Exclusive: Q&A with Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dream" Girls

Smashing Pumpkins’ breakout album Siamese Dream celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, holding court as one of the most iconic rock albums of the ‘90s. Along with its chart success, it came out at a time when albums were still treasured as a tangible, physical item to be absorbed, adored, ingrained. If you ask any Smashing Pumpkins loyalist for their recollections of the 1993 album, the cover—two joyful young girls, decked out in fairy wings and smiles—is as ever-present as fan favorite tracks “Disarm” and “Cherub Rock.”
A considerable amount of mythology surrounded the cover girls in the years following, but with the 2018 rebirth of the band, Ali Laenger and Lysandra Roberts found it to be the ideal time for a reemergence. Setlist.fm had the exclusive opportunity to ask them questions about their experience back in ‘93, as well as their feelings about being part of the reunion.
Shiny And Oh So Bright #SP2018

How did you both get to be on the cover of Siamese Dreams?
Ali Laenger: I was with an agency called LA Talent at the time and I got booked for the shoot just through my headshot. 
Lysandra Roberts: At the time, I was living in southern California. I had just been set up with an agent by my manager Sheryl Kendall, who I also knew as my friend and greatest fan, and leader of my dance troop the South Bay Young Performers <3  The Smashing Pumpkins audition was the first one that I ever went on.  My family moved away from California not too long after the Siamese Dream album came out, and that was that. 

Tell us about the day you shot the cover art.


Ali: I remember playing dress up with Lysandra and having the ultimate childhood dream day. We ate lemon heads and enjoyed rocket pop popsicles from the ice cream truck that happened to pass by during the shoot all while being dressed up in a cute dress with angel wings of course any 7-year-old would love that. 
Lysandra: It was a beautiful Southern California day at the little house where we did the afternoon shoot.  There were a handful of outfits that we wore, two little girls basically just playing dress up - who wouldn't love that? Billy fed us lemonheads, and we were having fun but kind of bouncing off the walls. I remember he told us we were adorable and we could rule the world one day, and I was hooked. The ice cream truck came by, and they bought us rocket pops. They ended up telling us that we could keep the shoes if we'd try to settle down and get back to shooting. 
You were young at the time, did it mean anything at all to you back then?


Ali: In a 7-year-old mind, I don’t think I understood the magnitude of an album let alone my face being on the cover and it being one of the most iconic albums I think of all time, but how lucky was I. 
Lysandra: Overall I know I was super little girl crushing on Billy - after all, he was a rock star! I remember thinking that it was pretty amazing that I was going to get paid for having that much fun, and wondering if everyone enjoyed their jobs this much. I thought it was pretty neat that it was for a rock band, and I couldn't wait to hear what their music sounded like.

Did you, at any point, realize it was kind of a big deal?

Ali: I realized it was a big deal when many people throughout my life told me that the album was a huge part of their life through good and bad times. I mean to be a part of such a monumental period in one's life and to know my face was in almost every person's CD collection till today is just amazing. I might just have the Smashing Pumpkins cover framed in my “Rock Hallway Collection” along with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Bono, I clearly have good taste is music luckily my Dad encouraged it growing up.
Lysandra: For me, personally, being on the album led me into the world of SP fandom, and broke open a new perspective on music. The fame of the album is because of the raw talent and vision of the musicians behind it - we were just a creative and nostalgic touch of brilliance.

What have you been up to since appearing on the Siamese Dream cover?


Ali: I have pursued a career in Nursing a field I am most proud of. 
Lysandra: I traveled around for a bit and was determined to see the world, but that was cut a little short when my heart found its way back home to Arkansas. I live and play in the Ozarks which is a truly beautiful place and try to spend as much time in nature as possible. The rivers alone in this state are incomparable, and the people are mostly courteous and congenial. I have two beautiful children, a boy a girl whom I adore (I have a cat and a dog too but I doubt they'll be reading this any time soon). I work as tech support for a small IT company, and at the end of the day I am privileged to work both for, and with truly admirable people.  
Have you told people you’re one of the girls on the cover? Seems like a great, “tell me a random fact about yourself,” item, should that ever come up.


