February 2011 - Sweet 16 Studio, Sedona, AZ Edit

Produced by Billy Corgan; engineered by Bjorn Thorsrud

  • The Celestials
  • Inkless
  • My Love Is Winter
  • Oceania
  • One Diamond, One Heart
  • Pale Horse
  • Panopticon
  • Pinwheels
  • Quasar
  • Violet Rays

Demo recording sessions for what would become the Oceania album.

Some of these song ideas date back to those first demos from 2009 in California with Mark Tulin, but the bulk of this album was written in Sedona in the first few months of 2011. Sedona is a special place, particularly for self-reflection and healing, and is recommended for anyone who might be seeking a little bit more perspective on what matters most in life.[1]

I think for any record you're in a particular state of mind. There were foundations for the record that actually went back to the beginning of the Teargarden by Kaleidyscope stuff. However, the record started to really take shape in Sedona. We went there with the idea that we were going to live there and work for three months—just get into that Sedona spiritual space. My friend Mark Tulin from The Electric Prunes who played with me a lot in the previous couple years passed away suddenly from a heart attack. It was a weird period. You're dealing with a death and you're in spiritual land. I'm working with spiritual people. My shitty canned answer has to do with isolation, but I don't think I have enough perspective yet to answer that. There's something going on there [Laughs].[2]

“We worked for a time in an empty movie theater in Sedona during the winter months of early 2011, sketching out some primary versions of the songs while trying to dial in the emotional terrain we were seeking. In that kind of process it wasn’t that unusual from past records where I’d worked with a band as a unit to help me define a set of templates to work towards. We’d just come off the road, and had a good sense of what was no longer working in our eyes from a dynamic point of view. We worked hard to create space in the music, but not lose any of the emotive power that I like to have behind my songs.”[3]

We went to Sedona (a studio in Sedona, Ariz., with longtime producer and engineer Bjorn Thorsrud) for a while to work. It was small steps. I can write songs, I can always write songs. That's been part of the problem. Maybe I write too many songs and put them out loosey goosey. So let's get down to it and challenge ourselves. It takes so much psychic energy to do this. I did this album for a year, 12 hours a day. I understand how it gets tough for people when they reach a certain age and you just don't want to work that hard because it's easier not to. We could've made a lot of money playing the nostalgia shows. I cut that road off. It was do it this way or die.

I'm in Sedona, the band is taking a break (in February 2011). I'm there by myself working with Bjorn. There is a message from the ex-wife of (former Electric Prunes bassist and recent Corgan collaborator) Mark Tulin. She's crying, he's dead of a heart attack, just 62 years old. I'd seen him two days before. His death hit me hard. It made me think, "What am I doing?" There were 400 people at his funeral. It was a joyous, joke-filled dinner, because that was his spirit. I went back to Sedona and went through all our music. We'd done 30 demos. I heard his bass parts and would cry. The band was in limbo. And it hit me, "If I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it right." Stop (messing) around. You're 44 at the time, get off your pity party. You know how to make records, stop being a baby, just do it. It was like, I had a sense of purpose. I went into my old mode. I was ruthless in the '90s. I did whatever I had to do to get the band where it needed to be. There was one destination. It had to be big. And when I got there I realized it wasn't so great. The band went boom. I didn't have any more bullets in the round. I didn't want to have to justify anything. I had to let go of the band, the legacy, a new chapter. Better suit up. I got very sober, serious, very deliberate. I'm much kinder than I used to be, but I'm still ruthless. … For a while there, I didn't want to be at the center of every decision when I was making records. But the best music I ever made I was at the center of every decision. I don't make any apologies about that anymore. I don't want to be in a windowless room poring over musical details. But that's the lesson I learned. I wasn't going to fail because I didn't go for it. (Chicago Cubs slugger) Dave Kingman was my idol as a kid. He was a .220 hitter. He struck out a lot. But when he hit the ball, it went way over the fence and through the window across the street.[4]

Return to Teargarden by Kaleidyscope/Oceania

  1. Billy Corgan, "Smashing Pumpkins Studio Update". Glittercop blog, September 14, 2011
  2. Artist Direct, June 18th, 2012
  3. "Smashing Pumpkins’ Corgan talks about making of ‘Oceania’", Goldmine, May 1, 2012
  4. Greg Kot, "Billy Corgan's mission statement for 'Oceania': Do or die". Chicago Tribune, June 15, 2011
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