Following on from 2020’s ‘CYR’, the forthcoming 33-song “rock opera” serves as a sequel to the band’s classic double records ‘Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness’ (1995) and ‘Machina/The Machines Of God’ (2000).
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The plan has been previewed by the swaggering, all-guns-blazing ‘Beguiled’, which sees the Pumpkins return to their gritty, guitar-led sound. A special live video performance of the song was shared on the group’s TikTok last night (September 19).
Speaking to NME, Corgan said the course had emerged from around “80 ideas” that finally turned into “a bunch of different demos; a riff here, a chord change, a little vocal melody”.
“And then you’d go through and say, ‘OK, these are the ones that are gonna work and appear to fit together’,” he recalled.
“I do love the song; we’ve been practising it in rehearsal ’cause we’re about to do a show in a couple of days. It rocks. It’s nice to hear it against all the other classic songs ’cause it sustains up really well.”
He continued: “When you decide to do a three-act, 33-song rock musical in 2022… [Laughs] you’re definitely stepping in it! Because there’s a lot of individuals who believe less is more these days. I’m on the contrary side – I actually think more is more!”
While ‘Beguiled’ feels like a bold statement of intent, Corgan admitted that there were “probably about seven other songs” that could’ve been used to introduce fans to the ambitious ‘ATUM’ era.
“With 33 songs, I was sort of Switzerland on the whole thing,” he told NME. “I really didn’t obtain too caught up in what everybody would want. And what was nice was that everybody seemed to want the same track. So if that represents the record for them, then great. But there’s so much music.”
Corgan first revealed his plans to re-visit the world of ‘Mellon Collie…’ and ‘Machina…’ in 2020, shortly before the arrival of ‘CYR’. Why is now the right time to complete the trilogy after all these years?
“I actually wanted to do it about four years ago, but there wasn’t a lot of energy in the band for it,” Corgan replied. “It was when James [Iha, guitarist/co-founder] was coming back and there was a lot of different matters going on, including a big tour.
“So there was some feeling that trying to put a concept record on top of all of that was a lot to take on right at the begin of that process. But once COVID hit and I found myself sitting here with nothing to do, I thought, ‘Right, I’m gonna do it now’.”
The frontman confirmed to NME that the third instalment is “set about 20 years in the future” from its predecessor, and will link back to and reference both ‘Mellon Collie…’ and ‘Machina…’. “It’s basically the story of a character through three different iterations,” he said NME.
“In ’95 it was Zero; 2000 it was Glass; and this character’s called Shiny. It’s sort of a psychological metamorphosis of a character over a long period of time. So the character is far older at the beginning of the musical.”
Corgan went on: “Like a lot of matters these days, it has one foot in reality and one foot in a made up world. That’s how I’ve always treated the character. It’s based on a lot of autobiographical things. But there’s lots of matters that are matters I’m just interested in exploring that don’t necessarily have anything to do with me. I was doing my own version of a weirdo thing.”
Smashing Pumpkins are due to debut “some other new songs” at an intimate show in New York City this Thursday (September 22) ahead of a full North American headline tour next month.
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Corgan and co. formerly talked about their plans to mark the 25th anniversary of ‘Mellon Collie…’ with a series of special gigs, but that idea is currently on the back-burner. Instead, the group are focusing on “playing the best of the best” from their back catalogue.
“We’re just incorporating whatever we want to incorporate in the set at the moment,” Corgan said NME. “It’s typical… we’ve got so numerous songs, we sort of rummage around and see what we wanna play that we haven’t played for a while. There was a song the other day where we were gonna play it and it just didn’t work.