View Full Version : New Article on Billy--Chicago Tribune


Cherub Angel
04-24-2005, 12:00 PM
Billy Corgan comes clean, starts over

By Greg Kot
Tribune music critic
Published April 24, 2005

Billy Corgan sits in the back yard of a suburban mansion befitting a rock star, squints into the noonday sun and talks about death.

He is matter-of-factly responding to a question about his workaholic personality, a trait that is at the core of both his considerable successes and his equally epic failures. In the pantheon of Chicago rock artists, few have sold more records (more than 25 million), achieved more critical acclaim (albums such as "Siamese Dream" are routinely cited as benchmarks for '90s alternative rock) or become a bigger lightning rod for criticism ("What would my musical legacy be if I kept my mouth shut?" he muses at one point).

So what's left to accomplish? Corgan answers as if he's running out of time.

"I'm a religious person, and when God decides to push me off a cliff, I don't want to think as I'm going over that I didn't try hard." He offers this explanation at the outset of a conversation a few days ago in which he will also discuss the painful demise of his previous bands, the Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan, and the need to start fresh on his first solo album, "The Future Embrace" (Reprise), due out June 21.

More than an hour into the conversation, Corgan circles back to the same subject. He has already unburdened himself about many things: His attitude toward old bandmates, abusive family members and his reputation as a prima-donna musical dictator. He is doing more unburdening in a blog-like autobiography he is self-publishing on his Web site, billycorgan.com. Names are named, injustices revealed, scores settled. Corgan spares no one, including himself.

"There is a point to making a public confession," he says. "Why wait? I could die tomorrow."

It's disconcerting to hear the 38-year-old artist talk this way. He had a complex relationship with Kurt Cobain, who killed himself in 1994. And Corgan has acknowledged that he contemplated suicide at the height of Pumpkins mania. But Corgan isn't on some goth-rock death trip. He says his health is good, his spirits high, and he looks it.

"I'm just a realist," he says. "A kid e-mailed me last night because he appreciated the blog I was writing. He told me a story how he was at somebody's house when he was growing up, and a guy was showing off a shotgun and pointing it at another kid's head. The kid tried to brush it away, but the gun went off and the kid's head got blown off in front of his friends. That ended their childhood."

But the story doesn't end there. The e-mailer tells Corgan he isn't a Pumpkins fan, but that his late friend loved the Pumpkins' song "1979."

"A few years later, he heard `1979' and it reconnected him to that friend, it healed something in him," Corgan says. "That's why we love rock 'n' roll. Beyond the record sales and major labels and Clear Channels, there is that moment when the music connects, and it's very powerful. It's modern alchemy. I want to keep doing that. That's why it's important for me as an artist to clear the decks."

Corgan's deck-clearing has brought him into the third phase of a career that *******s a 13-year tenure as the singer, guitarist and driving force in one of the best-selling bands of the alternative-rock era, the Smashing Pumpkins, with drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, guitarist James Iha and bassist D'Arcy Wretzky. After the Pumpkins fell apart, he and Chamberlin put together the ill-fated guitar-rock quintet Zwan, which imploded in 2003 after recording only one album. As a solo artist, he has dabbled in folk songs loosely arranged around a "Chicago" theme (debuted last year at a one-off concert at Metro), a book of poetry ("Blinking With Fists," published last year), and now "The Future Embrace."

The album is a strangely beautiful electro-rock detour from the massed guitars of the Pumpkins and Zwan; it suggests what the Pumpkins' most-misunderstood album, "Adore" (1998), might've sounded like had Corgan pursued the possibilities suggested by two of its most alluringly personal songs, "To Sheila" and "Shame."

Corgan nods in recognition. "Those were the broken, drive-by moments on `Adore,' and they couldn't be sustained," he says. "We were in the right mood at the right time on the right day, and those songs appeared. On any other day, those songs wouldn't have happened, because making that album was a nightmare. This is the record `Adore' might've been if I had known what I was doing."

The drama drives Corgan as much as it bedevils him. As the interview continues, he acknowledges that sometimes he has been his own worst enemy.

Q. You pulled the plug on Zwan just before you were supposed to tour Europe in 2003, only a few months after your only album came out. Why?

