Two of the most successful
bands that have ever called Chicago home are gearing up to release
much-anticipated new albums later this year.
The horn-driven pop/R&B
veterans Chicago -- who formed in 1967 and left the Windy City shortly
thereafter -- will release "Chicago XXX," their first album of new original
material in 15 years, on March 21.
And the reunited
Smashing Pumpkins -- whose exact members remain a mystery -- are reportedly
working on a new disc expected by the fall.
Chicago chose an
unlikely producer for its album: Jay DeMarcus, bassist for Rascal Flatts,
the multiplatinum country trio that is vying for a Song of the Year Grammy
for the hit "Bless the Broken Road" on Wednesday.
DeMarcus performed on
and co-wrote several tracks, and he brought his Rascal Flatts bandmates Gary
LeVox and Joe Don Rooney in to contribute along with Chicago mainstays Lee
Loughnane (trumpet, flugelhorn), James Pankow (trombone), Walt Parazaider
(woodwinds) and Robert Lamm (keyboards and vocals).
"I joke that Jay is one
of those guys who loves Chicago but is so young he thinks the first Chicago
album is "XVI," Lamm told USA Today. Added the 35-year-old DeMarcus: "I
tried to take bits and pieces of what made them successful and move them
into a modern era of music."
Chicago plans a summer
tour with Huey Lewis & the News.
As for the Pumpkins, the
alternative-rock superstars and their new manager Irving Azoff, the longtime
powerhouse behind the Eagles, have kept a tight lid on news of their
activities since bandleader Billy Corgan announced a reunion last year. But
Melissa Auf Der Maur, who replaced founding bassist D'Arcy Wretzky when she
quit the group, told MTV on Thursday that Corgan and drummer Jimmy
Chamberlin are hard at work writing and recording new material.
Although she is in
contact with Corgan, and he recently contributed to a track on her
forthcoming solo album, even Auf Der Maur doesn't know whether Corgan and
Chamberlin have succeeded in bringing Wretzky and original guitarist James
Iha back to the Smashing Pumpkins.
"The coolest thing would
be if D'Arcy was around, but I don't know where she's at and I don't think [Corgan
and Chamberlin] do either," Auf Der Maur said. She added that she would be
happy to return to the band if need, but she'd be "second best" to Wretzky.
Meanwhile, Iha still has
not commented about whether he will return to the Pumpkins, though he
recently announced plans to work with Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne
in co-producing a new album by the '70s lite/folk-rockers America, who gave
us "Horse With No Name."