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THE SMASHING PUMPKINS

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Biography: 

Of all the major alternative rock bands of the early '90s, the Smashing Pumpkins were the group least influenced by traditional underground rock. Lead guitarist/songwriter Billy Corgan fashioned an amalgam of progressive rock, heavy metal, goth rock, psychedelia, and dream pop, creating a layered, powerful sound driven by swirling, distorted guitars.

Corgan was wise enough to exploit his angst-ridden lyrics, yet he never shied away from rock star posturing, even if he did cloak it in allegedly ironic gestures. In fact, the Smashing Pumpkins became the model for alternative rock success. Nirvana was too destructive and Pearl Jam shunned success. The Pumpkins, on the other hand, knew how to play the game, signing to a major-subsidized indie for underground credibility and moving to the major in time to make the group a multi-platinum act. And when the group did achieve mass success with 1993's Siamese Dream, they went a long way to legitimize heavy metal and orchestrated prog rock, helping move alternative rock even closer to '70s AOR, especially in the eyes of radio programmers and mainstream audiences. Unlike many of their contemporaries, the Pumpkins were able to withstand many internal problems and keep selling records, emerging as the longest-lasting and most successful alternative band of the early '90s.

The son of a jazz guitarist, Billy Corgan grew up in a Chicago suburb, leaving home at the age of 19 to move to Florida with his fledgling goth metal band, the Marked. After the band failed down South, he returned to Chicago around 1988, where he began working at a used-record store. At the shop he met James Iha (guitar), a graphic arts student at Loyola University, and the two began collaborating, performing and recording songs with a drum machine. Corgan met D'Arcy Wretzky at a club show; after arguing about the merits of the Dan Reed Network, the two became friends and she joined the group as a bassist. Soon, the band, who named themselves the Smashing Pumpkins, had gained a dedicated local following, including the head of a local club who booked them to open for Jane's Addiction. Before the pivotal concert, the band hired Jimmy Chamberlin, a former jazz musician, as their full-time drummer.

In 1990, the Smashing Pumpkins released their debut single, "I Am One," on the local Chicago label Limited Potential. The single quickly sold out, and in December the band released "Tristessa" on Sub Pop. By this point, the Smashing Pumpkins had become the subject of a hot bidding war, and the group latched on to a clever way to move to a major label without losing indie credibility. They signed to Virgin Records, yet it was decided that the group's debut would be released on the Virgin subsidiary Caroline, then the band would move to the majors. The strategy worked; Gish, a majestic mix of Black Sabbath and dream pop produced by Butch Vig, became a huge college and modern rock hit upon its spring 1991 release. While it earned a large audience, many indie rock fans began to snipe at the Smashing Pumpkins, accusing them of being careerists. Such criticism did the band no harm and they embarked on an extensive supporting tour for Gish, which lasted over a year and included opening slots for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam. During the Gish tour, tensions between bandmembers began to escalate, as Iha and D'Arcy, who had been lovers, went through a messy breakup, Chamberlin became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and Corgan entered a heavy depression. These tensions hadn't been resolved by the time the group entered the studio with Vig to record their second album.

 

 

Toward the beginning of the sessions, the Pumpkins were given significant exposure through the inclusion of "Drown" on the Singles soundtrack in the summer of 1992. As the sessions progressed, Corgan relieved himself of his depression by working heavily -- not only did he write a surplus of songs, he played nearly all of the guitars and bass on each recording, which meant that its release was delayed several times. The resulting album, Siamese Dream, was an immaculate production owing much to Queen, yet it was embraced by critics upon its July 1993 release. Siamese Dream became a blockbuster, debuting at number ten on the charts and establishing the group as stars. "Cherub Rock," the first single, was a modern rock hit, yet it was "Today" and the acoustic "Disarm" that sent the album into the stratosphere, as well as the group's relentless touring. The Smashing Pumpkins became the headliners of Lollapalooza 1994, and following the tour's completion, the band went back into the studio to record a new album that Corgan had already claimed would be a double-disc set. To tide fans over until the new album, the Pumpkins released the B-sides and rarities album Pisces Iscariot in October 1994.

