Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan on Life as a R’n’R SupervillainRodney
In a recent interview in The Guardian Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan opened up about the dark period in his life when he felt like a “rock ‘n’ roll supervillain.” It’s a revealing look at the pressures of fame, fatherhood and change.
Billy Corgan tells Jeremy Gordon about his public reputation and his involvement in pro wrestling and how he’s no longer interested in playing the villain “I don’t really see a value in it anymore, honestly,” Corgan says. “In fact, I think it’s the opposite: I think people need to feel inspired, and so if you want to talk about a narrative, the story for the band overall is just one of coming together and survival.”
Corgan talks of trolling the press “I used to perceive it as sort of a funny game,” he says . “But that sort of stuff works better as it does in wrestling, when you have a hegemonic position. If you’re winning, and you’re being a heel, it’s kind of fun. But if you’re not winning, then the heel thing turns into a grating white noise, and everything that comes out of your mouth, somebody’s rolling their eyes.”
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Billy and his partner have two children and having children changes the way people think. Corgan says “When you start having kids, it’s like – OK, now you gotta not repeat all the mistakes that you’ve been complaining about in your songs for 20 years. Now, you got to be that guy that you wished your father was,” he says. “It has a way of sobering you up. I’ve never had any drug or alcohol issues; it was more like the classic: I guess I better grow the fuck up now.” Corgan admits, sheepishly, that it took until he was 48 for these changes to take root. “I put off adult responsibility about as long as possible, outside of work. It was always my inner rationalisation – ‘I’m working, and so everything’s fine.’ But that turned out not to be the case.”
The frontman talks of fatherhood and being a musician “I don’t want my kids growing up with a has-been father. I won’t play games: I believe we’re one of the great bands, and it starts with the conviction that we have something unique to say,” Corgan says. “I felt that when we were playing to 50 people in 1988, and I don’t fucking know why. It was just something that the band had, and it’s endured. The sense, at this point, is not one of sort of chest-thumping victory. It’s just like: ‘No, this is the arc we should have stayed on.’ We were the ones who walked away from it; nobody took us off our game. And now we’re back to doing what we’re good at.”
Billy Corgan is one of the most successful musicians of our generation. As the frontman of Smashing Pumpkins, he’s sold millions of records and inspired legions of fans.