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Tuning in with Thomas Conner

What's Billy thinking, part six: Why he's still smashing the Pumpkins (and a whole lot more)

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The Great Pumpkin has posted a long (more than 2,000 words) screed that could well be considered a manifesto on the band's official Web site. It seems designed, in part, to answer some of the many questions his fans have been posing of late (though there's nothing about tortured chickens, Ticketmaster/Live Nation, or porn stars).

Some choice excerpts follow the jump, though it's worth reading in its entirety.

I'm going to step right into the heat of the matter now and address the infamous 'why?' question. The why being 'why' I have chosen to continue on under the Smashing Pumpkins banner considering I am the only remaining original member? The simple answer is that when I decided to write and record again under the name The Smashing Pumpkins in 2005, I committed myself 100 pct. 100pct of my mind-body-soul to come back and make the band really be great again, and I feel in tune to SP in a way I haven't felt in tune probably since 1995 or 1996. As they say in No Limit Poker, I'm 'all in'. I'm not going to back out of the challenge in front of me now. I'm absolutely exhilarated by what I see and feel the future to be for SP. There is a difference in how I think and approach a body of work for the Pumpkins then say I would as a solo artist or under any other name. Being the near lone songwriter for the Pumpkins has always made me want to put all the diverse harmonic fragments in my mind together, and it has been an incredible musical journey so far to keep trying to match up to the size of that idea. I truly am not focused on where I've been now as much as where I am going, and I haven't felt that way for a very long time.

I appreciate that for many fans, the public part of my musical journey has often been quite confusing. I've tried to explain many times in both public and private venues that it's really not so different than a character on tv who embodies the role they are in. I don't think there is anything inauthentic about my play-acting within those created personas (zero, the whyte spider, the sad guy, the vampyre, etc) and acting them out on the grand stage in front of the glare of whoever cares. That to me IS what rock and roll is about. But many lack the sophistication to appreciate that just because I play a baby-faced killa upon the darkened stage that it doesn't come close to who I really am. I would point very gently to the diversity and complexity of my artistic work to give you some sense of who Billy Corgan really is (that is a joking 3rd person by the way). Part-alien, part-human, part-robot, part-star-crossed lover and part-mercury filled apparently if one was to read the songs in that way. I am a sensitive soul and I make no apologies for that. As Popeye said, "I yam who I yam". Or in my case maybe it's "I am who I ain't." ...

So let's get down to business and talk about what the plans are ahead. First up is/are the drum tryouts on the 14th/April. We've received a staggering amount of submissions so far (over 1,000!), so let me say to everyone who has submitted thank you and God Bless you for having the courage to throw your name out there. The auditions on the 14th are just the first round of trying people out. There is no 'hurry' at the moment, as I'm not quite ready to record yet, and it's possible I may need more than one drummer for what my plans are. So for someone who may think they would never get a chance there is still time in the months ahead to keep trying. I view it as a process to find the right person(s) and it's important that the right consideration is given. Jeff and I will be holding the first round of auditions, with me on bass (lookout!). ...

I want to be quite candid here and say some things I don't think I've ever shared. For many years I've been really unhappy with the stupidity of the music business (that's no secret!). But now I am free from corporate meddling. No contracts, no deadlines to meet, nothing but rainbows ha ha... My wish is that from this day forward this group will represent nothing but love and light. If you see BC out there griping, it is only because I have failed to set the proper conditions to be in the love and light with you. The fan is NOT responsible in any way, shape, or form for my happiness or the my ability to do my job. (Nor have they ever been) If I have given that impression to any of you through the years I am sorry about that. That was an error on my part. When a fan comes to an SP show we owe it to you to put on the best show possible, rain or shine. I believe the days of standing on a stage somewhere in the world feeling torn about why I am up there are over. SP will be about peace from this day forward as well. The music WILL also reflect this shift in devotion and humble gratitude. You shall see!

I would like to end by saying thank you to those who pray for me, and send me well wishes and support. It means a lot to me that there are fans out there who see me as the humble human I truly am. Public life is a brutal, weird game that I have chosen to play for my own convoluted reasons my OWN way. I wish it was as simple as being about the trappings normally associated with fame! If only life were so simple. But it ain't...but that too shall change. SP can and will represent a new kind of way of connecting my music with you in a way that leaves both parties feeling better for it. You have my personal promise on that.

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5 Comments

I just can't stay away... It's like watching (or, more accurately, reading about and listening to) the wreck of a chicken-carrying train, flaming feathers flying everywhere, eggs smashed all around, that "buck-buck-BUCKAW!" sound seeming to come from every direction at once, and the faint smell of a Dominick's rotisserie emanating from the tracks.

So now, may I present, The Annotated Billy Corgan Smashing Pumpkins 2009 Update! Cheers, Applause

[M]y pals are helping me with some TLC to zero-in on the new direction that I'm trying to take the music.

So... Billy's going pseudo-pop-R&B now? What, is the replacement for Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes?

I often rush headlong into my next album without really taking the time to reflect on what I've just done[.]

