Billy Corgan Thinks Rock Isn't Reaching Teenagers Anymore: 'F--k Music'

"We collectively have done a poor job," says Smashing Pumpkins mainman.

Ultimate Guitar

Smashing Pumpkins mainman Billy Corgan recently stated that rock musicians these days are failing to to fulfill one of the genre's main goals - reaching the teenage crowd.

During a chat with Interia, the singer/guitarist didn't only blame his fellow rockers, but also included himself in what he described as the "f--k music part."

"I think the forces are so different; there's an obvious difference in enthusiasm," the frontman said. "Music world's been slow to meet the changing demand of the consumers' attention span."

Corgan also noted that glorifying the past isn't the way to go either, basically blaming today's rock musicians, including himself, for weak efforts.

"I think music's done a very poor job of getting the attention of a fifteen year old, which was the job of Elvis and the job of the Beatles and the job of the Cure. It's always the same problem."

He continued, "If music doesn't meet that demand to get the attention, well then f--k music basically. And I'm part of the f--k music part. We collectively have done a poor job and record sales and enthusiasm for live music events have gone down."

Just last week, Corgan once again underlined his pessimistic stance, saying that he plans to stop touring or at least severely reduce Smashing Pumpkins concert activities.

The group's latest studio effort, "Oceania," dropped in June 2012 via EMI Records, landing at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart with 54,000 units shipped in the US within the first week.

