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“I thought, man, this is over”: Butch Vig on making The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘difficult’ second album Siamese Dream

Daniel Gumble 10 August 2017

Having worked with some of the most iconic rock acts in the world, Butch Vig has more than a few stories to tell. The legendary producer has given PSNE the inside track on three of his finest works to date – including Smashing Pumpkin’s epic alt-rock staple Siamese Dream. The second album from the Chicago rockers sold six million copies worldwide, but it wasn’t plain sailing in the recording studio…

“Siamese Dream was a very difficult record to make,” Vig recalls. “It was recorded in Atlanta – we went there to get away from the media in LA and New York. As we recorded [debut LP] Gish at Smart Studios, we decided we wanted to go somewhere else.

“The band were from Chicago and didn’t want to record there because there were too many distractions, so we went to Atlanta and sequestered ourselves there. But from day one Jimmy Chamberlain was in trouble with drug dealers and crazy people who he met in clubs and on the street who he would invite into the studios.

“The band was really battling with each other, they were at each other’s throats pretty constantly through the course of that record. I’m surprised we actually managed to make it.

“A couple of times we had their management and the label flying in and had these big meetings where they were just screaming at each other. I thought, man, this is over. The band is over. But they toughed it out and we made a pretty epic sounding record.

“Billy [Corgan] and I raised the bar really high. We wanted to make a very ambitious sounding record. It was all done on analogue tape so it was time consuming. We were working 12 hours a day, six times a week for about three months, and for the last two months we worked seven days a week, 14 or 15 hours a day because we were behind schedule.

The band was really battling with each other, they were at each other’s throats pretty constantly through the course of that record. I’m surprised we actually managed to make it

Butch Vig

“When we went to LA and brought in Alan Moulder to mix it and we mixed it every day for six weeks. I was pretty crispy by the time we finished that record. I was pretty burnt out.”

Read about the making of Nirvana’s Nevermind – part one of our ‘Butch Vig: Three of the best’ feature – here.

Read the full-length interview with Butch Vig here

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