Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins

With an old drummer and a new bassist, ultimate survivors of ' alternative rock, the Smashing Pumpkins hit Japan for a nationwide tour to tout the virtues of their most recent album MACHINA/The Machines of God (Virgin).

The new lineup marks the return of original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, fired over his drug habit in 1996 following the heroin overdose of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin, and the replacement of founding bassist D'Arcy Wretzky with ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur. With the return of Chamberlin on MACHINA, the Pumpkins also revisit the bare bones, grinding rock that characterized early albums Gish and Siamese Dream, following recent forays into electronica on 1998's Adore and contributions to the movie soundtrack for Batman & Robin.

Formed in 1988 when Billy Corgan met guitarist James Iha at the used record shop he worked at in Chicago, the pair recruited D'Arcy and Chamberlin in time for their first big gig opening for Jane's Addiction. Recording their debut single "I Am One," the Pumpkins became the focus of an intense bidding war, eventually signing with Virgin subsidiary Caroline.

Laying down tracks for their first album Gish under the watchful gaze of alternative rock producer extraordinaire Butch Vig, the Pumpkins were soon the darlings of the college rock circuit, opening on tour for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam. Siamese Dream, a psychedelic concoction of progressive rock, heavy metal and Beatles-influenced pop, confirmed the Pumpkins' status as alterna-rock anti-heroes on its release in 1994 as did their headlining the Lollapalooza tour the same year.

The pressures of stardom soon began to take their toll on the band, however, with internal bickering culminating in Melvoin's death and the firing of Chamberlin in 1996 while touring to support the mega-platinum Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

It was about this point that this writer, once an avid fan, lost interest in the fortunes of the Pumpkins, fed up with the quartet's perpetual poutiness, egotistical preening, and Corgan's increasingly otherworldly affectations.

But a band that has been on the slide of late has something to prove, and with the return of Chamberlin and the joyously unfettered rock-with-a-capital- "R" songs of MACHINA, the Pumpkins seem ready for a - don't say it - comeback.

Smashing Pumpkins play at Pacifico Yokohama on June 20 and at the Budokan on June 30. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana