It was gossip a few months ago when we blogged about it, but now it's official: Mike Byrne, the 19-year-old from Beaverton, is the new Smashing Pumpkins drummer. Is Portland music the new farm team for national acts? Will an 18-year-old from Troutdale be the new D'arcy? Will the band's announcement refer to Beaverton as Portland?
So many questions. Let's ask the Blinking With Fists of press releases:
BILLY CORGAN [why does he get ALL CAPS when no one else does?—Ed.] has announced that Mike Byrne has joined THE SMASHING PUMPKINS as their new drummer. The 19-year-old Portland, OR native will make his debut with the band on the Pumpkins’ next album—about which a major announcement is expected in September—and tour. “I’m super excited to be playing with the band,” says Byrne. “Dream come true, man.”
Byrne—who’s played in such indie Portland bands as Moses, Smell The Roses and the Mercury Tree—heard about the Pumpkins’ open call for a new drummer on the Internet this past April and submitted his materials. Byrne was immediately called to attend an audition in Los Angeles, where Corgan liked what he heard—a lot. “We didn’t actually play songs at the audition,” says Byrne. “We just kind of jammed for about 15 minutes and then talked about Fugazi for the other 15 or so minutes.”
19-year-old kids still listens to Fugazi? Wait, Billy Corgan has heard of Fugazi?
Byrne will join Billy at six solo Southern California small club dates August 26-31 with special guests Spirits in the Sky—the band Billy assembled to play at a tribute show in Los Angeles at the Echoplex in July for late Seeds frontman Sky Saxon. Spirits in the Sky includes Mark Tulin of The Electric Prunes and Kerry Brown of Catherine and the Ancient Chinese Secrets.
The most bizarre thing about all of this is that one of the "small club dates" includes a show at San Diego's Che Cafe, a long-running vegan co-op that I booked for years. The Che is impossibly small—and punk as fuck—so the idea that Corgan and a Sky Saxon tribute (named after a Norman Greenbaum song) will be standing on that tiny stage is making my head hurt.