Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 5

Article by Arthur van Pelt

It’s time to switch the focus of this overview of rarities to a more personal approach of extreme collecting, and we do that with an insightful interview with an American Smashing Pumpkins collector named Kyle. Because Kyle takes collecting memorabilia to the next level: he creates his own and unique art with Smashing Pumpkins-related items.

Mixed Memorabilia, artfully framed

Kyle his latest work of art, the white-framed piece on the right image above, is premiering here on SPfreaks as we speak. But we will also talk about the framed piece on the left, already posted in several places online in the past.

SPfreaks:
Kyle, thanks for showing up, and welcome. We are happy that you wanted to cooperate in this ‘Collecting to the Extreme’ series.

Kyle:
Thank you for asking me.

SPfreaks:
What we want to know first is when and how did you get into Smashing Pumpkins?  It must already be quite a while ago, right?

Kyle:
Oh yeah.  I was a teenager in the early 90s and have been a fan of the music from the first time I saw the video for Cherub Rock on MTV.  I remember the excitement I felt when I found a Siamese Dream T-shirt in a local store and how awesome it was to wear it to school.  When I discovered the live performances taping community my love of the band really took off.  I was able to enjoy more than just the studio albums.  The on-stage banter and the acoustic versions of songs… there was just a wonderful feel.  The internet also helped… message boards, tape tree sites, archive.org, lyric and guitar-chord pages and eBay bring the experience of being a fan to the next level.  The Pumpkins have released so much ‘unreleased’ material over the years, I consider myself very lucky to love a band that is so active.

SPfreaks:
We asked you to contribute something for this Extreme Collecting series. You asked us to wait a bit for your latest project to be completed.  How did it go?

Kyle:
I’ve had this idea for my latest project for a while and I had been dragging my feet getting it done until I got asked about being included in this article.  Having a deadline lit the fire under me that I needed.  I sent you a basic layout and you thought it looked good enough to wait for its completion. Thank you for that.

SPfreaks:
Right.  Let’s start with the white-framed piece, your latest project.  What do we see there?

Kyle:
The idea was to present these items in a way that represents everyone in the band and gives the piece, as a whole, a more personal feel.  The first pieces I acquired were the drum sticks.  I caught one at a show in San Diego in 2000 and traded someone from a Smashing Pumpkins message board for the other.  I had Jimmy sign one drum stick after a Zwan show and then the other a couple years later when he did a radio appearance at Easter.  (He signed my guitar, the black one from the other frame, that day too.)  The next item I got was the signed drumhead from eBay.  I got it fairly cheap and for a while I wasn’t sure if it was real or not, but as I got exposed to more and more autographed items I became more confident that it was the real deal.  I got the set list (and the Siamese Dream backstage pass) from a gentleman who worked with Jimmy on a few shows in 1994.  This set list was handwritten by Jimmy and is from January 26, 1994 at the Sydney Royal Agricultural Showgrounds in Sydney, Australia.  The old-looking white frame was from an art dealer my wife knows.  It was supposed to be thrown away, but I rescued it and gave it a new life.

SPfreaks:
What about that huge golden frame with purple velvet, the two guitars and other Smashing Pumpkins goodies inside?  The velvet in both frames look awesome, by the way, it gives a real rock ‘n’ roll touch to it.  It’s almost like you stole these frames and their content from a Rock Museum somewhere.

Kyle:
Thanks!  I agree.  The black Gibson Epiphone guitar on the left was the first guitar I ever owned.  I bought it in 1994 and learned how to play on it.  As I got more into Smashing Pumpkins fandom, I decided I would honor them by retiring my first guitar, and try to get them all to sign it.  After nearly ten years I have gotten everyone but D’arcy.  (However, I may be able to remedy that soon.)  A couple of years ago, I got obsessed with the Bat Strat, played by Billy Corgan.  I loved the look and the sound and how iconic it was when the Smashing Pumpkins were still young and discovering success.  I loved Siamese Dream and this guitar was Billy’s favorite at that time.  I set out to try to replicate the guitar in every tiny detail, with the exception of it being left-handed, since that’s how I play my guitars.  It took about a year from start to finish as I found the correct vintage neck, had the body custom made and painstakingly recreated the ‘HONK!’ sticker from scratch.  I lucked out and got the last few pages of Frances Meyer bat stickers from eBay.  I haven’t seen them since.  I created custom-machined backing plates where the neck mounts to the guitar body and I extended the length a little and added eye holes so that the guitar could hang on the inside of the case without being seen. It can be lifted and taken out very easily to play. The frame case has rope LEDs strung along the inside perimeter.  I have started hanging all my back stage passes in the case as well, to give it a stage-used feel.  I wanted to have a good, clean photo of the Bat Strat to include in the display and I came across the perfect one on eBay.  It was from a Japanese magazine and was a picture I had never seen before.  I scanned it, cleaned it up and printed it on photo paper and it fits in nicely.  The whole display looks very slick.  I picked up the large display frame/case at a swap meet for $75.  During a remodel, an employee of the Hard Rock Cafe saved this, and 5 others, from the dumpster and brought them to the swap meet to sell.  I only regret not buying two.

