Friday, July 23, 2010

Mike Byrne: The New Smashing Pumpkins Drummer

" The Smashing Pumpkins" as it were... is essentially Billy Corgan at this point, and whomever he chooses to play with. I'm fine with that. Though it was tough losing Jimmy Chamberlin, as I consider him to be hands down by far and away the best rock drummer I've ever heard.


Jimmy has a family and for now has had his fill of being on the road, and living in recording studios. So he left the Pumpkins to go be home with his family. As tough of a loss as it is to the band, it's hard to argue with his decision. I also doubt we've seen the last of him.

Wrestlers do this all the time. They're on the road 300 days a year. Year after year. Eventually they need to take a few years off, or that's when they start going berserk and doing lots of drugs. But after a break they find themselves craving the life again... and then they come back with a renewed enthusiasm.

I can't say whether or not this will ever be the case with J.C. but I certainly doubt that Jimmy and Billy have played their last song together.

Which brings me to the point of this... the new drummer. Mike Byrne.

Mike was 19 when he was found by Billy Corgan online. Billy had posted open auditions via the internet. Billy finds this 19 year old kid. Has him try out... and at 19 years old he becomes the drummer for The Smashing Pumpkins. Your gut reaction is... hmmm...

But I've heard him. I've heard him on the new studio recordings, and I've heard him live via bootlegs. Is he Jimmy Chamberlin? No. Is he a kick ass drummer? Fuck yeah! For 19 (now 20) years old... he rocks his ass off and can hang with Billy Corgan and the rest of the Pumpkins. I don't know about you, but I certainly can't say that. You can hear him play on any of the new recordings...

It's hard to imagine whether or not he can truly appreciate the position he is in at such a young age. But he did start a blog when they started their recent tour, and from reading it I think he's enjoying the ride. As he should.

Pumpkins fans in general have been all up in arms about the new line-up. Some are insistent that "The Smashing Pumpkins" were D'Arcy, James, Jimmy, and Billy. While they will most likely be remembered as being the "true" Smashing Pumpkins... the past is the past.

I understand the reasons for the band going their separate ways. At the end of the day it's a lack of chemistry. Like a good sports team needs good chemistry, so does a band. Whatever there was between the original four, it was lost. Once it's gone... you need to separate. Not to say you can't reunite down the road. But there's no sense in beating a dead horse either. Anyway... people are really uptight about allowing new members into the SP family.

I think Jeff Schroeder has been a great guitarist, and held his own just fine since joining the band. I don't know much about the new bassist, but I'm sure she's fine.

Then there's Mike.

I can fumble my way through just about any instrument if I really want to, but if there's one thing I just do not have the co-ordination for it's the drums. So I have a deep respect for anyone who can play. And knowing what high standards Billy holds, I can't imagine the pressure of living up to those expectations. I look back to when I was 19, and I can tell you there's no way I'd have had the balls to go on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins no matter what kind of drummer I was. This kid gives off a lot strength, and seems like a down to Earth dude.

So what I'm ultimately am getting at is that I welcome this kid to the group. I think a new drummer will force Billy to write his music a little differently and explore other avenues he may not have with Jimmy.

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