Smashing Pumpkins: 7 Questions We Still Have About 'Reunion' Tour

The Smashing Pumpkins are reportedly days away from announcing a reunion tour – minus the band’s reclusive founding bassist, D’arcy Wretzky. The band said in a recent statement that Wretzky declined numerous invitations to join the tour.

“James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin and William Corgan haven’t played a show with D’arcy Wretzky for over 18 years,” the band said. “But it’s not for a lack of trying … Ms. Wretzky has repeatedly been invited out to play with the group, participate in demo sessions, or at the very least, meet face-to-face, and in each and every instance she always deferred.”

The statement comes as a surprise namely because Wretzky had just told Alternative Nation and Blast Echo that the Pumpkins excluded her from recent recording sessions. After the group released their statement, Wretzky took the rather bold step of releasing screen shots of her purported texts with Billy Corgan to Alternative Nation. The images reveal that Wretzky has shoulder injuries that could impact her playing, but Corgan wanted her on the tour in some capacity. 

“If you play 2 songs a night or 7 it’s only gonna be great,” Corgan wrote to Wretzky, per the images. “As long as the vibe is right and people are smiling. When you need surgery etc and the tour starts soon and you haven’t done a full show much less an arena tour in almost decades now that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself.” Corgan appeared to be reasonable and accommodating according to the text messages. 

Wretzky’s decision to go nuclear and release the texts seems to dramatically decrease the odds she will be on the Pumpkins tour in any capacity, but many questions still linger. Here are some of them: 

What exactly is the band recording right now?
Billy Corgan has not made it any sort of secret that he’s been recording new material with Jimmy Chamberlin, Jeff Schroeder, James Iha and producer Rick Rubin. In his texts with Wretzky, Corgan stated that he had 13 demos. “Work has gone really well,” he wrote in a text. “Sounds fresh and just us being us with big guitars and, but also the music sounds fun in a way it hasn’t sounded for a long time.” That sure makes it seem like they’re cutting an entire album, but later he writes that “the necessity of the song came up.” Just one song? “As far as Rubin,” he writes, “he’s gonna be involved a little, but not the whole thing.” Do they plan on releasing this music before the tour? We have no idea.

Is D’arcy physically capable of playing these concerts?
Very little is known about the current state of Wretzky’s health. Billy Corgan famously said she was a “mean-spirited drug addict” around the time she left the group in 1999. She basically hasn’t been seen in public for 18 years. In her text exchanges with Billy, she refers to a shoulder injury. “I went to [two doctors and] they both agree that I do not need surgery,” she wrote to Corgan. “I’m also going to see one more on Saturday.” What exactly is wrong with her shoulder? Has she continued to play bass during her long absence from the band? As with many things in the world of D’arcy, there are more questions than answers.

Who will play bass on the tour?
Much like the Pixies, the Smashing Pumpkins seem to feel that the group simply doesn’t look right without a female bass player. After Wretzky left, they brought in Melissa Auf der Maur, Ginger Pooley and Nicole Fiorentino for brief runs in the group. They also worked with Mark Tulin of the the Electric Prunes and Mark Stoermer from the Killers touring band. They began working with Jack Bates (son of Joy Division/New Order’s Peter Hook) in 2015 and Corgan mentioned him in his text exchange with Wretzky. Is he signed on for the upcoming reunion tour? Was the plan for him to somehow trade off bass duties with Wretzky before this whole situation went public?

How will the guitar situation work?
The one constant member of the Smashing Pumpkins since the 2007 reformation besides Corgan himself has been guitarist Jeff Schroeder. His job seemed to be in jeopardy when Iha returned, but Corgan is loyal to his friend and keeping him in the lineup. That throws an extra guitarist into the mix. How will that work? Will it be like an E Street Band situation with Nils Lofgren and Steve Van Zandt? Will they both be onstage the entire show? Again, we don’t know.