Smashing Pumpkins

One of the defining bands of the 1990s was the Smashing Pumpkins. We're here to tell you why.

Just The Facts

  1. Smashing Pumpkins is an alt-metal-grunge-prog-folk-proto-emo-electronic-goth band that formed in 1988.
  2. The recent departure of original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin leaves Billy Corgan as the only remaining member of the band.
  3. Smashing Pumpkins is a God-awful name for a band.

Mellon Collie and the Brief Overview

The 1990s were a time of musical revolution, exposing to the world such vastly talented artists as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, and N'Sync. It was a dog eat Snoop Dogg world, where only the strong survived. The Pumpkins, led by visionary songwriter Billy Corgan, thrived during this cultural epoch through their fuzzed out guitar harmonies, propulsive Bonham-esque drumming, and complex, insightful lyrics ("Living makes me sick/So sick, I wish I would die").
Throughout their career, the Smashing Pumpkins fused the musical styles of Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Cure, and Boston, creating an impossibly specific chimera of all the bands your parents listened to at their high school prom.

Original Line-up

Billy Corgan (aka Glass, Zero, St. Patrick, etc): Primary songwriter for the group, Corgan alienated fellow bandmates by deeming their skills on guitar and bass to be unworthy of his musical brilliance, re-recording their tracks himself much of the time. After shaving his hair off, released mellow album Adore, proving once and for all that rock stars do indeed derive their power from their glorious locks.

Jimmy Chamberlin: Kick-ass drummer who integrated jazz styles into a rock environment. May or may not be John Cusack's brother.

James Iha: The "other" guitarist in the band. Often looked like the first half of an antidepressant commercial while performing.

D'arcy Wretzky: Originally a snow-woman created by a small group of Chicago children, came to life when a magical bass was placed in her arms.

The Albums

Gish: The debut album. Marked the beginning of Corgan's penchant for giving songs bizarre, unrelated names. The second track is called "Siva", a misspelling of the name of a Hindu God. No one in the band was Hindu. Another song, "Rhinoceros", is about making absolutely no sense. The album featured layers of thick, distorted guitars, primal bass lines, and balls-to-the-wall rock.

Lyrical selection: "All this pain smothers me/Like a bomb that you can't see."

Siamese Dream: After hitting their balls against the wall too many times, the Pumpkins needed to give them a rest. While maintaining some of that hard rock edge, the band also embraced their sensitive side with tracks such as "Disarm" and "Mayonaise", a song about being a whiny teenager and misspelling condiment names. Often cited as their crowning achievement, and beloved by emo bands everywhere.

Lyrical selection: "Life's a bummer/When you're a hummer."

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness: After the success of Siamese Dream, Corgan and co. got ambitious and decided to release a double album. Upon realizing that they would need to write a bunch of good songs to fill a double album, the band said "screw it" and put a lot of bad songs on the album, even allowing an Iha-penned tune to make the cut. That song, however, sucked. Legend has it that listening to the album in its entirety will transform one into a thirteen year old kid with black hair, a wardrobe from Hot Topic, and a vast collection of books on Wicca.

Lyrical selection: "I'll make the effort/Love can last forever/Graceful swans of never/Topple to the earth."

Adore: With Chamberlin in rehab, Billy Corgan brought a drum machine, armed with the knowledge that machines can't grow tired of his tyranny (yet...). The band thrilled critics by putting away the distorted guitars and writing meaningful lyrics that were not completely self-centered. The band pissed off fans by putting away the distorted guitars and writing meaningful lyrics that were not completely self-centered. The epic track, "For Martha", composed after the passing of Corgan's mother, could almost bring Dick Cheney to tears. Almost.

Lyrical selection: "You remind me of that leak in my soul."

Machina: The Machines of God: The last release before the band broke up (only to get back together again, cementing their status as the teenage angst all-stars), it's a concept album about a rock star named Glass. Just the facts: Glass is a God-awful name for a rock star.

Lyrics: "I peer through curtains on empty streets/Behind a wall of caller I.D."


Lyrical selection: "La la la, la la la, la, la, la"

Seriously, go listen to the song "Pomp and Circumstances."

Side Projects

Zwan: After the initial break-up of the Pumpkins, Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin formed Zwan, proving to the world that over a decade of playing and recording popular music did nothing to enhance their ability to properly name a band. Once again, pissed off old fans by writing happy songs and suggesting that God may, in fact, not be empty, a concept they had proposed in their anthem "Zero."

TheFutureEmbrace: Always one to explore new, interesting directions, Corgan released a solo album which imagines a world without spacebars and bandmates, with the exception of backing guest vocals by legendary singer for The Cure, Robert Smith (guest vocals that are barely audible in the final mix). Corgan saw this world, and it was good. Sadly, he was the only person who saw this world.

The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex-An underrated project which cemented the drummer's reputation of possessing mutant powers on the skins. Had least manly album cover on Earth.

James Iha's Let It Come Down: A solo album from the "other" guitarist. This artifact was created to justify the exclusion of his songs from previous Pumpkins albums. You cannot sue Cracked if you are unfortunate enough to be exposed to this album. We warned you.

The Smashing Pumpkins' Influence

Since their glory days in the nineties, the Smashing Pumpkins have been cited as an influence on some badass bands, like Silversun Pickups, whose lush, well-crafted songs recall the Gish-era guitar landscapes. The band has also been held responsible for the musical crimes committed by The Used, My Chemical Romance, and Taking Back Sunday, whose over-the-top teen angst anthems recall high school-era acne outbreaks and self-pity. For shame.