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Smashing Pumpkins guitarist headlines virtual benefit for crew members

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Monday, March 8, 2021

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The pandemic has been "not too bad" for Jeff Schroeder.

The Smashing Pumpkins guitarist has a nice house in Los Angeles, and a home studio to work in. And the band has been busy, with the release of a new album, "Cyr," in November and a 33-song sequel to 1995's "Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" and 200's "Machina II" in motion.

But Schroeder, 47, knows not everyone has it so well -- especially not touring crew members who have been out of work since the pandemic shut down bands and music venues a year ago. That's why he's joined forces with fellow musicians Kevin Rudolf, Detroiter Tommy Marz and Pumpkins touring keyboardist Katie Cole, along with guests, for "For the Crew," a virtual benefit concert on Friday, March 6, to raise money for the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

Schroeder says Marz came up with the idea, and "for me it was just a no-brainer. I'm very close with most of my guitar techs. They're friends. I really know what it's like for those people trying to survive through this time. So to do something positive to help people who are around you and you care about, and to do something musically, for me it's not too hard of a decision to make."

Schroeder says the concert will be done round-robin style, with he, Marz and Rudolf playing a couple of songs at a time before alternating. They're also bringing guests for virtual collaborations -- which in Schroeder's case includes Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook and his son, Smashing Pumpkins touring bassist Jack Bates, as well as Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan, former Third Eye Blind bassist Arion Salazar and Scotti Hill from Skid Row.

"It's really consumed my life in the last couple of weeks, getting people files and creating sections -- and then hounding people, like, 'Hey, I've got a deadline!'" the guitarist says. "It's a lot of work, but it's pretty amazing because it allows you to do configurations that are almost like dream bands that. I could do it all myself, but to get somebody like Peter involved, or Mark or Scotti, is too good to pass up. In real life it would be virtually impossible to get those people in the same room."

Schroeder says not to expect any songs by Smashing Pumpkins or his other band, Night Dreamer. "I wanted to do things that are totally different, that no one could see me doing any other time," he says -- including Joy Division and New Order material with Hook and Bates that "give me goosebumps" and an Emmylou Harris cover with Cole.

Smashing Pumpkins, meanwhile, is keeping Schroeder plenty busy. Schroeder -- who's also working on a solo album -- says the group is "in the first quarter" of the next project, recording remotely and holding regular Zoom meetings to discuss the material. "There's demos for about 33 songs, he reports, and while progress is "a little bit slower" working apart, progress is still being made.

"Once you get into the process of it, you still get the same work done," he says. "And I don't really mind working from home in that way. It's a little less pressure, very relaxed. The nice positive of it is I think I'm playing some of my best stuff 'cause we're doing it this way. It's exciting."

"For the Crew," featuring Smashing Pumpkins' Jeff Schroeder, Detroit's Tommy Marz and Kevin Rudolf, along with special guests, takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 6. Proceeds benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Tickets via nocapshows.com.

Web Site: www.nocapshows.com

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