Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Smashing Pumpkins Archive Project




The SP archive project, for which we don't yet have an official nom de plume, is now fully underway. People are being hired, wired, and fired up with this insane pile of stuff to go through. The main focus of our tape transfers is to take any materials from 1985-1994 that are relevant to the Gish, Siamese Dream, or Pisces Iscariot albums and get them into a stable, 96k format. This makes it easier for me to instantly jut around and hear what we have. It is a surreal experience to listen to a demo from 1987 and have no memory of ever recording it, but knowing from the chords and the style that is indeed you that is playing!

A few days ago I started to listen through, in no particular order, to demo tapes related to those early years, and found a lot of ideas that sounded fresh and interesting to me, considering I know now the outcome of those different approaches and interests as I was laying them out then in pursuit of a new sound. Most of the materials would be of little interest to the mainstream fan, but the beauty is we can release these ideas and snippets if we can find the right way to do so. If I had to make a choice today, it would probably be something along the lines of outline the project, and see who might want to buy in with a guarantee that they are assured a limited edition pressing. We all know the songs will be bootlegged, there is no mystery in that anymore, but I feel that because of what these ideas are, in essence a real peek under the covers of how these albums came together, that there will be enough fans who would want to own a physical copy. Putting them together for digital consumption is easy, but probably not going to excite enough people. I know I get motivated when I think about a 20 album vinyl set of my demos from 1985-1994, even if only 500 fans wanted every one, because it means together we get to make something permanent that requires love, and a cover photo, and some liner notes, etc. In essence it is motivating to share more than just a digital file; to make art. 




Our main focus in the short term however is to find the relevant songs to be part of the bonus disc on each release, and to get these together in time to get out before Christmas of this year. There are many obvious choices to choose from, for example 'Drown' from the Singles soundtrack and 'Starla', which was the B-side of the UK 'I am One' single for 'Gish' bonus disc. On the surface, if you already own those songs, you might say 'why do I need them again?' Which is a good question I myself ask as a fan. So for example, for 'Drown', we may release an alternate version with has a completely different take of the long end guitar solo, mixed by Butch Vig in 1992. With 'Starla', we've talked about a completely new Kerry Brown mix 2011 style, with the original mix still being available on the 'Pisces Iscariot' record. These of course are those more known titles, but we remain hopeful to find those hidden gems that have never been heard by anyone. For example, I came across a tape the other day where I had played live, right onto an 8 track recorder, 5 songs acoustic, 'Rocket' being one of them. This version I know has never been bootlegged out. But I also found on that same tape 2 unknown songs which are half-written, with me kind of faking lyrics as I often do when I'm writing a song. I never had any intention for anyone to ever hear these versions, and in their raw form are probably not release worthy, at least not commercially. But what I might do is 'finish' the songs now; record a final version after all these years with me on guitar and voice alone, and provide those half-baked versions on the SP facebook page for everyone to enjoy a lost moment in time. So lots of exciting choices as well to come.  


WPC



32 comments:

Aurisor said...

It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that I'm going to buy whatever the result of this project is...pretty excited!

Scotopic Lux Photography said...

This sounds exciting for both you and us! Can't wait to see where you end up taking it.

Nathan said...

Have you heard of Jack White's Vault project? For $60 a quarter or basically $20 a month, fans have access to exclusive web content and every 3 months platinum members that pay the $20 a month get rare physical releases, usually on vinyl. I think maybe you should look into this sort of format to gather all the fans together and you'd have a more accurate number of who would be interested in these releases as you could set a cut off date for signing up each quarter. Just an idea.

As much as I would love a 20 record set, i highly doubt I would be able to afford it, as I'm sure many others. This could be a way for you to slowly roll each release out.

Chucky said...

I'm so excited, waiting out the re-releas of the albums.

Scroph said...

I love the idea of a limited pressing for unreleased songs !!! I would definitely want one !!
Why not usine a pledge System like Carina Round or David J Haskins ?

swilliams6587 said...

Billy do you not know how much your hardcore fans love and respect your work? When you so adore an artist, yes, you want to hear half finished demos recorded in his bedroom 20 years ago. No one in your generation of musicians has as varied and interesting a back catalogue as you do. We want it all, please. yes on the vinyl, artwork, liner notes. Your music deserves that treatment.

Stuart Edwards said...

I'm so ridiculously excited to hear some of these completely lost versions of songs I've loved over the years!

