Billy Corgan: 'I Never Wanted To Leave The Smashing Pumpkins'

Billy Corgan speaks about The Smashing Pumpkins, how they broke up and is there a possibility of the reunion, and about his solo career.

Ultimate Guitar

After the conclusion of The Smashing Pumpkins and the collapse of Zwan, Billy Corgan has attempted another reinvention -- as a solo artist.

The former singer of one of indie rock's most influential bands can't seem to rid himself of the Pumpkin phantom. With the release of his first solo album, TheFutureEmbrace, the singer expected to confirm himself as a bona fide solo artist. But he soon realised that self-indulgent music wasn't going to help his career. When asked in 1995 if he would ever go it alone, the lead singer replied, "I've tried and it just doesn't work without the others."

A decade later, despite doing it alone, Corgan realized it still doesn't work. "I'm sort of like a lame, single guy in a red sports car," he said of the Solo Billy, claiming that he would never reform the Smashing Pumpkins again.

Then, a few weeks later, he took out a full-page ad in a major Chicago daily, explaining his reasons as to why he had decided to reform the band. The other former band members haven't exactly confirmed that it's happening though.

"I never wanted to leave the Smashing Pumpkins. That was never the plan," he told interviewer Talia Soghomonian. So what happened? "Exactly!" he wonders himself, "We would have these sort of meetings and I would say, 'This band should be together for 25 years. There's absolutely no reason that we can't evolve.' We'd already set up that we were capable of evolving. We'd already proved that. 'Let's just become like The Who - we'd keep on evolving and changing with the times. We all have or ups and downs, but there's no reason we shouldn't be together. It's a special thing.'"

But the other members didn't feel as devoted to the band. "That level of commitment wasn't there for James and D'Arcy and Jimmy, even though he was committed to enough. So at one point, the situation became toxic. But I never wanted to leave the band. I never wanted it to end."

Maybe it's just the concept of being in a band that appeals to him. "Yeah, it's great. You make better music. I still believe that. And even if you look at solo artists who make great albums -- Iggy Pop or Bowie -- there are always these other great artists involved. Some of Bowie's greatest successes were because of lead guitarist Nick Ronson. And Mike Garson, who played piano on all that stuff with Bowie, said Ronson was way more involved in Bowie's music than anybody ever. No one knew it, because he was such a humble person. He never tried to get the spotlight. Of course, Bowie became considered the genius." Of course.

So basically, Billy Corgan wants to give credit where credit is due, except that we all seem to equate the Smashing Pumpkins with him. And he knows it. He also admits that the band lives on in his heart. "After Zwan, there was no question I was going to be a solo artist. The Pumpkins exist in my mind as a living entity that is a huge part of my life. As far as I'm concerned, the band's not broken up. The world got the body, but to me, the band lives on."


