Smashing Pumpkins: 15 Facts You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

The Smashing Pumpkins have been one of the most successful bands to come out of the alternative scene of the late 1980s-early 1990s. With singer Billy Corgan’s distinctive voice as the cornerstone of their sound, the band has a reputation for being highly experimental with their instrumentation. Hitting it big with their albums Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, their music has only gotten more creative. Corgan made history with the band’s latest undertaking, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, a project that saw the band releasing a new song once a month for free online starting in 2009, leading to the release of the band’s last two albums, 2012’s Oceania and 2014’s Monuments to an Elegy, as well as their forthcoming album. The Smashing Pumpkins are currently comprised of Corgan, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and guitarist Jeff Schroeder. Read on to find out more about the band, and stay tuned for part two of our list of 15 interesting facts about the Smashing Pumpkins.

Number Fifteen: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was the Band’s Best Selling Album. Mellon Collie was the Smashing Pumpkins’ first and only number one album. In fact, the album went ten-times platinum and holds the distinction of being the best-selling album of the 1990s. To a degree, Corgan knew the album was something was special about the album. When he was writing it, he called it “The Wall for Generation X.”

Number Fourteen: They Played Their Farewell Concert at the Same Venue as Their Very First Show. When the Smashing Pumpkins broke up in 2000, the band played a show at The Metro in Chicago. The venue also happens to be where the original line-up played their very first show together. Corgan decided to give everyone in attendance of the concert a free bootleg of that first show.

Number Thirteen: Corgan Supported Free Internet Downloads Early On. The first time he decided he wanted to put an album online for free download was in 2000, way before Radiohead even considered making In Rainbows. Just before the Smashing Pumpkins broke up, they released Machina II/ The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music, which Corgan wanted to give away as a free download to those who purchased Machina/The Machines of God. When Virgin Records deemed the idea too radical and declined, Corgan released it independently. This was the first time, but not the last time, that they would release their music for free.

Number Twelve: Billy Corgan Can Be Heard on New Order’s Get Ready Album. Just after the Smashing Pumpkins broke up, Corgan began working with one of his main musical influences, New Order. Corgan recorded backup vocals for the song “Turn My Way,” off the band’s album, Get Ready. He also toured with the band while they were promoting the album.

Number Eleven: Corgan Started a Supergroup. In 2001, the first incarnation of Zwan was born. Featuring Corgan and Chamberlin, as well as Matt Sweeney of Chavez and David Pajo of Slint. The band only released one album before breaking up.

Number Ten: Corgan Played All of the Instruments on Gish. In order to keep all the instruments consistent, Corgan recorded each one, aside from the drums, himself. This is one of the reasons the rest of the band wasn’t too fond of him.

Number Nine: They Recorded Siamese Dream in Georgia, Not Chicago. When it came time to record their sophomore album, Corgan decided it would be a good idea to write it in Marietta, Georgia. There were a couple of reasons for this, but the biggest was to keep Chamberlin, who was getting heavy into drugs at the time, away from his drug connections. The plan backfired, Chamberlin found a new way to score drugs, and Siamese Dream took more than four months to write and record, costing the band more than $250,000. Stay tuned for part two of our list of 15 interesting facts about the Smashing Pumpkins, coming soon.