A. It was devastating because I had invested two years of energy setting it up. I didn't want to start over again. But it was a disaster waiting to happen, worse than the Pumpkins. If you come out of something very painful, your natural reaction is I'm not going to do that again. And you wake up, and realize, not only am I doing that again, but it's worse. It's not even as good a band as the Pumpkins were. The record company turned it into a simple explanation: The record didn't sell, so Corgan got pissed off and went home. But the problems got started while the record was being made, and success would've only covered it up. Jimmy [Chamberlin] and I talk often, and we both thank God that it was not successful. Because if it had been, we would have been locked into it longer, and the atom-bomb potential would have been bigger.

Q. You had problems with the other band members [Matt Sweeney, David Pajo, Paz Lenchantin]?

A. The music wasn't the big problem, it was more their attitude: `Why do we have to practice? I'd rather be hanging out at the Rainbo.' Lifestyle stuff. And then you get into what I would call cataclysmic behavioral stuff. Sex acts between band members in public. People carrying drugs across borders. Pajo sleeping with the producer's girlfriend while we were making the record. I just tried to do what I've always done, which is to patch it up and roll it out. You go into a denial state. I got snookered in by really bad people. It's embarrassing to me. But it wised me up to why I play, and who I love, and it made me appreciate my old band even more.

Q. How was making `The Future Embrace' different?

A. Everybody in the studio [primarily co-producers Harris and Bjorn Thorsrud, as well as Brian Liesegang, Matt Walker and Chamberlin] worked as hard as me. There is no conflict. Even if they didn't always produce the results that I envisioned, I knew they were trying. As long as you try, I have tons of patience.

Q. Did you consciously move away from making a guitar-based rock record?

A. I had a mantra: "I just want it to be exciting." I already know how to make alternative guitar rock. So how do I make something new that's exciting? I looked at different periods of music, examined the transitional points where new things come in. The first reaction is, "What the hell is this?" The next reaction is, "Oh, that's kind of interesting." And the third reaction is, everybody wants to do it. Whether I've done that, I don't know. But I wanted to do something where people didn't instantly say, "Oh, that's great!" Because you're probably backdated already. The audience is not necessarily sophisticated enough to always be on the tipping point. And that's not their fault. That's why they pay you the big bucks. You're supposed to be on the tipping point. But new rock 'n' roll tells you to stay in the warm part of the circle, don't go too far out, make sure the choruses are loud, and the verses are mournful and down, i.e., what you used to do.

Q. So you had no preconceived notions about how to make this album?

A. None. I knew what the big pitfall was. You have an intellectual concept of what you want to do, which is exciting. You go to record, but you run out of gas and don't know where you are. When you're in a band, when you get lost, you go back to that sound. This kind of music, if you get lost, you can spin off into infinity, because there are too many possibilities. I needed to find the core elements of the sound, so that if we got lost, we'd have a backup. It took time. It was like starting over in the Pumpkins. There was a lot of back and forth, a lot of false starts, but once it got into focus [snaps fingers]. We built the sound on very simple drums, innovative voicing of the chords, space, and rhythmic dynamics, a la disco, for lack of a better way to put it, or James Brown.

Q. What if nobody cares?

A. A record succeeds on two different levels. It can be liked, loved, pored over, and in some cases it sells. I want it to sell, but I would much rather have people appreciate it. After "Siamese Dream" (1993), "Adore" is the most talked about record the Pumpkins ever made, and that was a disaster when it came out. It about killed my band, and it about killed me. This time I believe I made a really strong record. The fact that somebody might not get it today, I can deal with that. I believe this record has enough juice that people will find it eventually.

Q. You're asking a lot of a short-attention span culture.

A. Well, it's the shortest record I've made since the first one. I don't feel 46 minutes of music is too much to ask of anybody.

