Article by Jennifer Sloan
Copied from SPFC.org
Frequently, I get requests from Listessans to have a copy of the meeting which took place backstage after a show in Winnipeg, September 24th, 1996, between Karl Daher, myself, Tanya Klassen, and the Pumpkins. The purpose of the meeting was to present Billy, D’Arcy, and James each with tribute books we all made for them, called “Our Infinite Dream: Listessa’s Tribute to the Smashing Pumpkins” (they also received Listessa t-shirts). The Pumpkins absolutely *LOVED* them. Remember, this was at the time in which we did not even know the songs on the box because it wasn’t released yet. It’s quite long, extremely detailed (I’ve included most of the dialogue that took place between us and the band), and I’ve added a few kewl extra notes that I had forgotten the first time I posted it. Enjoy!!
AFTER CONCERT: BACKSTAGE!!! The concert ended, and I was tired, sad and happy all at once, knowing that I would be in the Pumpkins’ presence in only a few minutes. I gathered up what I had in front of me as the lights came on, ensuring the end of the concert. I walked through the crowd of people, butterflies in my stomach, trying to get through as fast as I could. I reached the clearing and headed down to our meeting place, and took out my backstage pass. It had the picture of a scene from “Planet of the Apes” on it, all in green. (I scanned it and put it up on the page, too!) Anyway, I walked up to a security guard and asked her if where I was was the certain section I was looking for in the first place, just to make sure I had it right. She said yeah, and asked me if I had an All Access Pass, but I only had the backstage one, so apparently I was supposed to wait on the other side of the building. Karl and Tanya showed up a few seconds later with the bag of books, t-shirts and other things. We walked to the other end and sat there, waiting to be given the OK to go in. We stood there talking with a security guard, smiling and discussing how excellent the 2 hour and 45 minute long show was. We talked for about 10 minutes, and then another guy take me out and told us to put our backstage passes on so they were visible (they were stick-ons). He then led us through and asked us to sit at a table, saying it would be just a few minutes, and left. We all figured the Pumpkins would come out and sit with us there, so we began to take everything out and got it ready. The guy came back then, and told us to come with him once again. We gathered everything up, knowing that this was it… this was the moment! :> We were led around some corners and through a corridor, and as we walked through it I noticed the door which we were walking towards, the door to the Pumpkins :> We arrived at it and looked at one another. “Okay guys, you ready?” the guy asked. And we were there… 🙂 The door opened to a colourful, dimly lit room, fairly large, a table at the far end full of food, a big stereo close to our side, and couches in the center, on which they sat :> Billy, D’Arcy, Dennis, Matt, Jimmy the Frog, the managers, the roadies, all of them :> James was walking around, fixing the light or something. And it was so weird, so amazing and wonderful. “Hey, come on in,” Billy and D’Arcy said. They all greeted us. I noticed Billy and D’Arcy eating. D’Arcy said something like, “Eeeewww…gross, this is disgusting.” Then she put whatever it was she was eating back in the tin foil wrapping. I guess the food wasn’t that great. (Remember, “Stay away from the deli-tray”… Hehe… We walked into the room, and I was amazed at how cool and relaxed the band was, just chilling out. No other fans were there, just us, and that was really cool ’cause it made it so personal and special. All I could do was smile and look shyly over at the members. We stood in the middle of the room then, Karl to my left, Tanya to my right.
“Okay, introduce yourselves, guys,” a manager said. Karl introduced himself then. “Hi, I’m Jennifer Sloan,” I said next, shyly but very happily :>, but I guess I said it too quietly, ’cause I was asked to speak up. I think it was Billy who said, “We’re all deaf, so…”. I repeated myself. Tanya introduced herself next. Karl then introduced us a bit more, explaining that he ran the list, that I thought up the idea for the book and that Tanya made the cover and helped organize too. “And here are the books and t-shirts.” He pulled them out and gave D’arcy, Billy and James each one. He went on to explain a bit more about the books and shirts… And this was the big moment, the presentation! :> The band absolutely loved them! D’Arcy exclaimed, “Oh, wow!” as soon as she took hers. They began looking through their books, commenting on the drawings and pictures, leafing through the pages. The band made comments like, “Wow, this is really amazing. Thank you!” And, “This is really great!” Things of that nature, and the whole time I just thought to myself, “YES!! They love the books :>” I was just in total bliss because it was so succesful and the band was so enthused while looking through them. Throughout the rest of the visit, we got comments from the band, the managers, and the roadies, such as, “This is amazing, you guys.. this is just incredible”, and “I’m really impressed.” Well, you get the point… hehe. I looked over and saw that Billy was sitting off to the side, looking through his book on his own and that D’Arcy was sitting beside Dennis, talking to him about some of the pictures, smiling. “Hey, yeah, that looks like James, and Jimmy (Chamberlin)!” And, “Hey look, I’m a horse, ha ha!” She looked over at Billy and they both laughed and smiled. Then they inspected the pic more, seeing that Billy was known as “Farmer Billy”, James was a dog, and Jimmy, a pig — a picture by Riley Manion’s of what she thought of when listening to “Meladori Magpie”, which is really cute and funny (they loved it, Riley! :>). It was hard keeping track of James, but I think he was sitting in a chair, looking through his book.
