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All Access: Billy Corgan

Fresh from the release of his first solo CD, TheFutureEmbrace, Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins fame) has hit the road with a vibrant aural and visual

Fresh from the release of his first solo CD, TheFutureEmbrace, Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins fame) has hit the road with a vibrant aural and visual show that was specifically designed for intimate venues. Following the show’s European leg, Mix caught up with Corgan and camp in the midst of their North American tour at San Francisco’s Fillmore in mid-July. The tour will soon head out to Australia and Japan.

FOH engineer James “Hootsie” Huth

Front-of-house engineer James “Hootsie” Huth travels with a Yamaha PM5DRH, citing the board’s recall features as important for the show; Huth normally works on a Harrison, Midas XL4 or other large-frame analog console. “We have 40 inputs including 24 channels of stems from an HD24 machine. I also have a couple Clair iOs for system EQ.”

Matt Walker’s drum sounds come from a Yamaha DT-Xtreme II drum trigger module. “We mostly use our own sampled sounds triggered by seven Yamaha drum pads,” says backline tech Mike Dean.

Gear at the house position includes an Eventide H3500, TC Electronic 2290 and a Summit Audio DCL-200 tube compressor “for staples, as digital gear can be so cold,” Huth says. “For Billy’s vocal mic, we started with a Neumann 105, but with our video wall encompassing the stage like a parabolic reflector, we had to go to a Shure SM58. We’ve been happy with it.

Keyboardist Linda Strawberry plays on an M-Audio Radium 61 keyboard that is MIDI’d to a Clavia Nord modular keyboard.

“This is one of those short, small tours that requires the crew working together as a tight unit,” Huth continues. “Billy consistently asks the audience to be open to new ideas. I have worked with him before and admire his confidence in his own ability and to not be a puppet for the masses.”

According to backline tech Mike Dean, keyboardist Brian Leisegang’s setup comprises an M-Audio Radium 61 keyboard connected through USB to an iMac G4 running OS 10.4. All sounds are created in Propellerhead Reason. The audio interface is a MOTU 828 mkII with a simple left/right send. “We also send a guitar part to a Korg Kaoss pad,” Dean says, “and returned to FOH to have it effected manually.”

Monitor engineer Dave “Ski” Lagodzinski is working on a Yamaha DM2000. “Hootsie and I had long discussions about what we were going to use,” he recalls. “We had a very small footprint first. Then we had to take into account flying around the world with them, so weight was also a big issue.

Monitor engineer
Dave “Ski” Lagodzinski

“Mixing for Billy is a challenge,” the engineer continues. “He’s really a full-on studio guy so his ear mix [he uses Sensaphonics] reflects that. His mix has to be a fully mixed-down studio sound.” Lagodzinski is also carrying Sennheiser 300 IEMs, which are “the only transmitters I’ll use,” he says. “I’ve got a Drawmer tube limiter inserted on Billy’s ear mix to warm up the sound. But Billy is truly the artist; I’m just the guy holding the brushes. The picture is a fully finished work in his head. It’s my job to bring it to life.”