Tag Archives: Billy Corgan

Retraction #1: Smashing the Pumpkins

So apparently, the open letter from Billy Corgan featured on The Stranger was a hoax. I spouted off quite a bit about Billy Corgan as a reaction to the letter, which I bought hook, line, and sinker.

So the question is: since I so readily believed that Billy Corgan would say those things, should I cut my losses and count myself amongst those who used to be a Smashing Pumpkins fan, or do I say “I was wrong,” eat crow, and resume my love for the band? It’s hard to say.

I think this little incident has revealed that I have been growing sick of Billy’s pretentious “I’m an artist” side. You play guitar, dude. Not quite rocket science or curing cancer.

Shame on The Stranger for publishing this schlock. It’s irresponsible to publish something like this, even as satire, without any indication that it’s fake. Some might argue that the best satire is that which we mistake for reality, and in that respect, this is brilliance. But I say no; this was poor taste, plain and simple.

Back on track here, there’s no questioning Billy Corgan and TSP’s contributions to rock. But there is plenty of question as to whether or not they are relevant anymore. So I take back what I say in reaction to his alleged words, but I’m treading cautiously into Zeitgeist.

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Smashing the Pumpkins

There’s something claiming to be “An Open Letter from Billy Corgan” posted on The Stranger. Can it possibly be real? I think it is, based on the fact that I cannot imagine them posting this otherwise.

I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan. I got Gish the month it was released. I looked forward to Siamese Dream before “Today” took the charts by storm. I was a fan before they got artsy and become The Smashing Pumpkins. I remember Billy when he and D’arcy were suicidal and he had hair. I was there when it all began to work. And I stuck with the band through Adore and Machina, when everyone else thought it was over. I stayed there for a very long time, waiting patiently for for this moment in time, when Zwan and TheFutureEmbrace were just a memory and a new Smashing Pumpkins was upon us.

Billy CorganBut then Billy releases this “open letter,” this ridiculous, ego-inflated collection of delusions. Billy’s been a bit of a weirdo for some time now: he had this weird thing with Courtney Love, and he went through an “I’m an important poet, nay, the voice of a generation!” phase. Billy really thinks he’s something remarkable. And he might have been, had he not tossed humility out the door. Now he’s going to expose himself. Let’s deconstruct what is going on in Billy Corgan’s mind, shall we?

Corgan starts withToday is the greatest day you’ve ever known.” Yes, because the release of your underwhelming new CD, pimped by too many in the blogosphere, ranks up there as “the greatest day I’ve ever known.” Pshaw.

Billy CorganFurther down is this gem: “We were once the most important band in the world, and everyone–me, you, Courtney Love–knew it.” Eh… exsqueeze me? Ah…baking powder? I was a very serious Pumpkins fan. I do not ever recall thinking of them as the most important band in the world. Courtney Love… for whatever reason…. might have thought that. But I doubt many others did.

He continues, “I brought back original Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain –recovered and reverent of yours truly, he’s the epitome of a new leaf turned over — plus another chick bassist and some new guitar guy.” Oy. Where to begin? So you’re admitting up front that it’s essentially another solo record, but Jimmy is back? Because your last solo record was so good?

Then Billy predicts my reaction: “As for the music, the critics won’t get it. They never have. My old fans–the ones whose lives were changed by Gish and Siamese Dream–won’t get it. They will complain that the sound is too dense, too severe, too, yes, overbearing.” Well, the “don’t get it” sentiment is there, but it’s a reaction to your retarded letter, Billy, not your music.

Corgan actually believes “the New Generation is the one I’m speaking to, the one that needs to know that My Chemical Romance and Panic! At the Disco couldn’t exist without me. Whether they want to know doesn’t matter. This Zeitgeist is not consensual–it’s here, whether you understand it or not.” So he believes he is the founder of the new generation. Undoubtedly, he influenced several of these acts. But is that anything to be proud of? First off, they kinda suck. And secondly, he’s hardly the one big thing that laid the pipework for these bands to exist. Nay, that was Nirvana and Pearl Jam, whether Billy likes it or not.