Q. Why are you addressing your past now on your Web site?

A. I still live there. I'm not in the Smashing Pumpkins right now, but for me it's an everyday thing, I'm still wrestling with that. Every day I think about, "Where's D'Arcy? Is she OK?" and [exasperated voice] "Frigging James [Iha]." Jimmy [Chamberlin] and I still talk twice a week. The bonds are still there. There is also a lot of [domestic] abuse in my past. Hostile, reactive, self-abusive behavior. People from the outside would look at me, and say, "What's his problem? Why's he such a jerk?" I feel if I tell the whole story, most people will understand why I did what I did. A child protects his parents from what they're doing to the child because he thinks he can fix the parents. It applies to families, bands, relationships. It's taken me 30 years to realize that doesn't work. Telling the truth will open me to criticism that I haven't been open to before. But it will release the black ball that has been sitting in my stomach.

Q. Your bands have imploded. How will you present this music in concert?

A. All options are open. If D'Arcy called me tomorrow and said, "I love you, I've made some mistakes, I figured some things out," I'd be the first guy on the plane to see her. But who knows? I may do some performance . . . thing.

Q. That's pretty vague.

A. Very.

Q. You could come out in a tutu.

A. I may play saxophone versions of all the songs. We're working it out. Don't count it out.

gisher
04-24-2005, 12:36 PM
Great interview.

chris_bakewell
04-24-2005, 01:08 PM
Yeah, good interview!:)

hereisnowhy
04-24-2005, 01:11 PM
Originally posted by Cherub Angel
This is the record `Adore' might've been if I had known what I was doing."



Originally posted by Cherub Angel

I may do some performance . . . thing.



Awesome.

Spaldz
04-24-2005, 01:28 PM
Nice. Thanks

Fathoms (unadored)
04-24-2005, 01:29 PM
ah Billy!

neopryn
04-24-2005, 01:29 PM
sex acts between band member in public! so that's where he got "immoral". now the question is, was it pajo and sweeney? do they love the cock? or maybe they were running the train on paz? who knows.

Cherub Angel
04-24-2005, 01:34 PM
Originally posted by Cherub Angel


Pajo sleeping with the producer's girlfriend while we were making the record.

that's fucked up

Isle
04-24-2005, 01:37 PM
Originally posted by Cherub Angel


Q. You could come out in a tutu.

A. I may play saxophone versions of all the songs. We're working it out. Don't count it out.

hahaha

MrPantyFAce
04-24-2005, 01:37 PM
Originally posted by Cherub Angel


that's fucked up

thats rock n roll!!!!

Cherub Angel
04-24-2005, 01:41 PM
Originally posted by MrPantyFAce


thats rock n roll!!!!

doesn't make it ok.

neopryn
04-24-2005, 01:46 PM
Originally posted by Cherub Angel


doesn't make it ok. you some kind of pussy? lighten up

pink_ribbon_scars
04-24-2005, 01:57 PM
weird

Cherub Angel
04-24-2005, 02:00 PM
Originally posted by neopryn
you some kind of pussy? lighten up

well, I do HAVE a pussy. :)

I just think it's a fucked up situation.

Shawn Osmond
04-24-2005, 02:02 PM
I think the main thing here is that Billy has decided that there's only a couple people he would ever record another album with i.e. Harris, Thorsrud, Walker, Moulder....and there's only a couple of people he would ever perform with...Iha, Chamberlain, D'arcy, Melissa, Walker.

pineapple*soul
04-24-2005, 02:13 PM
Originally posted by Shawn Osmond
I think the main thing here is that Billy has decided that there's only a couple people he would ever record another album with i.e. Harris, Thorsrud, Walker, Moulder....and there's only a couple of people he would ever perform with...Iha, Chamberlain, D'arcy, Melissa, Walker.

hmmm, im not sure thats what he's saying, he's just gonna be more careful who he works with.

personally, i really want to see billy performing with a band if/when he goes on tour...

Shawn Osmond
04-24-2005, 02:15 PM
I think the main thing here is that Billy has decided that there's only a couple people he would ever record another album with i.e. Harris, Thorsrud, Walker, Moulder....and there's only a couple of people he would ever perform with...Iha, Chamberlain, D'arcy, Melissa, Walker.

fuk_tha_nub
04-24-2005, 02:24 PM
Originally posted by MrPantyFAce


thats rock n roll!!!!

but i thought pajo was the anti-rock n roll guy ???
so whats up with the cock rock behavior mr. indie rock ???

