Pumpkins of the Past – Melissa Auf der Maur

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Even with ‘Basic Show’ Pumpkins have Much to Offer

Concert Review by Jeroen Savelkouls

Date: June 20th, 2013
Venue: Live Music Hall
Capacity: 1,200-1,800
City & Country: Cologne, Germany
Tour: Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2013 Tour
Personnel: Billy Corgan, Jeff Schroeder, Nicole Fiorentino and Mike Byrne
Duration: ca. 2h15m

Ticket Smashing Pumpkins Cologne Germany
No orb, no video projections, and limited lighting showed up for their first show of the European leg of the Shamrocks and Shenanigans tour. The Smashing Pumpkins largely ignored periphery visual distractions and focused on a tight gig and balanced set list; these ingredients were more than enough on Thursday evening to convince the crowd of approximately 2,000 in the extremely hot Live Music Hall (LMH) in Cologne (Germany) that this band is still relevant.


It was not the first time singer and lead guitarist Billy Corgan played in this venue. The Live Music Hall was also his stage of choice for one of his solo shows in 2005. During the last visit of the Pumpkins to Cologne two years ago, however, the band preferred the much larger Palladium. Considering that 4,000 tickets back then didn’t sell, it seemed like a wise decision to scale down their ambition. This time around they found themselves playing in a full house which is beneficial to both the band and audience.

The doors opened at 7pm. At that time just enough people were there to occupy the first two rows, but right before supporting act NO started their show the hall quickly filled up. NO is six piece guitar band from Echo Park, Los Angeles, often compared to The National. They are touring in Europe since June 15 and will be playing during the next few weeks in Tilburg (the Netherlands), Gent (Belgium), and Paris (France). Their gig in Cologne is the only one which sees the band opening for the Pumpkins.

Opening Act NO

NO turned out to be a very energetic band and its musicians obviously enjoyed their time on stage very much. With their radio friendly pop/rock songs the ensemble around lead singer Bradley Hanan Carter swiftly won over the crowd. They played ten songs of their debut EP, Don’t Worry, You’ll Be Here Forever, to be released as their first proper album later this year. Afterwards, Carter handed out coupons with codes for downloading a couple of their songs for free. Commercially, maybe not the smartest thing to do (or perhaps their EP is sold out), but it did generate a lot of good will.

Blank Page

Shortly after 9pm, it was the Smashing Pumpkins’ turn. With the reissue of The Aeroplane Flies High box set to appear next month and announcements on Twitter and Facebook about ‘surprises’, many were curious which gems the band would dig up from their back catalogue. And could we expect new material, too? One song on the set list Corgan already gave away in a tweet a few days before the show was the second to last Adore (1998) track “Blank Page”.

Like many of their recent performances, the band started out with “Quasar” and “Panopticon”, the first two tracks of the 2012 album, Oceania. The songs were played tight and fast; approximately as they were released on the studio album. Corgan, dressed in a shirt with picture of wrestler, The Sheikh, seemed a bit disgruntled about the sound (and a guy throwing empty beer cans at the stage), but in the first few rows such nuances were difficult to distinguish. It was annoying to hear the singer’s voice often drowned out by the music. That made it hard to follow along with the lyrics; especially the newer songs that not everyone seemed to know that well.

The same went for the third song of the evening, “Starz”, which was played in a slightly different way than the version on Zeitgeist (2007). Subsequently, the vocals on “Rocket”, “Space Oddity”, “XYU”, “Disarm”, and “Tonight, Tonight” (including the ‘reprise’ version) turned out to be less of an issue since most of the crowd yelled along with Corgan. With the first notes of “Rocket” the crowd lost any hesitation it might have had and the band seemed a bit more relaxed. The David Bowie cover, “Space Oddity”, turned out almost as popular as some of the bands own classics; apparently, the musical love between the Pumpkins boss and the 66 year old British singer is shared by their fans.

Led Zeppelin

Next, a few songs off Oceania – “Pinwheels”, the title track, “Oceania”, and “Pale Horse” – were followed by fan-favorite “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, “Ava Adore”, and “One Diamond One Heart”. At around two thirds of the set list, the band thought it time to deliver on a promise; for the first time since November 12th, 2000, they played “Blank Page”. With Corgan behind his Mellotron and the beautiful backing vocals of bass guitarist Nicole Fiorentino, the song developed from a fragile ballad to a rocker; this was definitely one the high points of the evening.

The first real surprise of the evening followed immediately after: “The Imploding Voice” off the 2000 album MACHINA/the Machines of God. Although maybe not the most well-known song among casual fans, this fast and loud version turned out to be a real crowd pleaser. The same went, of course, for “Zero” (with an new intro), “Stand Inside Your Love”, and to a lesser degree, for the last song of the main set, “United States” (without the Star Spangled Banner in the middle section). Concluding with two encores, the evening ended with the Led Zeppelin song, “The Immigrant Song”, “Today”, and “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” off the Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness (1995) album.

Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgan)


The biggest surprise of this show turned out to be that there were no real surprises. Since 2011 the set lists developed slowly into their present form, without any radical changes; apart from a few songs and two covers – of which one is been on rotation for quite some time now.There was not much new to see or hear in the Live Music Hall. Considering the absence of sophisticated visual elements like they had on their recent US tour, ‘Cologne’ was very much a basic show; but if basic is always this good, I’d settle for it any day.

Set List

Quasar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcoXmrctikw
Panopticon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF2W1UEAQ48
Starz http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRurwPXFm4Y
Rocket http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9CsTyIHPGE
Space Oddity (David Bowie cover)
X.Y.U. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXrdzWrk5YM
Disarm http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYWboai3PBA
Tonite Reprise http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-lBBdH6hLU
Tonight, Tonight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2Zq8MRE5WA
Pinwheels http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFiqFpHUK2M
Oceania http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMIwfMZ4-Ao
Pale Horse
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
Ava Adore http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1d30bPK_8w
One Diamond, One Heart
Blank Page
The Imploding Voice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC6ysi2jEdA
Zero http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oNlyPOOBRo
Stand Inside Your Love
United States

The Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)

Porcelina of the Vast Oceans

Pumpkins of the Past – Lisa Harriton

Article by Shaharaine P. Abdullah

Next former Smashing Pumpkins band member in this series is Lisa Harriton
(birthdate: November 18, 1980)

Lisa Rae Harriton is an English musician who is best known for her brief stint as the touring keyboardist and back-up vocalist for The Smashing Pumpkins in 2007.



