Billy Corgan Explains Why Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee Is Playing on New Smashing Pumpkins Album
A surprising story broke this week when it was revealed by Billy Corgan that Motley Crue‘s Tommy Lee would be playing drums on the Smashing Pumpkins‘ upcoming full-length ‘Monuments to an Elegy.’ This means current Pumpkins drummer Mike Byrne won’t be featured on the record, but Corgan has just released a statement explaining why Lee was recruited.
After powerhouse Jimmy Chamberlin left the Smashing Pumpkins in 2009, Corgan brought in Mike Byrne, who was only 19 at the time. Byrne’s playing kept the beat on ‘Oceania,’ which the Pumpkins released in 2012, but in the studio, Byrne has been replaced by Tommy Lee for ‘Monuments to an Elegy.’
Corgan addressed Tommy Lee’s studio recruitment in the following statement:
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…
As of this posting, there’s no word on whether or not Lee will also participate on ‘Day for Night,’ another new Smashing Pumpkins album Corgan is currently working on.