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Old 09-11-2017, 07:02 PM   #1
Ram27
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Default Billy's livejournal confessions appreciation thread

The stuff about recording SD is some of my favorite stuff I've ever read

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The first time that the Pumpkins played in Detroit in 1989 was at a small local show that drew about 50 people…as is common at the time, we often would just stay on stage after we would finish playing and greet anyone from the audience that might want to come say hello to us, or get an autograph…while doing that, I met a tall striking girl and her rocker boyfriend, who is a musician…we talked some, hung out some, so the next time we played at the same venue a few months later, we hung out a little more and got to know each other a little better…along the way, I started liking her, and as the situation with the boyfriend seemed to come and go, her and I started seeing each other some in the period following our first album…because she lived in a different city, it was more of a long distance thing, the connection being more talk than anything resembling a real relationship…so when I call her up from Atlanta and she tells me she is basically homeless, I take a leap of faith to make her mine and invite her to come live with me…I paint a fairly carefree, rosy picture, since I am single and have nothing to lose…I figure it can’t be that bad, for she has a gorgeous face and a sunny disposition…and the best body on a girl I have ever seen, period…

As our days grind on in the studio, all pressure is mounting on Jimmy…the success of every session weighs solely on his shoulders, something he is not used to…the big question every day sits whether he can top himself and play better than he has ever played in his life…we are counting on him to finish all the drums first, and I can tell that even though he is putting on a brave face, this type of microscopic attention is starting to freak him out…Jimmy is the type of musician who is at his best if he is not thinking…this doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he is doing at any given moment (he does), but rather what he does is so complicated that it’s best if he doesn’t pay too much attention, a act like juggling with dangerous objects…because you can juggle 4 knives fairly effectively if you really don’t pay much attention to the fact that you are juggling 4 sharp knives…and this is what it is like for him, playing some of these songs at 100mph…I look for ways to help him, and notice if I give him too many details after a take, he plays worse and worse, overburdened by thought…also, he doesn’t play well if you criticize him openly particularly, or directly, but responds really well to overall grand concepts and encouragement…the general feeling for me when I work with Jimmy is one of true honor…he will absolutely kill himself and play his fingers to the bone trying to get you what you want musically, if you will walk with him thru the darkness of the whole ordeal…take after take strips Jimmy of his natural confidence, and I try to stay in the spot with him, reminding him of how far we have come, and how we are both going to get there…we start to speak a secret language no one hears, not even Butch over the open mikes…James and D’arcy don’t say a word, either because they don’t understand or don’t care, as this part of the process becomes mine and Jimmy’s exclusively…I spend a lot of energy trying to soothe him, to get him to play consistently so that we won’t have to chop up all his drum takes so much, both because the editing is so time consuming (sometimes a whole day) and the very act of slicing apart his grooves destroys his urgent swagger, killing the bands natural feel…I secretly go along with all this idealism, believing in Butch and how it will get us all where we want to go…unknowingly, I am deftly balancing two worlds on a pin, one the world of the mighty Pumpkins and our sloppy yet defined passion, the other the growing perfectionism of a coming corporate age…

The girl from Detroit arrives with her car, the kind of car that all those kind of cute girls drive (a sort of sports car that doesn’t go fast)…I am happy to see her, for it is lonely here in Marietta, and the prospects of meeting anyone special over at ‘T.G.I.F Fridays’ is fairly slim…I show her the lay of the land, and where to put all her stuff in my sparsely decorated bedroom…in fact, there is almost no furniture, save for the bed…the only thing of mine in the room is my 8 track cassette recorder in the corner, and my electric typewriter, which uses the 8 track’s box as a makeshift desk (I kneel down when I type)…at first, it is what you expect, romance and happiness, a gentle and welcome distraction…she says she is an artist, but as the days go by she doesn’t appear to be creating anything…she is welcome at the studio at any time, but mostly chooses to stay at the apartment and ‘work’…she seems displaced, but I am not sure what I can do about it…as the weeks go by, she starts to drink, usually a bunch of beers so by the time I get home at 11, she is a bit out of it and lost…this creeping drama starts to turn me cold, and within a short while of her arrival, we are sleeping on different sides of the bed…I don’t know what is happening between us, or with her, but whatever it is, it seems to be having a devastating effect on her psyche…she lasts almost 6 weeks, which sounds like a decent amount of time, literally speaking…but when you consider that we almost never see each other beyond these faint mornings and nights, it is as if she was a ghost that came, wept, and left, forever leaving her mark on the album…forgotten, but not missed…

