In an interview, Tommy did say that the recordings reminded him of the first couple of Smashing Pumpkins albums. Is that a fair reference in your view?
“I see where people might read that and think that sonically it reminds them of that stuff. I don’t see it that way. I think what he was saying was that it has the energy and the exuberance and the sort of passion of that music. Production-wise, it’s very modern. It's definitely guitars, make no mistake, but it doesn’t sound like either he or I are stepping back in time. He’s not playing like it’s 1983, and I’m not playing like it’s 1993. It’s both of us, myself as the songwriter and him as a great musician, interpreting these songs and being in 2014.
“The reason why I’m being so cautious about that is because I don’t want people jumping to some sort of weird conclusions. This is contemporary music... Anybody who thinks, you know, pick your album ‘He’s doing it all over again,’ I’m just not in that business. There’s this nascent tendency on my end of the street with people wishing that this magical thing were going to happen, where some album is going to be re-created. There’s even this weird recording floating around on the internet that was purported to be a leaked demo. Some fan sent it to me and I listened to it, and it sounded like somebody did their modern version of Siamese Dream in their bedroom. And I’m like, ‘C’mon... I’ve learned a few more chords in the last 20 fucking years!” [Laughs]
Did you give Tommy a lot of direction when cutting the tracks?
“Oh, no. Not at all. I think the only thing relatable to that question is that there were certain idiomatic style things, like if I was talking about Echo & The Bunnymen, well, he doesn’t necessarily know that album. So there were points of translation on a more emotional level where I might have explained something than just ‘Yeah, play it like the guy in Echo & The Bunnymen.’ That’s not music that he might’ve grown up and listened to.
“But you don’t have to tell him what to do. He’s right up there. The two most intuitive musicians I’ve ever worked with are Jimmy Chamberlin and Tommy Lee. You sit there in the back as you’re watching it happen and you think, ‘There’s a reason why this guy has sold so many records' – and I’m looking at it. It’s a certain feel, a certain swing, a certain approach to music and a real love of music. Both Tommy and Jimmy have that. They just know what to do – there’s no hand-holding.”