Kazu Makino

James Iha

James Yoshinobu Iha (Japanese: 井葉吉伸, Iha Yoshinobu or ジェームス・イハ, Jēmusu Iha) born March 26, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.) is an American rock musician. He is most famous as having been a guitarist in the alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins and for his eclectic musical projects of recent years, including A Perfect Circle.

Early life and brief background

Iha attended Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, which he described as "a boring, middle class suburb of Chicago." Iha received average grades in high school, and, after a successful two-year stint at a local junior college, he majored in graphic design at Loyola University Chicago before dropping out to dedicate himself to the Smashing Pumpkins. He currently lives in Manhattan, New York and co-owns independent record label Scratchie Records with Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne. Bands on the Scratchie label include The Sounds, Albert Hammond Jr., and Office. He also co-owns a recording studio with Adam Schlesinger and Andy Chase of Ivy called Stratosphere Sound in Manhattan.

He is a second-generation Japanese-American, and is only able to speak a little Japanese. Like his former bandmate Billy Corgan, he has a brother with a disability.

In Smashing Pumpkins

In 1987 Iha, then the guitarist for the Chicago band Snake Train, met Billy Corgan via a friend. Corgan had already been telling people he was in a band called "Smashing Pumpkins," and decided to make it a real band with Iha. Iha stayed in the Smashing Pumpkins until their 2000 breakup.

Iha later became romantically involved with the band's bassist D'arcy Wretzky, but the couple broke up just prior to the band's performance at the Reading Festival in 1992. After a brief feud between the two, James sustained a friendly and close relationship with D'arcy, citing her as a best friend.

Iha wrote and sang a number of Smashing Pumpkins' songs, such as, "Blew Away" on Pisces Iscariot, "Bugg Superstar" on Vieuphoria, "Take Me Down" on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, "...Said Sadly", "Believe", "The Boy", and "The Bells" on The Aeroplane Flies High, "Summer" on the "Perfect" single and "Go" on Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music. He co-wrote with Billy Corgan "I Am One" on Gish, "Soma" and "Mayonaise" on Siamese Dream, "Plume" on Pisces Iscariot and "Farewell and Goodnight" on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. He also sang the band's covers of The Cure's "A Night Like This" and Syd Barrett's "Terrapin". During his time with the Pumpkins, James also appeared on recordings with other bands, including Ivy, to which Adam Schlesinger also contributes, and The Sounds.

Iha was often considered the "quiet one" in Smashing Pumpkins, but he was known to engage in ad-libbed jokes and rap sessions. His humor was encapsulated in his use of the catchphrase, "I've seen a million faces, and I've rocked them all," originally from the Bon Jovi song "Wanted Dead or Alive".

In 1998, Iha released a moderately successful solo album, Let It Come Down, his only solo effort to date. One music video was produced from this album, for the song "Be Strong Now", which was also released as a four-track single.

While his former bandmates Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin have revived the "Smashing Pumpkins" name, James is not participating, and in fact has not spoken to Corgan in years.

Post Pumpkins work

2001-2004: A Perfect Circle, producing, Japan

Since the Pumpkins' breakup in 2000, Iha has pursued many projects. He continues to contribute to other artists' recordings, such as "Don't Be Sad" on Whiskeytown's Pneumonia released in 2001 and further guest appearances for bands Ivy and Fountains of Wayne, with which he kept close friendship and appeared on virtually every release by both bands since 1997. Andy Chase of Ivy, and Adam Schlesinger of both Ivy and Fountains, appeared on most songs James produced or wrote for other artists. Schlesinger first appeared on Iha's song on "The Bells" by The Smashing Pumpkins.

James Iha made bigger news when he joined rock band A Perfect Circle in July 2003 in time for their Thirteenth Step club tour. He has since appeared on their 2004 album eMOTIVe as well as contributed remixes of Blue and Outsider. In 2003, he joined Vanessa and the O's. The group released an EP Plus Rien in Sweden the same year and followed up with the album "La Ballade d'O" in 2005-2006 on the bands own label RushmoreRecordings playing live shows in Sweden summer of 2005.

More recently, Iha has collaborated on musical and fashion design projects in Japan. He collaborated and produced two tracks with Japanese musician Chara for her 2001 album Madrigal. The tracks are called "Boku ni Utsushite" and "Skirt", the latter accompanied with music video featuring Iha as a hunter in a forest. With the help of longtime friend and manager Isao Izutsu, he started the clothing label Vapor in 2001, and recorded "Never Ever", his first solo song since Smashing Pumpkins demise for first runway of Vapor.

In 2001 James played live with The Blank Theory and appeared on their album Beyond the Calm of the Corridor producing the song "Addicted" together with Schlesinger and contributing guitar playing.

