PUMPKIN MACHINE -    Smashing Pumpkins

(14-06-2012) .

Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania.

It was one of those riffs that we had laying around for a while. Actually, I think it went back to when I started working with Mike Byrne in 2009. The original riff was called Nero Riff-O. So it sat around for a long time, and I was finally able to turn it into a song.

Ultimately, I just sat down and wrote the song on the piano. Sometimes, when youve got a riffy song, it helps to just play the chords with no rhythm, and then you hear the song in it. Its those very Paul McCartney/Wings-type chords Broadway-type chords.

The Celestials
The arrangement is kind of like classic MTV, circa 1994. You start with the acoustic and then the band kicks in grunge. I was kind of laughing about it at the time.

Violet Rays
This song, in particular, really shows what the band is bringing to the table. Theres a certain vibe and ambience thats very much them. Theres a lot of parts to it. Were rehearsing it right now for the tour, and were like, What the fuck is going on? [laughs]

My Love Is Winter
My guitar solo is triple-tracked. On stuff like Pinwheels, theres lead guitar work by Jeff and hes double-tracked. To me, if youre going to double or triple-track a guitar, its got to be the same person, unless youre Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. Theres a certain sound they get because theyve played together, so their doubling works, even if its not a perfect double. But theres an effect you get if its the same person it gets really loud in the track.

One Diamond, One Heart
I really liked the track, but I think at one point it was very keyboard-heavy, and it was only going so far in my mind, so I went to Nicole and said, Youve really got to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Youve got to make something happen. She sat down, and in two hours time she wrote the bass part. That, to me, was the turning point.

Thats all Jeffs guitar stuff at the end. What I love about Jeff as a musician is, hes always learning, hes always pushing himself. Technically, hes far superior to me, but where Ive been able to help him is, not to just say, Study this guy, but to explain to him why I think a particular guitarist would help him. And he came back and said, Im really understanding why you asked me to listen to this guy.

For the longest time, we just had the opening figure and some other parts. The way that its broken into three sections wasnt the original intention. It was meant to be a long song, but we were like, This is going nowhere. So the arrangement that is there came together the day we recorded it. I just winged it. We felt strongly about it, and that was it.

Pale Horse
A lot of times when you have that kind of riff, you dont want to get too tricky. It creates a hypnotic effect. You dont want to change keys too much, so I leaned back on some of those artists who used space well. In old Pumpkins ideology, if you started with that riff, the song would get bigger and louder. In this ideology, it actually gets smaller, and thats how you get the dynamic back up.

The Chimera
We were recording drums for something else, and there was a problem with the snare drum. I had 10 minutes where I was just standing there with a guitar around my neck, so I started playing a riff. Mike just went, Oh, man, I love that riff! I was like, Really? So to be a show-off, I quickly arranged it into a song. Mike was all for it, and within a week we were recording it.

Honestly, this is another song that happened when we were sitting around in the studio, waiting for something to get fixed. I started playing the riff, and we were all thinking, Oh, thats good. I went home and wrote the melody and some of the lyrical content. The next day, I played it for Nicole on acoustic guitar, and she almost started crying. She said, God, thats so beautiful. And I was like, OK that works for me! [laughs] Heartache never gets old.

The solo I remember we were mapping the guitars out, and I decided to just leave all this space for some reason. People would say, Whats that for? and Id be like, Oh, Im going to put the solo in there. Its pretty unusual, the drop. You hear it on Queen records because of the nature in the way they worked, but its pretty unusual in most modern music to hear no rhythm guitar at all. But I love it because you can really hear the texture of the sound and take the journey of the crazy bends.

After Mark died in the early part of last year, I found myself going back through the tapes of all the stuff we did, kind of mining for forgotten riffs and also taking this weird walk down memory lane of how hed impacted my life. I came across the song, and I thought, Ive just got to do something. I specifically remember Mark, when I came up with the idea for the song, he was like, I love these chords! Its so cool, the way you put the chords together. He would always say, How do you come up with this shit? [laughs]