The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Machina / The Machines of God’ – A Look Back on Billy Corgan’s Glorious Mess
Here’s what happened to the Smashing Pumpkins between 1995, the year they released their two-disc epic ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,’ and 2000, when they released their fifth album, ‘Machina / The Machines of God’: Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin OD’ed while hanging out before a show with the Pumpkins’ touring keyboardist, who also overdosed but died. Chamberlin was kicked out of the band. The remaining members made the toned-down and boring ‘Adore’ in 1998. Original bass player D’arcy Wretzky left. Billy Corgan’s ego got massively huge.
So things weren’t looking all that great for the Smashing Pumpkins when they started recording ‘Machina / The Machines of God.’ Chamberlin, now clean, rejoined the band; Wretzky appeared on a few cuts. And Corgan, disappointed by everything ‘Adore,’ took the group in a harder direction. He also slapped a convoluted concept around the record, which he envisioned as another two-record set. By the time the album was released in late February 2000, it was stripped to a single disc, and the Pumpkins were close to breaking up.
Even if ‘Machina / The Machines of God’ doesn’t make a whole lotta sense, it includes some of Corgan’s best post-‘Mellon Collie’ songs. The opening ‘The Everlasting Gaze’ is almost metal. ‘Stand Inside Your Love’ is one of Corgan’s best ballads. ‘I of the Mourning’ is artsy ambitious. And ‘Try, Try, Try’ turns down the noise.
But the album didn’t return the Pumpkins anywhere near where Corgan had hoped. It debuted at No. 3 but quickly dropped from the charts. Of the original band’s first five albums, ‘Machina / The Machines of God’ is the only one that didn’t sell at least a million copies. The group broke up after a tour. Corgan reunited the Pumpkins, with new members, in 2007 for two more albums, which nobody considers Smashing Pumpkins albums. He's been trying to recover from this glorious mess ever since.
Watch the Video for the Smashing Pumpkins' 'The Everlasting Gaze'