Billy Corgan on the Smashing Pumpkins: ‘I Think the Fan Base Is Gone’
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal about the band's new 'Monuments to an Elegy' LP, Corgan once again predicted an imminent end to his use of the Pumpkins name, saying, "The next album is like the end, end, end. The trite way to say it is I’m over rock ‘n’ roll." Conceding that it's "strange" for him to feel that way because he perceives the pendulum swinging back toward the Pumpkins being cool again -- as he put it, "rock ‘n’ roll is getting back into me" -- he presented himself as finally at peace with his '90s past. "I think I’m finally at a place where I’m jettisoning all the baggage," he shrugged. "I don’t feel like I have to play certain songs, but I don’t refuse to play them either."
Although Corgan feels like "the depth of my work and the depth of my catalog is just now beginning to be explored in the way it was intended to," he harbors no illusions about what listeners want from the Smashing Pumpkins. "Honestly, I think the fan base is gone," he argued, and when his interviewer pointed out that he was still selling out shows, he retorted, "I would define a fan as someone who explores the depth of the artist’s work, and allows the artist to show you something. It’s not up to the artist to walk you by the hand. I don’t think there are that many of those people who exist. I’d say they’re in the low thousands."
But don't take Corgan's commercial modesty to mean he's feeling at all insecure about his place in the rock pantheon. Days after asserting that he and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain were the "top scribes" of their generation, Corgan appeared on 'The Howard Stern Show,' where he made it clear that he doesn't believe Pearl Jam belong in the same conversation.
"No, not even close," he responded when asked if he'd put Pearl Jam on the list with the Pumpkins and Nirvana. Calling them “absolutely” derivative, he continued, "I think if you stack my songs up, Cobain’s songs up and [Pearl Jam’s] songs, they don’t have the songs."
But even if the next Smashing Pumpkins album does spell "the end" for the creative mantle that made Corgan famous, don't expect him to stop making music. As he told the Journal, "What’s the greatest revenge for me? To come back. Full force. Here’s some great songs. Boom. Guitars? ... Boom, boom, boom. That’s revenge. Why? Because the narrative is that I’m dead. That’s rock ‘n’ roll."
You Think You Know Smashing Pumpkins?
Billy Corgan's and Other Rockers’ Yearbook Photos