81 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Makes sense to me. I don't understand all of the Corgan hate.
    Yeah, I pretty much understand where all the stuff he's saying is coming from. But he of all people shouldn't just give up like that...
    I was moved by what what he said about stopping touring and all, saddened actually. Now he sounds like a whiny brat.
    Well, now bands have to tour more than ever to make any sort of money. Sure, the Smashing Pumpkins don't have to ride in a tiny van and sleep in it at night, but I certainly can see why a lot of bands might not want to tour with all the different options on the web to interact with fans. But, it's a money issue for a lot of bands because music sales aren't as great and you don't have a label for tour support and the like. Any band that can just record and release music like the Beatles, without touring, or maybe play a few bigger shows and clubs every year is a much easier life. You have to also realize Billy is getting older and touring is ****ing brutal.
    If Billy hates the music industry so much, why is he still in it then? Don't get me wrong, I'm a Smashing Pumpkins fan myself, but he really needs to stop whining all the time. His pretentiousness and pessimism is seriously twisting some people's tits.
    really? others might disagree.
    Maybe it's time for all of us to accept that rock music is becoming a thing of the past. Not saying we should all stop listening to what we like, I just want people to realize that it no longer does what it used to do for the previous generations. When it first came around in the early 60's it wasn't even accepted as a legitimate art form. Maybe we are all doing the same right now just to different forms of music.
    It's interesting that all people on UG are still convinced that rock music is on the top of the game. Of course there are plenty of rock fans in the world of all ages but let's get it straight - rock is getting less and less popular as time passes. And I think Corgan is right, we do need something new in rock music which would make a revolution like it did in the 70's. And, you have to admit it, most of the bands of today are doing it very poorly.
    rock is coming back, and that's not just a dim-witted fanboy view. Gig crowds are growing, the crap rock bands are hitting the charts, and the real ones are more underground, the music isnt dying, the way you access it is just changing. every genre is essentially on a level playing field, and rock as a live phenomenon is as big as ever and will grow. Keep the faith.
    Correction: 50s. . . or even the 40s. Rock existed before Caucasians started playing it. Also, it kind of is dead. SHIT! I just agreed with renowned ass hat/born to be Bond Villan, Billy Corgan.
    Exactly what I think about new forms of music. Take what people say on here about Dubstep: change some names and you sound exactly like rock critics around its birth. I'm not saying people should like it, I don't like most of it, but we need to be more open to new genres.
    Seriously? As much as they annoy me, the legions of 14/15 year old scene kids lead to me disagree. I mean yeah, I dislike the music, but they like it, and it least it ain't Jessie J.
    I really hate to admit but I agree... -to an extent- I told some friends of mine that I'm a musician and play guitar, and they just shrug like.. yeah thats cool.. and continue on listening to their crappy hip hop and what not. Everyones all about drake and one direction and all that crap thats being played on the radio.. and can care less chords and how well a guitar is played or how awesome a raw bass is unless you hear about it from real musicians. Plus it's so easy to make a pop/hip-hop song ear candy.. all you need is a dubstep and/or a really good beat. Oh and good looks to sell yourself with... cuz that's what music is all about right? -sarcasm- The words f--k music could generally mean anything though.. Billy should be a little more specific on what he says before he belts it out.
    So, are you saying the part on the Guitar Queer-o episode of South Park when Stan's dad started playing an actual guitar in front of the kids and Stan says, "Dad, that's gay" is realistic? heh heh 15 year olds especially girl's (which helps explain why Taylor Swift and the like are doing well) have always been the largest record buying group. But I never see teens listening to a Discman. It's always an I-Pod (or what's the other MP3 style thing). That doesn't explain all of it though. Can someone tell me why there are no new music videos on standard cable anymore? Why is radio a bunch of talking about politics and shit? Is it my imagination or are there very few arena-sized concerts coming to town anymore? There has always been crappy Pop music. That is not new. I used to go to music stores with no idea what album I was going to buy. I didn't need to know, there were so many good ones to choose from. It is not a lack of talent among young people either. I watch You Tube and I am blown away by some of the kids on there. Is Rock and Roll for old people now? Has it run its course and it's out of ideas now? Is Guitar Hero more fulfilling than learning to actually play? It has to be a bunch of factors...right?
    I don't think it's any of that. It's just that times change, and so does music. In the 50s, lots of kids left Jazz and country for Rock n Roll. It had nothing to do with music formats or politics. Times just changed.
    Our current solo guitarists liked Guitar Hero so much he decided to learn to play for real Now he's one hell of a guitarists. Guitar Hero can inspire young people to play, it's just that when they realize it's not that easy, they give up. People are getting smaller attention span.
    Times have changed. You don't see music videos on much TV any more because that is Youtube's domain now. How can a music service that plays what they want compete with a place giving everything the user wants to them on demand? It's the same with Radio, it's a declining form. Radio 1 here in the UK has tried to become more relevant but it hasn't helped at all. Interestingly, though, they have been pushing rock a LOT of late and it seems to have been working. Admittedly it isn't the music most of you guys want, it's Bring Me The Horizon and Enter Shikari. New styles of rock that are popular.
    I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I often see people get bashed for asking legit questions. I try to see what if anything can be done. I guess i don't want to be like the guy getting interviewed haha. So there are still Pop acts selling out arenas and such? I thought their would still be enough rock fans to sell out arenas, but then again, there haven't been any Appetite for Destructions or Nevermind albums recently that I know about Thank you though.
