The Smashing Pumpkins are an influential American alternative rock band, formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1988. Billy Corgan and James Iha met in a record store, and began performing in local nightclubs with their bassist, D’Arcy Wretzky, using a drum machine. Playing with a drum machine frustrated both the band and their audience, and so Chicago jazz drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was hired soon afterwards.
Less influenced by punk than many of their contemporaries, the Pumpkins had a densely layered, guitar-heavy sound, with powerful loud-to-soft-to-loud transitions, while still picking up grunge, heavy metal, power pop, psychedelic rock, shoegaze-style production.
In later recordings, namely Adore, the fourth album, an electronica flair filtered in after Jimmy Chamberlin temporarily left the band for drug rehab. Though Jimmy Chamberlin returned for their fifth album, Machina/The Machines of God, electronica undertones remained. The emotional tone of bandleader Billy Corgan’s songs ranged from angry (X.Y.U.) to dour (Disarm) to jubilant (Cherub Rock).
Selling more than 18.3 million albums in the United States alone (as of 2006), The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands of the 1990s. However, internal fighting, diminishing sales, drug problems, cultural vitality, and what is speculated to be improper treatment from their record company, hampered the band in their later years, leading to the 2000 break-up.