Billy Corgan Corgan carries on for some time about his commentary about the US, which we neither asked for nor care about, and some other sputters about guitars and a rock revolution (or something) before concluding with this fantastic delusion: “Here is what you must understand: Nothing has changed since 1999, except my budget. And Pro Tools. I am still the same alt-rock messiah I was. You are still my teenage flock.” Whoa. Heavy. Billy claims to be a rock messiah and we are the sheep, the pawns, the fools who gulp up that with which he graces us. Because of this, I am probably not going to buy Zeitgeist.

Add to this a few recent things that have happened: Zeitgeist features photos of Paris Hilton in the liner notes. Billy said he’s friends with her. He decided to invite Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris to the shoot to make a snarky statement about pop culture. Way to go, Bill. Way to use your “friend.”

Also, Billy decided to release FOUR editions of the CD. Target, Best Buy, iTunes, and other stores will all have an edition featuring a different bonus track. So the only legal way to get all four is to buy the album thrice then download at least one song.

The Pumpkins may once have been an important road stop in the rock landscape, but now it seems like Billy is a deluded, self-aggrandizing, loquacious, ego-maniacal sell-out.

Update: The “open letter” mentioned above was a hoax. I’ve published an update here.

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The Smashing Pumpkins: Things Look Promising

Billy Corgan’s greatest fear, I believe, can be summed up in one word: irrelevance. He got his first taste of that on June 12, 2005, when he released his first solo disc, cryptically entitled “TheFutureEmbrace.” Prior to that misstep, Corgan was frontman of the worldwide sensation Smashing Pumpkins, a band whose contributions helped shaped rock in the 1990s. But for a short period, Corgan, who fancied himself a poet and an artist, looked more like a wannabe college art-student who believes his ramblings profound. Thus, he took out a full page page ad in The Chicago Tribune telling the world his intention to reform The Smashing Punpkins.

Fast forward two years, and here were are, mere weeks before Smashing Pumpkins’ album 6 (or, arguably, 7), “Zeitgeist,” is released. We barely know who is featured on this album beyond Billy and his ever-present cohort, Jimmy Chamberlain, who arguably adds as much to the immediately identifiable Pumpkins’ sound as Billy himself (we learned within the last week that SP now features new members Jeff Schroeder on guitar and Ginger Reyes on bass). This month, the first single, “Tarantula,” was released to radio, and subsequently, the Internet via iTunes. So, what is the verdict? What do we think?

As a huge Pumpkins’ fan dating abck to 1993 and Gish, I have to tell you, my expectations were low. Billy and crew grew increasingly experimental in the last few years, and the final three albums, if you include, Machina II, featured a much different sound than the Pumpkins of years past. Some called it more mature, some called it electronica, others hated it. I have appreciated every album in its own way, although my personal heyday for the Pumpkins’ was Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie.

So imagine my surprise when I heard the new single… and liked it! It sounds like the Pumpkins of old! It actually kinda rocks. The lyrics are mostly unpretenious and the sounds is classic but not dated. Some lyrics are simple and to-the-point tender: “I wanna be there when you’re happy, I wanna love you when you’re sad.” Then a more Pumpkin-y ending with the repeated “I don’t want to be alone!” over and over.

I don’t know what the full length album will bring, but I’m hoping that The Smashing Pumpkins can inject some much needed energy into what, thus far, is a very weak musical landscape in 2007. As long as the music industry keeps offering us neutral foolishness like Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5, and silly (c)rap with titles like “Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” that insult our intelligence, we will be searching for something worthwhile. Listeners aren’t fooled by pallete cleaners like The only quesiton is: will the Pumpkins be the ones to bring it?

Tarantula sample (MP3)
Tarantula sample (OGG)

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