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Interviewer:In the last interview that we did, you said an interesting thing. You said :"We're really committed to trying to push the perimeters of rock. The goal of the band has never been to be a big band. And if you're amazing , then you will be big." Well, now it seems that you're an international phenomenon. From Gish to Siamese Dream to Mellon Collie, you've gone through quite a lot of transitions, and I'm primarily interested in what's been going through your mind in the last three years since we last met.

BC: Yeah . I don't know.(pauses). Well, the first thing that came to mind when you said that was if we're not the best band - because there are so many different criteria for what is the best band - we feel like we *are* one of the best bands. Just because we try to tackle new territory, we are ourselves, and those kinds of things. But the world right now is so infatuated with bands that have the ability to write three-minute pop songs regardless of where they're coming from, whether they're ripping it off or copying, that it's a weird world to live in right now.

So, on one hand, we're extremely appreciative of the success that we've had and we like we're doing exactly what we were meant to do, but at the same time there's a fatigue factor in having to constantly sell yourself. You know, it's like, how may times can you say, "Don't you understand we're the Smashing Pumpkins?" I mean at some point you get tired of hearing yourself say that.

It's like, here we are, sitting here with Oasis (points to back issue of BigO with Oasis on the cover). And I actually think that Oasis is a very good band, but when people seem to be fixating on something like that, it gets kind of disheartening and you really start to question why you bother doing it. It certainly strengthens your resolve for why we are who we are. We long ago decided we are what we continue to be, whatever that is. If that makes any sense.

I: Well, it's ironic, don't you think, that Time magazine, of all people, voted Mellon Collie its Album of the Year for 1995?

BC: It's certainly valid at some level. The other thing we found ironic was that we didn't get many critics' polls, but we basically won every readers' poll. That, to us, speaks more than the critics' polls because that's who's really listening. It's an amazing thing because we're in a unique position, which is we're a band that has enormous popularity and a really strong core audience but doesn't have necessarily the public personas to match. I think we've taken on an unpopular artistic realm, which is almost more of a people's realm.

It's an interesting position to be in, because we never can quite fit in one place. One day we're playing to all those people and it's amazing experience, and the next day you're arguing with somebody because they don't believe you're big enough to be on the cover of their magazine. So you're constantly dealing with the perception of what you are and what you're not. It's a pretty wild life.

I: In terms of your own perception of what success is, how successful do you feel now? Would you say that you are indeed successful? Or would you say you still have a ways to go?

BC: I think the band can still go further. I don't think we've reached everybody that we're capable of reaching yet.

I: Will you know where that point is when you've reached it?

BC: I think we'll know when people stop asking us where we're going (laughs). I'm being snide.

I: You're very good at that. (Billy laughs). Well, let's try this one. You recently inducted Pink Floyd in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Now, what's your recollection of that event?

BC: I don't know whose decision it was to ask me. But I thought it was kinda cool. I'm a Pink Floyd fan, and I think pretty much we are, the whole band, are. They got respect without hit songs. I mean hit singles. Well, they obviously had the biggest selling album of all time (Dark Side of the Moon) but you don't think of singles when you think of Pink Floyd. You think of albums and pigs.

I: I didn't think Mellon Collie was going to have a single like 1979 when I first heard about it. Do you know what I mean?

BC: Yeah. Well, I knew going in that it would have to have singles or it wouldn't sell. I knew it wouldn't sell n the sheer force of it being a double album. I knew that having singles was a way to get people to listen to the entire album.

I: Which brings me to my next point. You seem very shrewd at looking at the marketing angle and the way that you have to sell the band as a business and not just as a musical entity. Am I correct?

BC: Yeah. You're correct, but it's something I don't really like. It's a part of the business that I hate to even have to think about. The necessary evil is we're a pain in the ass. We're a pain in the ass to describe, we're a pain in the ass to talk to, we're so specific and distinctive that it causes a lot of problems. So we have to use whatever tools or whatever access we have to make connections.

I: I wondered about that when I heard BWBW, in which you write " Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage"

BC: Yeah.

I: Was that informed by any particular incident?

BC: Can you say Lollapalooza?(we all laugh) I mean, I'm not blaming Lollapalooza but the thing is this : Your own ambition puts you in a situation where you think " I'm finally getting what I want" And then you get what you want, and you realize that you're not really equipped to completely deal with it. Then you have to fight all those feelings. And then it just became a larger parable for life, you know, like you have a some shit job and you hate it and you want to kill everyone but you never say it.

I: But Lollapalooza is a symbol of where this generation is at, in terms of mass marketing of alternative music.

BC: And the kids solidify it. They come thinking it's supposed to be some kind of entertainment package. They're not being educated because there's nothing to educate them, to say "This is alternative music," Head to toe. Basically, it's alternative music but it could be anybody. I mean, yeah, they got the piercing booth but the fact of the matter is it that's where you can really make your point. But I don't think people are intent on making that point. We seem to be the only ones.

I: Well, you also said in an interview with Vox magazine in England, and I quote you :"You could ask' Is it worth preaching to the converted?' and my answer is 'Yes', because if the converted are willing to go with you, you can take them further and further. When I was in high school, two of my favorite bands were R.E.M and U2, and I felt that U2 moved more towards their audience, whereas R.E.M continued to lead theirs and see who followed. That's what I'm more concerned with doing, and I need to find the confidence in myself to push further out. " Now, isn't Lollapalooza a vehicle for doing that because, in that sense, you are preaching to the converted?

BC: Right, but we've met with a lot of resistance. A lot of kids, they didn't get it. Because it sure wasn't like what they'd seen on MTV. I mean, it's cool. I don't know if it's like I'm getting older or what, but I'm just much more accepting of things in the sense of it's the way that it is. And it's not a matter of right or wrong. It's just a matter of, like, all you can do is meet people with intelligence and strength and heart. That's what we bring. And, hopefully, in the end that wins. We're going to lose some of the battles but, you know, if I had to make a choice between being today's sensation and being a band that people will respect 20 years from now for being a real band, I think I'd rather be the band that gets the respect in the end.

I: Do you have a fear of being misunderstood?

BC: (chuckles) It's a fear that manifests itself daily. My whole thing is , really, I come up like a curmudgeon but the fact of the matter is I really care. I really care. I really want these kids to have a good life, a good time, and I want them to know that it's important. It's not dismissable. We have a relationship and a responsibility to out audience beyond the fact that it facilitates us being assholes or rock stars. And by taking that responsibility, we open ourselves up to criticism and whatever, but deep down, I mean, we're really good people. We just want everybody to have a good time.

But we won't compromise who we are to do that, you know. That's what I'm saying. I mean, there are people that you would hate up and down, but at least you respect them because they believe in what they believe in. And I think there are too many people these days who waffle back and forth due to public opinion or what's politically correct. Meanwhile, they're in their bedroom mumbling racist comments. You know what I mean? So, whatever, you know. At least we're real, and we gain and lose for being that.

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