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."
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