|Studio album by The Smashing Pumpkins|
|Released||July 6, 2007|
|Recorded||August 2006–February 2007|
|Producer||Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin, Terry Date, Roy Thomas Baker|
|The Smashing Pumpkins chronology|
|Singles from Zeitgeist|
Zeitgeist is the seventh studio album by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. Zeitgeist was released on July 6, 2007 in certain countries and on July 10, 2007 in the United States and Canada. It was the first studio album The Smashing Pumpkins released after their 2000 disbandment and 2005 reunion. The album was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin, and Terry Date.
Corgan indicated that, with Zeitgeist, he wanted to make a mainstream rock record, comment on the political climate of the United States, and explore the nature of the band and his friendship with Chamberlin. The album was met with mixed reviews and a strong debut, but it quickly slid down the charts. It was certified Gold in the United States on February 1, 2008.
After The Smashing Pumpkins disbanded in 2000, Corgan and Chamberlin reunited for the short-lived supergroup Zwan, also featuring members of Slint, Chavez, and A Perfect Circle. The group released one album, Mary Star of the Sea, before dissolving in 2003. Chamberlin then formed Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, while Corgan would focus on a solo album. On June 21, 2005, the day of the release of his album TheFutureEmbrace, Corgan took out full-page advertisements in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times to announce that he had "made plans to renew and revive the Smashing Pumpkins." Chamberlin soon announced that he would be rejoining the band, and the two began living together in north Scottsdale, Arizona in November 2005, writing and rehearsing new songs. Within three weeks of practicing, the pair decided they had recaptured the sound of the band and prepared to record a new album.
On April 20, 2006, the band's website confirmed that the band had reunited and started work on a new album. The website later announced that the new album would be produced by Roy Thomas Baker. Chamberlin and Corgan were verified as participants in the reunion, but there was question as to whether other former members of the band would participate. In April 2007, James Iha and Melissa Auf der Maur separately confirmed that they were not taking part in the reunion. Later that year, the band's original bassist, D'arcy Wretzky stated she would not participate in the reunion as well.
With the other two band members absent, Chamberlin and Corgan decided to record the album alone, which Corgan claims is not a serious departure from previous Pumpkins albums. After the songs were finalized, Chamberlin laid down all of the drum tracks. Notably, the drums for the ten-minute track "United States" were recorded in one take. After the drums were completed, Chamberlin began the process of interviewing prospective touring band members, while Corgan went about recording the guitar, bass, keyboard, and vocal parts. Chamberlin described the recording sessions as a "long laborious process to greatness". For the first time on a Smashing Pumpkins record, Chamberlin served as one of the producers, and was present and influential through much more of the recording process than he typically has been.
The band's insistence on recording live to tape, without click tracks or editing, was met with distaste by most producers they spoke to. One executive at Reprise suggested using American Idiot producer Rob Cavallo, in the name of commercial success. The band held out until they met someone willing to record analog, and with the right energy and philosophy, eventually choosing producer Roy Thomas Baker, who they considered "a real soul mate." Terry Date also contributed, and, according to Corgan, Date's production style helped the songs "resonate on a physical level". The album was largely recorded in the home studio of former Catherine drummer (and D'arcy Wretzky's ex-husband) Kerry Brown, on the same 24-track tape recorder that 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was recorded on—in fact, no computers were used for the recording of the album. As with the other Smashing Pumpkins albums, Zeitgeist was recorded in twelve-hour days, six or seven days a week, until it was finished. The mixing process also differed from previous albums'. According to Baker, "everything had sort of an on/off switch. So instead of having various degrees of volumes, we'd have the approach of, 'It's either on or it's not'".
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Chamberlin explained the Pumpkins' goals for the album:
|“||The mindset of the record was to put our best foot forward and not get too artsy. We wanted to try to create a body of work that was concentrated enough to bring back a fan base and invigorate a new fan base. We kept it pretty close to the chest, and we didn't branch out too deep into art zone while we were writing the record.||”|
Corgan said the albums' goals were threefold—to make an accessible, mainstream rock record, to comment on the "emerging fascist" political climate of the United States, and to explore the nature of his band and his friendship with Chamberlin. Although Corgan has, in the past, said a political slant from Smashing Pumpkins would be "not right", Zeitgeist stands as the most overtly political work ever released by the band or Corgan himself, which Chamberlin attributes to the band's interest in the music and life of Fela Kuti.
