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Opinion

Can Rick Rubin Bring Back The ‘Old’ Smashing Pumpkins?

smashing pumpkins rick rubin

The Smashing Pumpkins are teasing something with a countdown on their website today, and it’s likely that the band is about to formally announce a reunion of (3/4 of) their ‘classic’ lineup. Rumors of such a reunion have been circulating for years and a recent photoshoot included Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain. Last month, Corgan wrote on Instagram, “we are currently in the studio with Rick Rubin.”

So, it’s looks likely that there’s new Smashing Pumpkins music on the way, produced by Rick Rubin. It could be a song, a full album, or anything in between. We don’t have the details yet – but let’s speculate about this music’s potential anyway, shall we?

The Smashing Pumpkins are best known for their early work; namely their breakthrough sophomore LP Siamese Dream and their 1995 smash double-album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Things went downhill pretty soon after. Original members departed, Corgan took the reigns, and lots of forgotten albums were released (what the hell is Teargarden by Kaleidyscope?).

So can Rick Rubin help return the Smashing Pumpkins to the band that fans love and remember?

He did it for Metallica.

Like the Pumpkins, Metallica struggled with their identity after the peak of their commercial success (which was their landmark 1991 self-titled ‘black’ album). Metallica’s identity crisis was immortalized in the soul-searching documentary Some Kind of Monster.

Rubin stepped in to produce the band’s 2008 album Death Magnetic. The producer told Rolling Stone, “The main goal of our work together was to get them to re-embrace being Metallica, feeling OK to be a heavy metal band. … I tried to get them to re-engage with everything everybody fell in love with, with Metallica, in the first place. I got them to listen to the music that they were listening to at the time that they made Master of Puppets, those influences.”

Rubin helped right the course of Metallica’s ship; their 2016 album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct was their best-reviewed albums in many years.

Perhaps Rick Rubin can take a similar approach for The Smashing Pumpkins. He could start by asking the band to break out the distortion pedals and let James Iha do what he does best.

According to the new countdown on their website, it looks like we’ll get some news in about 5 days.

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