Lisa was born and raised in a musical family – her mother Terry Harriton is a Los Angeles studio singer, while her father Michael Harriton is a composer and musician; her older brother Steven is a guitarist. At the age of 8, Lisa was already working as a studio singer at Disney, Integrity Media and Word Records. She was schooled at the Royal Schools of Music in London, where she received a distinction after graduating with a degree in classical piano.


In May 2004, Lisa completed her degree in Jazz Piano at the University of Southern California, where she was trained privately under the tutelage of Alan Pasqua, one of the premier jazz pianists in the world today. Her education influenced her music, which is described as soulful pop infused with jazz and world influences. Over the years, Lisa has performed in Japan, China, Peru and Los Angeles jazz clubs and worked with other musicians like Ingrid Jensen, Joe LaBarbara, Darek Oles, Larry Koonse and Ernie Watts. On June 24 2005, Lisa married fellow jazz pianist Alex Navarro, but the couple divorced in 2007.


Pumpkins Period

After the new line-up for The Smashing Pumpkins was announced in 2007, Lisa was debuted as the new touring keyboardist for the band (along with Ginger Reyes on bass and Jeff Schroeder on guitars) during their May 22, 2007 show at Le Grand Rex club in Paris. She also appeared in music videos for ‘Tarantula’ and ‘That’s the Way (My Love Is)’, as well as on The Smashing Pumpkins’ documentary concert film ‘If All Goes Wrong’.

(Billy Corgan and Lisa Harriton)

 When I play with the Pumpkins, I think really texturally with splashes of color.  I think as a composer and an orchestrator, not just as a keyboard player. It’s a really cool mix with Billy, because he definitely thinks that way in the big picture. He’s really inspiring… I think Billy respected that I had a different background than anyone else in the band.  He is very supportive and never makes me feel stupid.” Once she began playing with the group, things gelled quickly and the band had a lot of fun together. “I love to play free,” she says. “We sometimes just jam. It is a great environment for taking chances. Billy is appreciative if you jump off the cliff and commit to your choice.” – Lisa Harriton on performing with The Smashing Pumpkins.


On March 9, 2010, Billy Corgan announced that he had started auditions for a new keyboardist and new bassist for The Smashing Pumpkins (after Ginger Reyes announced her departure to focus on her family), signaling Corgan’s intentions to take a different direction with the band’s sound. For her part, Lisa stated that, after touring with the Pumpkins from 2007 to 2008, she was eager to start working on her new solo album and residency at Tutuma Club de Jazz in New York.

Adam Lambert

(Lisa Harriton with Adam Lambert)

Since working with the Pumpkins, Lisa has toured/performed with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) Adam Lambert, Ke$ha and Natalia Kills, opening for the Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars.  She can also be seen in Adam Lambert’s music videos ‘Whataya Want from Me?’ and ‘For Your Entertainment’. Lisa has also been working with Matt Sorum (from Guns N’ Roses) as keyboardist/background vocalist in his new band, Diamond Baby and can be seen in their debut video ‘Last Rockstar’, which features a star-studded ensemble that includes Jane Lynch, Juliette Lewis, Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister and Verne Troyer. She was set to release her debut solo record in summer of 2012 under Broadstroke Records.



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The Stars Are Out Tonight

Article by Corenski Nowlan

The Smashing Pumpkins could be the poster child for dysfunctional bands. Their history is a tapestry of conflict and scandal. They have a fast-paced revolving door for musicians – especially bassists. There is an established pattern at play; depression, drugs, departures, and defaming. Someone ought to plot a roadmap for the benefit of all current and future members that explains how to pack it up and vamoose from Pumpkin-land, and what to expect after your emancipation. For example, how does one cope with the inevitable public deconstruction of character and the flaunting of flaws to any journalist with an open ear? Ex-Pumpkins might want to muse over establishing a support group for themselves, or create a safe haven for them to talk out their feelings and attempt to make sense of their tenure under the restraints of celestial fascism.


That’s right. Their t-shirts wouldn’t have bash-Billy-slogans, liken him to a dictator, or even paint his face in Joker makeup. The shirts would blame the real culprit, the Zodiac. The tagline would read “I Survived Life with a Pisces.” I would buy that merch. I have some horror stories about some Piscean ex-girlfriends. In fact, I reckon that a lot of people have their own abhorrent Piscean encounters. If they don’t, they either a) are fortunate enough to have never been acquainted with one of these weirdo fish-people, b) they are unfamiliar with astrology and are unaware that the stalker who claims to be their soul mate is a merman or mermaid, or c) they are a Pisces themselves. There is a simple reason for this; in a nutshell, Pisces are known to be nuts.

Pisces Iscariot, the name of the Pumpkins’ 1994 compilation album, is a clever astrological commentary on Judas Iscariot. His name lives in infamy as the notorious turncoat who sold-out Jesus to the Romans for a mere thirty pieces of silver. I guess you could say, Judas didn’t give a Silver… FUCK about Jesus! (my apologies, but this struck me as an obligatory insert?) The point is, if I was to make an educated guess regarding Mr. Iscariot’s sign, I would have a short list of: Cancer, Gemini, or chiming in as my #1 speculative answer – Pisces! Why? Because when Pisceans feel that their emotional needs are not being fulfilled, they can turn incredibly selfish. With eleven other disciples licking clean JC’s dusty feet, it must have been a frustrating competition for the big Jay’s attention. Judas “Pisces” Iscariot probably got mad jealous, and rationalized his betrayal as just reciprocation for himself being ignored. Pisceans are also known to be spiritually malleable. They can up and convert to a new faith faster than Saul became Paul!

