13 Amazing Bands Similar To The Smashing Pumpkins

Written by Dan Farrant

Embark on a sonic journey inspired by the Smashing Pumpkins, a powerhouse of alternative rock. Born in Chicago, the Smashing Pumpkins have entranced audiences across the globe with their fusion of prog rock, heavy metal, goth, and dream pop.

Their unique sound and style have been influential, shaping the music of countless artists over the years. But what if you could find more bands that echo this distinctive sound?

If you’re intrigued by their musical style, you’re in luck! This article will unveil 13 amazing bands like the Smashing Pumpkins. Let’s get started.

The Smashing Pumpkins by Gyang333 (CC BY-SA 3.0) Cropped

1. Pixies

Formed in Boston, Massachusetts, the Pixies is a renowned alternative rock band known for their jarring pop sound that has been a significant influence on many other prominent bands, like Nirvana, Radiohead, and the Smashing Pumpkins.

The Pixies gained critical acclaim and a devoted fan base with their debut album, Surfer Rosa, in 1988. Tracks like “Where Is My Mind?” and “Gigantic” became iconic and set the stage for the band’s distinct sound.

Their contributions to music haven’t gone unnoticed. They’ve received accolades such as the Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame induction and Mojo’s Les Paul Award, affirming their significance in the music industry.

2. Radiohead

Emerging from Oxfordshire in 1985, Radiohead was formed by schoolmates Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, and Philip Selway.

Since then, Radiohead has consistently produced music that listeners love, from their debut single “Creep” to critically acclaimed albums like OK Computer and Kid A.

At first glance, Radiohead and the Smashing Pumpkins might seem like two distinct entities in the vast landscape of alternative rock. However, you’ll find there are some commonalities that link these two bands.

Both emerged during the late 1980s and early ’90s—a transformative period in rock music where traditional structures were being challenged, and new sub-genres were taking shape. Both bands played significant roles in this evolution, pushing the boundaries of what was considered rock music at the time.

3. My Bloody Valentine

Formed in 1983, My Bloody Valentine consists of Kevin Shields, Bilinda Butcher, Debbie Googe, and Colm Ó Cíosóig. Their journey has been characterized by periods of silence interspersed with groundbreaking music, making each of their releases a highly anticipated event.

They are pioneers of the shoegaze genre, a style of music known for its heavy use of guitar effects and an emphasis on creating lush, layered soundscapes.

My Bloody Valentine’s second studio album, Loveless, is widely considered a masterpiece and a defining album of shoegaze. Songs like “Only Shallow” and “When You Sleep” encapsulate the band’s sound.

Despite their relatively small discography, My Bloody Valentine’s influence on the music industry is profound. They have inspired—a continue to inspire—countless artists. Their unique approach to music production and songwriting has set a high standard for creativity and originality in music.

4. Nirvana

Undoubtedly one of the most influential rock bands of all time is Nirvana. Formed by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic in 1987, they were initially just another band in the burgeoning Seattle music scene.

However, with the addition of drummer Dave Grohl and the release of their second studio album, Nevermind, in 1991, Nirvana’s trajectory changed dramatically.

Nevermind became a cultural phenomenon. The album’s lead single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” introduced wider audiences to grunge music and has remained among the most iconic songs of that decade.

Providing similarities to Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana was also part of a new wave of alternative rock that deviated from mainstream pop music at the time. Another link is the influence of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on the Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corgan, who had cited that he and Cobain were great songwriters.

5. Sonic Youth

Next up, Sonic Youth is a band that started in the punk scene of the late ’70s and early ’80s. They’ve been called avant-garde, noise rock, experimental, and alternative rock over the years—but ultimately, they defy classification.

One of their most famous early albums is Daydream Nation, which was released in 1988 to critical acclaim. This album has influenced many bands that came after them, including The Smashing Pumpkins.

If you’re interested in exploring Sonic Youth’s discography further, some other standout albums include Sister, Goo, and Dirty. These records showcase how different aspects of the band’s sound evolved over time, from their earlier punk roots to more polished alt-rock sounds later on.

6. Pearl Jam

Emerging from the music scene of Seattle in 1990, Pearl Jam quickly established themselves as one of the leading bands of the grunge movement.

Their debut album, Ten, was released in 1991 and became an instant classic, selling millions of copies worldwide. Lead singer Eddie Vedder’s powerful vocals and skillful songwriting helped make Pearl Jam stand out among their peers.

Interestingly enough, there is a connection between The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. The latter’s debut album Gish had influenced the former’s own Ten.

Currently, Pearl Jam still endeavors to provide quality music to their fans. Prior to the COVID pandemic, they had released Gigaton, which was cited as the fifth-best rock album of 2020. After the COVID restrictions lifted, the band continued to tour.

7. Pavement

Starting their career in 1989, American indie rock band Pavement grew alongside the Smashing Pumpkins. Led by Stephen Malkmus, Pavement was known for its lo-fi sound and clever lyrics.

