June 21, 2012


Billy Corgan: "I Didn't Forget How to Make Commercial Rock"

As fans of the Smashing Pumpkins know very, very, very well, Billy Corgan doesn't regurgitate press release soundbites during interviews—the alt-rock giant speaks his mind with incisive candor. So when Fuse sat down with Corgan to talk about the Pumpkins' new album Oceania—what some critics are calling the band's best album since the 1990s—he offered up some insightful, rabble-rousing commentary on the music industry today.

"All these bands [are] touring on their old albums and everyone saying it's great. No, it's not f**king great, it's terrible for the business overall," Corgan tells us. "It actually diminishes the power of young artists, because how are they going to compete with their one song against the classic album? It's [old artists] clutching the edge. Nobody wants to fall into the abyss, but Smashing Pumpkins, we decided to fall into the abyss. The phoenix aspect of Oceania exists because we were willing to fall into the abyss and walk away from the easy part of the business."

Corgan explains why the revamped Pumpkins aren't willing to desperately rehash the sounds of their heyday. "When you have a band that has a legacy, people automatically assume [new material] is going to sound like what they're familiar with. But then you're competing with their memory—and when you're competing with a memory you can never win." Fair point.

"People assume I forgot how to make commercial music or mainstream rock n' roll," Corgan says. "I never forgot. I pioneered some of the things that still exist, that people still use in alternative radio, as far as how they make their singles and the sounds they use. I didn't hit my head and forget all those things: I just didn't feel like doing those things because I didn't see where it was really working. Once I had enough information to bring something new to the table, that's what we did [with Oceania]."

For the full interview with Corgan, including his explanation as to why the Teargarden for Kaleidyscope project could end up being 60 songs, click the video above.