Six burning questions for Billy Corgan
1. In the past two years, you’ve re-engaged with music, once more releasing records and touring as the Smashing Pumpkins. What brought on that change?
I went to spiritual rehab. I had to figure out what was really bothering me because I was taking it out on music, or the crowds, or myself. That’s not the right place for it. There are times where it has a compelling artistic use, but year on year if you’re sour, it wears on you.
2. How would you define your outlook during those dark years?
In the past, I would wake up and all I could think about was how I got f—-ed over, how less-talented people got that show or magazine cover. One day I woke up and realised, ‘I’m in the 0.001 percentile. What am I doing?’ There was just this slow shift to taking control of my own perspective, and I had to let go of certain things.
3. You started pursuing a music career at the age of 17 and now you’re 45. How do you approach your career in 2012?
There was a certain illumination that came in terms of knowing there was a certain amount of years to go, and how did I want to do it? It was very resolved. I had my choices. I chose to get back out there.
4. Two decades ago, the Smashing Pumpkins were integral to the rise of grunge rock. Will we ever see another musical movement that powerful and transformative?
The next Beatles, the next grunge, won’t come from the Western world. It will come from a place that has a comparative innocence about music and the media: India, China, or Saharan Africa. We’ve shot all those bullets, and now those revolutions are happening in electronic music.
5. The Smashing Pumpkins were a very heavy band, in the studio and in concert, but does that interest you now?
Dynamically, we don’t think it has the same visceral impact it once did. How we created emotional detail on [new album] Oceania was to remove some of the heaviness. When we did it in ‘93, you could feel the room go, ”Whoa”, and people would physically react. Now it doesn’t punch them in the sternum like it used to.
6. How is your memoir progressing?
I’m about three-quarters of the way through the first draft, but I keep retooling the language. I’m trying to write a spiritual memoir from the viewpoint of someone who’s had a big life. It’s really hard to go back into parts of your life that are uncomfortable. It’s difficult because I don’t process reality in a normal way.