The life and times of Smashing Pumpkins is like a daytime soap opera.
On the latest episode: frontman and guru Billy Corgan reveals that 19-year-old Portland, OR, drummer Mike Byrne has become the permanent replacement for Jimmy Chamberlin, the once heroin-addled sticksman who left the alt-rock legends this past spring — his second departure from the band in 12 years! — amid rumors of in-fighting with Corgan, the band’s sole remaining original member.
A post on SP’s website offers a few bio details on the newest character to join to the Pumpkins’ drama:
Byrne, who started playing drums at 11, was a member of Rose City bands Moses, Smell The Roses, and the Mercury Tree, his first band which he formed at 15. He is influenced by bands like Mogwai, Maserati, and Maps and Atlases, and came to the Pumpkins via Corgan’s open call for new drummers following Chamberlin’s departure in March.
Corgan was immediately impressed with Byrne’s audition materials and invited him into the studio.
“Through the open audition process, I was astounded by how many great drummers there were that wanted the chance to try out for the Pumpkins,” Corgan said. “We counted over 1,000 submissions, and what made Mike stand out was he just seemed to have that X-factor that all the great drummers have, a stunning blend of power, speed, and grace.”
“We didn’t actually play songs at the audition,” Byrne said of his meeting with Corgan, who “reunited” the Pumpkins in 2007 with guitarist Jeff Schroeder (Lassie Foundation) and bassist Ginger Reyes (Halo Friendlies), replacing original members James Iha and D’Arcy. “We just kind of jammed for about 15 minutes and then talked about [favorite band] Fugazi for the other 15 or so minutes.”
Byrne — who was a Berklee School of Music freshman before joining the band — will make his debut with the Pumpkins’ next album and tour, both of which will be detailed in September.
“I’m super excited to be playing with the band,” said Byrne. “Dream come true, man.”
Later this August, Byrne will gig with Corgan during the frontman’s dates with Sprits in the Sky, a band he formed in tribute to late psych-rock pioneer Sky “Sunlight” Saxon. Check out those dates below.
Billy Corgan with Spirit in the Sky
8/26. Visalia, CA (Tazzaria)
8/27 Santa Barbara, CA (Muddy Waters)
8/28 Long Beach, CA (Open)
8/29 Pioneertown, CA (Pappy & Harriet’s Palace)
8/30 San Diego, CA (Che Café)
8/31 Los Angeles, CA (Hotel Café)