The Smashing Pumpkins Announce New Drummer – 19 Year Old Mike Byrne
Smashing Pumpkins Billy Corgan has announced that Mike Byrne has joined the band 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.”
Playing drums since he was 11–“I think if you’re born a drummer, you know you’re going to be a drummer for your entire life”–Byrne formed his first band at 15, Mercury Tree, which played some shows in Portland. His influences include post rock bands like Mogwai, Maserati, and Maps and Atlases as well as the Pumpkins. “It was a really good time in my life to hear the Pumpkins music when I was 13. It just connected with me and it was sort of a window into something really different and eclectic. The band was a little bit more willing to take risks than a lot of the stuff I had been listening to. That was exciting and fresh to me. And then delving into a lot of it just definitely resonated on a creative level with me.” Byrne had the chance to see the Pumpkins two years ago when they performed on tour in the Portland area.
Asked about how he feels his young age plays into the new music the Pumpkins are creating, Byrne says: “I’ve always thought that Billy’s interpretation of music was a real fresh one,” adds Byrne, “and that because the band was so rooted in the idea of kind of being like a musical shape-shifter, I feel that honestly it would work just perfectly. It’s not so much that I have some fresh point of view that he’s not already investigating so much as every time they release something it’s sort of a new direction and so working with him is easy in that we’re not operating on any founded musical principals. We’re starting from scratch and just working our influences up into something totally different.”
Says Billy: ”Through the open audition process, I was astounded by how many great drummers there were that wanted the chance to try out for The Pumpkins. We counted over 1,000 submissions, and what made Mike stand out was he just seemed to have that X-factor that all the great drummers have, a stunning blend of power, speed, and grace. I’m excited to work with him moving forward–he truly deserves this opportunity. I believe in my heart he will push me to be a better musician.”
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.
For the latest info visit The Smashing Pumpkins Website