Cherub Angel
04-24-2005, 02:32 PM
Originally posted by fuk_tha_nub


but i thought pajo was the anti-rock n roll guy ???
so whats up with the cock rock behavior mr. indie rock ???

touche`

Corganist
04-24-2005, 02:41 PM
Originally posted by fuk_tha_nub


but i thought pajo was the anti-rock n roll guy ???
so whats up with the cock rock behavior mr. indie rock ???

MrPantyFAce
04-24-2005, 02:48 PM
wouldnt that be cool if the producer just found out through this interview, kills pajo, and then the remaining zwan members reunite to play a memorial at his funeral?

i reallly like the song silly salley, w.p. spy tra la, and about 20 other

obscured01
04-24-2005, 02:52 PM
<font color="dab9ea">That was a great article. </font>

vanilla
04-24-2005, 02:59 PM
that made me smile.

seign
04-24-2005, 03:07 PM
Originally posted by MrPantyFAce
wouldnt that be cool if the producer just found out through this interview, kills pajo, and then the remaining zwan members reunite to play a memorial at his funeral?

i reallly like the song silly salley, w.p. spy tra la, and about 20 other

I'm sure he knows. He has been recording with billy for what, like 6-8 months?

Axis of Action
04-24-2005, 03:08 PM
forty six miiiiiinutesssssss


(what am I saying, I'll take what I can get)

Cherub Angel
04-24-2005, 03:10 PM
Originally posted by fuk_tha_nub


but i thought pajo was the anti-rock n roll guy ???
so whats up with the cock rock behavior mr. indie rock ???

asshole behavior is pervasive in both opposites. We only think that one is better than the other.

heh, mr. indie rock. I love that. :)

MrPantyFAce
04-24-2005, 03:11 PM
46 minutes on the album....7 hours of b-sides, hopefully.

Dead
04-24-2005, 03:14 PM
Originally posted by MrPantyFAce
and then the remaining zwan members reunite to play a memorial at his funeral?

An immoral memorial?

Quiet CD
04-24-2005, 03:16 PM
awesome fucking article/interview... looking forward to the Bills on Sax tour, with supporting act Bill Clinton.

Dead
04-24-2005, 03:31 PM
Which producer is he talking about, this might validate some of those rumors I heard.

Future Boy
04-24-2005, 03:34 PM
Originally posted by Dead
Which producer is he talking about, this might validate some of those rumors I heard.

If the rumor at all consists of, a Producers girlfriend, fucking, Pajo, does it really matter?

Dead
04-24-2005, 03:39 PM
Oh it was Bjorn. I think that lines up. Is that sig from The Matrix Revolutions?

Isle
04-24-2005, 03:40 PM
Originally posted by Quiet CD
looking forward to the Bills on Sax tour, with supporting act Bill Clinton.

:rofl: that would just about make my life.

fuk_tha_nub
04-24-2005, 03:42 PM
linda strawberry was bjorn's girlfriend back in the zwan days !

Dead
04-24-2005, 03:44 PM
Originally posted by fuk_tha_nub
linda strawberry was bjorn's girlfriend back in the zwan days !
Yeah that's part of my rumor...

Part of what I was told was that BC was in love with Linda so that may be a reason he got so pissed about the whole thing.

Cool As Ice Cream
04-24-2005, 03:49 PM
Originally posted by neopryn
sex acts between band member in public! so that's where he got "immoral". now the question is, was it pajo and sweeney? do they love the cock? or maybe they were running the train on paz? who knows. Check out Prayman - Episode 3 (http://users.telenet.be/crush/prayman/) and you will find out.

seign
04-24-2005, 04:32 PM
Originally posted by fuk_tha_nub
linda strawberry was bjorn's girlfriend back in the zwan days !

Was she his ONLY girlfriend during the Zwan days? It kind of doesn't make sense that it would have been Strawberry that Pajo slept with behind Bjorns back because Bjorn and Strawberry are recording Strawberry's album at the moment. Unless it was a "forgive and forget" situation. I don't know though, it just doesn't make sense that it would have been Strawberry.

