Billy Corgan Sounds Off

Billy Corgan has a warning about the new Smashing Pumpkins' album, Adore: "It's pretty weird."

Speaking to a Minneapolis radio station from London, where the band is shooting a video for the single "Ava Adore," Corgan says of the album: "We've always tried to stay at the forefront of new music, and I feel we're right back to where we belong. I'm sure it'll leave some people scratching their heads. But we are an alternative band. We're going to stay that way."

The head Pumpkin says the band wants to play free concerts in the United States, but thus far only Minneapolis has given the go-ahead. The Pumpkins will perform at the 21st annual Hennepin Avenue Block Party July 17 in downtown Minneapolis, where 100,000 people are expected. The only other confirmed U.S. dates are four H.O.R.D.E. concerts. While nothing else in the U.S. is booked, a spokeswoman for Q Prime, the group's management, said the Pumpkins want to play unconventional venues.

Across the Atlantic, however, the band has some very specific plans. A tour beginning May 14 will see the Pumpkins perform at Speilbudenplaz, an outdoor square in Hamburg; Tivoli Gardens, a park in Copenhagen; and on the roof of FNAC, a Paris music store, among other places. The band will also hit Japan and Australia before heading to the States in July. Five new touring members, including three drummers, have been thrown into the mix, along with violinist Lisa Germano (John Mellencamp) and keyboardist Mike Garson (David Bowie). The approach will be "lots of sound, not as heavy but more spacey," Corgan said.

The biggest surprise, however, might be drummer Kenny Aronoff, best known for his work with Mellencamp and Melissa Etheridge. "When we were looking for a drummer a year and a half ago, he was interested, and we thought: 'Well, he's from another generation, and he's a little older than us, and we didn't think he'd understand.' We found ourselves back in the situation of auditioning drummers, and we're a little more open-minded this time around. Kenny is unbelievable. It's fantastic playing with such a superior musician. I really feel like he's brought us a lot."

Aronoff isn't the only older musician the Pumpkins have teamed with recently, as the band opened for the hometown heroes Cheap Trick in Chicago last week. "I think more bands ought to give props to bands that paved the road for us," Corgan says. "Cheap Trick was the alternative band of their era. We're proud to share the same stage with them." —Jon Bream