By deeming the Pisces as the bible’s black sheep, was Billy Corgan passing judgment on himself? As a child of St. Patrick’s Day, from what I know about Papa Pumpkin, he’s the text book definition of his star chart. Let’s review some basic attributes of Pisces. The first thing you should know is their feelings, as a rule, are always off-the-scale intense. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, love or anger, Pisceans feel to the extreme! They are perhaps the utmost passionate of all the signs. When a Piscean has a feeling… you don’t understand, you can’t understand, and you won’t understand. Just get out of the way, duck and cover. Due to this over sensitivity, Pisceans usually have a natural talent for deciphering the psychology of others. They are intimately tuned to those who are closest to them. It’s almost as if they read the minds of loved ones. Like psychic vampires, they feed off of the vibes of those around them. If someone a Piscean cares about is unhappy, the Piscean will involuntarily feel the same. Whether or not this is genuine empathy is debatable. Some astrologers consider Pisceans to be chameleons, not fully comprehending the emotions of others but having the ability to emulate them in an uncanny way.

An argument can be made that this sounds characteristic of Billy Corgan. Some of my all time favourite lyrics from any band are, “if you want love / you must be love / but if you bleed love / you will die love,” from “Age of Innocence,” Machina/the Machines of God. I don’t know the man personally, but from what I do know of him, I would suggest that this could be his mantra for life. He doesn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve; he has it strapped to his forehead so you really can’t miss it. To me, I believe this is an asset. To others, such as former collaborators who spent years huddled in the confined space of a tour bus with him, these traits might seem overwhelming. It would be especially overwhelming if one day you happen to be in a bad mood. You go into the studio and soon discover that your attitude is apparently contagious. Your aura bounces off Billy and he sends it crashing back on you tenfold. When taking Corgan’s Pisces nature into account, it can make one reconsider some of the situations the band has gone through.


Of course, the greatest mystery surrounding the reverse swimming fish is why are they symbolically represented by opposite paddling sea life? It’s because Pisceans are thought to live in two worlds. This is not to be confused with Gemini’s duality complex. The personality of a Pisces is fairly consistent, but they simultaneously dwell in two distinct realms; the real world, and the spiritual plane. As I stated earlier, the religious beliefs of a Pisces are always subject to change. Their metaphysical understanding is constantly evolving and it is common for them to become engrossed in issues pertaining to mysticism. Pisceans are also predisposed to drug use but not drug addiction. Most go through a period of using heavy psychedelics. They tend to justify it as existential exploration- something that is necessary for their spiritual growth.

Does this sound like a certain bald, quasi-new-age-guru to you? I think that this fits Billy perfectly. It also puts some of his endeavors into perspective and helps them to make sense: his self-admitted LSD usage during the Gish era; the mythology of the Machina album; and the philosophy behind the Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project (the Tarot/the Fool’s Journey). Also consider all of the other countless references to God spanning his whole career right up to Oceania’s “Quasar,” which a Taurus friend of mine put best when he described it as treating deities/religions as sports teams. The song is kind of like an anthem, and Corgan is the head cheerleader acknowledging that be you Christian, Hindu, or Jewish, it’s cool. Yod He Vau He Om and all that, deities of your choice be praised! And is it just me, or does Oceania in general have loose overtones of Paganism?

As nice as this emotional empathizing and religious tolerance is, Pisceans have a bad reputation. It is popular consensus that they are crazy, act like control freaks within relationships, and are, in general, difficult to deal with. Unfortunately, this also sounds reminiscent of our musical messiah. For as long as Billy has been in the spotlight, there have been accusations of him being a dictator lording over his band mates as an infallible prophet of rock and roll! We know for a fact that Billy often made a habit of playing James’ and D’arcy’s parts for recordings.  Allegedly, this was done to save time and money because he could do it more efficiently than they. But of all the rumors about the Pumpkins of the past, what else is true? Of the quarrels and hurt egos, how much of it relates to Billy’s innate and inescapable Pisces tendencies? Perhaps the various signs of each of the individual former members were at fault?

Well first of all, you have to believe in the power of the constellations. There are scientific defenses for astrology, such as cosmic gravity effecting our liquid brain chemistry, solar winds, and electromagnetism. I’m not trying to make a believer of anyone. You can research the theories for yourself. Right now though, for the sake of curiosity, let’s suspend disbelief and accept my thesis as incontrovertible truth; the old Pumpkins lineup failed because astrologically speaking, they are too different. The new lineup is succeeding and has a greater chance at longevity because they are more astrologically aligned. The same can be applied to short lived members like Melissa Auf der Maur or Ginger Pooley, who quickly joined and with equal haste, bowed out. Wait though, you might say, isn’t Melissa another Leprechaun child like Billy? While they share the same birthday, that doesn’t mean that two Pisceans actually work well together, be it professional or as lovers, Pisceans don’t mix well with other Pisceans. Their relentless zeal tends to clash. Pisceans will feed off one another. It’s back and forth until the process becomes unbearable for both involved. Pisces: Too Vehement to the Max, Even for Other Pisceans.


So here’s the breakdown of the oldies:

James Iha, March, 26th – Aries
D’arcy Wretzky, May, 1st – Taurus
Jimmy Chamberlin, June, 10th – Gemini

And the new kids in town:

Jeff Schroeder, February, 4th -Aquarius
Mike Byrne, February, 6th – Aquarius
Nicole Fiorentino, April, 7th – Aries

Let’s start with the Aries. Sorry to say, but you’re doomed if your leader is a Pisces. Despite being back to back on the zodiac chart, these two signs could not possibly be more polarized. The Aries is far too fiery and too aggressive for the sentimentally vulnerable Pisces to handle. For instance, James was always a quiet fellow, but under his calm facade I assume he had big feelings. I would not have wanted to be in the same room when the urge spurred him to express said larger-than-life dramatizations. Also, the fact that he was often silent and soft spoken probably meant that when he had something to say it carried a lot of weight for Billy to bear. Trust me, I was raised by an Aries grandfather, and have a horde of Aries friends. When they’re right, man are they ever right; almost in an omnipotent sort of manner. When they’re mad… well, I don’t want to talk about that. As for Nicole, I don’t know a lot about her. But from what I do know, she seems really, really nice. However, since we’re pretending astrology isn’t a load of hogwash I’ll make my prediction that of the new members she would be the first to leave. Aries + Pisces = recipe for eventual toxicity.

