KTBZ Interview
July 10, 1998

WP: ...and on the phone with us now, one of my best friends in the whole world, Billy Corgan.

BC: How you doing, by the way?

WP: Ah, good, how are you?

BC: Good.

WP: Ah, good, I'm really, ah, proud of the band and how far they've come in such a short amount of time. I'm really happy for you guys.

BC: Thank you.

WP: I was told by your people not to ask about certain things,

BC: (laughs) You can ask me about anything, Will.

WP: I really can?

BC: Yes.

WP: 'Cause, y'know, I mean, they were like real hard-core about it. They were like, y'know, militant.

BC: M hm, no, you can ask me about anything.

WP: Ok, I'll ask you, and if you don't feel like answering...

BC: (interrupts) I've known you, I've known you long enough to...to trust where the questions are coming from.

WP: People are actually calling me up and crying, I mean, like shaking and crying for tickets to your, um, concert on Sunday. Doesn't that make you feel good?

BC: No, it makes me feel bad, I wish everybody could come to every concert, y'know.

WP: Really.

BC: But you know that in other places, we still have some tickets unsold, so...

WP: Really?

BC: Yeah.

WP: That seems very odd, 'cause I mean, you guys are pretty much doing a total charity thing which is for a great cause. And then you're playing kind of smaller venues to give the ah, more intimate experience.

BC: Yeah, but, I, you know.. Listen, for every great fan in Houston, there's some lame fan somewhere else that doesn't want to go to the show, so...

WP: (laughs)

BC: It's a tough situation always, you know, you're never quite sure, but ah... the reason we're kinda playing small on this album is just because the album, you know, it's not a big, arena-rock kind of album. And we didn't want to feel like we had to play a lot of our older material to keep people happy at the shows. The show's pretty much about the new album and the smaller places tend to be better for that.

WP: Really, uh, yeah, the album does definitely sound different than anything else you guys have done before. What moved you in that direction?

BC: Well, I think we were pretty public about the idea that we wanted to kind of step back from rock for awhile because we felt it was kind of becoming a cliche. We helped create the cliche, and then at some point you start to become the cliche. And we're very conscious of those things and, we just wanted to make an album that we could feel really close to and feel really deeply about supporting. And I think we did that, y'know, a lot of people have turned into something else, but it's just really a beautiful album of songs, and that's it. It doesn't get any more complicated than that. Everybody's complicating it on top of that.

WP: Of course, everybody always wants to, ah, figure out everything about everything... and put stuff into stuff that's not there...

BC: right.

WP: Um... ah, Do you see you guys going into a more experiential kind of thing?

BC: Um...

WP: I mean, is there going to be a Smashing Pumpkins' "White Album"? (laughs at his own lame joke)

BC: Well, I think that, um, you know, the whole (unrecongnizable word) of the band was to destroy rock 'n' roll and reinvent it. I think we did that successfully for awhile, and people started copying what we were doing. And at some point, if people start copying you, people have a hard time telling the difference between the original and the copy. And so at some point, you know, you have to go back to the drawing board and start again. And I think we've done that... and I just think that people don't really... it's very similar to Gish, I don't think people fully understood the band around Gish, and then a few years later, people were like "Wow, what a great album".

WP: Yeah, really.

BC: And I think Adore is going to be that kind of record were not everybody understands it, they're a little confused. In a couple years, it's going to make a lot more sense. And I feel very comfortable with that.


WP: I've got a couple of hard-hitting Barbara Walters type questions for you here...

BC: Sure.

WP: But, ah, you don't have to answer them if you don't want to.

BC: Sure...

WP: The last time I saw you was, ah... we hooked up at the Four Seasons in Washington D.C.

BC: (laughs) Yeah, good place...

WP: (laughs) Yeah, it was nice! Uh.... that was the day before all the horrible stuff happened y'know, with the keyboardist [Note: I think it's time we start refering to him by his real name rather than 'the keyboardist'.] and Jimmy Chamberlin.

BC: (interrupts) Right.

WP: ...eventually leaving the band. Um, has anybody in the band talked to Jimmy, or... what are your feelings on that?

BC: Well, no, we really don't have contact with Jimmy... it's been a very difficult situation for us. I mean, we love Jimmy very much, but, at some point, you know, it was, it was his life or the band's. And we chose him having a better life than the band because (mumbles something).