Working with producers Flood and Alan Moulder, the Smashing Pumpkins recorded as a full band for their third album, which turned out to be, as Corgan predicted, a double-disc set called Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Although many observers were skeptical about whether a double-disc set, especially one so ridiculously named, would be a commercial success, Mellon Collie became an even bigger hit than Siamese Dream, debuting at number one on the charts. On the strength of the singles "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," "1979," "Zero," and "Tonight, Tonight," it sold over four million copies in the U.S., eventually being certified platinum over eight times (each disc in the set counted separately toward certification). The Pumpkins had graduated to stadium shows for the Mellon Collie tour, and the band was at the peak of their popularity when things began to go wrong again. On July 12, prior to two shows at Madison Square Garden, the group's touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, died from a heroin overdose; he was with Jimmy Chamberlin, who survived his overdose. In the wake of the tragedy, the remaining Pumpkins fired Chamberlin and spent two months on hiatus as they recovered and searched for a new drummer. Early in August, they announced that Filter member Matt Walker would be their touring drummer, and Dennis Flemion, a member of the Frogs, would be their touring keyboardist for the remainder of the year. They returned to the stage at the end of August and spent the next five months on tour. During this time, Corgan contributed some music to Ron Howard's Ransom.

 

Early in 1997, once the Pumpkins left the road, Iha and D'Arcy launched Scratchie Records, a subsidiary of Mercury Records. In the spring, the Smashing Pumpkins recorded two songs for the soundtrack for Batman & Robin. Iha's solo debut, Let It Come Down, appeared in early 1998; Adore, the new Smashing Pumpkins LP, followed a few months later to disappointing sales and reviews. Chamberlin returned to the group and D'Arcy exited prior to the early-2000 release of MACHINA: The Machines of God. Several months later, Corgan announced his intentions to dissolve the band before the year was out. With former Hole bassist Melissa auf der Maur replacing D'Arcy, the band launched their farewell tour in 2000. Fans of the band received one last treat when Corgan and company worked feverishly to finish off tracks that were left over from the MACHINA sessions. Surprisingly, Virgin Records balked at the idea of releasing the 25-track set so close in time to their previous album, so the band put the entire album (going by the official title of Machina II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music) on the Internet for fans to download for free. On December 2 of the same year, the Pumpkins played a mammoth final show at Chicago's Metro (also the venue at which the group played their first show back in 1988) before officially calling it quits.

But the former members of the band didn't wait long before carrying on with other projects -- Corgan spent the summer of 2001 playing guitar with New Order on select concert dates, and later in the year unveiled his new band, Zwan, including Chamberlin on drums (as well as former Chavez guitarist Matt Sweeney and bassist Skullfisher). The other two former Pumpkins, Iha and auf der Maur, began putting together an alt-rock supergroup dubbed the Virgins. The same year, a pair of postmortem Pumpkins collections were issued for the holiday season -- a double-disc collection and a DVD both called Greatest Hits. Corgan released his first solo album, The Future Embrace, in 2005, and on the day it came out, he took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune to announce that the Smashing Pumpkins were reuniting. He hadn't informed any of his past bandmates, and only Chamberlin went along. Zeitgeist, a heavier album than any past Pumpkins album, was released in 2007.

Source: artistdirect.com

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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Panic At The Disco

Biography: 

The members of Panic! at the Disco had barely graduated high school when their full-length debut, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, transformed the suburban Las Vegas teenagers into national emo-pop stars. The band had materialized several years earlier, when friends Spencer Smith (drums) and Ryan Ross (guitar) began covering blink-182 tunes together. After tiring of playing another group's material, the duo recruited two additional classmates, guitar/vocalist Brendon Urie and bassist Brent Wilson, and the newly-formed quartet decided to model its name after a line in Name Taken's "Panic". Crafting pop-influenced songs with theatrical touches, quirky techno beats, and perceptive lyrics, Panic! at the Disco posted several demos online that soon caught the attention of Decaydance Records, the Fueled by Ramen imprint headed by Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz. Even though the band had yet to play a live show, they subsequently became the first band signed to the label.

