The double album vision is coming, eventually...
Smashing Pumpkins have shared the first taster of unreleased music from the upcoming reissue of ‘Machina’. Check it out below.
Earlier this month, frontman Billy Corgan suggested that the band could record new songs for the re-release, as they started work to present the album ‘as it was originally conceived‘ – as a double album. Instead, ‘Machina/The Machines Of God’ was released in February 2000 and was followed up in September of that year by ‘Machina II/The Friends & Enemies Of Modern Music’ as a free internet download.
Corgan had originally wanted to release the two records together but Virgin Records, the band’s label at the time, refused this idea after previous record ‘Adore’ had sold fewer copies than expected. Only 25 copies of ‘Machina II’ were made, with recipients told to share the album online for free. Now, the reunited band are at work on ‘the Machina box’ by raiding their archives and building new tracks.
The first taster is the below instrumental version of ‘Wound’.
“The good news is that the archive on ‘Machin’a is easily the most documented of the first five SP LP’s,” wrote Corgan on Instagram of the band’s progress. “The bad news is there is simply so much to go through that it’s hard to keep track. Given the high interest, I will endeavour to parse out the process.
“The media (digital tapes, home demos, 24 track reels, two track masters, and whatever safety backups exist of each) have to be gone through systemically; with a painstaking eye towards things easily missed; like a massive library stacked with books and their copies. Thus far, I’ve gone through about 80 pct of the DAT’s (digital audio cassettes, which were transferred to hard drives years ago).”
Speaking of the legal wrangles around the material, Corgan said that “Universal owns ‘Machina 1’ while we own ‘Machina 2’. But that does not mean a/ we have all of ‘Machina 2’ or b/ they have all of ‘Machina 1’. As well, some reels were stolen a few years ago (long story) from a local, Chicago studio.
“Assuming all can be ‘found’, for there are safety copies of all reels and even the stolen ones may have stored backups, all those would need to be transferred after being baked in a special oven (as the tapes tend to stick together over time, so care must be taken). Upon which I’d hire a mixer and dive in to recreate and mix fresh some 30-40 songs.”
He added: “This I spell out for those asking every day ‘when is this box set coming out?’ As of now, there is no easy answer.”
Speaking to NME about the band’s archival work, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin said: “We’re going to re-release ‘Machina’ at some point, we’ve got all this unreleased material that we’re looking at too. We continue to write. Billy’s writing, I’m writing and James is too. We’ve got plenty of material, it’s just a question of logistics as well as what’s the best way to release this stuff in today’s marketplace?
“For a band that’s really album-centred, the market presents some interesting challenges. It’s a ‘one song streaming’ world, but our strength lies in compounding these grand bodies of work that all fit together somehow. There’s a lot of stuff coming down the pipe.”
Asked if the band were interested in touring their albums ‘Mellon Collie’ and ‘Machina’ in full, Chamberlin replied: “Again, we’re talking about it but in this day and age it’s all to easy to pontificate. It doesn’t became real until there’s a schedule, but we are talking about doing select cities with a ‘Gish’ tour, a ‘Siamese Dream’ tour.
“Then if that works out, yeah we’ll do ‘Mellon Collie’ and I would love to get to the point where we’re doing ‘Machina’ because that’s some of my favourite stuff to play. We’ll see what happens. There’s a lot of interest in the band doing these album retrospectives. Doing ‘Gish’, from a drummer’s perspective, would not only be challenging but a lot of fun.”
Earlier this month, the band played a sprawling and career-spanning set at London’s SSE Arena, Wembley, covering the likes of David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin.
Their new album ‘Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun’ is released on November 16 – the first album to feature founding Pumpkins members Billy Corgan, James Iha, and Jimmy Chamberlin since 2000.
While the line-up also features longtime collaborator and guitarist Jeff Schroeder and touring bassist Jack Bates (son of Joy Division and New Order legend Peter Hook.), original bassist D’Arcy Wretzky is not included as relations remain fraught between her and the band.