To break up some of the incessant drum takes, we focus some on bass and guitar sounds, doing lots of tests with microphones and pre-amps, guitars and speakers, to try to bring the overall picture into a clear vision that seems readily achievable…although we have a fairly large budget (precisely 8 times larger than our first), money is being eaten up rapidly by the accommodations and studio time…even at this fairly early stage, we are already behind schedule and by logic over budget (if you calculate it out)…as is their custom, James and D’arcy pay little attention to these ‘tests’, leaving the technical aspects to Butch and I…since this is now our way of giving Jimmy a break, he is generally not even at the studio during this work…

Jimmy starts to lose it, regressing back into hanging out with losers and making quick friends with local addicts…I had hoped that by coming down to Atlanta (my real reason for getting out of Chicago) that we could keep him isolated from these types of temptations and stay focused…at first, it is a few simple ‘I had a few too many’ mornings, and we work around his hangovers and sudden ‘flu-like’ symptoms…but you can see the storm cloud coming, because he gets this certain look in his eye…at night, I try to engage him by playing video game baseball against him, and we have some wonderful times beating up on each other, each claiming his own bragging rights…many evenings, he just comes home and goes right to bed…but like some hidden clockwork, a ‘friend’ will suddenly appear at the studio to take him into ‘Hot-lanta’ for a night on the town, and he’s gone, quicker than you can say ‘wait’…this has a strange rhythm to it, these calm days and sad, crazy nights, and it is something you can get used to, like a tax you learn to pay…this is all manageable of course…that is until he disappears without a trace…
don't know how much is sensationalized or an unreliable narrator but it's a great, interesting read

 
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Old 09-11-2017, 07:05 PM   #2
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The studio we are working in is about 20+ minutes outside of Atlanta proper, a distance that escapes us as being too far to have any kind of social life…our first thought of course is to where we would be able to hang out on a nightly basis, and with Atlanta looming just over the horizon, we figured fun was a sure bet (wrong!)…little did we know we were in the beehive of the very white deep south, Marietta, Georgia…we are set up in one of those temporary living communities, where people rent month to month in case they have to leave suddenly…James and D’arcy share one apartment, while Jimmy, Vince, and I share other…James and D’arcy’s place is about a 3 minute drive from ours, which adds to the sense of isolation between the two camps and insures that outside of work, we will almost never see each other…our roommate Vince is one of James’ high school buddies turned employee, and his job is to take care of whatever (whatever breaks, whatever needs to get done---prompting the infamous jam/rant song “where’s vince?”)…

In order to save some money, our first order of business is to spend some quality time with Butch Vig (our producer) in an Atlanta rehearsal space, to go over all the songs and weed out what is in or out…Butch sets up a portable make-shift studio to record us for later reference, and we get to work for a few days in earnest…this is pretty much a repeat of how we work at home, just doing a lot of chopping and cutting and last second lyric scribbling…to add a little something to the sense of urgency, we have booked 4 shows at a local club, hoping that the combo of working with Butch first and the concerts second will get us in gear and over the final hump to fully prepare the songs to be recorded…James and D’arcy are much more comfortable with Butch around because they feel that there is someone new to pay attention to them and heed any of their concerns…this is something Jimmy and I silently find amusing, because there is a bit of a show to the whole thing that we are long bored with…behind the scenes, there is one way we do business, but in front of anyone else, it’s just a charade that I tolerate…

Because we have been cooped up for so long, the shows go fairly well energetically but are a bit of a train wreck musically…without forethought, we have transferred our normal practice set-ups to the stage, which means we are using the Big Muff fuzz pedals live…this proves to be a fatal mistake, because without the density of a small room around us, our guitars sound very thin and undefined rendering us sloppy and loose…jumpy nerves add to muddled arrangements, missed opportunities, and to top it all off, most of the songs do not have any lyrics…I skate by by singing my normal in-practice pig-latin, which to someone not paying much attention sounds relatively close to the actual English language…

