By at 12:01 AM Thursday, August 27th 2009


Traveling Troubadours Seek Pumpkins To Smash

The Smashing Pumpkins, Music


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.

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.

Photo by J. Giroux for Smashing Pumpkins via Dave Navarro.


Meanwhile, On The Internet...

  1. There’s no reason at all why that man should be famous anymore.

  2. negativesleep says:

    Why is that because he has talent and is staying true to his music. Or because you want to jump on the bandwagon and bash the hell out of him and his music becuase he/it has integrity and everyone thinks its the cool thing to do. There are plenty of great songs that have come out that camp since the early days but of course that would take time to do the research and obviously that is out of the question here.

  3. Skwerl says:

    oh yeah, this is the one bandwagon we’re gonna jump on. right. we cover him because he does indeed have talent; otherwise we’d simply ignore him. he may have integrity, he may be “staying true,” but we don’t care about that nearly as much as his music, which hasn’t been very impressive overall. yeah, there have been some good songs since mellon collie. there are some good songs on chinese democracy, but it’s no appetite for destruction. johnny and i both own the pumpkins’ entire full-length discography, new shit and some obscure stuff included. we’ve done our homework. but no, we don’t think it’s a “cool thing” to listen to shitty music. in fact, it’s one of the least cool things we can imagine.
    but since corgan is indeed talented, we keep hoping for something better. hence our coverage. currently, johnny’s brutal statement remains not exactly unfounded.

  4. hairboy says:

    I bet one could easily pull a good 11 track album from the songs recorded during the Church Sessions, Zwan, Djali Zwan, TFE and SP2. But no more than just one album.

  5. Skwerl says:

    yeah, i agree with that. incidentally, i love djali zwan’s maiden cover, but that wasn’t even billy, was it?

  6. hairboy says:

    It was Sweeny’s vocals, I’m sure of that. I would bet that the guitars were mostly BC. I believe the Cafe de la Danse is Djali Zwan’s best available performance. If that’s even technically Djali… who knows for sure as that group never really came to fruition. The idea that Djali Zwan (acoustic group) would have opened for Zwan (electric group) each with their own sets of songs with no overlap would have been pretty ambitious.


  7. Bring the shovel, I’ll bury the bitch. He just doesn’t go away. Tough little fucker…

    Now, Dave Navarro likes to get himself into some shitty projects while his time off from Jane’s… Remember Panic Channel? Yeah, neither do I. C’mon Dave!

  8. And I’m not the kind of guy who likes to bash away hiding behind a computer, but that soon-to-be monopoly guy gets on my nerve since Siamese Dreams…

  9. negativesleep2 says:

    I disagree there have been plenty of great new songs as of late and I can’t wait to see what he plans on putting out in the near future. Opinions are like ***holes and there sure are lots of em round here. I happened to really like the latest album and songs that have come after especially the ones that have not been recorded in studio yet. Give the guy credit he writes great lyrics, is an outstanding guitar hero, and is a very original singer. Musicians evolve and I like where he is going.

  10. hairboy says:

    sp2 fans are gay for pay

  11. negativesleep says:

    you are ignorant

  12. Justin says:

    It is one thing to evolve as a musician. Growth is natural, no one likes a band who makes the same record over and over again (no names). However, Corgan (who I have a love/hate relationship with) turned his back on his fans. I know many later fans love Adore, but that record was CRAP in 98 and it’s still CRAP in 09. Then his entire “I am not as big as the Backstreet Boys/Linp Bizkit so I am gonna quit cause no one liked Machina” ‘tude only hurt people like me who worshiped the Pumpkins. You know, the kids who bought all the singles, and then bought them again when packaged as The Aeroplane or Iscariot.

    I will say, I enjoyed parts of Zeitgeist (sp?) and the 20th anniversary tour, and was back on board, but then poof he has to go off and be a lil turd again. So now that I have ranted, what was my point again? Oh yeah, it is what it is people, Corgan is no Jesus, but he’s a helluva lot better then a lot of crap out there right now, like Atreyu.

  13. kim says:

    I was at the show in Visalia. It was GREAT!

  14. IINM519 says:

    Billy Corgan’s a great musical talent, regardless of the drivel that he has spawned since his heyday; so let’s separate issues there. The overriding disappointment is still that the Smashing Pumpkins — I’m talking the original line-up — like many musical superlatives, disbanded one day back in ’97 (or whenever the fuck it was)…It seems we are constantly forced to acknowledge how amazingly well certain formulas work in contrast to how greatly variations or offshoots of the contituents truly fucking suck.

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