As the Smashing Pumpkins prepare to release their new album, Monuments to an Elegy, frontman Billy Corgan answered some questions about the record.
The album, which is due out December 9, is available for preorder on iTunes and at Amazon. The first single from the album, "Being Beige," can be streamed from the band's SoundCloud.
Monuments to an Elegy features Corgan with guitarist Jeff Schroeder and Mötley Crüe founding drummer Tommy Lee. It's the first of two Smashing Pumpkins albums that will be released within one year, a surprising decision considering the amount of time artists take between albums.
"My goal was having the impetus for a double record," Corgan says. "But thinking of how it would be consumed in a surface-level culture made me want to split the work apart: which in itself has changed the process, writing, and review."
Sonically, the new album pulls from different eras of the Smashing Pumpkins' history, with an emphasis on driving guitar sounds and keyboard and synth textures. But Corgan says he had no underlying motive in composing and arranging the album.
"I rarely go into an album thinking what it 'has to be,'" he says. "Albums, as a way of coalescing songs, are just an organizing principle, and each is different given what's going on within at that moment, and without. So if there was any sense here it was bringing all I'm interested in musically to the table at one go."
The decision to bring in Tommy Lee will come as a surprise to many. The Mötley Crüe drummer wouldn't be the most obvious choice in the minds of many Pumpkins fans.
But as Corgan explains, "The songs, in demo form, had a strut, and so the suggestion was made that we ought to get someone who 'plays like' Tommy. Jeff Schroeder, Pumpkins' guitarist said, ‘Why not get the real deal?’ [On Monuments to an Elegy] Tommy brings the power and grace he's known for, which gives the music a vibrancy that is both immediate and unmistakable."
Corgan also gives props to Jeff Schroeder, who has played guitar in the band since 2007. "To Jeff's own admittance, it's taken him some years to find his place within a sound that was uniquely formed before he came onboard," Corgan says. "For that, he's turned to playing more melodically, so his voice, so to speak, is additive. And it's that triumvirate between he, Tommy, and I that you hear most keenly on the record. Plus, Jeff's just a natural producer in a recording situation and really pushed me to be my best in a way that most wouldn't understand how to: through patience, and encouragement."
As for the follow-up to Monuments to an Elegy, Corgan says the group is already at work on it.
"It literally is the other side of the sonic moon," he says. "At this early stage it appears to be a deeper work: less shiny, and more personal; which is always a quizzical thing to bring out into the open."