Next up is D’arcy, the Taurus. It should also be mentioned that Ginger is a Taurus. This is actually considered a positive combination with a Pisces. Perhaps this is why Ginger left the group amicably and is still on excellent terms with Billy (as far as I know). As an Earth sign, Taureans are logical, passive, and organized people. A Taurus can help to ground a Pisces, and prevent their wild imaginations from devouring them whole. As for D’arcy, since I’m insisting astrology is apodictic, my only explanation for why she’s not still in the band, and nay, why her and Billy are not blissfully married, is – drugs. It’s gotta be the drugs, because planetary alignments cannot lie and are never wrong. If it wasn’t for the drugs, astronomy says that Taurus and Pisces would be perfect, absolutely perfect. Imagine that I’m quoting the complete lyrics for the song, “Perfect” here.

That brings us to Jimmy who is a categorically typical Gemini. Don’t believe me? Read up on Gemini. It’s amazing that he and Billy worked together for as long as they did. The Gemini is represented by “the Twins.” They are two-faced. One side is your best friend, and the other side is vicious venom. Neither side has an explanation for the other. It is also the least compatible sign with Pisces of any sign in the entire Zodiac. The Gemini have a habit of telling white lies for the sake appeasing others or for protecting themselves. Pisceans are often labeled as masters of manipulation, but they do it by tinkering with facts and are careful not to lie. They value honesty and transparency, qualities that a secretive Gemini would struggle to deliver. What can I really say about Billy and Jimmy? There was a Doomsday Clock ticking in their hearts, and it most certainly WAS broken.


Finally, we’ve arrived at the super-awesome-lovable-charismatic-artistic-and delightfully eccentric Aquarians. I say this without bias, because I am totally not an Aquarian. Nope. Not even close. *whistling* Jokes aside, Pisces and Aquarius jive well together. As lovers they comprehend each other as perhaps no other signs can. As friends they can be as close as family. As artistic contributors, they are the best possible match you could hope for. Both signs are fiercely devoted to their work. There is only one thing to beware; the ego of the Aquarius. If they feel that they are not being allowed their fair share of input into the creative process, they can become very cross indeed! Mutiny might also occur if Jeff and Mike ever reach a point in which they feel that their skill sets have surpassed Billy’s. Still, Aquarians are the best hope a Piscean like Billy has for maintaining a stable roster. A fortuneteller would likely predict that Billy, Jeff, and Mike will still be making music together well into their golden years. Here’s to hoping.

I hope you’ve had as much fun reading this article as I’ve had writing it. I’m not claiming the Zodiac is factually accurate, or that divination is real, but it is neat to think about, isn’t it? Even if you are a skeptic, you have to admit that Billy does seem to embody the qualities of a Pisces. You might not be able to trust astrology as a science, but there does seem to be some level of validity to it. A horoscope writer would condemn the old band as destined for disaster, but would bless the current incarnation as kindred forces to be reckoned with. As with everything you read on the internet, I encourage to you to investigate and come to your own conclusions. As for Billy’s former affiliates, perhaps a support group might not be a bad idea. If you went outside of SP’s ranks and invited the Zwan-squad, the side project performers, and all the hired touring help, it would be quite a mixer!

Pumpkins of the Past – D’arcy Wretzky

Article by Shaharaine P. Abdullah
(with additional input by Arthur van Pelt)


D'arcy 01

Pumpkins of the Past continues with D’arcy Wretzky (birthdate: May 1, 1968)

D’arcy Elizabeth Wretzky is the original bassist for The Smashing Pumpkins. Known for her trademark platinumblonde hair and rather laconic persona, D’arcy’s tenure with the Pumpkins lasted through 6 albums, before abruptly leaving in the midst of recording for “Machina/The Machines of God” to reportedly pursue an acting career.

D'arcy 02


Born and raised in Michigan, D’arcy grew up in a brood of 3 girls (the older sister is Kelly, while the younger sister is Molly). Their mother was a lounge singer, while their father worked as a pipefitter.  She joined choirs and learned to play the violin and oboe at an early age. A self-described tomboy, the young D’arcy displayed a propensity for music and yearned to join a band from her childhood.

I never could have withstood being in a band without training from growing up with my sisters. It started when I was born – my older sister was very jealous. Once, in winter, she locked me outside in my diapers. I was thrown into large bodies of water countless times. I had to retaliate. Remember in ‘Apocalypse Now,’ when Brando said you have to horrify people into submission? Well, I was a tiny, scrappy kid that did outlandish things. I was known for throwing knives. Defending myself helped turn me into a tomboy. I played ‘Cowboys and Indians’ instead of with dolls; most of my friends were boys.” – D’arcy Wretzky on her childhood.

 D'arcy 03

(D’arcy Wretzky – photos from her high school yearbook, L.C. Mohr High School)

And retaliate she did. D’arcy learned how to defend herself from physical and mental abuse, shifting from her classical training to learn bass guitar. With the influence of males in her hometown, combined with her bass expertise, D’arcy was able to get into bands and express herself musically.

I was always like, I’m going to be in a band when I grow up. Always. Ever since I was probably six years old.” D’arcy Wretzky on her determination to play in a band.

