PUMPKIN MACHINE -    Smashing Pumpkins

(2006-05-13) , .

The rumour was insisting since quite some times: The Smashing Pumpkins might be coming back onstage with a brand new record. Jimmy, the drummer confirms us this return, and much more!

Jimmy is probably one of the best and inspiring drummers of his time. As comfortable in the pop-rock universe with the Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan, as in the fusion and progressive rock (remember, Life Begins Again, the record of his band Jimmy Chamberlin Complex a piece of gold), he might be the only one capable of joining the strength of Bomham and the grace of Gene Krupa. Coming to California, our team decided to contact Jimmy. He accepted to meet us, if he didnt orientate our questions on The Smashing Pumpkins (promotional secrets). He finally revealed the essential: the spirit is great in the band of Billy Corgan, and the record is being cooked. Lets rock!

Q : We know that you dont want to talk about The Smashing Pumpkins. But can you at least tell us to what stage you are?
J : The band have begun to rework last year, in a secret mode. We went back on track very well, and we have spent great times to write some new songs and simply play together. Its cool!

Q : Did you write a lot of songs ?
J : We have already something like fifty songs. Like I told you, we have very creative and well give soon some official news.

Q : Just a last thing : Is it the original line-up with DArcy and James Iha ?
J : To be honest, I dont want to talk about this subject. We have the songs, were preparing a new record. Please, lets leave it this way and talk about something else (Jimmy is a bit annoyed).

Q : Ok, sorry to bug you with this. And beside yours bands, do you do a lot of sessions?
J : No, I only do a few, and only for my friends. Going to the studio is a lot of pressure for me, Im not like that. And also, Im a sensitive guy, and the idea to sell my drumming to everyone is unbearable for me. I have friends, like Josh Freese, who do that job perfectly. Thats their thing. But on the other side, I like to participate in learning events. I find this enjoyable.

Q : For what reasons ?
J : To me, the clinics represents a unique chance to explain to people who I am, where Im from artistically and why I play this way. For my fans, its the only way to approach me in a human dimension and to receive what I have to share, to get my inspiration. Its a relation impossible to establish during a big rock concert.

Q : You know a lot about technique, that must be interesting
J : I dont talk about technique. I must be the only one in clinics to talk about songwriting, and the role of the drums in the songwriting. I show also my interpretation of funky rythmes. But, I insist on the music writing, and even on the lyrics.

Q : Do you mean that the lyrics of a song make you play in a different way ?
J : Of course. I understood this while playing with the Smashing Pumpkins. The lyrics play a very important part in the mood of the band. Ive realised while listening to the radio, that a lot of drummers are completely out of track. The singer tells a sweet and touching story, and the drummer is making noise over it. Here, I tell myself this guy has a problem. He must be either deaf or disturbed (laughs). I believe that too much drummers play for themselves, and thats bad. I oftenly take the example of Disarm from the Pumpkins (on the album Siamese Dream). When I listened to Billy Corgan singing this song, I was touched by its simplicity. I told him: You know, I dont hear drums on your song. I will put a bit of a mood with the timbales and some cymbals on some parts, and nothing more. To me, that was obvious. The part that I play on Tonight Tonight is also very special for a rock tune. Its once again the lyrics that inspired me. I write, as well, a lot of lyrics for my own band.

Q : To talk about this. Are you satisfied with the success that got you first record with the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, Life Begins Again?
J : Im very satisfied. For a record with progressive mood, it has gotten a nice success, and some big radio stations have played some songs. I didnt expect that. The sells were good, and the best proof is that the record label is asking me for another one. This means that they liked the music and that they also gained money.

Q : To me Loki Cat, the song on which Billy Corgan is singing is beautiful
J : That makes me happy, because this song means a lot to me. Im proud that Billy came to participate on the record, after all weve been thru together. There was no money to make, no commercial moves, and he just came naturally. A great musician and a friend!

Q : So, this next Complex record, when do you plan to record it ?
J : I must wait to have the inspiration. I think, if everything goes as planned, it might be released at the beginning of next year. Its not easy to write for this band. Theres a balance between the feeling of Jazz Rock, progressif, rock, and thats easy to break this and be out of track. The first time, the songs were written and recorded very fast. I think that something that helped us.

Q : Do you have a lot of drummers among your friends ?
J : You know, we all know each others. In the USA, the drummers community is so small. Terry Bozzio, Peter Erskine, Gregg Bisonette, Thomas Lang, Steve Smith, Mike Portnoy, Dave Grohl, Josh Freese, Taylor Hawkins. Theyre all my friends, and we like to see each others and spend some good times together.

Q : By the way, Steve Hewitt, asked me to salute you
J : If you catch him, tell him that I cant wait to see him again, and that I love the music of Placebo. Im proud that he likes what I do, and that he tells good things about me, because hes a good drummer.

Q : According to you, why theres so much love among drummers ?
J : You have to believe that the ego is not proportional to the size of the instrument, if you know what I mean (laugh). Its hard to tell. Being a drummer is a hard job and oftenly ungrateful, when you think about the cost of the gears when you start in the business, and mainly because of the responsibilities youre facing. We must help each others to survive, I think thats it.

Q : When will you come back to France ?
J : With the Smashing Pumpkins, Ill be back during the year, thats for sure. But Id like to do some clinics in France and spend some times there, like I just did in Britain. I like France a lot.

Q : Really ? Arent you trying to be demagogic on this one?
J : Absolutely not. I was on vacations there in 1997 I think, and I liked everything: the food, the people, and the culture. I cant wait to come back.