Smashing Pumpkins rob cradle with 19 year old drummer

Categories: Music News
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Billy Corgan, pictured here harvesting the body of former drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

Ever see that Z-grade horror movie Atomic Brain? Where the ancient old woman hires buxom young housekeepers as a pretense to select a fresh new body into which her brain will be transplanted? No?

Well, the news that Smashing Pumpkins have selected as their new drummer a 19 year old pup named Mike Byrne smacks of just such a move. Take our word for it. Also take our word that, if the band's activity of late holds fast, their output with youngblood Byrne will be every bit as entertaining as Atomic Brain. Do an IMDB search, and then read that declaration again.

The development is riddled with riddles. Let's start with Byrne, and some light math. From the horse's mouth, he's been a Smashing Pumpkins fan for six whole years.

It was a really good time in my life to hear the Pumpkins music when I was 13. It just connected with me and it was sort of a window into something really different and eclectic. The band was a little bit more willing to take risks than a lot of the stuff I had been listening to. That was exciting and fresh to me. And then delving into a lot of it just definitely resonated on a creative level with me.

Does that mean that 2000's Machina II/The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music was Byrne's "aha" moment for Smashing Pumpkins? If so, Gimme Noise raises an "aye caramba" to that used rack in the sky. Corgan has vouched for his power, speed, and grace as a drummer. But even he has to question the kid's taste if his memory of Corgan's band begins a decade after their seminal work was done.

There comes a point at which any machine, rebuilt drastically enough, ceases to be itself. Use the rule of automotive repair-- once you've exceeded the car's original value in repair costs, you are obligated by unwritten law to rename it.

Corgan is aging less gracefully than any of his peers who survived the black hole if the 1990s. Even Eddie Vedder can hold his head up and look people in the eye a decade and a half after Vs.

But Corgan has maligned himself with scandal and bad albums, with a shortening temper and a lengthening rap sheet among music critics. Can little Mike Byrne save his band?

No. It's been on the bottom of the Marianas Trench for the whole of the new millenium, and Corgan has spent that time proving that, in actuality, there is no dignity in going down with the ship.


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