After graduating from high school, D’arcy traveled to France. A French exchange student she knew had a friend who needed a bassist, so D’arcy flew to Paris with him to meet with this friend. But, by the time she got there, the band had already broken up. After the Paris incident, D’arcy decided to travel around Europe for a while. After finding herself in Europe, she traveled back to the United States. On the way back, she was stranded at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, carrying what she brought with her on the plane (her bass guitar and her prized teddy bear). She called her parents in Michigan to come pick her up, but they weren’t home at the time. D’arcy started wandering around Chicago, and ended up liking the city so much that she didn’t want to go back to Michigan. D’arcy lived with her sister (who lived in downtown Chicago) for a while before moving in with the lead singer of the band she was in. Besides dating this guy, he was also her boss at the diner she worked at. After months of living with this friend and going to gigs, she ran into Billy Corgan outside one of the local clubs she frequented at the time, leading to that fortuitous event in The Smashing Pumpkins’ history.

D'arcy 04

 (D’arcy Wretzky and Billy Corgan)

 “[It was at a] local Chicago goth club called The Avalon. They played that Bryan Ferry song at Avalon every night at the close, when they were kicking everyone out. I was outside talking about a live band that plays there all the time and that I liked. Some asshole just butts into my conversation while we are standing on the sidewalk and says, ‘What the hell were you talking about? That band was crap and besides that, they were put together by a record company’. I said, ‘How would you know that. Can you tell just by looking at them?’ And he says, ‘I can tell by the way a guy jumps around on stage’. I said, ‘I jump around on stage and I wasn’t put together by a record company’. He says, ‘Yeah well, what do you do’. I say ‘I play bass’ and he says, ‘I have a band and I’m looking for a bass player. Here’s my number. Give me a call’. And that was it. My friends came and tore me away at that point because we were about to come to blows. It wasn’t as calm as it sounds.”

“Looking back, if that happened today, I would probably just write him off as an idiot.”

“I went to his house because he said he was looking for people to write with. But he said, ‘Before we can write together you have to learn these songs.’ And he handed me a tape of 40 or 50 songs. Of his. We’ll start writing when you learn these.’ But every week there’d be 10 more new songs. I’m thinking, this is completely insane, but I really loved the music!” D’arcy Wretzky on meeting Billy Corgan for the first time.

The first time she went over to his house to audition she was so nervous she couldn’t even hold the instrument, but Billy decided to have her join The Smashing Pumpkins because he thought she was nice and interesting and he needed to get the band off the ground. Billy Corgan and James Iha had already met, and soon, the trio started playing as a three-piece unit backed by a drum machine. During those sessions, D’arcy had to sneak out of her house just to attend band practice. They eventually met Jimmy Chamberlin through a guy Billy knew. They had a lot of help from Joe Shanahan, the manager of the Cabaret Metro, who booked them with many gigs. With local Chicago label, Limited Potential, the first and very limited vinyl-only single, ‘I Am One’, was released in May, 1990. Sub Pop Records eventually heard the band, which allowed The Smashing Pumpkins to put out their second official single (again vinyl-only) in November, 1990, titled ‘Tristessa’. The quartet eventually moved on and found a more permanent place at Caroline Records where they recorded their first full album: Gish. After releasing the Lull EP in October, 1991, on Caroline Records, the band formally signed with Virgin Records, which was affiliated with Caroline. With Virgin Records, the Gish album was re-released, and thus began an illustrious career for The Smashing Pumpkins that currently spans numerous studio and live albums, EPs and singles, and still counting after 25 years.

I’ve never been friends with the name. It’s a stupid name, a bad joke.” – D’arcy Wretzky on the name of the band that made her famous.

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Pumpkins Period

D’arcy is the credited bassist for the 6 Smashing Pumpkins studio albums following the band’s inception, from Gish to Machina/The Machines of God. She provided lead vocals to ‘Daydream,’  and Smashing Pumpkins‘ cover of Blondie’s ‘Dreaming’ as well as backing vocals on some Smashing Pumpkins songs, such as ‘Beautiful,’ ‘Cupid De Locke’, ‘Farewell and Goodnight’, ‘1979’, ‘Where Boys Fear To Tread’ and ‘The Bells’. D’arcy also co-wrote ‘Daughter’ and dabbled in other musical projects. She provided vocals for Catherine’s ‘Hot Saki and Bedtime Stories’ and even appeared in their video for the single ‘Four Leaf Clover.’ At the time, D’arcy was married to Catherine’s drummer, Kerry Brown, who has also produced several Smashing Pumpkins songs and collaborated with The Smashing Pumpkins countless times. Along with D’arcy, James Iha, Adam Schlesinger (bassist from Fountains of Wayne, Ivy and Tinted Windows) and Jeremy Freeman, Kerry Brown is a co-founder of the independent record label Scratchie RecordsD’arcy has also contributed vocals for Filter’s ‘Take A Picture’ and ‘Cancer’.’

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D’arcy Wretzky and Kerry Brown

“In high school, I was buddies with guys. It got really weird when they got crushes on me. But I was always interested in some man I didn’t know at all. I completely broke that pattern with my husband. Kerry and I knew each other from the studio [he’s a drummer]; then he came on tour with us [for the group’s first album, Gish] as a producer. We were a poor rock band, and he had to share rooms with me and Billy [Corgan]. So I had known Kerry for several months, and I knew all his good points. Like, he talks in his sleep – basically, that’s how I found out he liked me. And you know what? He doesn’t even remember.” – D’arcy Wretzky on how she met her ex-husband Kerry Brown.

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With all the stress of the non-stop touring, Billy Corgan was starting to become depressed. His childhood problems started to resurface, and he was losing focus. When they finished touring, and went into the studio to record their second album, Siamese Dream, they had about seventy-five percent of their songs written. It was a stressful time for all of the members of the band, and Billy ended up recording all the string parts for the album by himself. Unfortunately, Billy, being a guitarist, didn’t add many prominent basslines to Siamese Dream, leaving D’arcy bass parts either drowned out by the guitars or taking the back seat in most tracks.

You have to have a lot of faith to make all the compromises and give up a lot.” – D’arcy Wretzky on recording Siamese Dream

It’s like being married to four people you never even wanted to date.” – D’arcy Wretzky on being a member of The Smashing Pumpkins.

