Billy Corgan’s tough to keep up with these days. So much so that it seems that a lot of music outlets (including us) kinda slept on the news that he’s currently touring with a new band featuring Dave Navarro called Spirits In The Sky.
To be fair, it’s not a permanent gig; it seems to be a spontaneous temporary lineup of friends doing a small ramshackle tour around Southern California. So it would probably be jumping the gun just a bit to shout “supergroup.” But it does set an interesting stage for the much somewhat anticipated Smashing Pumpkins reunion.
Spirits In The Sky debuted at the Echoplex in Los Angeles on July 24th, at a tribute show in honor of Sky Saxon, the dearly departed frontman of obscure psychedelic garage rock band The Seeds. The lineup for that performance, which was originally to be a one-off, featured Electric Prunes bassist Mark Tulin, Strawberry Alarm Clock keyboardist Mark Weitz, as well as Catherine drummer (and ex-husband of original Pumpkin D’Arcy Wretzky) Kerry Brown.
Yeah, it’s OK, we haven’t heard of any of those bands either. You can sit with us at the nerds table if you’d like.
That performance also featured guitarist Kevin Dippold, and Mike Byrne, the Smashing Pumpkins’ official new nineteen year old drummer.
If we’re following the wonderfully thorough reporting of Hipsters United correctly, on August 6th Corgan announced a six-show tour of tiny venues (we’re talking coffee shops), billed as “Billy Corgan with special guests Spirits In The Sky.” And on August 19th, Corgan announced that Dave Navarro would be a part of the Spirits lineup for all but one show in San Diego.
The tour started just a few hours ago in Visalia. The final show is set for August 31st at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles, and Corgan has promised a special, costumed “Halloween Show,” with “as many as nine” performers onstage. I’d like to see nine motherfuckers on the Hotel Café stage. Ten bucks says they’ll have to draw straws.
In case you’re counting, the other two Spirits are Corgan’s Future Embrace touring bandmate Linda Strawberry, and violinist Ysanne Spevack.
From what we gather, Spirits In The Sky should not be seen as a deviation from the new-school Pumpkins plan so much as a warm-up exercise. Corgan will be debuting new material at these shows, and while he may be raising hell for lazy rock journalists, it’s a better process than Axl’s or Courtney’s.
Unfortunately, the one new Corgan-penned song unveiled at the Sky Saxon tribute (video here) was dismal, and crippled by technical difficulties. And I haven’t been impressed by a Smashing Pumpkins album since the last one with the original lineup, 1995’s Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.
The new-school Pumpkins lineup is a four-piece, consisting of Corgan and Byrne of course, as well as Jeff Schroeder and Ginger Reyes, both of whom toured with the Pumpkins in support of 2007’s Zeitgeist.
As always, we’ll reserve judgment until we get our hands on some music. We’ll hope for something good in the meantime, and we’ll keep tabs on these Spirits In The Sky gigs. Our coverage of Corgan hasn’t exactly been overly optimistic, but we’d love to be surprised.