July 10, 2007
My Dear Friends,
Today is the greatest day you've ever known.
Seven years, seven months, and ten days ago, the clock struck midnight, 2000, and the world began turning faster. Back then, I disbanded the Smashing Pumpkins because the new millennium demanded it. A new age needed a new start—cleanliness and unity, not the confused, confusing wreck I let the band become.
We were once the most important band in the world, and everyone—me, you, Courtney Love—knew it. The Smashing Pumpkins drew the line between Black Sabbath, the Bee Gees, and the Cure, and that line caught a generation like a leash around a wayward puppy. We founded Alternative Nation, and the kids and advertisers flocked around. But because the band had become bloated, overbearing, headstrong, because it grew beyond my control, it had to die. I killed it before it killed me.
And now, after all those years of self-imposed obscurity, of forced poetry, of side projects mired in mediocrity and too many guitarists, I bring us, together, here, to the corner of Future Avenue and Now Street. This is our moment! This is our day! This is Zeitgeist! (That's "Spirit of the Age" in German. Trust me: I've read Hegel.)
This band has always been the headlight on the barreling locomotive of modern youth; with a title like Zeitgeist, nobody can argue. I brought back original Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain—recovered and reverent of yours truly, he's the epitome of a new leaf turned over—plus another chick bassist and some new guitar guy. Zeitgeist (Say it! It feels good!) arrives this week, in four different forms: The Best Buy version is different from the Target version is different from the iTunes version, which is different from everyone else's version. Most zeits would've settled for a single geist, but ours demands more marketing strategies, so I offer it four.
As for the music, the critics won't get it. They never have. My old fans—the ones whose lives were changed by Gish and Siamese Dream—won't get it. They will complain that the sound is too dense, too severe, too, yes, overbearing. But the New Generation is the one I'm speaking to, the one that needs to know that My Chemical Romance and Panic! At the
Disco couldn't exist without me. Whether they want to know doesn't matter. This Zeitgeist is not consensual—it's here, whether you understand it or not.
Several weeks ago, I released "Tarantula" to prime the public for the coming onslaught. The song is the sound of one ego exploding (mine), the sound of an entire album in just one song. You'll like it because it has the same skyrocketing guitar riff as "Cherub Rock," and you liked "Cherub Rock" back in 1993. You still like it, because it is one of the best songs ever recorded. But now, instead of one guitar playing one riff, there are more—way more—guitars. And more riffs. It's awesome, in the original sense of the word. It might scare you.
Fear is the effect I'm going for. Fear and exhaustion. But "Tarantula" is not the scariest or most exhausting song on the album. That honor goes to "United States"—a triumphant teenage anthem that sounds like the closing solo of "War Pigs," refracted and stretched into nine minutes. Remember, I was subtle once: "Drown," from the Singles soundtrack, was haunting in its minimal, dissonant beauty. But the Zeitgeist has no time for subtlety, friends, and neither do you. Hence song titles like "United States" and "For God and Country" and "Pomp and Circumstance." Even more than you need more guitars, you need more meaning. And I bring it to you:
Dulcet tones whisper fast
Refuse your yearns, renounce the past
Rouse me soon, the end draws nigh
Whose side are you on
Your blood you cannot buy.
Every revolution needs a counterpoint, and that would be "Bring the Light," the one song with a discernable, singable hook, the one song that's remotely accessible. It's got a melody that burns with the same adolescent struggle as those Siamese Dream days. Naturally, it stands out: Hooks and singability are not really the zeitgeist. At least not this Zeitgeist.
Here is what you must understand: Nothing has changed since 1999, except my budget. And Pro Tools. I am still the same alt-rock messiah I was. You are still my teenage flock.