that Billy will NEVER match up to whatever image he wants him to have and continued "coverage" is futile if he cannot be somewhat impartial. Did Corgan run over his Grandmother or something?! And for God's sakes, if Iha, Wretsky and Chamberlin WANTED to be there, they would. Time and music will march onwards. Get the music if you want to or not but these kinds of posts just serve no purpose at all and it only continues to make Derogatis look more foolish and petty.

Maybe he should hang it up.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on August 18, 2009 2:43 PM.

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