The Late Movies: The Smashing Pumpkins


Some friends and I recently went on a trip to the Jersey Shore together. The drive posed a problem, since we all have very different tastes in music. We could all agree on one thing, though: the early 90s alternative rock we loved in grade school is still pretty awesome. Tonight we present one of my favorite bands from that era, The Smashing Pumpkins.

“Cherub Rock,” Isolated Bass Track

Female bass players seemed to be an unofficial requirement for early 90s rock bands (see White Zombie, The Pixies, Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth), and the Pumpkins had two of the best: D'arcy Wretzky and Melissa Auf der Maur (who also played in Hole and the great Black Sabbath cover band, Hand of Doom). Here’s one of my favorite things to play on Rock Band II: D’arcy’s bass parts from “Cherub Rock.”

"Cherub Rock"

And here’s the whole band doing the song live on TV Europe. Singer Billy Corgan fought the band’s record label to get this released as the first single from the album Siamese Dream. The record execs wanted to release “Today” first, and that second single got much more attention than “Cherub Rock.”


When the band first went into the studio to record Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, “1979” was just a shell of a song, and the record’s producer wanted to leave it off the album. Corgan was attached to what he had, though, and finished it in just a few hours. The next day he played it for the producer and got it added into the recording sessions.

"Stand Inside Your Love"

While many of their contemporaries (at least the ones I paid attention to) faded away, the Pumpkins soldiered on into the new millennium with Machina/The Machines of God. Stone Temple Pilots had released No. 4 just a few months earlier to much disappointment from me and my friends, but the Pumpkins made up for it with Machina, retaining their classic sound on songs like this one.


Not long after Machina and its followup Machina II were released, the Pumpkins disbanded, only to “reunite” at the end of the decade with only Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin as the remaining original members. Chamberlin eventually left (or was fired, depending on who you ask), and Corgan continued recording and touring with a group of musicians that appear to be about 20 years younger than him. This video, from a live set at Sacramento’s Radio 94.7 KKDO, looks like an old dude crashing a high school talent show.

Jimmy Chamberlin drum solo

Speaking of Jimmy Chamberlin, here he is just doing his thing in an undated live performance.

"Bullet with Butterfly Wings"

I don’t suppose we could talk about the Pumpkins without acknowledging their best-known song. I spent a good chunk of 9th grade banging these riffs out on a hand-me-down guitar in my basement.


The Pumpkins have a pretty large body of work, and I certainly missed many of your favorites on this list. Which songs do you love? Leave video links in the comments.