Smashing Pumpkins Break From Studio To Reminisce About Debut

Indie-rock superstars' 1991 album, Gish, is subject of abruptly terminated online chat session.

With the disappointing sales of his band's most recent album, Adore,

behind them and a new record in the works, you might think Smashing

Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan would be looking to the future of his

group's sound.

But Corgan is not about to let go of his past work.

Breaking from sessions for the grunge-rockers' first album since the

poorly received Adore, singer/songwriter Corgan and guitarist

James Iha spent just enough time in an abruptly terminated online chat

Tuesday to wax rhapsodic about their eight-year-old debut, Gish.

In the brief interview, crippled by technical glitches after about five

minutes, Corgan managed to squeeze in the admission that Gish

still holds a special place in the band's heart.

"People often look at albums without thinking about the continuity of

the time or the context in which the album was made," Corgan said during

the chat. "I like to remind people that this was our first album and

very special to us. But every album is special because it marks a time

in your life."

The Pumpkins are marking the present time in their own lives with work

on a new disc -- an album that some say will return the band to the

harder sound of Gish. Last spring the band's former co-manager,

Cliff Burnstein, described the then-germinating new project as an attempt

to make "the greatest f---ing rock album anyone's ever heard."

Corgan has admitted being disappointed in the sales figures for 1998's

Adore, which went platinum last year but failed to match the

popularity of the band's quadruple-platinum 1993 album Siamese Dream.

He was quoted last year in the New York Times as saying, "Not

every team wins the pennant every year."

Now, with work under way on the new LP, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin back in

the band after an absence of several years, and Mellon Collie & the

Infinite Sadness producer Flood helping in the studio, the Smashing

Pumpkins seem to be both looking to the future and reconnecting with

their past.

Looking to reignite interest in the band's debut album, Corgan went

online Tuesday in a chat produced in conjunction with the band's official

website (www.smashingpumpkins.com). In addition to welcoming fans, he

declared June "Gish Month."

"Thanks for being here for the start of Gish Month. We're doing

this as a chance to look back on the album and that time and to have

fans of Gish participate as much as possible," Corgan said.

Gish went gold in 1994 and reached platinum status in February.

It was the disc that first established the band as darlings of the

indie-rock set.

Though the Pumpkins -- Corgan, Iha, Chamberlin and bassist D'Arcy Wretzky

-- have attained superstar status in their decade-long career, their rise

to success didn't happen overnight.

Just after the release of Gish, the band played an acoustic set

at a Chicago-area Rose Records store. Shoppers browsed the bins,

indifferent to the future superstar rockers.

Still, the release of Gish sealed the Pumpkins' position as the

Chicago area's premiere rock outfit, and it contained their first successful

single, "Siva" (RealAudio

excerpt). But it wasn't until the band's second album, Siamese

Dream, that the band earned worldwide recognition on the shoulders of such hit songs as "Today" (

HREF="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-music/Smashing_Pumpkins/Today.ram">RealAudio excerpt).

In 1995 the group turned out the double album Mellon Collie & the

Infinite Sadness -- a multiplatinum seller. A year later they released

Aeroplane Flies High, a box set of rarities.

And though they have led a relatively prolific career, Corgan and Iha

found themselves at a loss to get their most recent message out due to

technical glitches with the online chat. "We want to tell you we are

having a few problems," Corgan wrote to his fans. "But we're sorting them

out so please be patient, thanks."

In honor of "Gish Month" the band's website is offering reissued

T-shirts and transcripts from two 1997 interviews relating to the making

of the album.

The first interview was conducted with Corgan as he listened to the 1991

LP's original mixes. The second is with Gish producer Butch Vig.

The website also plans to post the complete lyrics to Gish and

related B-sides along with never-before-seen photos of the band, including

ones in which bald frontman Corgan sports long hair.

The brief transcript of Tuesday's Corgan/Iha chat can be viewed at

Smashing Pumpkins Internet Fan Club site (www.mbnet.mb.ca/spifc).