Ali: My family and friends know but it seems to be the ultimate, “Hey Ali, can I tell them a secret about you?” and I sit there and think ‘ummmm what might that be?’ Next, is always “Well she’s the one on the Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream cover!” With a sigh of relief, I always turn a little shy and say “Yes that is me.” Everyone thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.
Lysandra: Not too many people in my life know about this anymore. Those who I have told either had a hard time believing me ("do you need me to call my mother?"), or they think it's super rad.  After high school there was a girl in my hometown in AR who I barely knew at all, but we had some mutual friends.  Any time she saw me she'd loudly and proudly introduce me to whoever was around as "the little girl from the Siamese Dream cover!" Hence, why I don't always tell everyone about this. This was a beautiful day, but there is more to me than this moment.  
What is your favorite Smashing Pumpkins song?


Ali: My favorite song is a difficult question but as far as what I love with volume up the loudest is “Disarm.”
Lysandra: Hummer, Cherub Rock, Today, Disarm, Tonight.  Don't judge, this was iconic for me =}
Do you play music?


Ali: My Dad and I play imaginary drums and guitar all the time while jamming to Rock Music, we are big fans and avid concert goers.   
Lysandra: Yes.


What made you want to be a part of this this tour announcement project?
Ali: I will say that I always thought at some point in my life the Smashing Pumpkins were going to have a reunion and I would be a part of it. So when I was asked it was as if the universe conspired with me and connected us at the right time and I said YES. I will forever hold a special place in my heart for the Pumpkins and to be a part of the tour announcement is just beyond awesome.
Lysandra: SP fans and friends have found and contacted me before, but this time it was Ali who contacted me about the project. She put me in touch with the people at Live Nation who were direct, supportive, and really just fantastic to work with (you know who you are ;). I had a lot going on, and the timing was rough, but they made this a very easy voyage to my first home. As a SP fan, I wanted to help realize Billy's vision, and to see a conclusion to this coming back from another world. I thought that after all this time, it was an interesting take to revisit where the band has come from, and how far they can still go. I was excited to be a part of it.
Billy Corgan's Instagram – By williampcorgan

What was it like seeing each other for the first time since the cover shoot?

Ali: Arriving on set I was a little nervous but also so excited to see Lysandra. It was as if we were separated at birth and I was seeing my long-lost sister. I was so curious how our personalities would be compared to then and now. I definitely asked her 21 questions and some.
Lysandra: I was so excited about getting to see Ali, and it was no disappointment. She's honestly a big part of why I wanted to come back and do this in the first place. She's such a truly sweet spirit, and a joy to work with. It reminded me of being a little girl again.  

What was going through your mind during the shoot?
Ali: I was thinking the entire time how lucky I was to be on set with such an incredibly talented team to bring Billy's vision to life and create yet another masterpiece to promote the tour. I might have been slightly terrified to light the sign on fire, totally freaking out in my head that something was going to go wrong because I have never played with fire, but I eventually toughened up and it was an experience that is one for the books. 
Lysandra: Wow, this is pretty much the most fun ever (I mean, flame thrower). This is crazy, I wonder what my kids and coworkers are going to think of this?

How do you feel about the final result?


Ali: The final result of the shoot far exceeded my expectations, the creative team behind the scenes were amazing and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.
Lysandra: I think it will be interesting to see the response.  It's a whole different lifetime later for me, and Billy is still rocking super hard. So impressed with him for continuing to serenade us mere mortals, and continuing to follow his heart in doing what he loves, and what so many of us love him for.  

Ali Laenger and Lysandra Roberts – By Michael Amico

Karma Police - Please Share:

Most played songs

Last updated: 21 Feb 2019, 15:18 Etc/UTC