Perhaps best known as a co-founding member and longtime guitarist for Smashing Pumpkins (who also co-wrote some of the best songs on the band’s classic multi-platinum album Siamese Dream), James Iha has not been idle since the Pumpkins’ 2000 break-up. He co-founded the indie label Scratchie Records, has toured the world with progressive art rockers A Perfect Circle, and played on albums by Whiskeytown, The Sounds, Isobel Campbell, and his friend Adam Schlesinger’s band Fountains of Wayne. He also opened a recording studio, New York’s Stratosphere Sound, with Schlesinger, scored three independent films, and produced and/or remixed music by Michael Stipe, Cat Power, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ladytron, and many others. In 2009, Iha, Schlesinger, Hanson’s Taylor Hanson, and Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos formed the power-pop group Tinted Windows, whose well-received self-titled debut album featured several Iha-penned songs.
It’s not surprising that the songs on Iha’s new solo album Look To The Sky feature a wide range of sounds that touch upon each aspect of his impressive career while showcasing his talents as a musician, songwriter, lyricist, arranger, and producer. “When I first started writing, I felt like a lot of the songs were similar to my previous solo album [1998’s acoustic gem Let It Come Down] and I really wanted the new one to be different and more reflective of my musical tastes,” Iha says. “I wanted it to be more electric so I changed the sonic palette.”