November 1992 – Broadway Rehearsal Studios, Chicago

  • Quiet
  • Hello Kitty Kat
  • Cherub Rock
  • Suicide Kiss (Geek USA)
  • Today
  • Disarm
  • Rocket
  • Spaceboy
  • Set the Ray to Jerry
  • Soma
  • Whirl (Whir)
  • Doorstep (Meladori Magpie)
  • Pissant
  • Tulips (Barb Wire)
  • Blew Away
  • French Movie Theme
  • Hummer
  • Frail & Bedazzled
  • Glynis
  • She Says
  • Sweet Sweet
  • Mayonaise

This is a tape of Siamese Dream demos submitted to the Library of Congress on December 22, 1992, called "Quiet and 20 Other Songs”.  A 15-track copy of this tape was submitted to Virgin records as well.  It was most likely recorded to 8-track at the band’s rehearsal space, just before leaving to Atlanta to record Siamese Dream. 

Billy Corgan: Nursing my wounds and losing my breath, I flip into overdrive, pushing myself and the band harder and harder to play at a higher level…I talk constantly about how we are going to make this insanely complicated record, one that is going to distinguish and separate us from all the (suddenly) heavy bands…we will top them with songwriting, arranging, heart and discipline…we are galvanized, transformed into something idealistic and unreal, and there is no one around to tell us, or more specifically me, that we couldn’t make it happen…tunes wind out into space, becoming longer and more obtuse…we are going farther and farther out, and there is no going back…

As I am good friends with our space mates (the local band) Catherine, I often stick around for their rehearsals to check out what they are working on and offer unsolicited advice…I notice that in this tight room, they sound very like some kind of jet taking off when they play…the feeling is very exciting, and being the sound whore that I am, I not so slyly interrogate them about how they create this dizzying effect…they all point sheepishly to these little silver boxes on the ground, and tell me that’s about it…their vintage pedal, invented by The Electro Harmonix Company, is a simple old school distortion/fuzz device called ‘The Big Muff Pi’…manufactured back in the 60’s and 70’s, it comes in a brushed metal frame, with cheap black knobs (the later models are more easily recognized by the big red Pi symbol stamped on the faceplate)…they sell used for about $75-100, and there are only three critical settings: volume, tone, and sustain (the volume sends the amount of signal to the amp, the tone the amount of bass vs. treble, and the sustain basically means how much fuzz overload you are going to get)…I notice that when the boys play the space hums with an electrical energy that shoots thru my bones and rattles my teeth…it’s as if this room is made for this sound…they tell me that the reason they like using the pedal is the deep booming sludge it makes, as the sound within collapses from the intensified pressure, creating a bigger presence when they rock hard (and also managing to hide a few inconsistencies in their playing)…the affect is immediate, as they suddenly appear to me to be a much more dangerous combo than I last remember…somehow the alchemy of the concrete walls, the cool air, and this dumb little pedal make the band sound like God himself is coming down from the heavens…which of course means I have to go get one for myself…

It is almost impossible to describe the intensity of the practice space when the Pumpkins are playing at full tilt with The Big Muffs cranked…the basic dimensions of the room are around 25ft x 15ft, with the basic band circle smack in the middle of the shoebox…when you have possibly the loudest drummer in the world playing with passion and power (not to mention about 10 crash cymbals slicing the air) vs. 2 100watt Marshall half-stacks and one 400watt SVT bass amp, you’ve got your basic dull roar fully in hand…add this to that the fact that we are playing in a stone bunker with little or no soundproofing and you’ve got yourself a decent headache blast…but what really puts these tunes over the top, what makes the whole thing ring, and what discreetly pours our liquid brew from sonic anecdote into our own rock and roll riot, is switching to this almost forgotten device…

Occasionally, we take (in various combos, sometimes 2, sometimes all 4 of us) LSD and try to practice…this seems like a good idea for about the first hour, until either the strychnine or the acid itself creep into your brain and melt all your senses and prog-metal suddenly seems way too hard…this drugging loosens the uptight barriers between us, and seem to clear the air without anyone saying anything…somebody starts laughing, and we are kids again, forgetting all this nonsense about topping the charts and changing the world…

We are obsessed with technical precision, for it is obvious to us that the tighter we play the heavier we sound…adding the Big Muff pedal into our charge makes us appear wider and meaner than we truly are, but all this beefed up bludgeoning comes at a hidden cost…because the sound is so grossly overblown (the amps sound like they are going to explode at any second), the band sadly doesn’t sound tight at all…at first, we figure the sound of the fuzz is going to take some time for us to get used to, and because we are having so much fun playing along with them anyway that it doesn’t seem like a big deal…but after only a few days, it becomes obvious that certain aspects of what we do, little things that we take for granted (namely our focused attack), disappear in a haze once we light ‘em up…we discuss ditching the pedals for good, naively talking ourselves into thinking that we can just go back to our normal sound and compensate in some other way...we only last a couple of minutes using our old equipment before we fall to a halt, puzzled because we now sound to our confused ears boring!…we are at a crossroads, as we have made a deal with the devil (of demon fuzz) and can’t seem to go back…it is a Faustian deal for this most exciting sound that makes us deliver invincibility, but by taking away our detailed intensity, also degenerates us to a common pub band…after some discussion, we unanimously decide the fuzz pedals will have stay, and we will just discover a way, as yet unseen, to make them work…we will just have to practice all the harder…[1]   

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