How the Smashing Pumpkins Reunion Differs From the Guns N’ Roses Reunion

Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan

Forbes Magazine Compares Reunions of Both Bands and Misspells Steven Adler’s Name

Forbes Magazine recently ran an article comparing the reunions of the Smashing Pumpkins and Guns N’ Roses. In the article the clear distinction is made between both reunions in the sense that Billy Corgan was the chief songwriter for the Pumpkins while Guns N’ Roses never had one chief song writer. Each member, with the exception of Steven Adler contributed towards the writing of the band’s albums. Below is an excerpt from the article (not i have left the spelling mistake in for Steven Adler’s name”

“While Corgan initially sounded excited to have Wretzky onboard, he quickly rescinded his initial offer and seemed to rewrite the terms of Wretzky’s involvement on the fly. Apparently, Corgan had already enlisted Jack Bates to handle full-time bass duties on the trek and likened Wretzky’s involvement to original Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler’s cameos on the group’s Not In This Lifetime … Tour. When Wretzky declined those terms, Corgan ended the conversation by saying, “If you don’t want to be on a t-shirt then the kids are happy to buy something else.

Corgan’s right in one respect: The closest analog to the Pumpkins reunion is arguably that of Guns N’ Roses. Both were world-class, multiplatinum rockers in the ’90s whose famously volatile frontmen caused them to implode. Corgan and Axl Rose both hired a revolving door of musicians and continued to tour and release music in the 21st century under their respective band names. Now, nearly 20 years after the original Smashing Pumpkins lineup called it quits, Corgan has the opportunity to restore the band’s former glory, just as Guns N’ Roses did with their Not In This Lifetime … Tour, the fourth highest-grossing trek ever.

 

The difference, however, lies in the roles that the bands’ members play. When Rose reunited with Slash and Duff McKagan in 2016, he was teaming up with two of Guns N’ Roses’ chief songwriters, whose creative contributions and technical chops proved inimitable. Fans rightfully groaned at the absence of Adler and original rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin (who cowrote most of the songs on the band’s watershed debut, Appetite for Destruction, and several on the Use Your Illusion albums), but at least they were getting to see the band’s three figureheads onstage together after 23 years.

Corgan, on the other hand, has been the Smashing Pumpkins’ singular creative force since the group’s inception. This “reunion” is simply a matter of the frontman teaming up with the musicians who appeared on the band’s classic albums (whose parts Corgan often re-recorded himself anyway). Whether he cares to admit it or not, the Smashing Pumpkins have always been, in the words of Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, “the Billy Corgan Experience.

Corgan knows this reunion is ultimately still a one-man show, and his texts to Wretzky prove it. “G n R tour was one of the biggest tours ever, and Stephen Adler (original drummer) would get up and play some songs,” he texted her. “Fans loved it and no one complained.” Not only is Corgan laughably incorrect — one of the biggest complaints about GNR’s tour was Adler’s absence — but his assumption that Wretzky could join the Pumpkins for just a few songs a night without causing any tremors indicates that deep down, he still considers his bandmates disposable.

That’s not an uncommon setup for a rock band, and normally it wouldn’t be a problem. But if the musicians joining Corgan onstage are merely hired hands — and let’s face it, they are — then it doesn’t make much sense to bill the Pumpkins’ upcoming tour as a reunion if only three-fourths of the original band are participating. Guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin will surely bring a much-needed explosiveness to the group’s classic material, but without Wretzky onboard, this is just Corgan’s latest incarnation of the Pumpkins, assembled to propel him from theaters back to the arenas he so desperately wants to fill.”