Billy Corgan: 'I Just Dont Hear as Much Progress in Rock and Roll as I Once Did'

"Modern music somehow seems the same every year," says the Smashing Pumpkins frontman.

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According to Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, rock music has seen better days, as not much of modern rock is really worth listening.

When recently asked about his stands on modern rock bands, the singer/guitarist admitted he is not too much into the current scene. In his own words, it has become too congested and it is better just to "kind of stay ignorant."

"Honestly, I don't listen to a lot of music that's contemporary. There's a variety of reasons for that. One is there's just too much for me," Corgan tells the Compass Correspondent. "I kind of have a hard time following the plot. And I just don't hear as much progress in rock and roll as I once did. So rather than get frustrated or feel like I have to take a position, it's almost better to just kind of be ignorant.

"I mean it's easier to listen to [Johann Sebastian] Bach. It's timeless. And maybe that's my biggest critique of modern music it somehow seems the same every year. I will literally go into a coffee shop and I can't tell you if it was from eight years ago or it just came out because somehow Bono must have had 10,000 children and they all 'wo, wo, wo' through the chorus."

But it's not just the modern rock scene that's confusing frontman, but the entire business, which has become somewhat of a puzzle for Corgan.

"When I came into the music business there was a record label - independents and majors - and there were things like MTV, so you kind of knew what you were getting yourself into or you learned very quickly," the vocalist said. "I think the definition of what success is in 2013 is far different than it was in the mid-'80s. If the big opportunity back in the day was a platinum record and a video on MTV, what is the equivalent of that today? I don't think that's an easy answer."

Smashing Pumpkins have recently confirmed working on the new album, just to follow it up with an announcement of two possible releases being recorded simultaneously. The group's latest studio effort, "Oceania," came out in June 2012 via EMI/Martha's Music, debuting at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 chart with 54,000 copies sold within the first week.