    They probably weren't that impressed because a lot of people play guitar now. And there is good hip hop, just saying.
    I have respect for Billy and his music but I think he's way off base and possible a little out of touch. SP was one of the bands that made inspired me to pick up a guitar and it's sad to hear him say this kind of shit.
    Music is constantly changing that's why professor Einstein (I get it rock isn't dead. I'm a teenager in this era but bi*ching about how rock is dead and you shouldn't make music because only because its not popular while you have a big audience who still buys your albums for 20+ years is complete bs to complain, this is man who has the support of his fans and is basically saying F you the music buisness has changed. REALLY!!). He needs to shut up about this "no rock music should be made because it is harder to get legendary status anymore stuff" as he is trying to prove to really himself and no one else. I'm sick of these rants like he's a martyr in a day where music has shifted away from rock. I would like rock to be king yes but sitting on your ass blaming everyone else is no way to tackle through this "hard time" do something about it, because complaining will do shit all if anything.
    Do you think a group with the impact of Nirvana or Guns and Roses coming out with an album as great as Appetite for Destruction would make rock music exciting again?
    I'm pretty sure teenagers listen to music, Billy.
    His point is that teenagers aren't listening to "rock" music, not that they don't listen to music at all. I think he's more making a criticism of today's musical scene and its emphasis on pop music and flash-in-the-pan singles and superstars rather than rock music. Except instead of putting the blame on the culture and the pop music machine (as most people do), he puts the blame on rock musicians like himself for failing to effectively combat that machine
    Well I'm fifteen and I listen to rock music. And not just old rock, a lot of the music I listen to comes from now ( Flaming Lips, Queens of the Stone Age, Cloud Nothings, MGMT, ect).
    Bands like MGMT are not rock at all... Pop synth band aren't they?
    That's not my point. My point is that there are plenty of rock bands out there and many teenagers listening to them. Btw, I would compare their work on Congratualtions to Barrett-era Floyd.
    hmmm...I would consider MGMT Rock. I would even consider them this generation's Pink Floyd after seeing them live(not comparing the two here). You should listen to their show live at Abbey road. Its a million times better than the original songs, with less synths. And btw, The Beatles, The Doors, Genesis, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. all used synths.
    I would probly classifying them as like indie-electro or something like that...
    Well you're one of the good ones I guess, but the point is that an overwhelming number of people your age prefer the mass-produced pop crap than rock music. And as the other poster here said, with the exception of QotSA, the bands you've listed probably don't fall into the "rock" category as Billy or most others would put it. Still a step in the right direction I guess
    But teenagers preferring mass-produced pop was always a thing. Blues wasn't very popular until labels started picking it up and making it lighter and catchier. Rock's early forms was the same and The Beatles and Elvis were a lot more poppier and accesible than music around at the time. Basically, the safe pop music is always the most popular, and the only difference is that it's less rock influenced today.
    Actually teens (boys actually) at the age of aroun 15 start to listen to more aggressive music like metal. Or maybe it's just that I live in Finland that I've seen this happen..
    Sammy Mantis
    Who really cares? Let people enjoy the type of music they want to enjoy, does it really matter that much if rock music isn't on top anymore? Does people listening to pop prevent you from listening to what you like? I don't get people like this who are constantly looking to have their tastes and ideas about how things should be validated.
    Well Billy, shouldn't you be figuring out how to reach teenagers with your music instead of whingeing about it?
    And reading this again "We collectively have done a poor job and record sales and enthusiasm for live music events have gone down." That's why Iron Maiden is on top (over Taylor Swift) for profits and hype of concerts Go home Billy, you're drunk.
    I mean you guys act like how DARE anyone mention the elephant in the room, that rock music is not on top anymore. Why is it so taboo with you guys? Suck it up and stop being little bitches about it, living in your fantasy world, where your favorite band's music video is guna pop up on MTV. Get real. Billy's just saying the truth. At least he's trying to have some kind of discussion about the issue!
    I'd love to know how he compiled his research based on that pile of shite statement
    To everyone saying that people their age don't listen to rock music, it couldn't be more from the truth for me. A huge number of people I know love Rock. Hell, I know someone that makes his on Electronic music pretty well and he absolutely loves Metallica. Yes, there are your Taylor Swift and One Direction fans, but fans of that sort of thing have always been here. It's just that I think with the Internet these artists marketing and fanbase is so much more in our faces than ever before.
    I think what Billy and Mustaine and [insert '80s/'90s musician here] don't get is that what they're doing isn't really rebellious anymore. If they as 40-somethings don't have the same fire they had as 20-somethings then why would teenagers look up to them as anything other than grumpy old men who were cool before they (the teenagers) were even born?
    Sorry to all this may upset, but I'm not journalist (or journalist wannabe like most people who share their opinions on this site), so ill just get to the point. Billy, you've a massive tool and you always have been : please, leave the music industry as soon as possible if that's how you feel. There is a billion other bands out there. I don't think I will notice your permanent absence.
    I just got my copy of Music Week (in the UK) and generally the figures for live music are on the up. AEG are about to announce two festivals for the UK (although pop related). I think Smashing Pumpkins have not produced a good album since Machina (even that is pushing it). I have not seen much PR, Promotion or any up-the-anti sort of campaigns for anything else...hmmm wonders? Make a good album damn it! something whiny, grungy and good!