And I really doubt that Billy was "in love" with her. Where did you hear that rumor Dead? Want to tell more?

zerock
04-24-2005, 05:25 PM
BC gossip, as always great :D

Future Boy
04-24-2005, 05:36 PM
Originally posted by Dead
Is that sig from The Matrix Revolutions?

Yep.

Dead
04-24-2005, 06:10 PM
Originally posted by Future Boy


Yep.
It's pretty rad.

Dead
04-24-2005, 06:13 PM
Originally posted by seign

And I really doubt that Billy was "in love" with her. Where did you hear that rumor Dead? Want to tell more?
Well..

Supposedly Linda was going after Pajo, and Billy was going after Linda.. and Paz was also going after Pajo but he rejected her. And Billy slept with Linda, which caused Yelena to dump him. And I guess Billy got pissed that Linda was with Pajo instead of him. And well, that's some more for ya. I don't know if it's true, but this person told me about the Linda/Pajo thing about a year ago, along with this other info. Seems like at least some of it was true.

fuk_tha_nub
04-24-2005, 06:30 PM
well its thru Bjorn that Linda met Billy and the zwan kids and if ya do any digging on Linda's site you will find a ton of junk in ref. to her big heartbreak in Chicago town 2001/2002 .... so yeah she was Bjorns woman first and who really knows the scoop on who fucked who to end up breaking up who .... ahhh whatever

sphere
04-24-2005, 10:55 PM
Originally posted by Dead

Well..

Supposedly Linda was going after Pajo, and Billy was going after Linda.. and Paz was also going after Pajo but he rejected her. And Billy slept with Linda, which caused Yelena to dump him. And I guess Billy got pissed that Linda was with Pajo instead of him. And well, that's some more for ya. I don't know if it's true, but this person told me about the Linda/Pajo thing about a year ago, along with this other info. Seems like at least some of it was true.

If billy slept with Linda, how can he accuse Pajo publicly? It doesn't make sense.

Slurpee
04-24-2005, 11:10 PM
This is what I first read:


Originally posted by Cherub Angel
Paz sleeping with the producer's girlfriend while we were making the record.

I was disappointed when I reread it.

Dead
04-25-2005, 02:17 AM
Originally posted by sphere


If billy slept with Linda, how can he accuse Pajo publicly? It doesn't make sense.
I don't know, that was just part of the story. Billy isn't always known for making sense, especially lately.

Ugly
04-25-2005, 03:53 AM
Originally posted by Dead

Well..

Supposedly Linda was going after Pajo, and Billy was going after Linda.. and Paz was also going after Pajo but he rejected her. And Billy slept with Linda, which caused Yelena to dump him. And I guess Billy got pissed that Linda was with Pajo instead of him. And well, that's some more for ya. I don't know if it's true, but this person told me about the Linda/Pajo thing about a year ago, along with this other info. Seems like at least some of it was true.

I think you've been watching too much O.C., man, and its starting to mess up your brain and seep into other aspects of your geek-conciousness.

We need an intervention, STAT!

MMBKG
04-25-2005, 04:20 AM
That was an awesome interview.

Pajo is a dick. :D

I'm glad that they're glad that Zwan didn't work out.

Motherfucker better stop dissing Adore though. I don't care if he made it, I'm still gonna fuck him up if he doesn't stop.

Dead
04-25-2005, 04:23 AM
Originally posted by Ugly

I think you've been watching too much O.C., man, and its starting to mess up your brain and seep into other aspects of your geek-conciousness.

We need an intervention, STAT!
http://forums.netphoria.org/wwwboard/icons/icon10.gif

sphere
04-26-2005, 04:06 AM
since Billy and Bjorn are wroking together and seem to be good friends, i just can't imagine billy cheating on yelena with linda.

but who knows.

RopeyLopey
04-26-2005, 04:49 AM
Originally posted by Dead

Well..

Supposedly Linda was going after Pajo, and Billy was going after Linda.. and Paz was also going after Pajo but he rejected her. And Billy slept with Linda, which caused Yelena to dump him. And I guess Billy got pissed that Linda was with Pajo instead of him. And well, that's some more for ya. I don't know if it's true, but this person told me about the Linda/Pajo thing about a year ago, along with this other info. Seems like at least some of it was true. this band was kinda fun, heh?