SPfreaks:
Good shit happens, Kyle.  Tell me, why is it so important that you have things autographed by the band?  Is there a reason behind that?

Kyle:
That’s a good question. I’ve always been an autograph hound.  It is not uncommon to see me after shows hanging out by the buses in back or waiting in line for hours for a meet-and-greet.  One night, about ten years ago, a friend told me that James was at a club in Los Angeles.  I drove up and waited outside for six hours for him to come out.  As he was leaving the club he signed my guitar and I got a photo with him.  It’s a good thing too because I wouldn’t see him again for another ten years.  I admire the band and the music and the image, but I also respect them as people.  I never want to be that creepy annoying fan.  As far as autographs go, I think things looked better when they’re signed, whether it’s posters, guitars or CDs.  Getting the signature is fun too.  Most people who are fans of the music would like to meet their favorite artists at least once.

SPfreaks:  
And those backstage passes, did you use them yourself, or were they from eBay as well? How many are there anyway?

Kyle:
Oh man, I wish. Those are about 80% eBay.  Thankfully I seem to be the most serious Pumpkins back stage pass collector out there, so I usually get every single one I go after.  I have a fascination with back stage passes.  I love the creativity that goes into designing them and the freedom found in those who wore them at shows.  I have never been back stage at a Pumpkins concert.  I have always wanted to but don’t have the contacts to pull that off.

SPfreaks:
Any other projects in the making?  Or plans for the near future?

Kyle:
I have had this framing idea for a while, where I do something with each band member’s solo CD (Melissa Auf der Maur included).  I have each one signed and I thought of framing that with the photo I have of myself and the respective member.  That could be kind of cool.  I saw the Pumpkins on a recent tour date and caught one of Mike’s drum sticks.  It would also be cool to get another one and assemble some sort of display for Pumpkins v2.0.  Recently I acquired the guitar James played (and destroyed!) in the Everlasting Gaze video.  I’m thinking of presenting that in a frame style and size similar to the drum head, sticks and set list piece.  I am making arrangements to potentially get James to sign the guitar body during his current tour in Europe.  People from the SPfreaks community are helping me with that.  And I was thinking that stills from the music video would be appropriate in the display to give the piece context.  When displayed together, the two smaller pieces could be mounted on each side of the guitar display to give it a spatial balance.  When I surround all that Pumpkins goodness with various Pumpkins record awards, it promises to be an epic wall of Pumpkins.  It will be glorious.

SPfreaks:  
We are sure it will be glorious. However, Kyle, we have reached our last question. What is your most cherished Smashing Pumpkins item? What piece you own stands out for you?

Kyle:  
Without a moment of hesitation I would say my signed guitar. I love that thing so much, I have even joked about being buried with it when I die.  It took me almost ten years to get every signature.

SPfreaks:
Thanks Kyle, for the time you took to talk with us on SPfreaks, and the effort you made to show some of your art projects.  We hope to see you back with us many times again, that’s for sure.

Kyle:  
Absolutely!  Viva Las Pumpkins!

And that’s where we end this interview with Kyle. Meanwhile we would like to ask you to send your suggestions for rare and unique Smashing Pumpkins items to TheSPfreaksTeam@gmail.com. We will do the (additional) research and bring you the full story here on SPfreaks.

Again, happy hunting, as always. See you again next week!

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3 responses to “Collecting to the Extreme, Episode 5

  1. Amazing! I want to display all my posters but frames cost so much! One thing, how did the Smashing Pumpkins appear on the glass on the guitar mounting? Is that just a huge decal? I’ve never seen one that large before.

  2. The decal was custom made at a print shop. It was very easy as the font is one that is easily obtained online (Agatha). I had them print it backwards so I could stick it on the inside of the glass. The color matches the body of the Bat Strat.
    The James guitar display has recently been completed and looks fantastic. I semi-recently acquired a cymbal signed by Pumpkins V2.0. I am trying to figure out the best way to display that. It is tricky because when exposed to air, the metal will tarnish over time.. so I would have to make it an air tight case. I’m still working that out.

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