Mr. Bill, that's why we liked your earlier stuff. You put the hooklessness of songs like "Rocket" behind you and focused on making bad-ass pop-rock songs emulating The Wall, and you actually outdid it. If that's what you do when you're not reflecting, I think there are a lot of us who'd prefer you not to reflect. Ever.

Right now we are just focused on about 5 or 6 songs [...] to build this large multimedia project I have in mind.

Okay, admittedly, that could be pretty cool. But it depends where you take it. Are we talking the realm of Alice Cooper/Pink Floyd, or of U2/Britney Spears?

[W]hen I decided to write and record again under the name The Smashing Pumpkins in 2005, I committed myself 100 pct.

...and you couldn't dedicate yourself "100 pct." under a less-known moniker?

There is a difference in how I think and approach a body of work for the Pumpkins then say I would as a solo artist or under any other name.

Exactly: With the Smashing Pumpkins, people know who the f*** you are.

I truly am not focused on where I've been now as much as where I am going[.]

What happened to "taking the time to reflect on what I've just done?"

[I]t's really not so different than a character on tv who embodies the role they are in [...] That to me IS what rock and roll is about.

No, Billy, rock and roll is first and foremost about making MUSIC, not acting. If you want to act, go be an actor. Lots of musicians do it. Folks like Mos Def and Meat Loaf are actually pretty good at it (interestingly, both have guest-starred on House recently; you should do the same, give Dr. House a challenge for Biggest Ego of the Week).

It's also just a name, THE Smashing Pumpkins[.]

Sorta like THE Who or THE Velvet Underground, right? But Billy... look at what a laughingstock the Who have become. And as for the Velvets... well Doug Yule tried to keep the band alive for an atrocious fifth album -- how'd that work out? (And yet, it was still better than Zeitgeist.)

[T]here are new songs, questionable decisions, abject failures, and unique triumphs to dissect over and over.

Okay, I'll grant you part of that; but Billy, where are the triumphs? The reason I liked your band was because the songs kicked ass. I don't think it's asking a lot for you to just make good music. I don't care what the hell you call it. It could be Bunny Foo-Foo Rocket Spacemonkey Whores from the Planet Galgamegatron, and if the songs are good, I'd listen to it. Since resurrecting the Smashing Pumpkins moniker, though, the songs -- and the performances -- have just sucked. Stop sucking, and I'll stop criticizing you for bringing the name back.

My desire at this point would be to release one song at a time, over a period of 2-3 years, with it all adding up to a box set/album of sorts that would also include an art movie of the album. (Sounds like a lot of work, don't it??)

No, it sounds like what the Flaming Lips spent the last decade doing. Way to be original.

[I]f I focus on one song at a time I would approach them as beautiful, distinct paintings that would each require the attention they deserve.

So... Is Reprise gonna be down with that? Or are you planning to pull a Radiohead and bypass the label entirely? 'Cause if you did the latter, I'd actually be pretty impressed. After your total sell-outage to Live Nation, though, I'm not holding my breath.

Many of the old indie-world values that people throw about without context were BS back in the day[.]

Yeah, many were. But the ones about fighting big entities that try to put a stranglehold on live music and end up screwing both local businesses and music fans were the good ones, dude. Those are values worth having. I'm so sorry to find you disagree and think that Big Corporate Entities SHOULD get to dictate who we can see live and when, rather than that being in the hands of the bands, the local businesses, and the fans.

But now I am free from corporate meddling.

Except for meddling by Live Nation.

When a fan comes to an SP show we owe it to you to put on the best show possible, rain or shine.

Well, then, you owe me, and a lot of other people, a makeup show for the crapfest you put on your last time through.

I wish it was as simple as being about the trappings normally associated with fame! If only life were so simple.

Uh-huh...

To those who are still reading, thanks a lot for doing so. I also thank Jim for his willingness to post this, since I don't have the time nor patience to keep up a blog of my own (maybe someday, when I don't have almost 10,000 words on Kerouac to write...). The reason I've done this is simple: I love Billy Corgan; I also despise him. It's a very complicated relationship (to which, granted, he's never been a knowing party). But as someone who lived and died by the Smashing Pumpkins from third grade to nearly the end of high school, I feel like I've got a vested interest in this band, and I always will, no matter how much they fall apart.

Oh, and "1979" is still one of the greatest songs ever written.

Brendan, you're on a roll! So how about taking a shot of deciphering this: "Public life is a brutal, weird game that I have chosen to play for my own convoluted reasons my OWN way. I wish it was as simple as being about the trappings normally associated with fame! If only life were so simple. But it ain't...but that too shall change."

????

:-)

Bunny Foo-Foo Rocket Spacemonkey Whores from the Planet Galgamegatron - That is the bomb!

So how long until D'arcy, Iha and Chamberlin form a group under some Pumpkin derived moniker?

I have seen a wide range of shows in my life being stage security at a large venue throughout college. I was at a recent Smashing Pumpkins show and can honestly say it was in the top 3 shows i have seen. I dont understand how people can say the recent shows were terrible, did they not play the song you wanted? The new songs were amazing especially the harder ones. This new project from the pumpkins (billy) sounds great.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on April 9, 2009 7:08 PM.

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