Rumors of a Smashing Pumpkins reunion have been rife ever since bandleader Billy Corgan took out a full-page ad in a Chicago newspaper saying he wants the group to re-form. And according to onetime Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur as well as a source close to the situation, the rumors are true.
In fact, Auf Der Maur said Corgan has been working on material that will, at some point, surface in the form of a new Smashing Pumpkins album.
“From what I understand, Billy [will be] making a Pumpkins record over the next little while,” Auf Der Maur told MTV News last week. “Everyone knows Billy doesn’t need too many people to make a Pumpkins record, other than Jimmy [Chamberlin, longtime Pumpkins drummer] — who he has [on board].”
A spokesperson for Azoff Management confirmed Thursday (February 2) that Corgan and Chamberlin have signed on with the firm as Smashing Pumpkins, and that the two are writing new music. A source close to the situation told MTV News that the duo plan to record over the summer and that the new Pumpkins could surface before the end of the year — however, no definitive plans are set.
Auf Der Maur said she’s not sure whether Corgan has reached out to guitarist James Iha or bassist D’Arcy Wretzky to complete the band’s original lineup, but she said she’s told Corgan that she’d be happy to pitch in if he needs her; Auf Der Maur replaced Wretzky in 1999 and worked with the group until it disbanded in 2000 (see “Pumpkins Circus Folds Up With Epic Show” ).
“My services are there for him whenever he needs them,” she said. “Assuming I’m not on tour — but even then, we can cross paths. I love the Pumpkins, and to play those songs again would be nothing but fun for me. It was a big part of my life.”
Still, Auf Der Maur said it wouldn’t be a true Pumpkins reunion without D’Arcy’s bass. “The coolest thing would be if D’Arcy was around, but I don’t know where she’s at and I don’t think [Corgan or Chamberlin] do either,” she said. “But I feel very comfortable being second best.”
The bassist worked with Corgan several months ago on a track called “Took Me Apart” that’s slated to appear on her forthcoming, as-yet-untitled second solo disc, which is tentatively scheduled to come out late this year. Since Corgan’s proclamation in June that he’d re-form the group (see “Billy Corgan Says He Wants To Re-Form Smashing Pumpkins” ), there’s been little in the way of actual confirmed news. But that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from cranking, nor has it deterred the dissemination of misinformation.
Last week, for instance, a Web site popped up that claimed the band’s forthcoming disc would be out in April, that it would be called Drawn and would feature backing vocals from Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. Of course, the site was a hoax — and its timing couldn’t have been better, coming after weeks of online speculation that had the Pumpkins reuniting for a headlining spot on this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Speculation that Corgan’s seminal rock troupe would be taking Coachella’s stage in late April was at least partially quashed on Wednesday, when the event’s organizers released the two-day concert’s Pumpkin-less official bill (see “Tool And Franz Ferdinand Will Rock Coachella” ). That same afternoon, rumors began circulating that the Pumpkins would be headlining Lollapalooza this summer. However, according to the source, if Lolla does come back, “You can take it to the bank [that the Pumpkins] won’t be on it.”
Chamberlin responded enthusiastically to Corgan’s announcement in June (see “Smashing Pumpkins Drummer On Reunion: ’I’m In, And I’m Excited’ “ ), but no further details followed. The drummer has also had an uneasy relationship with Corgan at times, having left the band in the wake of his heroin addiction before rejoining in 1999. Chamberlin also played in Corgan’s post-Pumpkins unit Zwan.
Corgan’s reunion plans were first revealed in June via an ad printed in his hometown’s newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, which contained no information on what form the band would take or which members would be involved; his relationships with Iha and Wretzky have been reported as strained. Corgan has remained mum since taking out the ad, posting only occasional (and nebulous) messages on his MySpace blog. The last, dated December 12, promised, “The surprise I have in store for you all will be announced soon enough. Hold on to your horses. After all, good things surely come to those who wait. Don’t you just love the suspense?”
Whether or not she’s involved, Auf Der Maur says she just wants the band’s reunion to be done right. “I hope they don’t rush it, ’cause the record should be the absolute best it can be. [And they should] then strategize, because as we know, grunge is about to come back: The ’80s trend is almost done and we’re about to hit 1990 again. It’s scary to think, but very true.”
Corgan, Chamberlin, Iha and Wretzky could not be reached for comment at press time.