Interview: Billy Corgan
From: The Smashing Pumpkins
Byline: Derek Signore, The Sound Magazine
Show Info: 5.13.13 Concrete Street, Corpus Christi
Social: Facebook/Twitter / smashingpumpkins
Photo Credit: Paul Elledge
STEAM: With such a vast catalog of songs, how do you compile a set list from night to night?
BILLY: It used to be pretty varied, but to be honest nowadays it’s pretty much the same. We design the set for the tour prior to the first show. The A.D.D. of our audience has kind of changed the patience of our audience so we try and keep things the same night to night.
STEAM: For the past few years it has become the norm for bands to tour a single album a night, with Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness being one of the best double albums of all time, has there ever been any thought to tour just the album in its entirety?
BILLY: I’ve been very vocal in that I think that method is killing the touring business. I think that in the short term it might help but eventually it will hurt business overall. I’m against it to just to get people in the seats.
STEAM: Over the past few years you have been at the helm of a slew of side projects, now that you have revived the pumpkins, what separates the band from your more recent work?
BILLY: For me it’s a philosophical approach. The Pumpkins were modeled after bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, where you could blend a lot of musical influences into one unit. The Pumpkins are supposed to be a potpourri of musical influences and with such variety the band becomes its own identity.
STEAM: Do you find yourself struggling to write for one project in comparison to another?
BILLY: That’s never been a problem. The problem has always been limiting my focus to one thing (laughing). When alternative rock was really huge I remember saying that I have to write more alternative rock because that’s what gets on the radio but that wasn’t always my singular interest. When we brought the band back in 2007 that was a bigger problem because the public had made up their mind that we were an alternative rock band and that was it. Mixing in acoustic and electronic was a bit weird for a while after that.
STEAM: Any thoughts on putting out another double album in the future?
BILLY: Actually we’ve talked about making a triple album, not with this current album, but the next one. We started talking about what that would mean. I would like to do another big work but that just takes so much energy and commitment. It just takes over your life.
STEAM: What is it like to be known of one of the most quintessential rock voices of the 90’s?
BILLY: I don’t really know what to think of that (laughing). I don’t know what to think of the 90’s anymore, it started off really good but kind of got weird as it went on. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the way music has turned out today. I think most 90’s bands would laugh at themselves back then if they knew what they would be doing today…assuming they’re still making music. I once talked to Neil Young’s manager Elliot Roberts, who managed me for a time, about how Neil Young struggled to keep himself from being labeled a 60’s artist. I tend to approach the 90’s as sort of the beginning and not the end. To me it’s a legacy but not an albatross.
STEAM: With 90’s bands like Jane’s Addiction and Sound Garden making waves again in the scene do you feel a resurgence of 90’s style music coming?
BILLY: I think it’s really good that artists from my generation are still making music. My reasons might be different from theirs, I want to take the pumpkins around the earth, there’s a destination I want to get to, to reinvent the musical language without reinventing the band.
STEAM: Are you happy that the band emerged before the advent of itunes and youtube and if so how do you think the band would fare if releasing today?
BILLY: I feel lucky that we existed in the last great era of record sales. As far as how we would do today I think that a great band is a great band and when we had our moment we were on a roll. I think we would have probably have gone less commercial and more avant-garde if we released today. Commercial success wise In don’t think we would have had as much success, I think there are too many actors in this environment and it’s shocks me how tolerant the media is to them. It’s weird to know that music been hijacked by other forces. There’s a lot of other agendas going on in music right now that have nothing to do with how good a song is…and that’s a little weird.
SMASHING PUMPKINS Interview