OH, FOR THE DRAMA that is always a part of bands’ reuniting with original members.
There’s almost always drama around reformations, thanks to ego, money and more, and they’ve filled many a book. Name a classic, veteran band that finally answered the call from fans to get back together and there’s invariably some drama around that: KISS, Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, and, of course, Smashing Pumpkins. They just announced their reunion-of-mostly-original-members tour, and, because it’s the Pumpkins – actually, because its a rock band, period – there’s drama, as the entire classic line-up won’t be intact. Drama and controversy are no strangers to this band, as Rolling Stone so thoroughly looks back on.
Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain will hit the boards this year, minus original bassist D’arcy Wretzky, and that drama played out in a big way this past week. Wretzky released a fascinating text messages exchange between her & Corgan and Wretzky, showing that Corgan’s idea of Wretzky’s involvement evolved into differing visions. In short, it went from Wretzky being there for the entire show, to just a few songs, with Corgan likening it to what Guns N’ Roses did with original drummer Steven Adler. Fans are taking sides, reading between the lines as the story plays out in public. Reading the texts you can’t fully fault Corgan for wanting to ensure the very best version of the band is out there, and trying to accommodate his bassist, who was/is recovering from a shoulder injury. You can fault the mercurial Billy for a lot of things, but he’s always been very aware of the Pumpkins’ legacy, and the balancing act of keeping the band current while also living up to what that legacy requires. Ultimately its amazing that conversations of this magnitude – rehearsals for a huge arena tour with people that have been so at odds with each other for so long, with decades’ worth of baggage between them – shouldn’t have taken place via texts!
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that there is a 3/4 reunion tour as despite several breakups, Smashing Pumpkins never really went away for very long. Corgan – owner of the name, mainspring and songwriter behind the band since day one – kept it going with various hired hands thru the years, saying, at one point, “I have an open-door policy now,” in regards to who else will be in the band with him. And there has been several hints thru the years that the original four would get back together; this latest batch of rumors and social media baiting started in 2016. Actually, drama with Wretzky aside, it’s a little surprising that Iha is back in the group; Corgan has had plenty of bad things to same about him around previous breakups. Never the less, the continuing call from the fans – and likely concert promoters, Corgan’s management and his bank account – has been answered. And on top of that, there’s new music being recorded, with producer Rick Rubin. No doubt all the drama will only increase interest, and business.