With so much excitement over the Smashing Pumpkins doing a sequel to their magnum opus Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, we asked Jimmy Chamberlin all about the project and why the band wanted to do it.
Billy Corgan dropped a surprise bombshell back in October when he announced that The Smashing Pumpkins will be doing a sequel concept album to their 1995 masterpiece, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.
Needless to say that there was a lot of hype – and a bit of trepidation about this project. On one hand, we’re getting a sequel to one of the greatest albums of all time which is great.
But on the other hand, we’re getting a sequel to one of the greatest albums of all time and living up to the standard set by its predecessor is a nigh impossible task.
So after chatting to Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin about their new album Cyr, I asked him all about the Mellon Collie sequel and how it came about.
And the answer I got regarding why the Smashing Pumpkins wanted to revisit their masterpiece was something I did not expect at all.
“COVID,” laughs Jimmy. “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.”
Check out ‘Tonight, Tonight’ off Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins:
Makes perfect sense when you think about it. And it sounded like the band need all the time they can get to work on this project because they’re only just getting started in terms of the recording process.
“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.”
It wasn’t just Mellon Collie 2 (or whatever it will be called) that the Pumpkins are working on either as they’re using the time afforded to them to work on several other projects.
“We also recorded 13 songs for a different album not too long ago, the drums for that,” says Jimmy. “We just started remixing Machina, Machina II for the box set, so we’re pretty damn busy!”
You’d think that making a sequel to a beloved album would come with a sense of pressure to live up to fan expectations, something that is likely to be multiplied several times over for an album like Mellon Collie, but Jimmy says that’s not really an issue for him and the band.
“I wouldn’t say pressure but I do feel an obligation to create something that is reflective of that breadth of work,” explains Jimmy. “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.”
Having reached for the stars with Mellon Collie in terms of ambition and musical scope, the follow-up album sounds as epic – if not larger – in scope than its predecessor as Jimmy says the band is aiming even further than before.
“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.”
With Mellon Collie celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020, how does Jimmy look back on the album now after all these years and experiences?
“I’m proud of the record for sure but when I look at it I’m feeling more of astonishment,” laughs Jimmy. “I know that the guy playing [drums] in that band didn’t have much of a life other than playing in that band at that time.”