James Yoshinobu Iha was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 26, 1968. He has been in several bands before the Pumpkins, including the Feds, and Snake Train. He met Billy Corgan in 1988 and proceeded to form the roots of the band we now know as the Smashing Pumpkins. Together, the two wrote "goth-pop" songs and played with a drum machine at several bars in the Chicago area. James is usually considered the "quiet one", although in concert he has been known to taunt the crowd with strings of obscenities, perform ad-lib rap, and tap dance.
James and Billy share the lead guitar and rhythm guitar duties live, although he hasn't always been so involved in the lead guitar side of the music.
James writes the occaisional song for the Smashing Pumpkins, with credits on Mayonaise, Soma, and I Am One. James has numerous songs released as b-sides, and a solo album in February of 1998 titled "Let It Come Down".
James is very quiet and usually very sarcastic. He has had a variety of hairstyles over the years, from shoulder-length black with blonde streaks to short blonde hair. He also modeled for Anna Sui in 1996. James is a co-owner of Scratchie Records with D'arcy Wretzky which began in 1996 and has signed bands such as Fulflej, Fountains of Wayne, and the Frogs.
After the Pumpkins split in 2000, James went on to do fashion and soundtrack work in Japan, as well as numerous collaborations with other artists, often from his New York apartment studio (see the discography's side projects for more info).