Alternative rock icons The Smashing Pumpkins on Friday released the first song with most of their classic lineup in nearly two decades — heavy guitar-driven tune Solara.
The new track comes as the Chicago band opens a tour on July 12 that for the first time since 2000 will bring together Pumpkins songwriter and frontman Billy Corgan with fellow guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.
Solara opens with a metal-like power chord before building heavier as Corgan sings, “Bring down the sun.”
The song, recorded with veteran metal and hip-hop producer Rick Rubin, has only a touch of keyboard, which figured prominently in much of the Pumpkins’ music from the mid-1990s onward.
Smashing Pumpkins was one of the most successful bands in the boom of alternative rock in the 1990s but, while much of the genre became identified with hipster culture, Corgan has spoken out about his love of heavy metal.
In a recent joint appearance with Metallica’s Lars Ulrich on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio, Corgan blamed classism for prevailing attitudes toward metal.
“It gets into weird class politics. Most of the people who criticise people like us for being who we are, what we are, or what we represent had better backgrounds than we had,” said Corgan, who has spoken of his working-class roots and, unusually for a prominent artist, has appeared to support President Donald Trump.
Corgan for years scoffed at playing Pumpkins hits for the crowds but on the upcoming tour is going unabashedly for the nostalgia market, saying the concerts will feature music only from the band’s first five albums.
The Pumpkins’ classic lineup last released an album together in 2000. But the reunion will still lack one member — bassist D’arcy Wretzky, who has long had a tense relationship with Corgan.
Wretzky, who has struggled with drugs, has blasted Corgan for the reunion and alleged that he needed money after the flop of a side project of starting a professional wrestling league.