Billy Corgan Explains How Tommy Lee Has Turned His Band Into “Supersonic Pumpkins”

By Chris DeVille / May 9, 2014

Earlier this week Billy Corgan dropped a shockla-locka-boom on Smashing Pumpkins fans worldwide by announcing that Tommy Lee would be the drummer for all nine tracks on the Pumpkins’ upcoming Monuments To An Elegy. Last night, Corgan posted a lengthy explanation of how Lee came to be his new drummer, which involves the assertion that Lee has turned the band into “Supersonic Pumpkins.” Here’s Corgan’s full explainer:

The notion to reach out to T Lee came from The Shredder, who in hearing me say ‘we really need to get someone like Tommy to play on this song’ said, “well, why don’t we reach out to him?” And let me tell you something: I’ve had the fortune of being in the room with some of the all-time greats, and when you’re that close to someone who is the best at what they do you gain insight into the way they are able to communicate to so many. Let’s call it a universal language (which music is, obviously), and in applying it with heart/soul they present intangibles that give dimension and depth to a composition which otherwise would not be as kaleidoscopic.

So on flying out a few weeks ago I presented T Lee with the idea, played him all the songs that I’d worked hard to finish, and discussed the way we’d be most comfortable finding common ground in the studio. Which explains the rush to prepare the arrangements for him to drum on, and also our keeping the work under wraps; so that nothing and nobody could influence the process.

I’m also happy to report that not only did we have a blast, but the 9 ‘MONUMENTS’ songs sound epic in a way that is indescribable. I guess I could toss off hyperbole after pronoun, but it would sell short what I like to call ‘Supersonic Pumpkins'; which is a descriptor in itself. Tommy hits the drums in a crushing manner, but as many fans know this is not without nuance or reaction; as he has a fantastic ear for music and plays with the songs in a means that only enhances excitement. The only other place I’ve heard this phenomena is with John Bonham of Led Zeppelin: where heavy drums can sound soft and expressive. Good company indeed!

As for the connection, I first met Tommy way back in 1991 when he came to one of our shows, and through the years we’ve run into each other many times at various places. So the coupling is not as odd as some might assume, as he, like I, has pushed into embracing new technologies, electronics, etc where it pertains to making new sounds. He is a wonderful, warm person to be around, and I wouldn’t have come to him with this proposition if I didn’t trust that this was something we’d both be proud of. So we expect to finish up the drums in a few weeks, seeing as we’re in a rush to get this stuff out and oh yeah, Tommy’s got this mega-Crue tour to do.

Let me also add on a personal and public level that I’m truly excited, for there’s an excitement in the music that is vital and necessary; especially when you consider what’s dying on the vine out there. I believe this is soul music we’re making, and I’m proud of who I’m stuck in the foxhole with. Attack, attack, attack…


Soul music! Who else is a little bit bummed that Lee won’t be joining the Pumpkins live band due to the Crue farewell tour? Not much of a Pumpkins zealot, but honestly I’m pretty excited to hear what they’re coming up with. It should be noted, though, that not the entire Stereogum staff feels this way. Quoth Michael Nelson, “He just needs to add like Flea and Joe Satriani and it’ll be a total shitshow.”

Monuments To An Elegy is one of two Smashing Pumpkins albums Corgan expects to release in 2015.