With Suede and Pulp gigging again, there are very few bands left to jump on the reformation bandwagon (though it seems Morrissey would rather eat bleeding sirloin than play with Johnny Marr again). But while those shows have whipped up some serious anticipation, not everyone’s so happy about bands revisiting past glories.
Just look at Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corgan. For a change it’s not his own fans or apparently inept bandmates who are at the receiving end of the smooth-headed, frock-wearing one’s vitriol, but newly reformed US alt-wonkers Pavement.
On discovery that the two acts would both be appearing at Planeta Terra Festival in Brazil, Corgan moaned on Twitter: “It’s gonna be one of those New Orleans type funerals… I say that because they represent the death of the alternative dream, and we follow with the affirmation of life part… they have no love… by the way, we’ll be the band up there playing NEW songs because we have the love xx.”
There’s going to be a far from jovial atmosphere backstage at that gig. I mean, yeah, we know Corgan took the lyrics to Pavement’s ‘Range Life’ (“On tour with Smashing Pumpkins/Nature kids they/I don’t have no function”) as a personal diss even though Stephen Malkmus insisted no offence was meant.
This could easily be the bitching of a scorned man long past his own prime. On first glance Corgan’s comments seem laughably hypocritical. After all, his own band reformed in 2007 (albeit with a different line-up).
But his actual beef lies with the fact Pavement have reformed with no intention of making any new tracks. More to run through old classics, as opposed to reforming for the love of making new music.
Sure, we’re talking about a dude who once tried to charge his fans £27 to watch his online blog… but has Corgan, for once, got a point? After all, Pavement percussionist Bob Nastanovich has already come out and admitted his band’s reunion is happening partly to help him pay off gambling debts. They are, literally, doing it for the money.
Similarly, Suede’s Brett Anderson has explicitly said the band probably won’t record new material. “People want to hear the songs from the band’s heyday,” he explained. “We’ve got a duty to the fans not to ruin the legacy.”
Still though, you can see Corgan’s reasoning – when a band reforms, should they simply be able to retread past glories… or should they bring something new to the table like say, Blur or Dinosaur Jr?
The thing is, everyone would pretty much uanimously agree that the Pumpkins ‘new material’ has been disastrous. Maybe some bands really are better off sticking to the hits. I think if the choice came to choosing between sitting through the likes of ‘Cut Your Hair’, ‘Range Life’ and ‘Summer Babe’ or ‘Zeitgeist’ howler ‘United States’, I’d know which one I’d go for.