Siamese Dream was the album that really placed The Smashing Pumpkins into the spotlight, but problems began to arise in the band. Jimmy Chamberlin began to have problems with drugs, which never seemed to go away completely. The band went on, but there were always disagreements from then on. After Siamese Dream came the third and fourth albums, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Adore. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, a double album, included a lot of writing from all of the four members of the band. In Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, D’arcy found an outlet for her classical training. She was able to branch out musically, going from grand orchestral basslines blending with the strings of ‘Tonight, Tonight’, to the straight rock of ‘Jellybelly’ and ‘Tales of a Scorched Earth’. You can ever hear the influence of these myriad basslines in the music of Paz Lenchantin, another female bassist that Billy Corgan would meet in Zwan in later years. After Siamese Dream, this musical freedom was definitely a welcome change. The whole band was on a high.

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After Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Jimmy Chamberlin was kicked out of the band for his recurring drug habit, and The Smashing Pumpkins went on as a three-piece band to record the album Adore. Adore was a darker, more electronic album that didn’t sell as well as Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, despite the efforts of D’arcy and her provocative posing. Once again, D’arcy‘s distinctive classical style was slightly squashed on this album. The one song that really stands out, bass-wise, is ‘Shame’, a track reminiscent of the Gish era. D’arcy leads the song, her thick bassline entwined with a simple guitar lead. But aside from her contribution to ‘Shame’, D’arcy was not a very noticeable part of the album.

During Adore‘s release, the Pumpkins immediately went back to touring. They toured internationally, but it wasn’t the same without Jimmy. Billy re-hired Jimmy as a drummer late into the Adore tour, but the band still wasn’t the same. After the international Adore tour, The Smashing Pumpkins went back to their roots, and went on an eight-show club tour. During this tour, the band showcased some fan favorites from older albums, as well as material for a new album, Machina/The Machines Of God.

Unfortunately, D’arcy never got to play on the Machina tour. After the small club tour was finished and the new album was recorded, D’arcy decided to quit The Smashing Pumpkins to pursue an acting career. It wasn’t a made out to be a major thing; D’arcy just wasn’t there one day. It was announced in a press release a couple days after she left, and she was replaced by Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur.

I’m like James [Iha], I need a creative outlet outside the Pumpkins… I need to do things my way, with my ideas. I come from a classical music background and sometimes no one understands my way of reasoning and of doing things.” – D’arcy Wretzky reflecting on herself. 

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Despite leaving The Smashing Pumpkins to pursue an acting career, D’arcy hasn’t been seen much since late 1999. There were rumors that she was slated to play a comedic mafia hitwoman in the indie film “Pieces of Ronnie” alongside Mickey Rourke, but the film never went through.

She was arrested January 25, 2000 on the west side of Chicago after she allegedly purchased three bags of crack cocaine. She could have faced a felony charge, but was not formally charged with a crime. She succesfully completed a court-ordered drug education program and charges were dropped. This incident only fueled speculation about the real reason behind D’arcy’s sudden departure from the Pumpkins, as reportedly revealed by Billy Corgan in one of his blog posts. D’arcy was fired for being a mean spirited drug addict, who refused to get help,” Corgan disclosed. Whatever the reason, the seemingly troubled ex-bassist of The Smashing Pumpkins has never publicly confirmed nor refuted these claims and has, in fact, retreated from the public eye to become something of a recluse.

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is said to own 3 antique stores in Michigan and since leaving The Smashing Pumpkins, she has become a trained and registered masseuse. In December 2004 she was known to study acupuncture, having been inspired by her sister Molly‘s successful acupuncture treatment to quit smoking.

In July 2009, D’arcy resurfaced in a phone-in to Chicago’s rock radio station Q101 and chatted briefly with host Ryan Manno. The 13-minute conversation revealed that D’arcy had been holed-up at a horse farm in Michigan since disappearing from the spotlight and had been keeping busy running the farm. She also spoke about missing Chicago, Marilyn Manson’s family, the sad passing of her boyfriend just days prior to the call, a piqued interest in Davy Jones of The Monkees being a horse jockey and the Silversun Pickups (the latter of which she denied sounding anything like Billy Corgan at all).  D’arcy went on to describe Corgan’s voice as “unusual” and compared it to that of a Tibetan monk’s, further commenting that she wished he would “pay more attention to his pitch.”

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– D’arcy is a Trekkie and fan of The X-Files: “I’m a big STAR TREK fan, but I’m not into the conventions or the ears or anything like that. I’m surprised they put THE X-FILES on the air, because the theories on there are so close.”  

– During her senior year of High School, D’arcy got into a bad car wreck and hurt her leg. She had to have surgery on it. After the surgery they overdosed her on morphine which gave her the nick name “Sister Morphine“.

– Filter’s song ‘Miss Blue’ is said to be about D’arcy, who collaborated with the band on 2 of their songs.

– A journalist once wrote that D’arcy didn’t care about music, only make up, so she attacked him with her lipstick. On another occasion, a reporter asked: “D’arcy, is your hair really that white?”

D’arcy‘s answer: “No, do not let your eyes deceive you. It’s actually a big black afro. The white that you see is really a trick we do with mirrors.”

D’arcy once dated and was engaged to former Smashing Pumpkins band mate, James Iha. They split in the middle of the Gish tour. As mentioned above, Kerry Brown was talking in his sleep, which was how D’arcy found out that Kerry really liked her. D’arcy then broke up with James Iha, and started dating Kerry, putting a large strain on the band. It is rumored that D’arcy also dated actor Mickey Rourke.

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Disclaimer: All pictures/images used in this article are courtesy of Google Images (unless otherwise specified). The writer does not claim ownership for any photos and no infringement is intended. We respect all photographers and try to credit sources to the best of our knowledge; if necessary, we will credit or remove any pictures at the photographer’s or representative’s request. Please e-mail us: TheSPfreaksTeam@gmail.com to be credited for your work or to have your content removed.

Pumpkins of the Past – Ginger Pooley

Article by Shaharaine P. Abdullah

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Let’s move this series forward with Ginger Pooley (birthdate: April 22, 1977)

Ginger A. Pooley (formerly known as Ginger Reyes or by her stage name Ginger Sling) is the bassist for California pop punk band Halo Friendlies and more widely-known for her brief stint as the touring bassist who replaced Melissa Auf der Maur in The Smashing Pumpkins.

