Billy Corgan Talks To Lisa Robinson - Fall 1995

Lisa Robinson: Why put out a double album?

Billy Corgan: Well, age is creeping in, we're getting old. I can't play my rock music with the same kind of edge that I used to, or at least I feel it's starting to wane, so I want to do it while I still can, and bring some of this to its thoughtful conclusion. Also, we did it for the people who like us; the people who buy all our B sides and all our albums. Why not give them a birthday present?

LR: Do you think that people think you're pretentious, or egomaniacal for so obviously dominating the music in the Smashing Pumpkins?

BC: Well, nobody picks on Trent Reznor for doing that in Nine Inch Nails. It's not really about domination, it's about having a vision. Not everybody else necessarily shares that vision, or the ambition to get it done.

LR: You've said your childhood was unhappy, that you felt like a freak. Why?

BC: A lot of different things. I have a really big birthmark on my left hand, which as an adult is obviously not that important, but as a child you feel like you have a completely deformed arm. It didn't limit my functions at all, but I was treated almost like how somebody would treat a cripple. So, that was kind of weird and insidious. I have a brother who has a kind of Down's syndrome, so I have great sympathy for what people go through with bigger problems, but for me it was weird, because I felt normal -- and for all intents and purposes I was -- but yet, I was kind of an outcast because of this deformity. Then again, I've always just been weird, there's no getting around that.

LR: Do you still have problems with depression, eating, and gaining weight?

BC: Yeah, I do. I'm off red meat, so at least I avoid the cheeseburger problem and the fries. When I'm healthy and in a good frame of mind, I eat twice a day, maybe once a day. When I'm depressed it's like three, four times a day, and because I'm a pale musician I don't get any exercise, so there's nowhere for it to go. It's not as bad when you're on tour because you're sweating a lot every night, but it sits on me funny; I've got my mother's legs and my dad's chest. I'm put together kind of funny.

LR: Pavement had some nasty lyrics about you on one of their albums. Did the groovy, indie scene turn on you when you got popular?

BC: Sure. But my whole thing is that people don't fall in love to Pavement, people don't get up in the morning before they go to school and put on Big Black. They put on Smashing Pumpkins or Hole or Nirvana, because these bands actually mean something to them. It's the difference between music you put on to take drugs to, and music you put on to live your life.

LR: You have such a variety of musical styles on this album; do you see it as a brave album?

BC: My main concern was achieving a balance between the styles, not going into territories that I wasn't comfortable in, and just making sure that every song was its own thing. I realized very early on that it was going to have to rely on the strength of the songs, so I just made sure we got the strongest songs that all went together.

LR: I read that you figured out a way to bypass the pay movies on the TVs in hotel rooms. How?

BC: Well, it was a good hotel thing you know. You're bored, you get the free movies, and they used to make it so you could fiddle around to unscrew them in the back, then connect them with the TV. I'm a technical geeky kind of person, so when you're bored..... and you have nothing to do.... and you're lonely. Now that I'm a rich, opulent rock star, I just press the thing.

LR: How rich?

BC: I'm not that rich. But for a guy who didn't have anything, I'm plenty rich.

LR: Do you get bothered by bad reviews?

BC: I only get bent out of shape when I feel it's malicious. I think there's a difference between constructive criticism, and a person's opinion based on what they understand and know.

LR: Every musician says they only want constructive criticism, but frankly, they seem to only want no criticism. What would be constructive criticism?

BC: Well, in my case, a constructive criticism on the last album was people said a lot of the songs were too long. And in hindsight, with a little more maturity, I could see where I could've cut some of the stuff down a bit and probably made better songs. That's a good constructive comment. It's an opinion, but it's also based on some kind of thinking. But I've read reviews where I'm attacked for who my friends are.

LR: How is your mood these days? Are you less depressed?

BC: Yeah, things have definitely changed for me. I think I've hit a new place inside where I've figured out what was important, and what's important is what I'm doing and the people I care about. And what's not important is the shallow, gossipy world of rock. I was attracted to that when I was young, and sure, it's fun. But when you can view it as fun, that's a lot different than viewing it as a life.

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