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.