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Ginger was born in Chicago, Illinois and hails from Peruvian ancestry. She has been writing and playing songs since freshman high school and was in a Christian ska band in La Crescenta, California called the Israelites. She also attended classes at UCLA from 1998 to 2000, where she obtained a degree in History.

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In 2004, Ginger released a five-track EP entitled ‘Room EP’ under the moniker ‘Ginger Sling’ and label Pineapple Heart Records with the music video for her song ‘Faith’ directed by Djay Brawner. The following year, she released a follow-up EP entitled ‘Laguna Beach Demos’ under the same label. In 1999, Ginger became the bassist for the all-girl pop punk band Halo Friendlies, replacing Cheryl Hecht.

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 (Ginger Pooley and members of Halo Friendlies)

Pumpkins Period

In 2007, the new line-up for The Smashing Pumpkins was announced, with Ginger Reyes taking over bass duties from Melissa Auf der Maur, Jeff Shroeder replacing James Iha on guitars and new touring keyboardist Lisa Harriton. The new line-up was debuted in Paris on May 22, 2007, the Pumpkins’ first gig since their farewell show at The Metro on December 2, 2000. On July 10, 2000, Zeitgeist was released and yielded 2 singles with music videos, both of which Ginger appeared on: ‘Tarantula’ and ‘That’s the Way (My Love Is)’.

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 (Ginger Pooley, Jeff Schroeder and Lisa Harriton)


While touring in support of Zeitgeist, Ginger became engaged to Kristopher Michael Pooley, the Pumpkins’ touring keyboardist for their 2008 20th Anniversary Tour. The couple married in Los Angeles on June 22, 2008 and on October 17, 2009, they had a daughter named Talula Victoria Pooley. In March 2010, Ginger left the Pumpkins amicably, stating:

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(Kristopher Michael Pooley and Ginger Pooley)

With sorrow and yet with much thankfulness for the opportunity to have played in the Pumpkins, I am sad to say that I can no longer tour with the Pumpkins. Although I’ve been blessed beyond belief over the past few years through playing with the Pumpkins, my priority now is to keep our little family unit together, which includes my husband and my baby.”

Ginger Pooley 07(Ginger Pooley and Talulah Victoria Pooley)

Ginger played bass for the Glee Live! concert tour from 2010 to 2011 and has released a self-titled EP in July 13, 2011 on iTunes. Ginger worked on the EP with the help of her husband Kris (keyboards, backing vocals, guitars), producer Ben West, Aaron Sterling (drums), Greg Suran and Pete Thorn (rhythm and lead guitars).

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Disclaimer: All pictures/images used in this article are courtesy of Google Images (unless otherwise specified). The writer does not claim ownership for any photos and no infringement is intended. We respect all photographers and try to credit sources to the best of our knowledge; if necessary, we will credit or remove any pictures at the photographer’s or representative’s request. Please e-mail us: TheSPfreaksTeam@gmail.com to be credited for your work or to have your content removed.

Words with Bob Stern – Creator of Vinyl Schminyl Radio

Article by Derek Miller

Bob Stern, the creator of the Vinyl Schminyl Radio, sits down with SPfreaks to discuss his history in radio, meeting and speaking with Billy Corgan, and his opinions on vinyl.

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Diverse Radio Background

When I was a kid I used to go to downtown Chicago to WLS and WCFL to watch the DJs.  I love music and realized that’s what I wanted to do.  I never did any radio in high school, but I did in college.  As a matter of fact, the first college I went to I started a small student-run radio station and then went to the University of Illinois and worked for probably one of the largest student-run radio stations in the country, WPGU.  I ultimately worked in Woodstock, IL, for WXRD, which was at the time a progressive rock station.  I didn’t want to bum around from one small station to another.  So I told myself by the time I’m 25 years old if I don’t get to a better market, then I’m going to go into radio advertising sales.  The day after my 25th birthday, I started in radio sales.  I’ve always had a love for radio and never wanted to get out of it, but I did.  About 10 years later I worked for a local Chicago station, WCBR, called the Bear, and worked part-time there for a year.

Meeting Billy Corgan

I wouldn’t call myself a close friend with Billy because I’m really not.  But here’s how he and I met. Right around the corner there [was] a place called the Ravinia Wine Shop.  A year ago in February, [2012], they had a grand opening with a bunch of local people and the owners are friends of Billy’s.  I mentioned to the owners that I would like to get Billy on the podcast, and he happened to be there that night. That’s where I met him and we talked for quite awhile.  I said I’d like to get you on for an interview.  I didn’t want it to be a Smashing Pumpkins interview; I wanted it to be a classic rock interview.  His knowledge of music is just about as good as anybody’s.

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The interview was actually held at the wine shop.  We spent an hour talking face to face.  When I was in college, I interviewed quite a lot of people (rock stars, if you will), and this was probably the best interview I’ve ever done. Because it was the most intelligent interview I’ve ever done.  It was a conversation more than an interview.

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Please click the picture to listen to the Vinyl Schminyl Radio Hour featuring Billy Corgan

Broadcasting from Madame Zuzu’s

The Led Zeppelin show was recorded Saturday (April 6th, 2013) and we ran it on April 13.    It’s the second time we’ve actually done that.  We did one back in February and featured Pink Floyd for the hour.  Billy, who owns Madame Zuzu’s and invited me to do the podcast, spent the entire evening with us this time and joined us for a few minutes on the air.  It was fun.

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Vinyl Schminyl Radio

Three years ago (April 26th, 2010), I decided to start Vinyl Schminyl Radio.  The first cut that we played was Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire”.  I was thinking of a name for the podcast, and I thought of his Nilsson Schmilsson album.

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At the beginning, I was digitizing my old vinyl.  I don’t do that as much anymore because I can find the songs on iTunes or similar outlets.  But I did bring a lot of cuts from vinyl in the first year, year and a half, but after that it’s been more digital-based.  I wanted it to be vinyl based, and it was for quite some time, but then it kind of took off and I decided let’s just put the songs out.

