When I first read about Billy Corgan saying James Iha split up the Smashing Pumpkins, I of course took James’ side. Corgan still strikes me as taking himself way too seriously.
But then I read Corgan’s statement myself, and I have to say I give him credit for staying mum about Iha, and even for coming clean about it.
Thing is, Number Girl follows a parallel history with Smashing Pumpkins, and that break-up was spun entirely differently.
Number Girl and Smashing Pumpkins shared something of a similar hierarchy. All four members were vital in creating the “sound” of each band, but it was clear who the creative centers were — the singer and lead songwriter. In Number Girl’s case, the sole songwriter.
But rather than wait four years to reveal the catalyst of the band’s dissolution, Number Girl was straight-forward in its announcement. Bassist Nakao Kentaro wanted to leave, and the rest of the band didn’t think Number Girl existed as a unit without him. So they went their separate way.
Kentaro hasn’t done anything very high profile since November 2002, but Mukai and drummer Ahito Inazawa soldier on in a new band, Zazen Boys — not unlike how Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain went on to form Zwan. (I just hope Zazen Boys doesn’t suffer the same fate as Zwan and break up after one album.)
The similarity between the two bands’ histories are pretty remarkable, especially since Number Girl could wipe Smashing Pumpkins on the floor in a Celebrity Deathmatch.
Then again, it doesn’t strike me that anyone in Number Girl did drugs — although Mukai seems to sing about getting drunk all the time — and Number Girl was around for about half the length of Smashing Pumpkins.
All that to say the drama that seems to shroud Smashing Pumpkins wasn’t an issue in Number Girl since the scale wasn’t the same.