The recording studio itself sits coyly in a very normal office complex…built by total vintage gearheads, our attraction to the place is simple: away from Chicago, able to make the ‘old’ tube sound…the control room is about standard size, which means it fits about 4 people comfortably, 5 is a stretch…the actual tracking room is a prolonged concrete rectangle, acoustically designed for maximum volume and deadly booming drums (for those interested, you can see this studio fairly well in our home video ‘vieuphoria’)…we spend a few days moving the drums around from wall to wall, hoping to find the optimal sonic spot for Jimmy to play in…we end up opting for a back corner, and from that point on, he never moves…for the tracking, we set-up in a variation of our circle, with me in front of Jimmy, and James and D’arcy off to my left and Jimmy’s right…our amps sit in small isolation booths to keep the sound from bleeding in on the drums, and we all have to wear headphones…standard procedure is to pick a song, and focus on arrangement and drum tones…for Jimmy, the snare he uses on a particular song is a big deal, so he and Butch spend a lot of time going back and forth about this head or that cymbal…then we’ll play for a bit, go and listen to the takes, and then make last-second verbal changes…once we all agree upon a ‘final’ arrangement, we play together until one of 3 things happens: we get the take all playing together, we don’t get the take all playing together, or Jimmy complains to me that James and D’arcy’s playing is throwing him off and asks me to remove them from playing along at all…there are various incarnations of the third option, which could be Jimmy asking Butch to town them down in the headphones, or asking me to lose James but keep D’arcy or the other way around...because this is a new album and a fresh opportunity, there is a sense in the air that this time around the recording and the associated processes will be different…any variation in the beginning of the album of the ‘let’s all do it together’ concept causes immediate tension, and Butch is squarely placed in the middle...this is something I bristle at, but at the same time realize that it is possibly a means to an end…James has a very good memory, and the recording issues with him normally center around timing and tightness…D’arcy on the other hand commonly gets completely lost, which throws off Jimmy’s concentration, blowing the take…in addition, he hates her sense of timing, and the way it makes his drum takes fly all over (we know as we record that we will not keep anything that the 3 of us record, we are simply there to assist Jimmy to play with the right ‘feel’)...I try to keep the peace, but quickly realize that the old way, which is essentially me and Jimmy, is still the easiest way across…I privately express to Jimmy that I understand his growing frustration, but to pace himself because it is going to be a long recording process…

After a lot of discussion, Butch and I agree that the best way to save time is to get all of Jimmy’s drum parts done first, before we start to zero in on the bass, guitars, and vocals…Butch, coming off the huge sales of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album, has become even more obsessed with perfectionism as a means to success...where on our first album ‘Gish’, because of time and money, many of Jimmy’s drums were done in just one take, now Butch wants more...with the stakes and budget being much higher, he now pushes Jimmy to a level of idealism that he has never asked of any other drummer...being a drummer himself, Butch picks up on subtle nuances that would escape me, and therefore doesn’t allow Jimmy to get by with less than his best...at first, it becomes a gentle ribbing contest between the two, with Butch tweaking Jimmy that he can do better, and Jimmy pushing back by saying Butch couldn’t even attempt half of what he (Jimmy) is doing...even when Jimmy does a great take, Butch takes the 24 track master and slices it up with a razor blade to create an even more perfect version that no human could accomplish...this sets such a high standard for Jimmy that he begins to lose confidence in himself, and this translates into him making mental errors in arrangements, so focused is he now on perfect timing...because Jimmy is a total savant on the drums, he has never had to examine his playing to this degree before, because drums have come so readily to him...Jimmy starts communicating to me that he cannot handle the pressure, and this adds to his lack of patience with James and D’arcy...whereupon, they start complaining to Butch...and this is the way the circle starts to go round...
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Old 09-11-2017, 07:29 PM   #3
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It is almost impossible to describe the intensity of the practice space when the Pumpkins are playing at full tilt with The Big Muffs cranked…the basic dimensions of the room are around 25ft x 15ft, with the basic band circle smack in the middle of the shoebox…when you have possibly the loudest drummer in the world playing with passion and power (not to mention about 10 crash cymbals slicing the air) vs. 2 100watt Marshall half-stacks and one 400watt SVT bass amp, you’ve got your basic dull roar fully in hand…add this to that the fact that we are playing in a stone bunker with little or no soundproofing and you’ve got yourself a decent headache blast…but what really puts these tunes over the top, what makes the whole thing ring, and what discreetly pours our liquid brew from sonic anecdote into our own rock and roll riot, is switching to this almost forgotten device…

Occasionally, we take (in various combos, sometimes 2, sometimes all 4 of us) LSD and try to practice…this seems like a good idea for about the first hour, until either the strychnine or the acid itself creep into your brain and melt all your senses and prog-metal suddenly seems way too hard…this drugging loosens the uptight barriers between us, and seem to clear the air without anyone saying anything…somebody starts laughing, and we are kids again, forgetting all this nonsense about topping the charts and changing the world…