With their record scheduled for a release in September 2005, Panic! at the Disco joined the successful Nintendo Fusion Tour and hit the road alongside Fall Out Boy, Motion City Soundtrack, Boys Night Out, and the Starting Line. The band continued to tour into early 2006, while their single "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" found its way into TRL hearts and the Billboard Top 40. Proving to be a popular lineup, the Nintendo tour (which also featured Hellogoodbye, "Acceptance," and the Academy Is...) consistently sold out venues across the country. Wilson was fired from the group mid-year; undaunted, Panic! pressed on with their friend Jon Walker on board for a full summer tour that culminated with appearances at Lollapalooza, Reading, and the Leeds festival. The guys picked up "Video of the Year" at MTV's annual VMA ceremony, beating out heavy hitters like Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a collector's box set version of Fever (featuring random Panic paraphernalia and a DVD) came out just in time for the 2006 holiday season. After additional tour dates, the band announced that they were eliminating the exclamation point from their name, a sign that seemed to foreshadow the mature, less emo-driven rock featured on Pretty. Odd. Released in March 2008, the sophomore album peaked at number two in the U.S. and showcased an evolving band whose tastes had grown to encompass The Beatles' psychedelic pop. The group supported the album with another string of show dates, one of which was captured on the CD/DVD release ...Live in Chicago.

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This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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Janes Addiction

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Janes Addiction Group Promo
Biography: 

Flamboyant, defiant and raw are just some of the words used to describe this Los Angeles quartet, Jane’s Addiction. Its 1988 album Nothing’s Shocking generated controversy in both cover design and music video but produced a hit in the form of Jane Say’s and later led them to be nominated for a Grammy.

Despite documented drug addictions, the band released its commercially successful, second album Ritual de lo Habitual. It featured the huge hits Been Caught Stealing and Stop!.

Shortly after, lead singer, Perry Farrell set up the famous Lollapalooza festival which indirectly became Jane’s Addiction’s Farewell tour. He and guitarist, Dave Navarro, started fighting on stage during the first leg of the tour and later Navarro announced the intention to leave the band.

The now free-agent band members went on to pursue mildly successful solo projects. Farrell and Stephen Perkins (drums) formed Porno for Pyros. Navarro joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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Jane’s Addiction, with some creative switch up of members, recorded a third album Stray in 2000 which featured some negligible hits. The band spent the next two years on tour supporting the album but previous tensions, poor ticket sales and other project commitments led to a second break up.

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The original line-up has since re-united and continues to tour and release new material. Although the band has been plagued with break-ups and relatively few chart successes, Jane’s Addiction and its fledgling projects have helped it to be labelled as “iconic” in the world of alternative rock.

Juanita Appleby

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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Red Hot Chili Peppers

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Biography: 

American based funk rockers The Red Hot Chili Peppers were formed back in 1983 by school friends Antony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak, Jack Irons, and Michael ‘Flea’ Balzary. Although there first gig comprised of the band improvising and Kiedis performing a rap he had written, they received a lively response from the crowd, which pushed them into writing more original songs of there own.

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After only playing the LA circuit for several months, they were noticed by EMI records, and were subsequently signed by the label. There debut self titled album was released on August 10th 1984, and although they only achieved mildly pleasing sales of 300,000, airplay on college radio and MTV introduced the band to a growing fan base.

During the next few years front man Kiedis, and guitarist Slovak had developed serious heroin addictions, sadly resulting in the guitarists death from a overdose on June 25th 1988. This caused drummer Jack Irons to leave the band citing “he did not want to be in a band where his friends were dying.”

Subsequently the band recruited guitarist John Frusciante, and drummer Chad Smith, and went on to record the album that thrust them into the mainstream ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ in 1991.

This was the start of the success for the Chili’s, with them churning out top 5 singles ‘Give it Away’ and ‘Under the Bridge’, and from 2002’s By the Way self titled single.

After their 9th studio album 'Stadium Arcadium', John has decided to quit the band for the second time to pursue his solo career. He has since been replaced by Josh Klinghoffer

With there trademark sound, and Fleas’ funk driven bass lines, The Red Hot Chili Peppers have one of the most distinctive sounds around, and with millions of album sales under there belt and a new album on the way and they show no signs of retiring just yet.

Aaron Phillips

This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com

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