It’s perhaps understandable that there was an equal amount of excitement and trepidation when Billy Corgan announced that the Smashing Pumpkins are working on a sequel to their 1995 masterpiece, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.
Revisiting a beloved past work is always a bit of a risky proposition as not only does an artist have to face built-in expectations from the get-go, there’s a risk of tarnishing said past work’s impact.
Having talked about the band’s new album Cyr and the dark journey they endured during the recording of Machina with Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, Rolling Stone Australia simply had to ask him an all important question about Mellon Collie: What made the band want to make a sequel to such a beloved album?
“COVID,” laughs Chamberlin. “I mean, we got all this time and we always kind of bandied [the idea] about. I will say that if you were going to do something like [making a Mellon Collie sequel], you’ve got to carve out a lot of time.”
“Having the world do it for you, we just thought, ‘this may be the only time we have nine months of uninterrupted bandwidth’, so we’re working on it right now.”
While the pandemic has afforded the Smashing Pumpkins the time to embark on such an ambitious project, don’t expect to hear anything Mellon Collie related for some time as the band are just getting started.
And from the sounds of it, they have a lot of songs to work through.
“I just finished recording and arranging drums for 33 songs, so those are just the first steps of getting things arranged in a certain state so we can re-approach them, re-imagine them, work on them, add parts, with the idea that we go in to track drums some time in the spring next year and then start the process to make the album,” says Chamberlin.
The precious extra time afforded to the band by the pandemic is something of a blessing in disguise, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that Smashing Pumpkins fans are going to have sky-high expectations for the project given how Mellon Collie is still viewed as the band’s magnum opus.
So does Chamberlin and the rest of the band feel some degree of pressure to produce something that could be held up alongside Mellon Collie?
“I wouldn’t say pressure but I do feel an obligation to create something that is reflective of that breadth of work,” explains the Smashing Pumpkins drummer. “The thing is when you talk about Mellon Collie, one of the things that defines it is the wide parameter where you’ve got songs like “Jellybelly” and songs like “Cupid de Locke”.”
“That’s a pretty wide breadth of music, right? For me as a drummer to be going from playing speed metal to brushes or symphonic type of drums, it’s super fun and it’s really challenging when you’re making music of that wide of a scope.”
From the sounds of it, not only do the Pumpkins have a lot of songs to work on for the foreseeable future, they’re going big on this one. Perhaps even bigger than they did for the original Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.
“With Mellon Collie part two or whatever it’s going to be called, we want it to be even wider than the first one,” says Jimmy. “Darker and crazier on the metal end, more sensitive on the more sensitive end.”