2005-2006: Soundtracks, collaborations, remixes

In 2004, A Perfect Circle went on hiatus and James spent much of the year DJing exclusive parties in New York.

Iha also scored the Japanese film Linda, Linda, Linda, released in late summer 2005. In the same year he teamed with Adam Schlesinger again to produce a duet cover of "Splish Splash" by Bobby Darin for Because of Winn-Dixie soundtrack. The same year Iha contributed guitar to some tracks of Chino Moreno's band Team Sleep self-titled album.

Iha recently appeared on the track "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" from the tribute album to Serge Gainsbourg entitled Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited. Singer Kazu Makino (of Blonde Redhead) duets with him. He also produced two tracks on the album "I love you (me either)" that featured Cat Power singing and "L'Hotel" featuring Michael Stipe singing.

In February 2006, a digital ep "In the Sun" produced by Iha featuring Michael Stipe and Chris Martin was released. This ep was for the benefit of Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina. The song was featured on an episode of Grey's Anatomy. Also in collaboration with Michael Stipe, Iha played guitar at the Bring Em Back Home concert benefit on March 20th of 2006 in Nyc.

On March 31st, 2006, Pitchfork Media reported that Iha will be featured on Norwegian pop singer Annie's follow-up to her highly successful debut, Anniemal, which will reportedly be out near the year's end. Iha also remixed "Me Plus One", a track off of Anniemal.

Released in October 2006, The Postmarks Goodbye EP features a remix by Iha. Also in 2006, Iha teamed up with Adam Schlesinger to co-produce America's comeback album, Here & Now, and appeared on an Isobel Campbell album, collaborating on her renditions of traditional Irish and Scottish folk songs. In 2006 James Iha recorded a cover of "Judy Is a Punk" by The Ramones for 30th anniversary of a Japanese clothing label Beams.

In February 2007, Side-Line announced that James Iha delivered a remix for the Ladytron single "Weekend Mixes" out on March 9th via Smoke & Mirrors. . In April 2007, he recorded remix for the Midnight Movies track "Patient Eye".

Iha appeared on stage with Swedish band The Sounds, on the season finale of Bam's Unholy Union in April 2007.

Iha contributed guitar to the song "Seatbacks and Traytables", on Fountains of Wayne's 2007 album Traffic and Weather. His former bandmate Melissa Auf der Maur also contributed to that album.

2007-present: Second solo album and other work

Iha has confirmed that he is writing and recording songs for a second solo album. James and Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger are to co-produce America's first album of original material in nine years, Here And Now. Marilyn Manson has revealed that James will be making a guest appearance on his new record, scheduled for a winter 2008 release.

Discography

  • 1998 - Let it Come Down (solo album)
  • 2003 - La Ballade d'O (with Vanessa and the O's)
  • 2004 - eMOTIVe (with A Perfect Circle)
  • 2005 - Linda Linda Linda O.s.t. (movie by Nobuhiro Yamashita)
  • 2008 - Upcoming second solo album (To be confirmed)

Singles

Videography

  • 1996 - Vieuphoria (VHS)
  • 2001 - Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits video collection 1991-2000 (DVD)
  • 2005 - Charlie Charlie (Videoclip by Vanessa and the O's)
  • 2008 - Smashing Pumpkins Live in Tokio June 30, 2000 (DVD)

Smashing Pumpkins songs written, co-written or covered by Iha

Written by James Iha

Co-written with Billy Corgan

  • "I Am One" from Gish
  • "Soma" and "Mayonaise" from Siamese Dream
  • "Plume" from Pisces Iscariot
  • "Farewell and Goodnight" from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
  • "The Aeroplane Flies High" from "The Aeroplane Flies High"

Covers sung by Iha

Equipment

  • 1980s Les Paul Custom
  • 1984 Ebony Gibson Les Paul Custom
  • DR Hi-Beam Nickel-Plated Strings
  • Digitech DHP-55 Harmony Processor
  • Digitech GSP2102 Effects Processor
  • EBow
  • Electro Harmonix Small Stone Phaser
  • Eventide H3000 Harmonizer
  • Fender Bronco
  • Fender Telecaster
  • Fender Twin Reverb Amp
  • Gibson Flying V
  • Gibson SG-Custom (1980s)
  • Jim Dunlop 1.0 millimeter tortex pics
  • Marshall JMP-1 Pre-Amp
  • Mesa-Boogie Tri-Axis
  • Orange Overdrive 120 Head & Cab
  • Other Equipment
  • Pedal-cast Extender (German)
  • Rickenbacker
  • SustainPunch Creamy Dreamer Pedal

References

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