They absolutely loved everything, though, and it was so incredible sitting there watching the Pumpkins, right in their presence. It was funny listening to D’Arcy and Dennis talk. D’Arcy at one point said something like, “He says I never move around on stage. I move around on stage!” D’Arcy was in an awesome mood all night, totally laughing and having a good time. It was really cool how nice they were. “Help yourselves, guys.” I think it was the manager who said this (it’s hard remembering right now, I was sort of dazed at that moment). He was referring to the food on the table. I was incredibly surprised that we were offered food, because we thought that we would only be able to stay a few minutes. We actually stayed about an hour and a half, maybe close to two hours, and left when the band had to leave for the tour bus to the next city :> Karl, Tanya, and I looked at one another and smiled. “Wow, awesome, thanks!” we responded. I took a coke, and Karl and Tanya took some drinks themselves. We stood for a couple of minutes looking around, while they sat reading their books. James walked close by then and Karl caught his attention by asking him how Bugg was. James stopped and talked to us for quite a bit, “Well, it’s been about five days now (?), and well, he’s an old dog, but he’s the same. He’s a dog.” Karl then made a funny remark, asking if Bugg wanted a divorce from him since he was away for a lot of the time. “No, he… he… understands.” He said something like, “So, are you disappointed in meeting us boring people?” We replied, “Of course not, why would we think that? What were we supposed to expect?” “That we’d be juggling or something,” James replied. He’s so damn funny :> “No, this is great, awesome,” We all replied back. Tanya then asked about how the tour was going. “It’s going pretty well… we’re really tired, though.” Karl at one point asked him if he’d ever heard of Listessa or had gone on the Internet. He hadn’t, no doubt :< Karl then asked him if he had anything he’d like to say to all the people on their computers out there. “Like any cool quotes,” I added in. James couldn’t really think of any, but we could tell he was extremely exhausted. Karl then mentioned the masturbation quote at James said during the Dublin concert broadcast over the net, and reported that people often used that one at the end of their emails. We all laughed and James said that he couldn’t remember when he had said that. Oh well… hehe.
At one point James said something like, “So, you’re coming on the road with us now, eh?” We replied, “Yeah, sure!” Karl then said something like, “I’ll be the water boy!” We all laughed. :> Billy walked close by then and asked us what we were discussing. This part, for some reason, is blurry for me. I can’t remember what Billy or James said to one another. I think I was just too focused and in awe at the whole band in their presence rather than what they were saying at times. That probably happened a few other times as well. Billy then walked away and we continued talking to James for a bit longer. He eventually had to go off and do something in the other room, so he said to us, “Thanks for the book.” We all thanked him back and I replied, “It was our pleasure. We’d do it all over again in a second.” We turned around looking at rest of the band members. Matt was chilling out on the couch; in fact, they were all chilling out on the couches, looking at their books. Then they looked up at us. “So, you guys have any questions?” Billy asked. Karl asked about some threads that frequently occur on the list. The first question was about the next single (which, at that time, we didn’t know about. We didn’t even know whether it was “Thirty-three” or not). Billy came straight out and answered, “Thirty-three”. Karl: “So it’s not ‘Muzzle’?” Billy: “Nope!” D’Arcy said, jokingly, pouting: “I wanted ‘Muzzle’ but no one else did.” We all laughed. “Okay, kewl,” we said. Karl then asked about the box-set (which we now know about as well). Billy: “Yeah, we’re gonna have a compilation out called ‘The Aeroplane Flies High’. It’ll be a collection of b-sides plus 5 covers.” Billy recommended buying the box-set when asked. “Yes, definitely…”, so make sure you guys go out and buy it (if ya haven’t yet). There was a moment of silence then, and I said, “I had so many questions that I was gonna ask you guys, and my mind is blank now.” I decided to ask about “X.Y.U.”, since it’s an endless thread on the list. I still see posts about it. Billy came straight out and said: “Ex, why you?” Karl: “Alright, cool. Makes sense. Another faq, who’s on the PI cover?” Billy: “Chris, my wife.” (Hopefully this will end that thread!!:>) Karl then asked about the “Daughter” Flexi-disc and whether it was coming out or not, and Billy said no. He asked if Karl had heard that off a bootleg, and Karl answered yeah and nodded. I nodded as well, myself owning bootlegs.