Yesterday was our 700th show (April 16th, 2013).  In July 2010, we started the Vinyl Schminyl Radio Hour.  Before that, it was a Monday through Friday thing and we’d feature a song and a back-story.  I did that for the longest time. Now I try to do it every other week, or sometimes two weeks in a row.  If you go to Vinyl Schminyl.com you can see a list of all the Radio Hours I’ve done.  I’ve done over 60 of them.

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Let’s Talk Vinyl

Vinyl is a great format and the jury is still out whether vinyl is better or worse.  I know vinyl is making a resurgence. At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame there’s a big vinyl section there.  In my interview with Billy last year, we talked about him rereleasing albums on vinyl and the Beatles rereleasing albums on vinyl.  But truth be told, unless they come up with a vinyl iPod it’s going to be mostly digital.  Even CDs are on their way out.  I still have a pretty big CD collection too, but there are some things that are still not available on CD.  That’s when I take a look at my vinyl collection and try to put that out there.  I still use vinyl from time to time, but definitely not as much as when Vinyl Schminyl started.

Is Vinyl Superior in Quality?

Vinyl is probably of superior quality, because if you have a completely clean copy (no scratches) and are listening to it on a really nice turntable and really nice speakers, that’s when the magic happens.  I have a really nice set of speakers.  My turntable isn’t quite as nice, but one of these days maybe I will fork out some big bucks for a nice one.  From time to time, I do enjoy sitting down and listening to a good album.  On the other hand, I like listening to a good CD through a good sound system as well.  I’m not as much of a purist as you would think I am.  It’s about the music and not so much about the technology of what the music sounds like.  But it’s got to sound good.  If it’s a well produced and well mastered album, it will sound good on CD as well as vinyl. There is a difference, but nowadays with iTunes they’re releasing the higher quality MP3s that sound a lot less compressed.

MP3 vs. CD

There’s another argument there that you’re certainly losing a lot of information with compression on MP3 vs. the CD file.  So personally, I’d like to listen to CDs rather than MP3s, but on the other hand, I only have a streaming music system, so pretty much everything that comes into our living room is MP3.  If I’m down in my “man cave”, where my studio is, I fire up Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in surround sound on my SACD player. That’s an experience in itself.  There are sounds on that album I never even knew existed!

I just acquired an entire case of brand new, unused, unplayed original Mobile Fidelity Lab series vinyl.  I did a whole week of songs just taken from those albums.   Abbey Road, Eagles, Steely Dan.  I still haven’t gotten to everything that’s in there.

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Any Album that Must be Enjoyed on Vinyl?

I would honestly say none.  When I was a kid, the first record that I bought was The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – mono version. I would listen and listen and listen to that album, but I would never say there was an album that I would only listen to on vinyl.

To answer your question, I’m more about a well produced album than I am about the vinyl copy of it.  Now with that said, there are some new pressings of vinyl, for instance, Smashing Pumpkins; Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  I know what the CD sounds like, but I want to hear what the 180-gram vinyl sounds like as well.  I would love to take a listen and hear the difference.

I like [The Smashing Pumpkins]. I think their material is really cool.  I have learned to appreciate their sound more since I met Billy.  To be honest, I have not heard any vinyl of theirs, but I will tell you Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and even Billy Corgan’s solo album [The Future Embrace] I think are really cool.  They were all really well done albums.  The solo one had mixed reviews, but I think it was tremendous.  There was a cover song on it by the Bee Gees, “To Love Somebody”, which I played on Vinyl Schminyl.  [Billy Corgan] was actually really happy that I did that.  When I told him that we’d be featuring that, he was pretty jazzed.  You never hear that song on the radio!

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Stereo vs. Mono

The reason mono was such a big thing, well; let’s take it back to The Beatles.  When The Beatles were in the studio, originally their stuff was only done in one channel.  At that point, everything was coming out of one speaker which generally was a radio or record player.  It didn’t really matter if it was stereo or not.  Most stuff was produced in a mono and a stereo version.  There was stereo back then, but for most people, that would be like the audiophile version.  I even had a stereo back then, but the reason I bought the mono version was because it was anywhere from one to two dollars less.  But if you notice, when they rereleased The Beatles catalogue, they released a mono and a stereo version.  And a lot of people like the mono version because that’s the way they were originally recorded and intended to be listened to.

Any Vinyl You Are Looking For?

There was a band called Fallenrock in 1974.  They had this song called “She’s a Mystery”.  The album was called Watch for Fallenrock.  If I could find that – they have it at Amoeba Music.  Been trying to get my hands on that song and incorporate it into one my shows. I’m probably the only one in America that has a “jones” for that song.

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Record Store Day 2013:  No Alternative

[The album] sounds familiar.  It was a compilation album from 1993, yeah.  I’m looking at the setlist here, and there are pretty cool songs on here.

Contemporary Artists

I watch The Grammy’s every year.  I really like Mumford and Sons.  I like Adele.  I think she’s phenomenal.  I like Train.  I like the Black Eyed Peas. I enjoy Jack White as well.  The Grammy’s, there is so much diversity, there really is. If it sounds good to me, I’ll download it or buy the CD the next day.

Advice on Putting Together a Podcast

Make sure you have something to say.  Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it.  I’ll say this for musicians too; just because you can play the guitar, doesn’t mean you’re going to be a rock star.  I’ll never discourage anybody from finding common ground and putting their stuff out there, but make it the best that you can make it.  There’s a lot of podcasts out there.  And there’s a lot of, excuse me, crap out there.  The one thing I’m proud of about Vinyl Schminyl is that it offers up good information, it’s done in a professional manner, and the quality of the hosting is pretty good too.  Make sure you have a good product, because if you have a good product then people are going to listen and you will get positive publicity.

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Please note that Bob is celebrating his 3rd anniversary of Vinyl Schminyl Radio today.  Make sure to visit his website to check out his newest podcasts every week!