Promoting philanthropy, Smashing Pumpkins style
August 11, 1998
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Smashing Pumpkins don't really have a persecution complex. They're just fighting back after finding themselves in an awkward give-and-take situation this summer.
"We're a cantankerous group," explains lead singer Billy Corgan. "We don't take sh-- from anybody. (But) the minute we go one step down, the knives come out and that's it."
Corgan is referring to the fact that even though the group is giving away 100 percent of their shows' ticket sales -- amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars -- to charities on their 14-city summer tour, they're getting blasted by critics who say their new album, "Adore," is an underperformer because it isn't selling as well as their previous album, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness."
Not to be outdone, Corgan blames the Pumpkin's fans for not following them in their new musical direction. "Adore" debuted at the top of international sales and stayed there for six straight weeks, according to CNN's World Beat Top 30 chart. But U.S. sales have been less brisk.
"At this point, they should have enough faith and confidence in us just like I have faith and confidence in the bands that I admire. And if they don't, then they're not fans," Corgan says.
'Great, moving music'
"We're not about a style of music, we're about putting out great, moving music," adds bass player D'arcy.
Guitarist James Iha maintains the band couldn't just keep doing the same thing.
"We wouldn't be a band anymore if we made just a retake of our last record," he says.
And while most bands would be thrilled at the prospect of having New York's 53rd Street shut down for a performance on "Late Night With David Letterman," it's visits to places like Harlem's Hale House that mean more.
Band's benevolence widespread
The Pumpkins have donated more than $419,000 to the Hale House, a home for abandoned babies. Charitable causes in 13 other cities on their tour have also benefitted from the band's benevolence.
"You walk into a place and you see these babies and you see the love that they're getting and you also know that situation they're coming from and it makes you want to cry," Corgan says.
Corgan says any industry attention they receive is secondary to the charitable work they're doing. In his own caustic manner, he challenges others to make the same generous gestures.
"This is really a big 'F--- you' to everybody," Corgan says. "It's like, 'OK, if we can do it, what about you, Mr. Making-$20-million-a-movie, Mr. Sports-star-earning-$10-million-for-playing-162-games.'"
That's philanthropy, Smashing Pumpkins style, as they face less-than-charitable treatment from critics.
"We've proved everyone wrong before," Corgan says. "We'll prove them wrong again."
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