Monday, June 11, 2007

I Would Like My Audition Tape Back, Please

When the Smashing Pumpkins were getting ready to tour in support of their album "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness", they placed an ad in the Chicago Reader looking for a keyboardist.

I wasn't that familiar with their music -- I knew a couple people who were really into the Pumpkins in college, but at that point from what had I heard of their music I didn't strongly like or dislike them.

I thought it might be cool to play keyboards on a large tour with an established band, so I (like probably hundreds of other aspiring musicians) gave it a shot.

The instructions in the ad were to submit a demo cassette to an address, so I went through some tapes of practices with a couple bands I played keyboards for, picked out the best parts, and assembled them into twenty minutes of material.

In an attempt to make my tape pop out at them, I asked my brother, who is a very good cartoonist, to make up a cover for me. He graciously did this, and off the tape went into the mail.

Well, no call ever came. I was scanning the local papers for progress of the ongoing keyboardist search. I believe I saw a brief interview with guitarist James Iha who said that they received a lot of crappy tapes. He was kind of an a**hole about it, if I remember correctly.

I wouldn't presume to say that my audition tape was the best tape submitted, or that I was the most talented keyboardist to try getting on this tour. However, I certainly think I would have had no problem filling their keyboardist slot. I don't need to argue my position here, though.

The Pumpkins ended up filling the spot with Jonathan Melvoin, who in the middle of the Melon Collie tour promptly overdosed on heroin and died while hanging out with fellow drug user and Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

As a result of Melvoin's death, Chamberlin was fired from the Pumpkins (though later on Billy Corgan rehired him, and he is currently the only other original member in the newly-reformed band).

There are a few conclusions I am going to draw from this sequence of events:

1. The Pumpkins probably didn't hear my cassette tape.
2. If they did hear the audition tape, they probably made fun of it.
3. Jonathan Melvoin, an already established professional musician, probably did not submit an audition tape.
4. Jonathan Melvoin was probably not a good choice of a keyboardist to bring on tour, unless you want a tour that involves a drug O.D. and firing 1/4 of your band.

If I, through some freak circumstance, was instead the person picked to tour with the Pumpkins, the biggest trouble I would probably have gotten into would be to eat too many cheese waffle fries. And how bad is that, honestly?

Someone I work with overheard a recent conversation with Corgan and a fan at a restaurant. Apparently there is a new album coming out in July of this year.

Now that the Pumpkins are revving up again, I feel like it's an appropriate time for to me ask.

Can I get my audition tape back now?



Joe said...

Bastards probably stole some of your best riffs.

Splotchy said...

And I was bringing my A-Game, too.


Johnny Yen said...

When I was hanging out at the Gingerman Tavern in my youthful days (the late eighties/early nineties), the Pumpkins were legendary-- legendarily bad. Everyone loved the name, and checked them out once, and were amazed at how bad they were. After a while, they'd leave free tickets on the bar at the Gingerman, and still people wouldn't go. It was with great surprise, then, to that crowd when the Pumpkins became big.

A couple of years ago, I ran into a friend of a friend whom I'd met at a party around then. We recalled the party, and she pointed out that Billy Corgan had been at the party. I was underwhelmed.

They probably would have stolen all your good material and credited it to themselves anyway, ala The Rolling Stones and Mick Taylor.

kim said...

I have several Billy stories all of which are hilarious. One involves not being allowed into a Pumpkins show and a lawn chair in February.

However, I remember this ad in the Reader. I think they were just filling their Diversity quota and were placing a fake ad.