Since their start, the band released five albums. Their fourth album, Brighten the Corners, released in 1997, features some of the band’s most popular songs, such as “Stereo,” “Shady Lane,” and “Date with IKEA,” which helped introduce them to wider audiences worldwide.

Notably, Pavement’s song “Range Life” received some backlash as it seemingly took aim at both The Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots. They’ve since reconciled, and Pavement continues to be a beloved band among fans of indie rock from the era.

8. Nine Inch Nails

Like Smashing Pumpkins, rock band Nine Inch Nails (or NIN) emerged in 1988. The growth in popularity of both bands was during a period marked by a shift towards alternative rock.

Formed by singer-songwriter and producer Trent Reznor, NIN is known for their dark, aggressive sound and innovative use of technology. They have been highly influential in the alternative rock and industrial music scenes.

Throughout their career, Nine Inch Nails has released a series of groundbreaking albums, each one critically acclaimed. The Downward Spiral, in 1994, is regarded as a landmark album, delving into themes of despair, addiction, and self-destruction, and features the iconic hit “Closer.”

Nine Inch Nails has been recognized with numerous awards, including multiple Grammy nods and a recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2020).

9. Alice In Chains

Their name often abbreviated to AIC, Alice in Chains is an American rock band from Seattle, Washington. Formed in 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney, AIC quickly became a cornerstone of the grunge movement that defined the sound of the early 1990s.

AIC debuted with Facelift in 1990. However, it was their second album, Dirt, that solidified their place in rock history. Tracks like “Rooster,” “Them Bones,” and “Would?” landed high on the charts and showcased the band’s ability to combine heavy guitar riffs with haunting melodies.

Smashing Pumpkins and AIC share some similarities in that both emerged at a time when rock music was undergoing a significant shift. Both also have heavy metal influence in their music, though AIC went on to focus on the grunge scene than the alt rock of Smashing Pumpkins.

10. Soundgarden

Seattle-based alternative rock band Soundgarden is known for their unique sound and contribution to the grunge music scene. The band was formed in 1984 by singer/drummer Chris Cornell, with Hiro Yamamoto on bass and Kim Thayil on guitar.

Soundgarden’s earlier albums were successful, but the band reached new heights with Superunknown in 1994. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and spawned the Grammy Award-winning singles “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman.”

Like Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden’s music was also considered alt rock; however, it was heavily influenced by metal and punk, resulting in a raw, powerful sound that defined grunge.

Soundgarden disbanded in 2019 after a career marked by off-again, on-again activity. Despite this, their influence on the music industry remains profound.

11. Stone Temple Pilots

American rock band Stone Temple Pilots (STP) formed in 1989. They gained popularity in the early 1990s, around the same time as the Smashing Pumpkins. STP’s sound is often categorized as alternative rock, but they have also experimented with different styles, including hard rock and psychedelic rock.

Their debut album, Core, released in 1992, was a commercial success, driven by hits like “Creep” and the award-winning “Plush.” The band’s follow-up album, Purple, further cemented their status as one of the key players in the ’90s rock scene.

The band members of Stone Temple Pilots have changed over the years; however, this has not stopped them from touring extensively across North America and Europe.

12. Dinosaur Jr.

Our next band, Dinosaur Jr., has been around since the 1980s and has greatly influenced many musicians, including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins.

The band’s music is categorized as alternative rock, grunge, indie rock, and fuzz rock. Dinosaur Jr’s sound features melodic guitar riffs with J Mascis on vocals and Lou Barlow on bass.

Some of their most notable albums include You’re Living All Over Me, which is considered one of the most influential alternative rock albums of the 1980s, and Where You Been, which features the hit single “Start Choppin’” and became one of the band’s most commercially successful albums.

Dinosaur Jr. has received critical acclaim for its music over the years. In 2019, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album for their album Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not.

13. Placebo

Last but not least, we have Placebo, a British rock band that formed in London back in 1994. The band was founded by Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal, with Molko serving as the lead vocalist and guitarist.

Placebo’s music can be described as alternative rock mixed with pop and punk influences, like that of Smashing Pumpkins.

In a career that has lasted almost 30 years, Placebo has released eight well-received albums, all of which landed in the top 15 of the UK’s Albums Chart. One of their most famous is the chart-topping Meds, released in 2006.

Currently, Placebo is still active. After not releasing new content since 2013, they surprised fans with Never Let Me Go in 2022, another album in their repertoire to reach the top of the charts.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like Smashing Pumpkins

There you have it! We’ve shared 13 bands that are similar to The Smashing Pumpkins. These bands are all about making music that pushes the limits with songs that really connect with listeners. Just like the Smashing Pumpkins, they’ve all made a big impact on rock music.

We hope this list has given you some new music to check out. If you think we missed a band that should be on the list, let us know, and we’ll add them here! Happy listening!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.