Hello. I am Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins.
Our new album, Monuments to an Elegy, is released today on iTunes, on Amazon and on Google Play.
Victoria’s helping me out today in rainy NYC. I’m enjoying a nice cup of tea.
Update: I loved these questions.
Because they were questions for a human being. And as a human being, I don’t mind talking about it.
And I hope everyone gets a chance to check out the new album that is out today. We are super-super proud of it, and when people say it’s the best album in years, they’re not lying.
The song 1979 absolutely transports me back to the happiest time in my life. Was that song based on an actual experience you had? Do you remember how that song came to you?
Sometimes I write a song from a particular sense-memory.
And 1979 came from a memory where I was sitting at a traffic light on a rainy day, and that’s all I remember.
Do you have to force yourself to write one way over the other or do that drastically different music styles naturally come to you?
I’m blessed in that when it comes to music, i don’t have to try too hard.
Where is your favorite place in the world to be?
Do you play video games? What do you do to switch off? Read? Meditate?
I did. I stopped, because i don’t have time. And I’m an obsessive gamer, so once I get going, I can’t stop.
How in the hell did you get the Twitter handle @Billy? That seems like witchcraft.
Very long story.
But basically, somebody was squatting on my name, and through that, Twitter offered me @Billy.
What was the best and worst part about being on the Howard Stern Show today?
There’s no worst with Howard.
He’s the best in the business.
A fantastic and incisive interviewer.
And the best thing is he loves music.
Would you consider nostalgia to be a good or bad thing?
Nostalgia is a beautiful thing.
Under the right circumstances.
And what I mean by that is we all should celebrate moments that last. My problem is when those moments last and last and last and last and last…to the point of a kind of sickness.
What do you use to keep your head so smooth?
That’s my answer.
Favorite wrestler of all time or currently?
What is a dream collaboration of yours that hasn’t happened yet?
stares out window
I would be thrilled to work with Ritchie Blackmore.
What happened to the Official Forum on smashingpumpkins.com? Why is it closed?
Ultimately, most forums descend into negativity.
And it is very hard as a business owner to basically support a culture which is inherently counter-intuitive to the business that you’re running.
And because many fans who are informed and obviously intelligent weren’t happy about a lot of the music-making in a particular period, it got to the point where I just didn’t feel like supporting what could easily be done for free somewhere else.
What’s the new album’s cover art suppose to be?
I’m sorry I can’t explain this to you.
The mystery is the mystery.
Was there a pivotal moment when you were growing up where you realised just how much you wanted to be a musician?
There was that moment.
I saw a friend of mine playing a guitar, and knew in that instant that that’s what I wanted to do.
I was about 14.
My co-workers and I had a HEATED debate this morning about how much the crowd’s reaction matters to YOU in terms of singing along to your newest songs. Do you like to be energized by the crowd studying up on your lyrics and singing the new songs? Or do you feel that it’s too early to expect people to know the songs on the newest album.
Someone asked about how much it meant to have the crowd sing along with my newest music at a concert, and how their coworkers were debating whether it didn’t matter to me and it was just about me doing the show and getting paid:
Your coworkers’ cynicism is endemic of the culture’s cynicism.
To assume that “what I get paid” has any influence on my emotional experience shows that they do not understand the path of an artist.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the last 7 years has been the assumption that i have made music that is not worth listening to.
And so, nothing thrills me more than seeing a young crowd react to new Pumpkins music.
What’s your ideal breakfast?
Unfortunately, because I’m gluten free, and dairy free, I can’t eat most mornings what I’d like to have, which would be a big stack of pancakes. With maple syrup.
What’s your favourite kind of tea?
I will admit to drinking Coca Tea in the Andes.
Which I suppose is illegal here in the US. But there is readily available. And helps deal with altitude sickness.
It tasted kind of earthen. You basically get kind of a mild stimulant buzz, cuz it’s the Coca leaf you know?
You have so much Zwan material that was never released officially, do you have any plans to ever release any of that stuff? Studio or live?
Yes. There are about 65 unreleased Zwan songs.
And again, have had some discussions with BMG about maybe putting out some sort of boxset at some point.
Rotten Apples is one of my favorite songs of yours, rarely played live and recorded only once as a demo. I think it’s one of your best lyrics. Do you regret not putting the song on Mellon Collie?
The process of song selection is a mercurial one. And it’s easy to look back and say “This one should’ve gone on and this one shouldn’t.”
In the case of Rotten Apples, I’m not sure it would’ve made MCIS a better album. And the version that you like so much is a home demo that I did in about an hour, which happened to be the same hour that I wrote the song.
What’s your favorite recent music?
I’ve been praising Phantogram’s single “So in Love” – to me, this is the song of the year.
How excited are you for the new Star Wars movie?
I’m very excited.
I have a feeling that these new series of movies (particularly because of the technology that is available now) will finally realize the vision that George Lucas must’ve had when he began.
What would you say is the best part of being a musician and why do you like it so much?
Being a musician is a shit job because by and large, it is a vastly under appreciated skill (as many struggling musicians can attest to).
What do you do in your spare time?
Honestly, I work on artistic endeavors between 80-100 hours a week. So there is very little downtime.
And when there is, I either read (which is a form of research) or I watch old movies (which is a different form of research). So you can say I’m always working.
How did you develop those long Silverfuck jams? What was the thought process behind it?
Um, back in the day, with SP, we felt we never had a song that was good enough to finish the show. So we started this idea of a song called “Silverfuck,” but the song would always change, so in essence, we would never know where the song was going, nor would the audience, so over time we developed different themes and feelings to create what is in essence a living song.
What is shortest and the longest amount of time it has taken you to write one song?
5 minutes. And 5 months.
How old were you when you wrote your first song?
Smashing Pumpkins are deservedly eligible for the Hall of Fame. If you get in, do you foresee James and D’arcy also attending?
I don’t assume that that would ever happen.
So speculating on how it would all go down, if it did, seems kind of strange to me.
How often do fans show you their SP inspired ink? What was it like the first time you saw one?
Almost every day.
And it still freaks me out!
Any plan to release the Chicago Kid album and the Spun Soundtrack? Maybe it could be done through ZuZu?
Yes, and yes.
Although I have had discussions with the current label BMG about re-issuing the remainder of my catalogue.
You stated last year that you were working with Gibson on a signature guitar. Is it still in the works and what body style is it?
After initial conversations, they never called me back.
As a young musician, I face a lot of self-doubt at times, even though I believe in what I’m doing, the task ahead (trying to be successful whilst maintaining integrity and doing what I want) can seem daunting. You’ve spoken about this to a certain extent, any advice for a young guy who tends to get in his own way creatively?
Ultimately, success in any field is only going to come if you’re original.
Imitation serves no one long term.
So where you have doubt, understand that that’s the thing you must overcome to make your OWN music. Your own meaning possessive, as in music only you can make.
How are your cats, Billy?
My cats are riding a wave of popularity, thanks to the dubious character assassinations of one Anderson Cooper.
AND they want him to know they are available to appear on-camera at any time to refute his character assassinations.
Do you have any kind of mantra you use to get through daily life?
That there is divine justice in the universe. And so where you see that which bothers you, you can know that somewhere, there is an organizing principle that will sort that out.