In an new Alternative Nation interview with Billy Corgan, it has been confirmed Nicole is officially out of the band, along with Mike.
"Interviewer: ...what exactly happened with Mike Byrne and Nicole Fiorentino, and what is the future of the Pumpkins touring lineup for the new albums?
Billy: As far as future lineups, don’t know. With Mike and Nicole, I think it was simply a divide in what was the future of the band in terms of work and intensity. I think Jeff and I felt in order to push the band forward, it was going to take a Herculean effort. I don’t think that Mike and Nicole necessarily felt the same. Not to say that they weren’t committed, they did commit, and did a great job for what they were committed to.
But there are those points in every relationship where you say, ‘In order to get here, we have to do X.’ And they didn’t particularly agree with Jeff and I’s version of that, and having been through it before, as I have, I basically said very simply, ‘There is really no other way. You can’t be weekend warriors in a band like The Smashing Pumpkins. You have to go all the way in.’ There was some reluctance on their part to go all the way in, and I respect them for that, and that they have other things that they want to do in their life, and they should do their things.
So there is no animosity there, but at the end of the day, I’m the one who has to stand there and answer for whether or not The Smashing Pumpkins can be a contemporary band, can be a band that can headline a festival, can be a band that still gets talked about in a regular way as an artistic group, and not just [a mess of] drama. So I’m the one that ultimately has to answer for if what I’m getting inside the house is what I need to push the band.
Interviewer: So Nicole is definitely gone from the band at this point?
Billy: Yeah, I don’t see her coming back. But I respect the heck out of her talent. She’s one of the most talented musicians that I’ve ever worked with. I love the things that she’s contributed, and we remain in touch, and I also remain in touch with Mike. So it’s not the typical blow up, have a nice life, type stuff. We remain friends, and I do care about what happens with them in the future. It’s just the Pumpkins is a thing where at this point, there’s not a lot of room for interpretation.
I’m sure you’ve seen these interviews where people ask me about the old days, and the arenas and stuff. There’s an expectation that the band has to exist at a certain level, or somehow it’s failing. I deal with those expectations every day, and maybe in their case, or other people’s case, they don’t. So I’m more attuned to what that means, what it means to operate at a very high level in the music business, which is constantly crumbling, and constantly pushing forward artists that really are not musicians. So to be a musical act, to be a musician, a songwriter in this world, is a tough gig. I’m no spring chicken, so I was asking, and continued to ask for the highest commitment from the people I work with. I’m lucky in that I have a person that just did this album with me, in Jeff Schroeder, that’s 100% committed. I think when people hear the results on the new album; they’ll hear the difference. I think it’ll show there."
So, there you have it. Say what you will about his decisions, but Billy sounds like he is very committed to pushing Smashing Pumpkins to the next level. It seems as though he'd rather have one man by his side who is 100% committed, and bring in guest musicians to assist, than deal with a band that he sees as only half-way committed. While there will inevitably be criticism of breaking the band apart after having worked so hard to establish a unit in the eyes of the public, and the wisdom (and consistency) of doing that, it's at the same time rather profound to imagine that he's so willing to let all of that go to do what he feels is necessary to push The Smashing Pumpkins to the next level. Was it the right call? Who knows. I wasn't there. But I think we all can hope the next two albums will be epic - and I for one feel there's reason to be excited. Good luck to Nicole and Mike.
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