Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chamberlin Leaves Pumpkins; Corgan without Synergy

Being a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins since the album Siamese Dream, I was disappointed in the band for the third time in their history: The first in 1996, when they fired drummer Jimmy Chamberlin for drug abuse; the second in 2000, when bandleader Billy Corgan announced that they would call it quits near the end of the year; and now in 2009, when it was announced that Chamberlin would leave the band again, and that now-sole member Corgan would continue on under the name Smashing Pumpkins. Each time, the disappointment is a bit less, so I'm probably not going to dwell on 2009's disappointment as long as the previous ones.

That said: There goes synergy.

If Corgan does everything himself, then the next chapter of the Pumpkins is essentially a solo album. If Corgan surrounds himself with hired guns with less-than-equal standing in the band (Chamberlin's drumming is still the one thing Corgan cannot replicate himself, nor completely replace with another drummer), then the Pumpkins are essentially the same as Axl's Guns N' Roses, which is essentially a solo album. I've heard that Axl's fans have come to terms with this and are mostly die-hard fans of the current GNR, but it is unknown whether (okay, doubtful that) most Pumpkins fans are really Billy's fans and will accept this technically bandless band.

There is something to say about synergy. Even if you're the songwriter of a song, and you may have a vision of what the end product might sound like, but you bring it to at least another band member, and that vision becomes exponentially better due to the added complementary point(s) of view. I've experienced synergy in the Society of Gloves with my brother (and with guest musicians), and I've experienced synergy when Mutiny Universe produced Élan Vital. Artistic synergy is good.

In any case, I wish Corgan well as THE Smashing Pumpkin (appropriate that the band's new Twitter username "SmashingPumpkin" reflects this reality), and I wish Chamberlin well wherever he goes - presumably his namesake band the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex (also on Twitter). Hopefully Jimmy can get around to recording and releasing another volume of drum loops. I love jamming with, recording with, and otherwise getting inspired by Jimmy's drum loops! We can't afford a Jimmy Chamberlin in the Society, so it's always a treat to incorporate his style in some of our tracks.

Anyway, maybe Jimmy's and Billy's paths will cross again, and the synergy will return. Maybe even James Iha (who's currently in the supergroup Tinted Windows) might factor in, or even the reclusive D'Arcy Wretzky. While I am disappointed right now, at least this disappointment isn't of the same magnatude as 1996 or 2000. Maybe age helps out. Maybe it's because I'd rather be a producer of my own work than a consumer of another artists' work to really care.

It's a wiser use of one's time to be a producer than a consumer.

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