I know it's a long long long time off yet, but a similar thing with the Teargarden outtakes would be amazing in the final boxset.

clw said...

I'm all for this project and I like Billy's realistic approach to it. I'll end up buying everything released, but I don't really want to drop the cash for a record player. Vinyl seems so elitist these days and not really in touch with what even the most dedicated fan is able to utilize. I would therefore also hope that there are physical releases on CD so those of us without record players can also enjoy the tangible results of this project and not just the digital portion.

jeanna said...

I actually got chills all over my body while I was reading this! SO excited to see where this project goes!

Garreth said...

What has James, D'Arcy and Jimmy ma
of this? Are they going to have any input? Get royalities? Will this be the water to quench fires and i believe herein lies where the fans are right - the old stuff is the best so we old fans are not so irrelevant!

middleearthguy said...

bring it on, i'll be buying this!

Jason said...

awesome. I'm totally going to check out this earlier material. I was amazed by 'Sun', and 'Egg'.

egross said...

How about creating a subscription that we can buy for the SP archive project?

Christian LeBlanc said...

I like the pledge idea...high amounts could get the 20-vinyl boxed sets, while lower pledge amounts could get, say, a custom thumb drive with all the songs/artwork on it? Just saying, you'd be leaving out a lot less fans that way ;)

Sinister Steve said...

I'd quite like to hear alternate mixes, demos and even a few live tracks on the bonus cds. SP have always been a great live band so itd be cool to hear how a few of the songs sounded live.

I also recommend looking at Jack Whites Vault club for issuing rare material. I'm all for one off vinyl pressings!!

Kelly and the Distractions said...

Whoever has the job of transferring the tapes and archving and catalog has the greatest job ever. I would sell a body part to be part of that. I spent 10 years in college doing "public history" and doing archive work for musicians is the best ever! Good luck and I hope its alot of fun walking down memory lane. Can't wait to hear the fruits of the labor.

Menrad said...

I'm just so excited with all of this !

Put anything you can out, anyway you want ! I'll just take what will come (provided I can afford it, of course :D).

But like many others, I want PHYSICAL releases. I hate digital stuff, and don't want to pay for MP3 (I'd rather make them myself from my CD, LP, whatever).

Noah said...

Can't wait to get my hands on this stuff!

crimnos said...

Add another fan who would definitely chip in to get whatever is offered. I'd love to hear the evolution of the sound as well as any failed attempts - the process is as important as the product.

avuton said...

Excited. Please don't forget about all the pistachio medley stuff. I'd pay anything for the songs I don't have yet :D

travel foreman said...

i think most of us would love to hear those raw vintage recordings as well.

Phillip said...

My first comment here. I have to echo avuton - PISTACHIO MEDLY SONGS PLEASE! Though I know that was during MCIS, so maybe I'm jumping the gun.:p

Joshua T Smith said...

As you can imagine, the other musicians out here who are BC & SP fans are really going to love this stuff!

I also want to echo Phillip's request for the Pistachio Medley material one day! :)

Vinny said...

Um, don't get too excited: Billy's the undisputed King of announcing projects that never get finished or taking 10 years to get finished & then never releasing them...

Aaron said...

As a long-time fan, I would certainly be willing to invest in this project at a reasonable cost.

Linda said...

It's great to hear how excited you and all those working on this project with you are! I'm sure it will be amazing to hear- and I personally would love 20 more albums :)

Rachel said...

This is exciting. Isn't it great to rediscover things that you had forgotten? We don't even have a record player and we have bought the Teargarden albums so far...this is definitely going in the collection. :)

Daniel said...

Although you're right in that many of these demos are probably more scratch tracks than commercial-worthy tunes, it's essential to release these recordings to the fans as there are many of us who have seen the Pumpkins' sound organically progress and evolve over time. Giving us these songs takes us on that roller coaster of re-invention!

wood_brothers21 said...

I'm sure you've seen/heard what the Beach Boys have done for their "Pet Sounds Sessions". That whole package wasn't particularly inexpensive but it was well worth the price to hear just how arduous is the process of musical perfection. This news is as exciting as when I first heard that entire King Crimson concerts were being offered for download. I look forward to listening to your musical equivalent of an archeological dig.

Douglas said...

So exciting and inspiring - this is what it's all about :)

Douglas said...

So exciting and inspiring...this is what it's all about :)

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