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Secret Interview
December 31, 1996, 11:00 pm

Source: Secret Interview

"Smashing Pumpkins Interview" [No Specific Date]

In the summer of ? when I was assistant music director at a radio station in Iowa, the head director handed me an assignment and a CD. "Interview these guys," he said. "I've already interviewed too many." It was some no-name band that called themselves the Smashing Pumpkins (who, at the time, were enjoying a bit of success on the college dj charts with their debut album, Gish). I took the CD home and listened. What I didn't foresee was the impact this band and others like it would place on the face of popular rock music: electronic music was fated to slip into the corners of some Generation Xer's CD nostalgia case while stiff guitar riffs and harsh vocals would ensconce itself on the CD player of radio stations across the fruited plains.

The lounge they performed in that night held a permanent bluish (purple?) haze. The four members set up their instruments just feet away from the sparse audience at their tables. And when they played no one got up to dance which upset Billy Corgan, the lead singer, enough to stop mid-song and yell at the audience.

At show's end, I passed through a beaded curtain to meet the band backstage. I held my tape recorder ready, and after a few minutes of conversation, I realized I had better start taping. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of this interview was the interplay among band members and the interviewer himself.

TW: What are some of the bands expectations?

James: Um, we hope to be huge.

Billy: Well, you see, James already is huge, but... in his own mind. But, ah, you know, ah, we just want to improve our tennis game and beyond that our expectations are low.

James: That's true.

Billy: And our hopes are high.

TW: How did the band get started?

James: Um, we all met in a bar one night.

Billy: You have to speak up.

James: Oh. We all met in a bar, bar one night. You know. Talked about times and --

Billy: James was playing... James was playing an Aerosmith 45.

James: And, uh... yeah, I met Billy and played it for him and decided to form a band.

TW: Besides the Lemonheads and Jane's Addiction, but what other bands have you opened up for?

James: Uh, we opened up for the reformed Buzzcocks and, um, Camper Van Beethoven.

Billy: Caterwaul.

James: Caterwaul, and there's Buck Pets, King Swamp. It's a road of pain.

Billy: Agit Pop.

James: Agit Pop.

Billy: Uh... what was their name? That band from Columbus, remember?

D'Arcy: Yeah.

Billy: Death of Samantha.

D'Arcy: Oh, that's right.

James: Death of Samantha. Tad. Afgan Wigs.

TW: Which of those did you most enjoy opening for?

Billy: Probably Jane's Addiction.

D'Arcy: Yeah.

James: They were the nicest guys.

D'Arcy: Really.

[band chuckles]

Billy: Probably one of the... right... right behind Tad, you know.

D'Arcy: Oh, yeah, they're really sweet.

James: Them and Tad are the nicest guys.

TW: Have you toured with these bands or did you open up for them in Chicago?

Billy: Up until... within the past year we... basically we were stuck in Chicago. We were doing spot gigs around the Midwest on our own, but, um, you know, we weren't... we haven't, I mean this really is our first extensive tour -- you know, with or without anybody, you know. Just tour period, so most of the shows that we've played... we were like, you know, a show here, a show in Madison, Wisconsin, a show at home, you know, but no, uh, we haven't done any touring with any bands, per se.

TW: Do you a message that you'd like your listeners to pick up?

Billy: Um, if there is any message, it's that, you know, mind your own business [laughs].

D'Arcy: [laughing] Do what you gotta do.

James: Do what you gotta do.

D'Arcy: Say what you gotta say.

James: Say what you gotta say.

Billy: You know, I ... I believe in independent, you know, beliefs in independent thoughts, and I don't really find myself a preacher. I find what we do kind of like a shared experience. We're definitely not into the transference of information. We don't really... we don't think it's important. If people want to wallow in their own stupidity that's their own problem. There's plenty of more intelligent sources to gain information from than a band passing through town. And people place a lot of stock in what Bono has to say about the rain forests, or... when they ought to just get up off their butts and do something, so that's kind of where we're at. I mean, you know, let the idiots be idiots, and if people want to be intelligent and interact in a positive way, that's great, but we're definitely not about formulating some kind of message.

TW: What other cities in the U.S. do you plan on touring?

James: Everywhere.

Billy: Everywhere.

James: Everywhere. South, North, East --

Billy: If your mom has a basement...

James and Bill: We'll be there.