Smashing Pumpkins’ Teargarden by Kaleidyscope is destined to be the Chicago band’s most ambitious record, even though we’ve only heard two songs from it. Frontman Billy Corgan, who elevated alternative rock to operatic heights with the release of the massive 1995 double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, has conceived the group’s first record since 2007’s Zeitgeist as a 44-track album that he will release one song at a time through the Internet for free.
Release Date: N/A
Basic InfoAlbum Title: Teargarden by Kaleidyscope
Release Date: N/A
Billy Corgan Goes It Alone
In March 2009, Corgan – the band’s vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter – announced that the group’s only other remaining member from their 1990s heyday, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, was leaving Smashing Pumpkins. A statement released to the media said, “Corgan will continue to write and record as SMASHING PUMPKINS with plans to head into the studio this spring.” Fans were surprised to hear of Chamberlin’s departure, but more shocks were soon to be forthcoming.
Meet the New DrummerSoon after Chamberlin’s exit, Corgan held open auditions for a new drummer, posting an announcement on the band’s website that he was looking for someone with “exceptional drumming ability and a desire to be part of a massive creative and progressive musical project with a rich 20-year history.” In August 2009, Corgan found his new drummer, relatively unknown 19-year-old Mike Byrne. Considering that Byrne was only one when Smashing Pumpkins released their first record, Gish, the decision raised some eyebrows, but Corgan defended his choice in a blog post, saying “[W]hat made Mike stand out was he just seemed to have that X-factor that all the great drummers have, a stunning blend of power, speed, and grace ... I believe in my heart he will push me to be a better musician.”
A Revolutionary Release Strategy for ‘Teargarden’
In September, Corgan unveiled his next bombshell. Taking to the band’s website, he wrote that the group’s new album would be called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope and would be a 44-song opus. Built around a concept inspired by the Tarot, Corgan said that “Each song will be made available absolutely for free, to anyone anywhere. There will be no strings attached. Free will mean free, which means you won’t have to sign up for anything, give an email address, or jump through a hoop. You will be able to go and take the song or songs as you wish, as many times as you wish.” He planned on putting out the first song around Halloween and then release subsequent tracks when they were completed. Fans could purchase Teargarden as four-song EPs or in a box set with all the tracks included, but if they didn’t want to spend a dime for these recordings, they didn’t have to. Speaking with Rolling Stone about the unusual release strategy for Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Corgan stated, “I would rather be free than rich. The [record] labels are dead ghosts walking, and they know it. They never should have left this mystic free, because I am way more of a pied piper than they could ever fathom.”
“A Song for a Son”Delays prevented Corgan from releasing the first Teargarden track on Halloween as he initially hoped, but “A Song for a Son” made its way online on December 7, 2009. A moody piano-and-guitar tune that would have fit on Adore, “A Song for a Son” was psychedelic and melodic, a strong start to the album.
“Widow Wake My Mind”
The second Teargarden song, “Widow Wake My Mind,” hit the web on January 18, 2010. Though a more high-energy tune than “A Song for a Son,” this second track nonetheless shared with its predecessor an unconventional structure that separated it from Smashing Pumpkins’ alt-rock leanings of the ‘90s. On the strength of its first two “singles,” Teargarden found Corgan trying to push himself into new sonic realms.
“A Stitch in Time”The Pumpkins made “A Stitch in Time” available online on March 2, 2010. The third Teargarden release was highlighted by acoustic guitar and keyboards, which gave the tune a frolicking, playful spirit, despite the song’s lyrics about an unfulfilling relationship.
‘Teargarden’ Track List:
- “A Song for a Son”
- “Widow Wake My Mind”
- “A Stitch in Time”