Even James Iha has a hard time describing the as-yet-untitled forthcoming Smashing Pumpkins album.
"It's more of a down record," the Pumpkins guitarist told Addicted To Noise, taking a break from the Pumpkins' L.A. recording sessions. "It's less about rock this time."
The album, being produced by band mastermind Billy Corgan and mixed by Flood -- who co-produced the Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and has worked with U2 and Depeche Mode -- is expected to be out in late May or early June.
The album is two-thirds complete, and Corgan has described the sound of the new recordings as "arcane night music," according to Pumpkins publicist Gayle Fine.
Iha said his upcoming solo album, Let It Come Down (Feb. 10), a collection of power-pop ballads, does not foreshadow the Pumpkins' new material. "It doesn't sound like my record," Iha said. "It's sort of half-organic, half-electronic. But really it's sort-of hard to say what it is."
Among the songs Iha and the Pumpkins previewed at last year's Bridge School benefit concerts were the baroque, melancholy love songs "To Sheila" and "Never Apart."
Lisa Klipsic of the Chicago band Glow spent several days with Corgan and the band in September, when the Pumpkins leader came in to produce a song for Glow tentatively titled "The New Wave Crush Song."
"People don't want to like him, but he's so nice," said Klipsic of Corgan, who arrived at the band's loft with a crew of engineers and equipment in tow for the day-long session. "He's incredibly busy, but the fact that he was taking time to work on our song while working on his own record was really great."
During the collaboration, Klipsic and her bandmates were invited to come down to the Chicago studio where the Pumpkins were recording at the time (they moved to a Los Angeles studio in December). Corgan told Klipsic that he was interested in any suggestions that she or her bandmates might have for improving the Pumpkins' material.
"He was definitely encouraging people that he'd worked with in the past or who could complement the music to bring ideas forward," she said.
Corgan brought a few songs that the Pumpkins had finished to the Glow sessions, tunes Klipsic described as "100 percent beautiful."
Although she didn't know the titles, Klipsic said one track was a slow, mostly acoustic love song fit for a sacred event, such as a wedding or, she corrected herself, "[something] beyond a wedding."
Klipsic also described the sonic textures of the two songs she heard, which Corgan burned onto a CD for her at the end of the day, as "a perfect combination of the instruments. Not something that sounded like it was made piece-by-piece, but that just exists."
Among the things that struck her about Corgan during their collaboration, she said, was that the Pumpkins leader was clearly interested in establishing an open dialogue with her band. "I think it really reflected the way he's recording his record right now," she said. "There [was] definitely an open-door policy on [the] recording sessions when we were around him. Before it always seemed more intense." [Wed., Jan. 14, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]