We are obsessed with technical precision, for it is obvious to us that the tighter we play the heavier we sound…adding the Big Muff pedal into our charge makes us appear wider and meaner than we truly are, but all this beefed up bludgeoning comes at a hidden cost…because the sound is so grossly overblown (the amps sound like they are going to explode at any second), the band sadly doesn’t sound tight at all…at first, we figure the sound of the fuzz is going to take some time for us to get used to, and because we are having so much fun playing along with them anyway that it doesn’t seem like a big deal…but after only a few days, it becomes obvious that certain aspects of what we do, little things that we take for granted (namely our focused attack), disappear in a haze once we light ‘em up…we discuss ditching the pedals for good, naively talking ourselves into thinking that we can just go back to our normal sound and compensate in some other way...we only last a couple of minutes using our old equipment before we fall to a halt, puzzled because we now sound to our confused ears boring!…we are at a crossroads, as we have made a deal with the devil (of demon fuzz) and can’t seem to go back…it is a Faustian deal for this most exciting sound that makes us deliver invincibility, but by taking away our detailed intensity, also degenerates us to a common pub band…after some discussion, we unanimously decide the fuzz pedals will have stay, and we will just discover a way, as yet unseen, to make them work…we will just have to practice all the harder…
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Old 09-11-2017, 08:18 PM   #4
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I consider these essential reading for any Smashing Pumpkins fans. Billy says some harsh things about D'arcy and James, but at the same time, this was really the last time he really acknowledged their contributions to the band in a realistic way.

 
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:26 PM   #5
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I've only ever read the ones about his dad beating him on his birthday, his step-mom getting rid of his birthday cards and parrot, and threatening a trans woman with violence.


You'd think the forum's tl;dr poster would read the tl;dr text walls, but no.

 
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:59 PM   #6
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the ones on the recording process of Adore was also very interesting.

those were a good read. except, you know, how if you accumulate all the ellipsis you have like an average of 100 dots per paragraph

 
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Old 09-11-2017, 10:07 PM   #7
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Lol

yeah the parts about johnny depp bringing shrooms and them taking blue pills ans swimming in pools was cool

 
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Old 09-12-2017, 02:30 PM   #8
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great reading, though not without their silly bits

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the tension is electric when one punk steps forward to shove me…”I wouldn’t do that if I were you” I tell them…they laugh out loud, “and why the fuck not you piece of shit, what are you gonna do about it?”…I brazenly flash the steel rod, getting tall as it rips thru the air…“now back the fuck off, or I’m gonna break your fuckin’ skulls” I tell them calmly
Quote:
”Get out” I command him, almost under my breath…”What? What’s the big deal??” “Out I say, out, out, out”…a relative who knows where this is going to go just by the attack posture of my body saves me by escorting the gentleman swiftly out the door…

 
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Old 09-12-2017, 02:37 PM   #9
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:33 PM   #10
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Is there a link or place to still read all of this? I've never seen these nor messed with livejournal.

 
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:57 PM   #11
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http://billycorgan.livejournal.com/tag/confessions

 
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:34 PM   #12
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Lol cork soaker made me laff so hard i got a semi

lolololo

 
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Old 09-12-2017, 10:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ram27 View Post
Cheers, shocked Billybubs hasn't pulled it down yet.

 
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Old 09-12-2017, 10:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
I have a little plastic box that is filled with white index cards…each card has written upon it a random thought, a quote, a passage from a book, a collection of themes, song titles, or a set of lines without a home…when I get totally stuck, I thumb through the box and look for inspiration, and when a card gets used it goes to the back of the box…this helps me achieve a stronger cohesion throughout the lyrical themes, and brings together all that I am trying to say into a bigger story and message…
I wonder how many cards have lovers written on them?

 
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:21 AM   #15
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approximately 199%

 
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Old 09-13-2017, 01:19 AM   #16
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funny how you call them livejournal confessions, ram.

 
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Old 09-13-2017, 02:04 AM   #17
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I figure it can’t be that bad, for she has a gorgeous face and a sunny disposition…and the best body on a girl I have ever seen, period…
love the birry o'corrigon version of locker room humble brag

 
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Old 09-13-2017, 03:32 AM   #18
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"I've seen a million faces..
...and I've fucked them all."

Jon Bovi

 
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Old 09-13-2017, 02:53 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teh b0lly!!1 View Post
love the birry o'corrigon version of locker room humble brag
That part was gross

"The body on her" "she had a body on her"

i.e. Yo Bros check out this boner it's fucken mad hard and long b/c of that girl's boobs lips butts and ass, hi fives!!!!! Can't wait to consume that body that that girl has on her, hopefully she will lend it to me for approximately 2.75 furious minutes

 
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Old 09-13-2017, 04:30 PM   #20
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love is suicide

 
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:49 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Run To Me View Post
That part was gross

"The body on her" "she had a body on her"

i.e. Yo Bros check out this boner it's fucken mad hard and long b/c of that girl's boobs lips butts and ass, hi fives!!!!! Can't wait to consume that body that that girl has on her, hopefully she will lend it to me for approximately 2.75 furious minutes
Calm down, nobody is reading this so you can cut the bullshit

 
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