Late 1988 - Schwa Productions, Chicago

Produced by: Quentin Sanbria; Engineered by: Paul Chabala

  • East
  • Jennifer Ever

  • Jennifer Ever (acoustic)

  • Nothing and Everything

  • Spiteface
Sessions for the first demo tape, aptly titled The Smashing Pumpkins.  Also included was a live version of She and a

remixed version of Sun from the previous Ignoffo Sessions.  The master tapes of this session have apparently been lost, as they are no longer in the band's possession. A reproduction of the tape was included in the 2012 Pisces Iscariot Remaster.  An alternate mix of Jennifer Ever featuring just guitar and vocals was found on a bootleg mixtape that at once belonged to Mark Ignoffo (hence the name of the bootleg is The Ignoffo Tape).

In February of 1989, Billy Corgan gave me a copy of a self-titled, eight-track mini-release Smashing Pumpkins had just put out in Chicago. I was in a Champaign, Illinois-based band called Stark at the time, and we played with the Pumpkins occasionally. Smashing Pumpkins was a cheesy-looking cassette with hand-drawn flowers by Corgan on the cover of a flimsy insert, and a copyright symbol scribbled under a line of text crediting Schwa Productions (a.k.a. someone’s home studio) with producing the six-song tape. Corgan said they’d only made about 600 copies. A pitcher of beer later, Corgan became more tractable and said he’d hook D’arcy up with a few music lessons.

The early songs on the tape have never appeared on any other Pumpkins release, including the collection of odds and ends assembled for 1994’s Pisces Iscariot. Its mood is brisk, but haunted by Corgan’s reverb-tinged vocals lamenting the complexities of love. Corgan’s obsession with traumas of the head and heart is already apparent, as is his search for metaphysical guidance and antisocial tendencies.

On “Nothing and Everything,” the singer comes off trapped and disgusted: “I hide behind my hair today/Wishing I was far away/Standing with you mannequins/I try to hold my breath.” The band’s melodramatic impulses--including the lines “Walking in the sun I know that I never feel alive/Walking in the sun I never feel”--are checked by James Iha’s and Corgan’s killer guitar chops and less indulgent lyrics. The mix of chiming melodies and psychedelic outbursts is intriguing, as though Jimi Hendrix and the Sisters of Mercy (sans the swank production values) were tied together at the tail and trying to run in opposite directions, only to keep slamming into one another.

On one live cut titled “She,” Iha’s hoarse back-up vocals fight to keep pace with Corgan as both guitarists are locked in a duel of solos. Despite the blistering licks Corgan claimed he learned at Juilliard, Iha is better, creating aural washes so visceral they pool at your feet. The track ends with about five people applauding weakly. By the time Corgan gave me that tape, I’d known the Smashing Pumpkins for several months, since Stark had teamed up with them for a spate of shows in cultural hotbeds like Champaign-Urbana and Carbondale, Illinois.[1]

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  1. Matt Golosinski, "Remembering Billy Back in the Day", unknown Phoenix magazine, December 1996