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1991 UK promotional issue
Promotional single by The Smashing Pumpkins
ReleasedJanuary 1991
Format7" vinyl
Studio sessions
  • Psychedelic rock[1]
  • dream pop[2]
  • 6:32 (album version)
  • 5:57 (single version)
Songwriter(s)Billy Corgan
Producer(s)Butch Vig, Billy Corgan
The Smashing Pumpkins singles chronology

"Rhinoceros" is the third single released by The Smashing Pumpkins from their debut album, Gish. It was written by Billy Corgan and is one of the few songs from Gish that has been performed consistently throughout the band's career.

The song is an early indication of the loud/soft dynamic that would come to define the band's overall sound. The song was cited as a turning point by Corgan in an interview about Siamese Dream: "I can remember bringing in 'Rhinoceros', which didn't sound like anything else we had. But after a while you get used to playing 'Rhinoceros', so you bring in something that's a little weirder." In a 1989 radio broadcast, Corgan can be heard referring to the tune, which D'arcy Wretzky audibly protests playing, as "that real slow one". (Track 13 of "Live at WZRD-FM Studios 16 MAR 1989") The album recording reportedly features 17 tracks of feedback.

Instead of being released as a CD single, "Rhinoceros" was instead featured as the first track on Lull. Corgan has mentioned that Lull is known within the band as "the Rhinoceros single".

Background[edit | edit source]

2020 Instagram Deep Dive

Corgan has said he was high on LSD when he wrote the song. He explained it as a ballad about a mystery girl, an ice-cream party he’s planning for June, and the “mustard lies” he wishes to reveal.[3] The song was first recorded in 1989 at Reel Time Studios with Mark Ignoffo. It featured Ignoffo doing a keyboard solo, because the band thought it was funny to have the producer/trained keyboardist do it in the middle of their psychedelic song.[4]

During the Gish sessions, Corgan used a Roland JC-120 guitar amp to create the clean sound Butch Vig wanted. In a 2020 Instragram video, he felt the recording of "Rhinoceros" exemplified the band's development, though it still had the pressures of working towards Vig's expectations. After recording the instruments, Vig's 24-track console left only 2 tracks for vocals. The two spent upwards of 8 hours – 4 hours per remaining track – to finish the "she knows" bit in the chorus, causing a lot of "head fuckery".[4]

Corgan explained the guitars as the Pumpkins' "early sound", with the Stratocaster in the left channel, and James Iha's Les Paul on the right. A Leslie Rotary amp was also used in the recording.[4]

Music video[edit | edit source]

The music video for "Rhinoceros" was one of the Pumpkins' earliest, directed by Angela Conway, who also directed the group's "Siva." There are three main sources of footage used in the video.

The first batch of footage was filmed on a sound stage featuring the band members "looking bored" and playing guitars. In one part of these scenes, D'Arcy is playing with a white ping pong ball which appears to float, an effect that was achieved by filming the scene in slow motion and then running it backwards.

Corgan has said in the video's audio commentary (found on the Greatest Hits Video Collection DVD) that the original plan for the video was to have these scenes filmed in a very small red room, so small that the band members were constantly on top of each other. This idea was inspired in part by the video for "Close to Me" by The Cure. When they arrived at the set to film, they were given a very large purple room, so instead of being cramped together, the band moved as far away from each other as they could.

There is also live footage from the September 6, 1991 show in London. This footage did not work out as planned and so it is only shown near the end of the video, starting with the guitar solo. The third batch of footage consists of shots of the band in Hyde Park, London. The four band members took a video camera to the park and filmed themselves in various poses to make up for the poor live footage.[5]

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

panda show
trees and balloons
ice cream snow
see you in june

could have known
i would reveal
should have known
i would conceal your way

she knows
and she knows, she knows, she knows
and she knows, she knows, she knows
how's it she knows, she knows, she knows
and she knows, she knows

color show
after the moon
i should go
see you in june
your way

and she knows
and she knows, she knows, she knows
and she knows, she knows, she knows
how's it she knows, she knows, she knows
and she knows, she knows

open your eyes to these mustard lies
open your eyes to these mustard lies
the way

and she knows
and she knows, she knows, she knows
and she knows, she knows, she knows
how's it she knows, she knows, she knows
and she knows, she knows, she knows

Equipment[edit | edit source]

  • Roland JC-120 guitar amp
  • James Iha –1980s Les Paul Custom guitar
  • Leslie rotary guitar amp

Track listing[edit | edit source]

All tracks are written by Billy Corgan.

7" vinyl promo single

Release history[edit | edit source]

Released Label Catalog ID Format Country External sites
January 1991 Caroline SMASH 1 7" UK Discogs [1]

Charts[edit | edit source]

Chart (1991) Peak
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[6] 27


The Ignoffo TapeBootleg
Reel Time Sessions IBootleg • Demo
The Smashing Pumpkins (promo)Promotional
Moon Demo1989 demo cassetteDemo
Rhinoceros7" vinyl promo singlePromo
GishMain releaseStudio
Pumpkin SeedsBootleg
Siamese Dream2011 reissue bonus DVD – Live at the Metro (Live on August 14, 1993)Studio
3 Feet HighBootleg • Live
Mayonaise DreamBootleg • Live
Early 1989 DemosBootleg
Sunshine of Your Love (album)Bootleg
Mashed PotatoesBootleg
Unplugged: 100% Pure Acoustic PerformancesBootleg
23 MinutesVideo • Promotional
The Smashing Pumpkins 1991–1998Promotional CDPromotional • Compilation
The VideosVideo • Promotional
A Gothic–Industrial Tribute to Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Ghost Children: A Tribute To The Smashing PumpkinsTribute
Rotten ApplesNorth American versionCompilation
Greatest Hits Video Collection (1991–2000)Video
Rarities and B-SidesCompilation
MySpace Smashing Pumpkins TributeTribute
SPRC DownloadsCompilation
The Rubano Tapes Vol. 2Live
SP on the Radio 1988-89 / Starchildren Live 8.18.90Live

Tour stats

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Readers' Poll: The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs > 18. 'Rhinoceros'". Rolling Stone. 13 June 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  2. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Gish – Smashing Pumpkins". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
  3. Partridge, Kenneth. "The Smashing Pumpkins' 'Gish' at 25: Classic Track-by-Track Look Back". Consequence of Sound.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Corgan, Billy. "GISH: ALBUM BY ALBUM, TRACK BY TRACK DEEP DIVE SERIES #1". YouTube. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  5. Billy Corgan. May 28, 2021 Instagram TV post
  6. "Smashing Pumpkins Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2016.

External links[edit | edit source]