Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan is not particularly pleased with the way his musical contemporaries are sliding into old age—he believes touring behind vintage material is symptomatic of putting financial security ahead of artistic growth.
"My point of having a problem with nostalgia acts for the grunge generation is that it subverts the original meaning of grunge, which is rebellion," Corgan tells Fuse. "We need those artists to step up and take on the social issues that are going on right now, and they're choosing an economic model over a socio-political message. So as far as I'm concerned, f**k em—they're lazy or scared."
Corgan offered us an example of what he's railing against. "No better case than Pavement. Complaining about me in the '90s [a lyric from "Range Life" attacked the Smashing Pumpkins], now out doing the greatest hits tour. Why? Ka-ching. Cashing in. Maybe that's why they were obsessed with integrity because they didn't have any."
Now before you cry foul on Corgan—who does play vintage hits in concert these days—listen to his explanation as to why the Pumpkins' approach to their old material is still artistically fresh.
"We play just as many old songs as any other band, and we should," Corgan admits. "I understand people come to the shows and they want to hear those songs. It's just when that becomes the main story [that it's a problem]. If that becomes the story, I'm dead as an artist and there's no future for my band. I'm nothing but a rodeo clown doing the act I did 25 years ago. That's not why I got into this."
Corgan cites Roger Waters' touring resurrection of Pink Floyd's The Wall as a prime example of how to keep classic material relevant.
"I just went to see Roger Waters do The Wall for the second time—that's a work from 1979—and he didn't play but one new song in the entire set. But he's re-contextualized the work to have a modern air. He's talking about everything from Apple to Gulf Wars and all this stuff. He's updated it for modern audiences. That's the same thing that we do. [Our shows are] not a sentimental, 'Let's go back to the old days.' F**k the old days—the old days weren't that great."
To hear Corgan talk about how artists and rockers "can really change sh*t up from the outside" when it comes to government and culture, watch the full video above.