We greeted the prospect of listening to Oceania, the new album by Billy Corgan and some people who he’s calling Smashing Pumpkins, with the same trepidation shown by pretty much everyone else who grew up in the 1990s. Quite why Corgan insists on calling his band Smashing Pumpkins these days is unclear — when the classic line-up of that band split in 2000, Corgan formed a new band under a new name — but he chose to exhume it in 2006, and with the departure of Jimmy Chamberlin in 2009, he’s the only remaining original member. Frankly, we wish he’d stop it and move on to something new — and he’s not the only one, as you’ll read after the jump.
Let’s make one thing clear from the outset — we’re not hating on Billy Corgan, nor are we in any way calling for him to stop making music (nor, indeed, would we or anyone else have the right to do such a thing anyway). But, having said that, it’s clear that the band he’s calling Smashing Pumpkins these days has precisely nothing to do with the band that the world knows as Smashing Pumpkins (above). This is a new band, plain and simple. The whole issue of band names is a vexed question — in this case, Corgan clearly owns the name, and legally that’s all that matters, but as we noted the other day, as long as he keeps using it, his music’s going to get judged against Siamese Dream.
Likewise Courtney Love and Hole. The lady herself explained her use of the Hole moniker for Nobody’s Daughter to this writer a couple of years back: “It’s my band name. I had it in 1988, I had it in 1998, I had it in 2008, I’ll have it in 2018. It’s mine.” This is all very well, but the fact that she can use the Hole name doesn’t necessarily mean she should. The band who played on Nobody’s Daughter — which was for all intents and purpose a Courtney solo record — had no more to do with the classic Hole line-up than the band that played on America’s Sweetheart, which was a Courtney solo record. Now if the reunion from a couple of months back could be made permanent, well, that’d be another matter entirely…
Guns N’ Roses
And one more band name dilemma for good measure. Again, no matter what Axl Rose chooses to call the latest collection of musicians he’s assembled to play his, um, fascinating new compositions, they’re not going to be Guns N’ Roses in the public’s mind unless, at the very least, there’s a man with a large top hat playing guitar and a craggy rhythm guitarist writing the songs.
Sometimes, bands quit while they’re ahead, sometimes while they’re on the downslope… but sometimes, they hang around until they’re little more than parodies of their former selves, and it’s a pretty depressing spectacle for all concerned. And then they make a track with Lil Wayne, and the entire world winces and weeps simultaneously.
Yes, they still exist. Where is your god now?
If you’d fallen into a Rip Van Winkle-ish slumber in the mid-’90s and been woken ten years later to be told that the largely unremarkable “punk” band responsible for Dookie had somehow transformed themselves into globe-bestriding, chest-beating, opera-making, neo-prog colossi… well, you’d probably have gone right back to sleep again and aimed for about 2104 in the hope all this unpleasantness could be completely avoided.
Simple rule: there should be some sort of statutory prohibition on bands continuing without a single original member. (See also: Sepultura, Sugababes, etc.)
And in all seriousness, while dealing with the untimely death of a friend and bandmate would undoubtedly be unimaginably traumatic, there should also be some sort of law against bands replacing a deceased member — let alone an iconic lead singer — via a reality TV show. For God’s sake.
If nothing else, Don Henley’s famous proclamation that the Eagles would reform “when hell freezes over” promised that the world wouldn’t have to put up with the Eagles after their 1980 breakup. But no. They reunited in 1994 and have hung around like a smooth Southern Californian bad smell ever since. As of 2012, they’re playing casinos and taunting the world with the prospect of yet another album. Make it stop.
The Rolling Stones