46 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Sammy Mantis
    I can relate to Corgan when he mentions the music scene being too congested. Sometimes I can't help but feel that there is almost too much music out there. It's cool that modern technology and the internet has allowed any average Joe to make an album and release it for the world to hear online, but it's a bit of a double edged sword because it seems you now have to wade through a staggering amount of material to find the stuff that really speaks to you. I agree with him, it's almost better to "stay ignorant" in way.
    But on the other hand is it better to have too much music than not enough?
    Sammy Mantis
    I suppose so. But even if the creation of new music ceased from this point onwards and all we had is what already exists, I still don't think we'd run into a problem of not having enough. There's more music out there already than one could listen to in a life time.
    I think his "timeless" comment about Bach is what made Corgan resonate so much in this. Pick tracks out of classic rock's backlog, like the Beatles and the Stones, and most of their material still sounds fresh today. I think that a lot today's rock is missing staying power, rather than pure quality. The question is, what makes a record "stay?"
    It raises an interesting question, the idea that "scenes" have sort of dissipated, in rock at least. Back in the day things moved sort of slowly, and scenes had a life-span of about 5years. It feels to me like in the 90's that started to change as music became more easily distributed. Grunge, britpop, pop-punk, funk-rock,skapunk all had quick bursts and then died and in the 00's there was a blues and garage rock revival, indie, emo and psychedelic revival. It is just spiraling out of control and there is nothing for teens to latch onto except disney shit
    Nero Galon
    Being 17, even I can agree with him. Music has had better days. Although there are still recently new bands or older bands putting out great stuff like The Gaslight Anthem, Streetlight Manifesto, John Butler Trio. Totally my opinion I know, but even with those it just isn't enough.
    I think that, given the huge amount of new music that is readily available these days, people who complain about new music being subpar or those who they don't like any new music haven't taken the time or properly tried to find any they enjoy. There's almost certainly something out there for everyone that wasn't made in the '90s or prior.
    you should check out more music until you make outrageous overgeneralising statements like that.
    Uh... I have done, which is why I think there's something for just about everybody. I don't think it's that outrageous.
    matteo cubano
    I love smashing pumpkins so in no way is this an insult. But, this sounds like what an old man says, maybe you're just starting to get old Mr. Corgan.
    He's not getting old (well yea he is) but... he's telling the truth. There's no independent scenes anymore... the scene is on youtube and its global so there's no real diversity by way of geography. Its the beginning of the end of art... it will all be homogenized soon and all we'll hear is dumbford and sons and their ilk and all photography will be hipster instagram "art".
    Thats probably not the case, and frankly a bit cynical imo (typical Corgan, not that I dont love pumpkins in general but he's a bit of a sombre character). Where you used to have geography in respect to physical location (Seattle, Chicago, whatever), you'll now have "geography" based on niche websites online, or independent labels (yes, they still exist). And regardless, how does increased access to more music from more places necessarily lead to homogenization? Right now just seems like a transitional period, where the industry on the whole is still adapting to the change caused by the internet.
    But what happens after the transitional period? What are we transitioning to? I've asked that question quite a few times in relation to the internet, and I never really get a straight answer. Personally, I think that the end result of the internet is an online community of wealthy intelligent people permanently linked to the internet and living their lives working, socializing and basically assimilating into the world of the internet. Whilst the poor people live their lives outside of the internet (but still having access to it) and accepting jobs that generally consist of variations of keeping the people who are permanently linked to the internet alive. I understand that this has very little to do with music scenes.
    I can understand your invision of the end result, despite it sounding like something straight out of science fiction . However, i think the real point that needs to be made is that musicians need to start innovating; if you want to pursue something new and creative, go find other artists and communities online or elsewhere, and start getting it going! Being part of the general population of internet users doesnt mean we have to take an entirely passive role in the process. Start finding likeminded individuals, and start forming those communities.Back in the day it was not just a matter of geography, it was a matter of people coming together and exchanging shared ideas about music, politics, etc. The advent of the internet changes very little; people interested in a particular idea are still going to find eachother, whether online or in person. Besides, just because the internet's available doesnt mean everyones sitting at home on a laptop 24/7. Currently living in a small city, I can completely relate. But that doesnt mean i havent found people locally or elsewhere who are keen to pursue the same thing I am, you just gotto start looking. Same goes for new music, theres a ton of it... its all just a matter of spreading good stuff by word of mouth, whether online or offline.
    Living in a large town/city you could have a scene but, small towns with not a venue or anything people are having to refer to the internet to be recognized
    remember, there was a lot of shitty music 'back in the day' too... we just don't listen to it anymore and its out of our mind
    exactly, no one is going to remember the shitty contemporary music of today, in 10 years. I mean, who remembers last summers shitty songs? But still, some music makes it past that point, and will still be recognizable in 10 years, and that's the music this decade will be remembered for - not the shit. There'll always be shit music, it's a constant
    "somehow Bono must have had 10,000 children and they all 'wo, wo, wo' through the chorus." - The most accurate thing ever said about modern music
    I dunno, I think you see lots of cool stuff happening with rock music. I'll probably get flamed for this but Muse certainly do their own thing and are a fresh sound in terms of "rock n roll". I think you'll see a lot more unique rock bands coming up to pretty soon.
    There is very cool and exciting stuff going on in music these days if you look in the right places. Judging by the shitty young bands Billy takes on tour with him, he is not looking anywhere remotely near where I would consider the right places to be.
    Seems more like he can't be arsed to go looking for a scene. MTV was always just a big spoonfeeder anyways. The thought of "making it big" is a very new concept in the course of music history. There was always a lot of music out there but now smaller bands can get more attention without having to fight for their song on MTV.
    His statement would have more validity if he didnt just sit around in a coffee shop all day being spoon fed the popular radio garbage.... Of course it's all going to sound the same coming from big radio stations, most of the music played on those stations has the same generic feel. It is also kind of ridiculous and ignorant to say that ALL the music out now sounds the EXACT SAME... One just needs to have the patience to find the good stuff
    He's right. But He is not free from the stigma of modern stagnation of rock and roll either because his songs are not as good anymore.
    Its because new rock music sorta sucks in the fact its not original in anyway and very safe also alot of shit is promoted as rock when its just pure pop and poser. Thats right I'm talking about you kerrang,FOB,BVB,etc
    Originality in rock music isn't gone for good. Like most good things its just on hiatus. Although rock is a tiny speck in the world of music. Theres loads of great music coming out in Jazz, Funk, House, Dub, Trip hop, IDM, and Folk at the moment. Music is amazing and will continue to be amazing.
    "If the big opportunity back in the day was a platinum record and a video on MTV, what is the equivalent of that today?" Sadly enough, probably having about 1 million views on YouTube or something insignificant associated with technology.
    The way I see it is this. Back in the day people only had a select few outlets for their music. So discerning listeners who didn't accept what ever was fed to them by the mainstream had to work to get music they liked played on the radio or MTV. This resulted in some of great music we know and love getting mainstream acceptance because it was you know, really good. However, now, there are so many other outlets for music, that the discerning listeners don't need to drag the truly great music out into the main stream. Amazing music is still being created, you just have to know where to look for it now. So in the end, I agree with old Bill, if your not willing to dig for it ( and he says he isn't ) it would seem like music is much crappier now then it used to be.
    He's not really changing the world of music though is he. Things happen in cycles, like recessions etc, music is the same, something will come and kick music up the arse in the next few years, and it will get through the youtube and social media jungle to do so.