Monday, October 22, 2012

The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan on the past, the present, the future and 'Mayonaise'

And in today’s world of pull quotes and de-contextualization, some of his statements — when excerpted from their longer surrounding statements — can make him seem like one of rock’s biggest crybabies.
It’s like how you can look at Picasso’s art and see who he was (sleeping with) at the time, you know.
But instead of painting her, he paints Madonna.
I guess it’s maybe a different kind of soapbox.
A different power to influence, a different power to connect to people.
And I’ve been in that trench for 25 f—ing years, literally saying the same stuff over and over again, and being poked at, made fun of, treated like I’m some sort of weird anachronistic creature, some sort of amoeba to be studied.
It’s about individuality, integrity, but not the guy with the beard’s version of it.
It’s part of the carnivorous process of music and its culture.
For example, I would argue the EDM music scene has reinvented it, so they deserve their props, because they’re doing it.
They haven’t evolved that archetype, they’ve just become more precocious, but without the hits.
And making your money has everything to be with being correct, being a leading edge musical candidate.
‘Oceania’ is a little bit more up and has kind of a little upper modality, and then in the second half we dive into some better known songs, but we tend to take the harder edge of some of that stuff.
We’re playing ‘Disarm,’ ‘Tonight, Tonight,’ ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings,’ ‘Cherub Rock,’ ‘Zero,’ stuff that’s really still invigorating to play. And it seems to flow in a longer narrative.
The best stuff I’ve seen that people have picked up on is it sort of embraces the whole run. It puts its arms around a long story.
So when we put it all together, we were like, ‘is this gonna work?’ Because I had already been running my mouth that we were going to do it, so there was no backing off it.
I know a lot of people are sentimental, say, for ‘Siamese Dream.’ I don’t think that would work as well a musical body of work in that order. And it would only work because of people’s sentimentality for it, which I guess is how other people are doing it.
Which is what’s funny to me when people get sentimental, because if they really wanted to let me do my thing, I could recreate for them a 1993 Smashing Pumpkins show that would be far better and far more interesting than play ‘Siamese Dream,’ but that doesn’t sell tickets.
Maybe that’s what we should do: Maybe that’s my way to trump this bulls— and maybe satisfy a curiosity would be to say, ‘OK, I’m gonna play a 1993 setlist.’ That I could get into, because I’d like to see what we were thinking.
We definitely sequenced ‘Oceania’ to be a concept album kind of flow, so we knew if it had a visual narrative with it it should work, and it did.
I think the Pumpkins, as a business now, is about a tradition.
I have people with me, as are heard on ‘Oceania,’ that are part of that tradition. And they’re upholding a legacy, which is important.
And if you need to connect to a certain part of the legacy a certain way, that’s your choice.
If it doesn’t work for you symbolically, archetypally, or musically, that’s totally fine.
My recent quote that I’ve been saying is we’re like Ringling Bros. Circus. You expect a certain type of show a certain type of sway, and you don’t get too caught up on who the high wire act is this year.
It’s just you expect them to deliver that thing. And if I’m the ringmaster, great, you know what I mean? It’s my deal.
I loved the last Guns N’ Roses album, you know what I mean?
They forget about my dream. Which is to be a musician in a band with people who actually want to be there with me. Let’s not forget about that end of the dream.
there’s a 53-minute concert that was edited from 3-hour-plus concert from London. The record company lost the tapes. We were going to go back and put out the entire 3-hour concert and the record company lost the tapes.
So we only have this edited-for-TV 53-minute version that was produced at the time.
We’re four or five regime changes at EMI/Virgin from who used to be there, so you can’t find anybody who remembers anything.
It’s been very arduous to go through everything. So it’s very satisfying to put together a cool little window into what it would have been like to be part of the working team for ‘Mellon Collie’ at the time.
With these reissues I’ve just tried to create windows into how the albums were made, and what was laying around around the albums, so you get the sense of the culture of that particular period.
On the reissue plan going forward: “Once we clear the Pumpkins’ first era, then I have about 65 unreleased Zwan songs, I have a ton of unreleased stuff relating to my solo album ‘The Future Embrace,’ and then there’s a ton of ‘Zeitgeist’ demos, probably songs I should have put on the album, that are pretty interesting and well-done.
Also I have two unreleased acoustic records, plus an unreleased acoustic soundtrack — three albums worth of acoustic albums from the mid-2000s that are totally unreleased.
On the reissue of Machina/ The Machines of God:“We’re going to remix the whole album, ‘Machina I’ and ‘Machina II,’ and put it back in its proper sequence, so it will finally be heard like the concept record it was meant to be.
There was supposed to be a whole rock suite where you symbolically go to see the Machines of God in concert, so songs like ‘Everlasting Gaze’ were supposed flow into ‘Dross.’
There’s supposed to be this fictional rock and roll concert that happens within the album, whether or not I’ll do the crowd noise and all the stuff I’d planned on doing, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll make it sound like Kiss’ Alive I or something.
It’s hard to (pick one song), but I think there’s a message you would hope to send that says, ‘this is more me than the others,’ and I think a song like ‘With Every Light’ (from ‘Machina/ the Machines of God’) is a song that would be alright to play at my funeral, because there’s an honesty there that most people just glossed over.
I sing that song every night to warm up, and I still really connect with what those lyrics meant.
It’s about a spiritual epiphany.
It’s about realizing you’re in a tradition that’s far deeper than fame, and that’s kind of what holds you to it.
I’m sure every night in John Lee Hooker’s life wasn’t so great. But he was steeped in the tradition of the blues, and am I whore, am I a poet or am I a folk musician, you know what I mean?
All this other bulls— just kind of goes with the times. But that’s a song I think I would be alright with being part of what will be played at my funeral. It really expresses how I feel.

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