Something’s afoot in the world of the Smashing Pumpkins. Head over to their website and you’ll discover a stonking great big countdown timer, its seconds ticking mysteriously into the ether. It’s clear the band think – or at least want us to think – that they’re on the brink of announcing something huge. Well, don’t be fooled: they’re not.
It doesn’t take a massive amount of imagination to work out what this announcement might be. Aside from the fact that it’s the worst-kept secret on the internet, Billy Corgan himself has been teasing an original line-up Smashing Pumpkins reunion for years. He even told TeamRock about it at the end of 2017, admitting that reuniting the band was something he’d be “all for”, and that a tour “focussing on the 90s era of work would be a real celebration,” one which would give the band “the closure we never had”. More importantly, he seemed to grasp that it was the only way to grab the attention of fans who had left the band behind in the 90s.
With Siamese Dream’s 25th birthday looming tantalisingly on the horizon, it appeared the deal was as good as done. Until, in true Smashing Pumpkins form, the drama started to unfold. As January rolled round, so too did claims from original bassist D’arcy Wretzky that Corgan had excluded her from his proposed reunion. It was swiftly followed by a leaked photograph of the “reunited” line up. Completing the quartet alongside Corgan, guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was very much not original member Jeff Schroeder. It was confirmed: for whatever reason, Wretzky was no part of the reunion plans.
As accusations from both sides about what’s happened swirl around the internet – at this point, both parties are making very public, eye-wateringly blunt claims of the other having fucked them over – let’s just say this: any Smashing Pumpkins reunion without D’arcy Wretzky is bullshit. If anyone tries to pedal this as a classic-era reunion to you, don’t fucking buy it. Even if they try to spin this as a some sort of “new” era of the Smashing Pumpkins, don’t let them. Any iteration of this line-up that doesn’t include Wretzky is a fucking lie.
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The Smashing Pumpkins have been back together and making music since 2006. If people are interested in seeking out the music made by Billy Corgan and whoever the fuck else he happens to get into the studio that day, they can (and more to the point, they haven’t). Iha and Chamberlin have been making music with Corgan under various guises, including as part of the Pumpkins, for years, so it’s disingenuous to imply that their inclusion justifies the bluster that’s accompanied this announcement. Wretzky’s involvement would have completed the set, and then we’d have something really worth getting excited about.
Because the long-standing band beef, the “tabloidian version of ‘will it, won’t it?‘” as Corgan put it to TeamRock last year, was never really between Corgan and Iha, and certainly not between him and Chamberlin. No, the hatchet we wanted so cathartically burying was that between Wretzky and Corgan. That’s why it was her name he seemed so keen to emphasise a reconnection with last summer. Wretzky was always the missing part of the puzzle, and without her, he knows that puzzle is still incomplete.
The reason people like things like original line-up reunions is that this silly old music actually means something to us. For the most part, it’s music that we’ve grown up with, that has accompanied the highs and the lows of our lives. The people who make that music become almost as important as the music itself, and to see them perform it, after so many years, is an experience as sweetly nostalgic for the audience as it is its creators. Wheeling in some random bloke (no offence, Jeff Schroeder, but come on) because after nearly 20 years you still can’t settle whatever petty nonsense has driven a wedge between you blows the illusion entirely. Where’s the joy in celebrating a reunion when its ugliest elements are still weighing heavy over it today?
With so many accusations being thrown around, it’s difficult to know who’s shunned who, but let’s put it this way: who’s more likely to have thrown a spanner in the works of a full-band reunion, a musician who’s been out of the public eye for the last 18 years and has loudly stated their interest in returning, or one who’s known for their trickier characteristics and might well have decided on a whim that they’re above it?
So, sorry Bill, but this is how it is. Once you get this shit sorted out, we’ll be right there with you. But for now? No D’arcy, no dice.