52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    UUUH, poor Billy. He should stop the whining, I totally agree, and try to reconnect with James and D'Arcy, if this doesn't work, well, he must find other people or move on (he apparently did, didn't he?)...But I think he wants (and it's my wish too)to have the original Smashing Pumpkins line-up...And his solo career, fine thank you.
    what is with everyone and hating the smashing pumpkins ... i guess limp bizkit/linkin park is the rave for this site. i went to the billy corgan solo show, and i dont really like his new material but it was still a blast, musically and performance wise.
    didnt i read this exact article like a few months ago? anways, billy just got too cocky, and started to think he was some amazing musical prophet, and it eventually were he got to the point were he was writting complete sh*t and thought it was still good
    timster36 wrote: what is with everyone and hating the smashing pumpkins ... i guess limp bizkit/linkin park is the rave for this site. i went to the billy corgan solo show, and i dont really like his new material but it was still a blast, musically and performance wise.
    what the hell are you talking about? where does linkin park and limp bizkit come from? what do you mean 'everyone' hating the smashing pumpkins? ?!??!!?!?!??!? !?!?
    timster36: what is with everyone and hating the smashing pumpkins ... i guess limp bizkit/linkin park is the rave for this site. i went to the billy corgan solo show, and i dont really like his new material but it was still a blast, musically and performance wise. dude, i think hardly anyone is hating the pumpkins in these comments. seriously. shut up
    Billy Corgan kicks ass and so does James Iha and the rest of the Punpkins. PLEASE get back together.
    If you like the Pumpkins stop bitching and go buy Siamese Dream. After you get it you will listen to it all the way through probably until there next album comes out if they every get back together.
    guys give the guy a break, billy tried to go solo but he just isn't a solo artist. he's a frontman and one hell of a good one. id give my left nut just to see the pumpkins reunite and see billy shine again. im not saying his solo stuff was bad, the guy is a freakin musical genious. he just needs a band behind him
    you're all *****s!!! TFE is awesome, progressive work from billy! leave the past in the past already!! you're not getting another siamese dream!
    Let's all just pretend Billy and the Pumpkins were kind of like Jimi Hendrix and died too early, like Jimmy was driving the tour bus on heroin and crashed into Lake Michigan - lol Really (and I LOVE the original Pumpkins) Billy was slowly killing them with his need to "evolve" in what turned out to be electronic crap that had already been done in the eighties and sounded like everything else you hear in the club, but with his vocals mixed in. He'd said that the fans who didn't follow the changes weren't true fans; bullshit. He left the fans. It's one thing to change with the times, it's another thing to reinvent the wheel to sound like something totally off the wall like he did. I think the rest of the band didn't like the changes, we know D'Arcy didn't. Example; the Beatles changed their sound drastically over their careers, but they held onto fundamentals of what made them great and successful; what Billy did was take his "Beatles" and turned them into Zappa and the Mothers - lmao - the most hardcore Beatles fans wouldn't have put up with that, even though Yoko wanted to, and John was tempted to - lol If they had done a whole album of Revolution 9's they would have faded away instead of blazing out. What gets me are these bands who say to their fans "we owe you everything, we wouldn't be here if it weren't for you...but **** off if you make requests at concerts or protest at drastic changes we make in our sound, you're not real fans anymore." So fine, we've still got their old CD's and they've still got our ticket and CD money in their investment portfolios and cashmere toilet paper. The only way SP will reunite and rock again is if Billy admits that he screwed up and goes back to Mellon Collie and choose another branch to follow in evolution closer to the roots that fed them and their fans.
    I'd kill for SP to get back together. I am a recent fan but I find their music is beautiful
    you must have to listen siamese dream and watch fantasia (walt disney) at the same time, that's amazing
    I reckon Pumpkins should get back together, but the original line-up: Billy,James, D'Arcy, Jimmy. I don't own Adore or Machina, but I loved Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie, and if they get back together, they should definately make more music like in their earlier days.
    jimmy1627 wrote: Billy's solo music SUCKS!!!! Suck it up Billy... You Blew a GREAT thing with the Pumpkins and even ZWAN! Face it... YOU SUCK Billy!!! Suck it up!
    Well, we all have our opinions don't we? My opinion is that you are going to burn in hell for that statement. Billy's solo album wasn't as good as Smashing Pumpkins stuff, but one thing is for sure, Billy does not suck. You do.
    blueeyes6489 your argument is compelling, and yet I'll have to ask you to kiss my ass - lol
    americanpig11 wrote: like the pumpkins,but billy is such an ass
    how is corgan an ass in any way?!
    if they do get back together wouldnt they be pressured so much to make good music like they used to? so many people will expect alot from them oh yeah and why doesnt Billy go out and meet the other members in person like James Iha or D'arcy? i read somewhere in internet that he tried to contact them with email
    Everyone should listen to "What if that guy from the Smashing Pumpkins lost his car keys?" to unveil the truth. Corgan is a nice guy, I'm sure. I wouldn't call him a musical genius but he sure is a gifted songwriter.
    Billy's solo music SUCKS!!!! Suck it up Billy... You Blew a GREAT thing with the Pumpkins and even ZWAN! Face it... YOU SUCK Billy!!! Suck it up!
    I suppose every artist has to indulge himself/herself in their own mangled concept of music at least once. TheFutureEmbrace was exactly that. In fact, I thought Zwan was actually amazing, but sadly Billy is too tormented to do whats good for his fans >_
    stop loathing in self pitty, you hack. Kiss some ass to get SP back or suck it up and stop making lame music.
    He prolly could care less. When he let his CD out he was prolly like "This sucks lets blame it on the fact that I ****ed up big time leaving the pumpkins."
    Even if they got back together they wouldn't be the same. You can't recreate magic. I think it would just be sad... like Zwan. Wait, that was funny.
    I love the Pumpkins work and would love to see this work out because those people CAN make magic.
    Someone should probably correct that. It was MICK Ronson. not nick.
    someone correct that biatch. It's MICK Ronson, not NICK Ronson.
    rusted embrace
    I think that if they could reconcile and come to a middle ground with one another they could quickly return to the Pumpkins they used to be. And I hope that happens.
    555-5555 < wtf! lol smashing pumpkins rule, avent actually heard ne of billy's solo stuff tho probably since it must suk compared 2 s.p.
    i agree Zwan was amazing and of course Pumpkins are immortal...and
    TheFutureEmbrace was to much like the pumpkins last record. it just kills me that billy can't get his shit together and reform the pumpkins...oh well I guess I'll just have to settle for Vendetta Red untill and if the Smashing Pumpkins decide to reform.
    The Smashing Pumpkins are second in my book only to The Beatles, and Billy is by far my favorite songwriter. I hea everyone say how terrible Zwan was, but I believe that album had some songs on it that ranked up with the Pumpkins' better material. His solo music is very strange, true, and I can see why a lot of people wouldn't enjoy the record, but I'm still going to admit that it has some good music on it. If the Pumpkins manage to reunite, it would be the greatest to happen to the music industry in years.
    corgan was the pumpkins...his comment about credit where credit is due, in reality is saying that the reason why iha, darcy and jimmy didn't have that level of commitment, is because they were more like hired musicians than members of the band. Even if the pumpkins got back together, i'm not so sure they'd be that great...that ship has sailed...that period of time in music has passed. Now we are stuck with this nu-punk, pop shit.
    I would have to agree with ShadowRelcuse the pumpkins in my opinion were the greatest band since the beatles and Billy Corgan is a genius! It was a shame they split up, but okay maybe his solo album wasn't as good as it could have been, it was probebly an attempt to break from his past, but it wasnt that bad and had some good moments on it! Besides we can forgive the guy for one less than perfect album! the guy has never made a bad record in his life!
    Brunswick: Smashi ng Pumpkins are ****ing amazing. End of discussion.
    I agree with you, Brunswick. The Smashing Pumpkins were great and I think it would be nice to see them reform and come back real soon. Please do, Mr. Corgan!
    ffs. How many times do we have to hear this from Billy? I'm a huge Pumpkins fan but he whines way too much. Get with reality, The Pumpkins will never form again. Stop ****ing whining.
    I agree with ShadowRecluse and washingmachine with pretty much everything... the Pumpkins were really one of the best bands to come out since the Beatles(Siamese Dream being the best album in the universe without being a "Greatest Hits"). They top my book (cant decide between beatles and pumpkins). Zwan cd was great, and Zwan ended much too soon. His solo album is probably his worst work... and the album isnt bad.