I missed the transition point, but somehow, “The Naked Man” came into conversation. It was pretty funny, and Billy apparently got really pissed off by the guy. I would have too. He said if the show wasn’t being broadcast, he would have kicked the guy offstage himself. Billy then had someone put on some songs from the box-set to give us a listen. Karl, Tanya, and I took a seat on a couch across from Billy, and it was just so weird and wonderful what we were doing. We were sitting around with Pumpkins, listening to their unreleased music, just chilling out. The band was so hospitable, and everyone was enjoying themselves. For the next 20 minutes or so, we sat and listened to the music, relaxed and feeling quite at home. I must say that the “Thirty-three” single sounds EXCELLENT! Very kewl :> One of the first songs we listened to was “The Aeroplane Flies High”. When it came on, Billy said something like, “This is ‘The Aeroplane Flies High’, one of the encore songs you heard us play.” “The Aeroplane Flies High” and “The Last Song” were the ones that stuck out in my mind the most. “The Aeroplane Flies High” changes from loud to quiet and, as said before, contains the “Pastichio Medley” riff, “Disconnected.” It’s absolutely amazing and really powerful. Rawking tune :> That one song makes the single worth getting. “The Last Song” is a ballad, really pretty, slow and peaceful, an it made me want to bawl at times just from the beauty of everything. “Transformer” is a rawking tune as well, hard and heavy, rather catchy. “The Bells” is a very nice tune by James. “My Blue Heaven” is a nice, light, pretty one, catchy.. (If you’re familiar with old 40’s music, you know the song… just picture Billy’s beautiful voice singing it :>)… Believe me, it is an absolute must to buy the box-set! We also got a chance to listen to the cover songs, and they were quite cool. A couple were sort of techno, so we’re looking at quite a difference in sound. I think they sounded pretty cool, myself, but quite different. Lots of synthesizers, so it’s like a window to their new sound. BUY THE BOX-SET!! 🙂
During some of this time, I looked over at Billy and noticed him reading his Listessa book intently, and concentrating, really into it. At some point, he bookmarked his spot, set the book down on the side-table, rested his head on his hand, and sort of gazed off for a bit, thinking to himself, I guess. It was a really beautiful scene, watching the band we know and love reading and looking at a book we all put together for them. Wow! :> James, unfortunately, had left some time back :< It was obvious that he was really tired, and I saw him going out the door with a brown leather jacket on. I thought he would come back, but I guess he didn’t:< I feel bad in a way about having ignored Matt and Jimmy the Frog, because most of my attention was on Billy, James, and D’Arcy. I wish I had gone and talked to them or something, but it just sort of happened the way it did. You always think and say you’re going to do something or act a certain way if you’re in a certain situation, and you plan it all out, but once you are in the position, you never really do it the way you planned, and then you blame yourself later :< It was all utterly amazing, though. I sat beside Karl and Tanya on the couch, looking over at the band members, smiling to myself. Billy and D’Arcy were mouthing the words along to the songs, doing hand movements at mepoints (the swimming motion), laughing and smiling. A guy (maybe a roadie?), at one point, pretended he was playing one of the guitar parts in one of the songs. The whole time, Billy just looked up at him from where he sat and smiled and laughed sarcastically. Karl, Tanya, and I all laughed at the guy, who was really getting into the music, going all out. I listened to the music and nodded my head up and down, keeping time. Karl and I looked over at each other at one point and just smiled and laughed. It was so unreal, and yet it was all happening.