    I don't think they topped Mellon Collie.... the last that thought was decent was that track from the Lost Highway soundtrack.
    Sorry but he's right. I don't have any people around my age who listen to rock music that I know. A few kids, doesn't mean everyone is listening to rock. We are the few.
    i personally dont like his music. but i agree with him on the attention span of the modern listener. and i think people are becoming more simple minded when it comes to music and it sucks. its stupid
    I think the main problem is not about rock, or even the smashing pumpkins... It is how society and music industry is looking at music in general... And in general people look at music or artists like products and forget about the spirit of it, so in a certain way we are all responsable for that. I honestly don't care to say that I love rock, pop or independant music etc. I LOVE MUSIC, and the way of how some artists, new or older, keep saving their integrity, spirituality, and used their stories or their feeling about social events, injustice, to try to share other things than bling bling and superficial stuffs. The question is (the parallel with what Billy says with rock music): Can we improve the violon's principle ??? I don't think that we can do that (not a lot). With rock music it is the same ! So, it does not stop people to continue to love to listen or to play violon ? And if those people are not the majority on this earth then it's ok, there is a public for every stuff. The problem lies elsewhere. Good luck to the band whatever they decide to do after all about touring, but I am sure that Billy will never stop to write songs, or to be close to his public (even in small places).
    Totally agree with him. Like there's a few bands which are doing well like Foo Fighters and RHCP but Rock sadly isn't in fashion and it's the artists job to try and make it more accessible to the teenagers.
    I honestly don't know any fusion guitarist who's unhappy with his job. Most of them just love playing music that much, and that's a commendable attitude to have. Who gives a flying crap about what teenagers listen to these days? Music is music, and it speaks to people in different ways. There's no one true musical genre that one particular age demographic should be listening to. You're in the business of making music because that's what you love doing, not because you're worried about teenagers choosing to listen to pop over rock music on a daily basis.
    I haven't read all comments as there is too many, but regardless, this one certainly trumps any argument in agreeance with our Smashing Pumpkins frontman. Rocks biggest threat is the commercialisation of pop star search competitions which flood the market and radio with (in most cases) shitty clone sounding Divas and Boy Bands. Despite current trends and poor attendance, the LAST show that Led Zeppelin performed (with Jonny Bonhams son on drums) was the most attended, most successful show in the history of concerts and music. The only challenge that may have come close was Madonna or U2 due to their massive pop culture and following. Whilst this may have annoyed Madonna it made me and numerous other rock fans quite happy. Rock music is the most successful genre of music in the world, it will continue to evolve (much like its audience) and with the right approach will continue to be Successful. ... The End.
    Rock is not on top because its not a new thing, the taste of the majority of teens is controlled by the record companies. Record companies market something new, something fresh. Record executives see rock and metal as a thing of the past really. So, they force feed all this pop down the youth of america's throats and the teens of this age are not any the wiser because they don't like to step outside the lines and do something different. So first I blame the record companies for not doing what they are supposed to do (support real music that actually takes talent to perform and not a pretty face). I also blame the youth of a America, my generation for not having the balls to grow up, be themselves, and try and find themselves, what they ACTUALLY like and what speaks to them. My generation is filled with yuppies who are all about the status-quo.
    Carl Hungus
    The music industry has gone through a major polar shift in the last fifteen years in which pop and vocally oriented music has risen to the top. Quite a bit of this has to do with the fact that the once dependable profits have dwindled due to illegal downloading and that the internet has been a game changer in influencing peoples tastes. Attention spans are shorter and the competition to make a buck is much harder than ever. A vast majority of current listeners do not buy albums they buy or download songs whereas traditionally rock musicians have written music intended to be heard as an album. Other genres such as hip hop and dance actually benefit from a more fractured environment since the importance of having a hit single has always been heavily associated with pop genres. I think that if Billy Corgan spent much time around teenagers (i.e. not his own children) he would find that some of them have pretty diverse tastes. Its just that most of them want to listen to what their friends do so they can fit in and be cool. This has less to do with what kind of music is being created and more to do with the delivery system and the immediate needs of the listener.
    I don't really think that it is the musician's fault, they can only do so much. I feel the problem lies in the saturation of the music itself. While they are not pedaling dumbass reality shows, channels like MTV, VH1, Fuse etc rarely; if ever play rock/metal music (outside of 20 in the morning. Back in the day these channels were playing nothing but Rock Music, with different genres sprinkled in. It's not that Rock/Metal is dead, it's just that it is not promoted like it used to. The only place I agree with Corgan is when he talkjs about the consumers attention span. People nowadays want songs with catchy hooks over and over again, hence the popularity of Pop Music.
    Mainstream music is more about entertainers and less about artists anymore.
    I've always been a Pumpkins fan but end up hating most of what Corgan spouts out. Music isn't just about connecting with 15 year olds. Bands like the Beatles and the Cure didn't go in to the studio saying "Man, we can't do that one, it won't impress the teenagers". The Self-Titled(White Album) isn't an album for teenagers specifically. Hell, no music should be specific to an age group... music transcends. It's about emotion and soul, not making an age group happy. If Billy is just in it for acclaim like I feel he may be today, well, stop making music.