WP: I got the feeling like it was, in addition to other things, part of something like, uh, "we're doing this for his own good".

BC: That is the basis of everything behind it, I mean... I think his leaving the band put the band in a lot of difficult situations. Y'know, we still have obviously not found a drummer. And um, but, y'know, it's kind of the same thing with the charity tour. At some point you have to choose what's really important in life. And I think that as much as we love music, as much as we love our band, I mean, Jimmy's well-being is much more important to us than the band ever could be. And you know, right now, like taking care of these charities, and promoting good will and compassion for our generation and subsequent generations is much more important to us right now than, you know, making sure that everyone buys our new record.

WP: Yeah, really.

BC: There's other priorities in life, and I think that everybody knows that. And I think that deep down, people respect us for those things.

WP: So you are more like, ah, I mean, there are so many bands out there that treat their bands like a business. You're kinda going back to being just a band now.

BC: That's what we're trying to do; we're trying to make sure that, y'know, in amongst all the acalaides (huh?), you know, sales, all this other stuff, that we don't lose touch with why we play music. We've always been a people band, we love playing concerts, we love playing long concerts. People have always told us: "Your songs are too long, your concerts are too long". Well, it doesn't seem to bother the fans.

WP: No, the ----- is one of my favorite songs of all time. (laughs)

BC: Five minutes and forty-five seconds...

WP: of sheer magic.

BC: Yes, thank you. (pauses) So, I just think that, it's just really weird when you get to a position where your band is so big that people will start telling you what to do based on keeping your band big. And it's a weird thing when you think: my band got big because we're crazy, we're the Pumpkins, we're not, you know, Michael Bolton or something. We're not conservative-a conservative attitude is not why people respect us.

WP: Uh huh.

BC: So this is just an extension of that attitude.

WP: I've got one more hard-hitting question that you don't have to answer.

BC: Sure.

WP: Ah, ah... it involves Courtney Love, do you want to talk about it or not?

BC: No, no, no.

WP: Okay.

BC: I've got nothing else to say on that particular subject.

WP: Alright.

BC: Buy the record. It'll be really good.

WP: Buy the Courtney Love record.

BC: Oh yeah, wait. Buy my record first, thank you. (laughs)

WP: (laughs like a idiot)


WP: How's your new drummer working out for you, Billy? I mean, well, the guy that's touring with you.

BC: Yeah, Kenny, he's amazing. He's fantastic.

WP: Ah, it seems like kind of odd match with him playing with John Mellencamp and stuff before hand.

BC: Right. I mean, he's just a great drummer. And he's a really great groove drummer and that really suits this particular record.

WP: Is it...

BC: (interrupts) I mean, all I can tell is anybody who, you know, maybe hasn't heard us play live yet or hasn't heard anything, bootleg or anything... the shows are, have been fantastic. I don't think we've ever had a new album received as warmly as we have this one. Um. You know, the album's been number one in about ten countries. We've had the most success we've ever had worldwide. Um, and everywhere we go, people are just going crazy and that's pretty much all we're doing is the new album. We have two, you know, we have one drummer, two percussionists and a piano player in addition to me, James and D'arcy.

WP: Wow.

BC: So, it's a big ensemble and, uh, I mean, honestly, it's the best reviews we've ever gotten for concerts. I mean, it's just been incredible.

WP: Really, you seem like, you're kind of going into some sort of happy phase. You know what I'm saying? As far as um, I mean, song writing and, ah, I mean, just your whole life. Is that true?

BC: Right.

WP: Could Billy Corgan be happy?

BC: (sucks in air) Well, the thing about me, you know, being this kind of, ah, demonstrative sad person... I think it's always been overplayed. I think I'm an artist, and I think artistically, I was not only representing my feelings, but representing the feelings of the people around me as well. I think there's a lot of frustration in Generation X. And there's a lot of frustration in Generation Y, if you can call them that.

WP: Uh huh.

BC: I think I was just representing that. And I think I've reached a point in my life where I think: now it's time to represent a different feeling. But those feelings have always been inside me. But people, it's like, you know, people going on about [Marilyn] Manson, y'know, it's the same thing. We're artists. We're just... we're reflecting society back at them. And just because society doesn't want to see it doesn't mean it's not there.

WP: How did you get hooked up with Marilyn Manson, and what exactly have you done with this new album?