The album is among the heavier releases by Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan attributes this to his perception that "people wanted to hear some energy, that they didn't want us rolling over and crying in our milk". He compared the mindset of the record to that of Gish, which was to make a statement "without trying to make the next The Wall." Regarding the aggressive drumming on the album, Chamberlin observes that "the world is ready for something with some balls behind it."
The album has prominent vocal overdubs - nearly every song has multiple layers of Corgan's voice, a decision brought about by Baker's operatic production style as well as the knowledge that the new touring members would be able to sing harmonies.
The song "Bleeding the Orchid," about the commercial exploitation of the early-90s alternative rock movement, was deliberately styled after the music of Alice in Chains, a band that Corgan now greatly admires. "Pomp and Circumstances" was set to have string arrangements by Danny Elfman, but when he amicably withdrew from the project, the band decided to create its own synthesized orchestration.
In early December 2006, four alleged demos from the sessions were released on file-sharing networks, though these were revealed to be a hoax. Spin later reported that they were recordings by British band Amy Blue, where the band's frontman, Simon Chatterman, said that his band had been "toying with the idea of pissing off a few file sharers" and "thought it would be funny to upload [their] EP as the Smashing Pumpkins and [with titles] from Corgan's poetry book, Blinking with Fists."
On April 20, 2007, the official track listing was announced. "Tarantula" was announced and released as the album's first single on May 23, 2007. The track "Doomsday Clock" appeared on the soundtrack of the film Transformers. On June 19, 2007, the track was released to iTunes. On July 2, 2007, the entire album was posted on Muchmusic for free streaming.
Prior to the album's release, the reunited Smashing Pumpkins made their debut performing live for the first time on May 22, 2007 in Paris, France. There, the band unveiled new members Jeff Schroeder and Ginger Reyes, who took over rhythm guitar and bass duties, respectively. Lisa Harriton completed the line-up on keyboards and vocals.
Finishing their debut leg in Europe in June 2007, the band would continue touring, repeatedly jump between Europe and North America. The band returned stateside for an American leg of their tour kicked off with a sold-out, nine-day residency at the Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, on June 23, 2007. A similar residency at The Fillmore was chronicled for the DVD If All Goes Wrong. The tour would also include an appearance at Al Gore's Live Earth festival on July 7, 2007, three days before the North American release of the album. Europe would see the band return on another European leg on August 12, 2007, in Stockholm, Sweden and when the band headlined Reading and Leeds Festivals on the August bank holiday weekend of 2007 in England. The Pumpkins returned in September 2007 to play shows in North America, and continued until mid-November. On January 28, 2008, the band returned to Europe to play shows in the Czech Republic and Austria and playing their first Belfast performance in February. They later went on to perform at London's O2 Arena in England, each show attracted a sell out crowd with the London concert attracting over 20,000 people to the O2. Apart from Europe, the band co-headlined the 2008 V Festival in Australia, and played three gigs in New Zealand.
Zeitgeist debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, selling 145,000 copies in its first week. It also reached the top spots on Billboard's Internet Albums and Rock Albums charts in its first week, and hit the top 10 in Canada (#1), New Zealand (#1), the United Kingdom (#4), Germany (#7), Australia (#7), and other countries. The album was certified gold by the RIAA with 500,000 copies shipped as of February 1, 2008.
Zeitgeist has received mixed reviews, indicated by a score of 59/100 on Metacritic. Some negative criticism of the album has stemmed from the absence of half of the original lineup, with Pitchfork Media's Rob Mitchum suggesting the name was revived for "cash or attention or both." Q's Paul Rees commented that "at least half of Zeitgeist is made up of grinding songs that amount to riffs, pummelling and little else," and that Zeitgeist's emotional range is "limited and wearing", but praised Chamberlin's drumming, stating that he "remains one of the most powerful drummers in rock." In addition, Modern Drummer proclaimed that the album contains "Chamberlin's greatest drumming ever put to CD."
However, the album has garnered higher marks from other sources, including ratings of 4/5 from Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and Uncut. Positive reviews have downplayed the personnel changes, pointing out Corgan's dominance over songwriting and music throughout the band's history. The album was praised by April Long of Uncut for its energy and retention of Smashing Pumpkins' "signature goth-metal-shoegaze sound." This album was #43 on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007.