We all said nothing while listening to the beautiful sounds, and we just sat and gazed around us. At one point I would think to myself, “Jen, go up and talk to them, now. This is your last chance,” and I still anger myself about that, but when I look back now, I think that it was a good thing to stay on that couch and not go up and ask the band all these questions, because the band probably wanted it that way, just wanted to sit back and relax with a few of their fans. It was also such a wonderful experience, sitting there with Karl and Tanya, that I think it would’ve ruined the moment. It was right to just sit back and take it all in, even if it was my only chance. Something about that one moment, just being in that position, will always come back to me when I think about the meeting. Just sitting there across from THE best band on earth, taking in all that they are, knowing that it would end in just a few more minutes but holding onto each last second in total bliss. It will flash before me every time I listen to one of the b-sides from “Thirty-three” or one of the covers from the box-set. I’ll never forget… Sadly, time was running out. Karl asked Billy one more question about “Thirty-three” and the significance of the name. Billy responded something like this: “Thirty-three is a significant number to me, as 66 and 99 are.” I’m not sure of what that means totally, but I don’t think the name “Thirty-three” is in any way biblically related. Sorry I don’t remember this more clearly, but it was another one of those times where I became so focused on the bandmembers’ faces rather than their words because I was sitting right in front of Billy… hehe… I couldn’t help it!
We all got up and did the ritual of signing. Karl and Tanya had some of their things signed first. I walked up to Billy and stood right beside him. Me: “Could you sign this for me, please?” I asked so shyly as I gave him my copy of the Listessa book. I’m looking at the book at this very moment, the inside cover, “To Jennifer… much thanks and love, Billy, 1996.” This book keeps me from asking the constant question, “Did it really happen, or was it all a dream?” :> I then gave him my “Tristessa/La Dolly Vita” vinyl cover. The pen he was using to sign it began to run out and he said something like, “Oh, pen ran out.. anyone have a sharpie? Someone gave him one and he held out the ink pen that had run out. For some reason I hesitated to take it… I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to ’cause the pen wasn’t mine. I assumed he did and I took it from him and handed it to a guy sitting next to him. The guy just said, jokingly, “Hey, don’t give it to me… it ain’t mine.” I discovered it was Karl’s and Tanya’s and handed it back to them. Billy signed the back of the vinyl cover, as well as the front, drawing all over his face, putting in three 6s and a goatee and horns. It was really awesome. He wrote, “Billy, 1996” on both sides. During the signing of them, I began saying that I hoped he liked the book. He didn’t hear me and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you,” while holding my arm to get my attention. I repeated myself, along with a “Thank you,” and an “I love you guys so much, you’re just amazing” sentence which didn’t really come out well. I’m not even sure Billy heard me completely or not. Next I walked up to D’Arcy and handed her my Tristessa/La Dolly Vita vinyl cover. On top of her pic she wrote, “Me”, with an arrow pointing down to herself.
Later, in the car, I noticed that she hadn’t signed my Listessa book, which surprised me quite a bit ’cause I thought I had given it to her. I guess I totally forgot about it, caught up in the moment. I wish I had gotten it, but at least she signed one of them. It was disappointing that James left early, because we never got to receive his autograph. It was kewl to get a chance to just talk with him, though. Somehow we never got autos from Jimmy the Frog, Matt, or Dennis, don’t ask me why. Everyone was up and about, so they had gone by the time we got up to leave. Oh, well. Karl and Tanya had their books and their “I Am One” vinyl signed. Billy and D’Arcy were amazed. They couldn’t believe that Karl and Tanya had found something so rare, and they were also really surprised because they just hadn’t seen it in ages. D’Arcy said something like, “Even WE can’t find this anywhere!” It was pretty cool and they continued to talk about it for quite a while. The final goodbye. We all stood up, and we each shook Billy’s hand. He thanked us again, and we all returned our thanks once again. It was a really great experience, and then he walked past and got his coat on. D’Arcy and Karl had a conversation before we left, discussing the “I Am One” vinyl some more, amongst other stuff. I wish I had had more time to talk to all the members, but in a way, it was perfect, and I wouldn’t change any of it even if I could. We all walked out with the band, Karl and D’Arcy talking still and laughing about things. I swear, it was as if Karl and D’Arcy were long lost friends. It was great seeing Karl and Tanya meet the band and talk with them, ’cause they are probably some of the biggest fans you’ll ever find. As we walked out the door, we turned our separate ways and I saw the Pumpkins getting smaller and smaller. I turned back around and continued to walk down the corridor and out into the darkness. It was a beautiful night, nice and peaceful. I looked at Karl and Tanya, and we walked to the car, talking, smiling, and laughing… all the way home.