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Billy Corgan Shares The Wisdom Of A Rock Star's Life

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 17, 2012 5:50PM

Photo Credit: Art Shay
The Smashing Pumpkins are on a roll lately. Their new album Oceanaia has been met with the band's best reviews in quite some time. Even Tankboy was impressed with what he said was the album's balance. But does that mean we're looking at a calmer, tamer Billy Corgan?


Corgan shared some bits of wisdom about leading the rock star life in The Daily Beast today and, if anything, the reader gets a glimpse into what makes The great pumpkin tick in his mid-40s.

Here's Corgan discussing recording Oceanaia

The assumption is always that you’re just going to do the same kind of music you made before. We’ve never done that. But you feel the weight of that expectation. Setting off to record new music six-plus years ago, we looked at it like, “Can we take what we used to do and recontextualize it?”


So in the process of trial and error, we started to dial in the things we were interested in doing and getting to where the hot spot was in terms of energy. And that wasn’t just doing classic Smashing Pumpkins music again. We knew where we were going to go.

Meanwhile we’re getting reams of bad press. We recorded our album in total seclusion knowing that we had found something within. And since then, the reaction has been pretty equal to what we knew about it.

Corgan the wise sage also has some choice words for music in the Pitchfork era.

Those Pitchfork people are very much about social codes, very much about whether or not you’re wearing the right T-shirt. That orthodoxy is no different than the rigidity of the football team at school. You can’t break the social order if you’re preaching to the choir. And the choir already all has cool haircuts!

You’ve got to want to subvert the social order of the high school. That’s why Nirvana was so fucking dangerous. They had the jocks listening to them. Kurt Cobain used to talk about how weird it was to be performing and look out into the crowd to see the people who used to beat him up cheering along.

Guns N’ Roses did it. The Beatles did it. That’s where the critical mass of subversion comes in. Now you have a big enough indie culture to support itself. But it’s kind of like when you walk into the cool coffee house and you don’t belong and everybody looks at you funny. It becomes a scene unto itself.

This is the culture that told me I was done five years ago.

Corgan also touches on pissing off his bandmates at concerts for acknowledging to a crowd when a gig wasn't up to par; being the last original member of the Pumpkins; what motivates him today with the band's current lineup; and wondering where the political songs are in one of the most interesting political eras in American history. It's an engrossing read that shows Billy still has the rage (which is a good thing) and reminds us of why we were played those first four Smashing Pumpkins albums with the volume turned full blast in the first place.