James Iha is a Japanese American rock musician and runway model. He is most famous as the rhythm guitarist in the highly successful alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins.
Iha attended Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, the same town in which Pumpkins' singer and lead guitarist Billy Corgan was born. He currently lives in Manhattan, New York and co-owns independent record label Scratchie Records with ex-girlfriend D'arcy Wretzky, former Pumpkins bassist, and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne. Bands on the Scratchie label include Fountains of Wayne, The Frogs, and Fulflej.
Iha wrote or co-wrote a number of Smashing Pumpkins' songs. He wrote "Blew Away" on Pisces Iscariot, "Bugg Superstar" on Earphoria, "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, "Farewell and Goodnight" on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and "Tribute to Johnny" on The Aeroplane Flies High. 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 Fulflej.
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.
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 Ivy, but 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 formed Vanessa and the O's. The group released an EP Plus Rien in Sweden the same year.
Iha also collaborated on two tracks with Japanese musician Chara for her 2001 album MADRIGAL. The tracks are called "Boku ni Utsushite" .
More recently, Iha has collaborated on musical and fashion design projects in Japan. With the help of longtime friend and manager Isao Izutsu, Iha started the clothing label Vapor in 2001. Iha also scored the Japanese film Linda, Linda, Linda, released in late summer 2005.
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.
In June 2005, Corgan announced plans to reunite the Smashing Pumpkins. It was rumoured that the band would reunite on the second day of the Coachella music festival in California in April. However, this rumour was proven false; according to 91-X XTRA-FM music director Marcos Collins, who spoke to Billy Corgan's label, Reprise Records, "Reprise said that for whatever reason Billy backed out of it."
However, on February 2, 2006, MTV.com reported that Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin had signed a new management deal with the Front Line Management. And as of April 20th, 2006, it was officially announced on www.smashingpumpkins.com that the band was back together writing material for their first album since 2000. The band plans to record the album over the summer of 2006. Corgan and Chamberlin are verified as members of the band; however, both Iha and Wretzky have not responded to the announcement. Their involvement is viewed as very unlikely as relationships between them and Corgan have remained strained.