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Billy Corgan Doesn't Care About Your Nostalgia For New Tour With Marilyn Manson

By Selena Fragassi in Arts & Entertainment on May 19, 2015 9:45PM

Marylin Manson and Billy Corgan at The Virgin Hotel in Chicago

“[Fans’] version of nostalgia is fucking boring,” The Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan said in a long string of statements about the music industry, modern-day touring and the media Monday night, as he and Marilyn Manson held a press conference at Chicago's Virgin Hotel in front of a handful of fans and press to discuss their dual “The End Times Tour” that kicks off in July.

The question of planned set lists for the two acts, that each have produced nine studio albums and dozens of hit singles, seemed to hit a soft spot with Corgan who lamented the idea that fans will always expect a greatest hits tour. “They want their teenage memory handed back to them … but it needs balance,” he said further noting that if simply being at a concert for a one-of-a-kind experience wasn’t enough for people, then “they’re not really fans of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Manson was less repulsed about the idea, admitting he hates change and wants “to play songs that define me.” No word on what those set lists will be, but the two—who unexpectedly reunited on stage in London in December for a version of the Pumpkins’ "Ava Adore" and Manson's "Seven Year Binge"—did give indication that they will perform together during their summer tour. Possibly a collaboration of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” because clearly Manson is an expert in that, Corgan said.

If it seems like an odd pairing, for them it’s not. The two called each other “brothers” and “best friends” at various points in the evening, and Manson bizarrely gifted Corgan with a squeaky cat toy that was frequently used in the discussion as comic relief. It’s a relationship that commenced when Corgan called a studio looking for Trent Reznor (who was producing Antichrist Superstar) and Manson answered the phone. “He’s the one who taught me guitar so it’s his fault,” Manson joked about the impact of their early bromance.

Though, at some point in the ‘90s, there was a stalemate that transgressed after a war of words in the media, allegedly over a letter Corgan sent to Manson about his then paramour. “We’ve had to suppress some things,” admitted Manson after their unlikely run-in last year. “Like Rose McGowan,” Corgan rebuffed all but confirming the reason of their spat.

When asked by the moderator, A.V. Club Senior Editor Sean O’Neal, about a motive for the upcoming 23-date package deal, Manson said, “because it will be powerful.” He also joked that it was, in a way, his and Corgan’s way of finally giving life to Fruity, their failed band collaboration from decades ago that had also courted Flavor Flav and Jenna Jameson.

Fans, both present and online watching the A.V. Club stream, also had the chance to ask questions—though it was obvious the spooky kids outnumbered the Pumpkins devotees as one girl asked Manson to smear her lipstick and another shook the shock rocker’s hand thanking him for some love advice he gave in Milwaukee.

Photo: Selena Fragassi

One curious person asked what song from their catalogs had the most personal meaning to them: Manson offered up “Lamb Of God” from 2000’s Holy Wood while Corgan said it’s Siamese Dreams’ “Disarm” that to this day still holds a personal connection for him. Another person asked about the feeling that came from being in front of a crowd to which Corgan quipped that it’s gone from the danger of the mosphit to orderly watching from a cellphone screen. “I might as well be on TV,” he said. Manson joked that Corgan might be a curmudgeon, which after statements like “The songs I wrote were 99% better than anyone else’s songs” and “I’ve been consistent with being anti-hipster since the ‘80s,” might be a good word choice.

But Corgan also had moments of poignancy, especially when speaking about how he wished at some point he could have slowed down the trajectory of The Smashing Pumpkins to reprocess it and perhaps had made other decisions for the band. The most telling of which was after the drug overdose of keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin in 1996 which also prompted drummer Jimmy Chamberlin to exit the group. “Maybe we should have quit or taken a hiatus,” he admitted; instead the band was back on road in six weeks.

Approved or not, nostalgia was on the brain as these two talked, though there was also the feeling that perhaps there’s still room for more developments to wax on about. When asked what “End Times” might mean for them, Corgan was telling in his response. “People might forget us later but they are definitely remembering us now.”

You can stream the entire Q&A on A.V. Club’s website and get full tour dates on the websites for The Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson. “The End Times” tour comes to Chicago Aug. 7 at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.