Former Pumpkins and Hole bassist gets help from an old friend on second album
After stints in two of the Nineties most influential bands, Smashing Pumpkins and Hole, and an eponymous 2004 solo debut, bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur recently left her adopted city of New York to return to her hometown of Montreal. There, she has been focusing on writing her sophomore album -- and recovering from a year of touring.
"I've spent 2005 basically recovering from 298 shows in 2004, which was really exhausting," she says. "I moved back to Montreal because I wanted to get out of the noise of New York City and into the quiet of myself for this next record -- because I really want to expand. Now I'm diving into a very different period of my life, musically."
This shift includes not only a return to her roots but to her most significant collaborator to date, former Smashing Pumpkins mastermind Billy Corgan, who recommended her to former Hole frontwoman Courtney Love more than a decade ago and then invited her to join the final Pumpkins lineup.
"It's really symbolic for me to have this opportunity with Billy, who is one of my main musical mentors," says Auf Der Maur. "It's an amazing full circle for me, because his music is directly related to why I picked up a bass. [The Pumpkins' 1991 album] Gish inspired me to play rock music, and then I was able to be in his band ten years later. But in all of this time, I've never actually written a song with him. I've written half the album on my own -- but I'm looking to really be kicked in the ass and whipped into a much better songwriter."
Now thirty-three, Auf Der Maur is conscious of evolving as an artist. "There are people who really blossom at twenty-one, but I'm not one of those people," she says. "I blossom slowly. I feel lucky that I only started writing my own songs in the past few years: I was able to really do my studies. I used Hole and the Pumpkins as my degree."
As for Corgan's recently announced plans for a Pumpkins reunion, Auf Der Maur says simply, "I don't think it ever had to end, so I'm all for it starting again. I think Billy is the Smashing Pumpkins, and that is what Billy does best, and he should do it whenever he wants to."
In addition to Corgan, Auf Der Maur hopes to enlist Ryan Adams for her second album. "I want this record to be diverse -- the heavier will be heavier, and the lighter will be lighter," she says. "I like the idea of someone like Ryan, who is a very gifted songwriter and also open to many musical genres, not just Nineties rock."
Auf Der Maur will spend some time with Corgan in Chicago, and she hopes to have the new album ready by the end of the year. "And hopefully I'll be jumping on the touring circus wagon by the spring," she says. "I don't want to miss the summer festival season -- it's the best party around!"
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