BC: Um, I haven't really had that much involvement... I was around, you know, we're friends and I was around him and Twiggy when they were writing the album and I put my two cents in here and there. But my involvement was pretty minimal.

WP: Lemme ask you this. We already covered it a little bit, but why did you guys decide to a full concert tour where you're gonna actually lose a ton of money and do the whole thing for charity? I'm guessing.. My guess is that you had some sort of epiphany or something one night.

BC: No, I think that you just reach a point where you just want to do things different. And being in a band can be very much like a "me, me, me" thing, you know? And at some point, you just have to start taking care of the people that have been taking care of you.


WP: Billy, why did you specifically choose to do a charity event for children?

BC: Because I think that children are like, you know, little seeds you plant in the ground. I think that when you... I know what it's like to have a disruptive childhood and I know the choices that I was faced, faced with when I entered my teen years. All the kind of peer pressure that goes with growing up--drugs, you know, being a deliquent, skipping school...you know, all that stuff. I didn't feel a lot of support around me to make the right choices. And I think a lot of these organizations we're working with are helping people make those right choices, and at the same time, there's other people, they're in a position where they don't have the things that we have. We just did a show in Chicago for this foundation called Make-A-Wish.

WP: Uh huh.

BC: Which, you know, takes care of kids that are dying, you know, are terminal--have cancer, leukemia. And it helps them achieve some wish in their life that they would never get a chance to... whether it's meeting Michael Jordan or meet the Pumpkins, or anything like that, go to a concert...And we just helped that organization. We just wanted to, we just want to say "it's not so hard to do good". You know, things are not like what you see on the Jerry Springer show. That's not the world. The world is a lot better place than it's being made out on t.v.

WP: I've got two more questions and then we're done, I swear to God. Ah, another area of the Pumpkins that is very different from any other band in the universe is your connection to the fans. By the time most bands get as popular as you guys, ah, y'know, they refuse to do interviews, they, uh, certainly refuse to give out backstage passes to meet the band after the show to fans. What keeps you guys grounded, I mean, what is your connection to the fans in that way? Why do interviews? You guys have got a ton of money, and your popularity is definitely not waning.

BC: Right...Well, for example, you know, just talking to you today. It allows some people just to hear what really goes on with the band. I mean, to read some of the stuff that's written about us; I think it really confuses people. You know, like the album for example. You know, the album is going to be techno, the album was going to be acoustic, it was going to this. I think a lot of that stuff confused people. When all we were trying to do was say "we're going to move in a different direction". And if you get down and you really listen to the album, there's a lot of elements in the album that are from, you know... there are elements from 1979, there's elements from Disarm, there's elements of our past work. It's not like we abandoned everything we ever stood for. We just took one part of our music and we took it in a different direction. But you know, the media tries to make a big thing out of it. Just like they're trying to make a big thing out of me and Courtney [Love], they're trying to make a big thing out of me working with [Marilyn] Manson. Everyone has to...

WP: (interrupts) People are bored, Billy!

BC: That's, that's true. And maybe just hearing me in an interview helps people remember, you know, I come from the same streets, you know, I'm not really that different. We've never tried to be different. You know, I think we're a great rock'n'roll band. And I think we're good at pushing buttons. But at the end of the day, we do care, you know, we love our fans, we love you even if you're not a fan, that's cool. You know, there's more to life then whether or not you like my band. But we stand for something, and that's the most important thing to me. And so, if at least people can hear what I stand for, at least maybe there's that kind of respect that comes with somebody that stands for something. You know, I'm not manipulated by my record company. No one tells me what to do. So if you don't like us, you're not liking us because we're being ourselves and that's not the worst thing.

WP: That's cool. Hey, uh, the album is called Adore and it is an incredible album, and if you liked the previous Smashing Pumpkins stuff, you'll still like this album. And if you haven't liked the Smashing Pumpkins for some odd reason, maybe you're insane, go pick up the album because it's completely different.

BC: (laughs) There's no contradiction there!

WP: (laughs) Hey, I'm trying to help! Hey, uh, Billy Corgan, I'm looking forward to seeing you guys on Sunday night, and I really really appreciate you talking to us this morning.

BC: Thanks Will. Good to talk to you.

WP: There you go, Billy Corgan. At 107.5, the Buzz.

Typed by: Emily Mullins

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