In Rolling Stone latest Q&A with Smashing Pumpkin front man Billy Corgan they dive into the upcoming reissue of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
Billy told them that he listened to the remaster version of Mellon Collie all the way through recently. He then told a story that came to mind “When we were recording we had a rehearsal space we called Pumpkinland. [Album co-producer] Flood wanted to record Mellon Collie in there, which really surprised us. He liked the way we played in there. He thought we would be more comfortable. We’re working in there and I think [co-producer] Alan Moulder and I were in the other room, and all of a sudden one of the pipes burst. And suddenly, this massive amount of water is coming out of the floor and was flooding the entire floor. We were trying to throw all the equipment in a corner where it hadn’t flooded. We’re all laughing ’cause it’s so absurd. But meanwhile there’s gallons of water coming out of this pipe and you don’t know when it’s going to stop. You remember these funny little memories when you listen.”
Billy says what surprised him as he listen back to Mellon Collie was how dark it was but at the same time not that dark to him.
“I listen to it years later and I think, “Wow, there’s some pretty dark tones. There’s some pretty dark themes.” A song like “X.Y.U.” and “Tales of a Scorched Earth,” those are pretty dark. There’s something about the darkness of it all that really resonated: the tonality of the thing. …. We were lucky that we could do really dark stuff and get away with it. I don’t think you could turn in a “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” to a record company today and they’d say, “Great, let’s put it on the radio.” They’d think it’s too weird. They’d want you to shine it up or overproduce it. You can imagine what that song would sound like if it was recorded today. It would need a DJ breakdown.”
He went on to say this was the last album for the original line-up since they were never able to record together again with any consistency “It really was the last time the four of us worked together in earnest. And maybe I picked up on that; maybe I sensed that and maybe that had something to do with the sort of the desperation and the approach to try and get as much as possible out of it. I wrote something like over 50 songs and we recorded this entire pile of stuff. As the reissue shows, there is a lot of other stuff that was there, work product that was interesting because you can hear the transitions of some of the work.”
Billy explained that when Jimmy left “we didn’t truly understand the ramifications it was going to have on the way we operated with one another. We didn’t totally understand the way it was going to affect the live show. It looks really obvious to me that we were going to hit a reef; the warning signs were all there in so many ways. In many ways it’s beautiful that we were able to make something so grand as kind of a final statement of solvency of that group together. But that was pretty much it. That was as good as it was going to get for the four of those people together.”
Billy explains he doesn’t see Mellon Collie as the perfect album but that it is “perfectly imperfect”.
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