The album divided the Pumpkins' fanbase. Corgan would later admit, "I know a lot of our fans are puzzled by Zeitgeist. I think they wanted this massive, grandiose work, but you don't just roll out of bed after seven years without a functioning band and go back to doing that".
On May 6, 2007, four photographs of the album booklet artwork were leaked on Netphoria, a Smashing Pumpkins fan message board. The band management soon released a statement to the media stating the photos are "stolen goods" that should not be posted on the Internet. Later in the week, the alleged thieves were identified as Joshua Kuhl and Simon Brown, both 21. The Chicago Police announced that 39 photographs and three guitar picks were stolen, although only four to six of those photographs were leaked online. The two were held on $100,000 bond. Asked about the band's predicament, a Chicago police officer commented, "They were pissed."
On May 16, 2007 the band's official website published an official album cover made by Obey Giant graphic designer and illustrator Shepard Fairey: a red, black and white illustration of a drowning Statue of Liberty, positioned in front of the sun that is rising. Fairey, whose credits include creating anti-war posters and the poster art for the feature film Walk the Line, commented on the album cover:
I think global warming is an issue that is currently relevant, time sensitive, and a symptom of the shortsightedness of the U.S. As a broader metaphor, the drowning Statue of Liberty, a revered icon of the U.S., symbolizes the eminent demise of many of the ideals upon which the nation was founded. Civil liberties, freedom of speech, privacy, etc. have been decreasing since 9/11. The sun in the image could either be setting or rising and this ambiguity shows that there is still hope to turn things around... The U.S. is the dominant global force. When things are going wrong in the U.S. they are probably going wrong around the world. I think this image conveys both the U.S. situation and its larger global implications.
Corgan commented, "Like a great artist can do, Shepard had summed up very simply a lot of complex themes. He also used the type font from our very first single, and I asked him about it and he had no idea. He was just on point." Fairey also remarked "I use red frequently because it is a visually powerful, emotionally potent color. Red gets people's attention. In this case there is the added possibility that the red liquid could be blood, giving it an even more sinister sense of foreboding." The red color of the artwork was changed for most of the special edition releases.
All songs written by Billy Corgan.
Zeitgeist was released in multiple special editions. Three American versions each had a unique bonus track, but were exclusive to the iTunes Store, Best Buy, and Target. This move was criticized by Pitchfork Media and Rolling Stone. In October 2007, less than four months after the album's release, Best Buy released an exclusive reissue of Zeitgeist that included three bonus tracks (one exclusive) and a DVD. Finally, in January 2008, iTunes released a "Deluxe Edition" that included the American Gothic EP.
|Red||Regular version||Includes the 12 tracks listed above|
|Deluxe edition||Includes 76-page book|
|Orange||Japanese version||Includes "Death from Above" (at track 9 or 13)|
|Best Buy version|
|German Amazon.de version|
|Purple||UK version||Standard track listing|
|Target version||Includes "Zeitgeist" (at track 13)|
|Green||HMV version||Standard track listing|
|Blue||iTunes version||Includes "Stellar" (at track 11), 5 MySpace covers (for U.S. pre-order), "Zeitgeist" (for international pre-order)|
|iTunes Deluxe edition (January 2008)||Includes American Gothic EP, as well as videos of "Tarantula" and "That's the Way"|
|Silver||Best Buy reissue (October 2007)||Resequenced track listing and three bonus tracks; bonus DVD disc with a 20-minute documentary, Inside the Zeitgeist, and the music videos for "Tarantula" and "That's the Way"|
The following songs were written for Zeitgeist but did not make any version of the released album.
|2007||US Billboard 200||2|
|New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart||1|
|Canadian Albums Chart||1|
|UK Albums Chart||4|
|Irish Albums Chart||5|
|Swiss albums chart||5|
|Italian albums chart||5|
|German Albums Chart||7|
|Dutch albums chart||7|
|Australian albums chart||7|
|Portuguese albums chart||7|
|Danish albums chart||14|
|2007||"Tarantula"||US Billboard Hot 100||54|
|Modern Rock Tracks||2|
|Mainstream Rock Tracks||6|
|Danish Singles Chart||14|
|Hot Digital Songs||44|
|Irish Singles Chart||44|
|Mainstream Pop 100||50|
|UK Singles Chart||59|
|"That's the Way (My Love Is)"||Modern Rock Tracks||23|
|Mainstream Rock Tracks||32|
|UK Singles Chart||94|