May 23, 2007

To capture the mood of our times with the album cover for ZEITGEIST—the forthcoming album by THE SMASHING PUMPKINS—the band turned to acclaimed Obey Giant graphic designer and illustrator Shepard Fairey. After being given the album’s title to work with, Fairey came up with a haunting image: it’s a red, black and white illustration of a drowning Statue of Liberty, positioned in front of the sun that is either setting or rising.

“Like a great artist can do, Shepard had summed up very simply a lot of complex themes,” says the band’s Billy Corgan. “He also used the type font from our very first single, and I asked him about it and he had no idea. He was just on point.”

Says Fairey, whose Andre the Giant street art has been seen around the world and whose credits include creating anti-war posters and the poster art for the feature film Walk The Line:

“I think global warming is an issue that is currently relevant, time sensitive, and a symptom of the shortsightedness of the U.S. As a broader metaphor, the drowning Statue of Liberty, a revered icon of the U.S., symbolizes the eminent demise of many of the ideals upon which the nation was founded. Civil liberties, freedom of speech, privacy, etc. have been decreasing since 9/11. The sun in the image could either be setting or rising and this ambiguity shows that there is still hope to turn things around.”

Due out July 10, ZEITGEIST (Martha’s Music/Reprise) marks the Smashing Pumpkins’ sixth album and first of new material since 2000. It was produced by Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin, with Roy Thomas Baker and Terry Date working separately on various tracks, and represents the culmination of two years of work.  ZEITGEIST features the first single “Tarantula”—due to arrive at radio May 22—and such songs as album opener “Doomsday Clock,” “United States” and “For God And Country.”

Asked why he feels the image captures the feeling of the world at this time, Fairey says: “The U.S. is the dominant global force. When things are going wrong in the U.S. they are probably going wrong around the world. I think this image conveys both the U.S. situation and its larger global implications.”

The illustration derives strength from the usage of the color red.  Explains Fairey:  “I use red frequently because it is a visually powerful, emotionally potent color. Red gets people’s attention. In this case there is the added possibility that the red liquid could be blood, giving it an even more sinister sense of foreboding.  Red helps people to realize immediately that something is wrong and the image is not a soothing postcard.

To view the ZEITGEIST album cover–as well as tour dates launching May 22 in Paris, France at the historic and elegantly appointed Grand Rex–go to and More supplementary album cover graphics can be downloaded at