Smashing Pumpkins have announced a sprawling new triple-album rock opera. Titled ATUM, which is pronounced “autumn”, it is described as a sequel to classic albums Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness and Machina/The Machines Of God, and the Chicago alt-rock luminaries have shared the first of its 33 tracks, Beguiled.
It is a song that finds frontman/guitarist Billy Corgan leaning into a syncopated electric guitar chug for a tight and focused verse motif that pares the Pumpkins sound back to the essentials. Beguiled is tight and buttoned down. There is no squall of fuzz pedal, no orchestral largesse, though there is a sense of metal theatre that calls to mind Ghost, and some pitch-shifting weirdness to throw us off-centre.
The ATUM rock opera will be spread over three releases, months apart, and took Corgan four years to write and produce. Speaking to the NME, Corgan said this was a project he had wanted to do for years, but it was not until the pandemic that he had the time, and that the band, who welcomed co-founder and guitarist James Iha back to the fold in 2018, had the inclination to take it on.
“I actually wanted to do it about four years ago, but there wasn’t a lot of energy in the band for it,” Corgan. “It was when James was coming back and there was a lot of different things going on, including a big tour.
“So there was some feeling that trying to put a concept record on top of all of that was a lot to take on right at the start of that process. But once Covid hit and I found myself sitting here with nothing to do, I thought, ‘Right, I’m gonna do it now’.”
This being the Smashing Pumpkins doing a three-part rock opera, it would only be fitting that the band make such an announcement with a little theatre, and duly filmed released a live video to their TikTok channel that saw Corgan, flanked by Iha and guitarist Jeff Schroeder with his custom Yamaha Pacifica.
Corgan, wearing a dress for his part, evoked Kate Bush, and it bodes well for those looking to full-on theatricality from the Pumpkins when they perform ATUM live.
beguiled out tonight at midnight ET. ya ya billy is in a dress what else do you expect from us♬ original sound - smashingpumpkins
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In related news, Corgan has a new podcast, Thirty-Three with William Patrick Corgan. His first guest is David Bowie pianist Mike Garson, and in each episode Corgan will unveil a new track from ATUM, and of course discuss all things Pumpkins .
ATUM will be delivered in three acts, the first of which will be released on 15 November, with second arriving on 31 January 2023, and the third and final act on 21 April 2023. ATUM will be collected in a special vinyl box-set, featuring 10 additional tracks spread across five 7” discs, and as a special autographed edition. That is available to pre-order now, shipping 21 April 2023.
The video for Beguiled debuts on the Smashing Pumpkins YouTube channel at 5.33pm UK time. See Smashing Pumpkins for more.