August 1995 - The Village Recorder, LA

Produced by Flood, Alan Moulder & Billy Corgan

  • [all 28 Mellon Collie tracks mixed with overdubs]

"I know it looks anal," Billy Corgan says with an embarrassed smile, looking up from the sheet of paper on his lap as the sound of holocaust guitars and Corgan's raw, emerged singing voice fills the control room of a second-floor studio at the Village Recorder, in Los Angeles. Corgan listens intently to his own nihilist howl -- "My reflection, dirty mirror/There's no connection to myself -- before turning his attention back to the piece of paper on which he makes a series of small check marks.

Corgan and his co-producer Flood are playing one of Corgan's several vocal takes of "Zero," a searing number from the Smashing Pumpkins' new epic double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Corgan and Flood are "comping vocals" -- comparing Corgan's performances for timing, melody and delivery to determine which parts of which takes they want to edit into a composite master. To an outsider the apparent variations are somewhere in the frequency range of dog whistles. But to Corgan -- the 28-year-old singer, guitarist, songwriter and obsessive sonic conscience of the Pumpkins -- this is serious shit.

"It is a means to an end," Corgan says wearily the next day during a break from mixing another Mellon Collie firecracker, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings." "It's not the best means to an end. It's not the shortest distance between two points. But it is a means to an end.

"In a weird kind of way," Corgan says, "music has afforded me an idealism and perfectionism that I could never attain as me."

It is sometimes hard to tell how much Corgan truly enjoys his work. Surprisingly tall and broad shouldered, he walks with a gangly, elastic stride, his head bowed in a slight hunch as if he were wearing some great, invisible yoke around his neck. Corgan's hair, cut short and dyed jet black, gives his boyish, porcelain-white features an even more ghostly pallor. And when he joins the album's other co-producer, Alan Moulder, behind the board to work on "Bullet," Corgan's face goes dead blank as he loses himself in the song's tidal roar.[1]

Return to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

  1. David Fricke, "Smashing Pumpkins: Disillusionment, Obsession, Confusion, Satisfaction", Rolling Stone, November 16th, 1995