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Billy Corgan's Mean Street Interview
July 20, 2005, 4:10 pm

Source: Mean Street

Billy Corgan
Mean Street. July 2005. Melissa Bobbit

"In my case, the biggest pro was that there was no drama."

Despite all his rage, Billy Corgan is busting out of his alternarock cage. Heís paying a long overdue visit to Solo Project Land with the June release of The Future Embrace. Instead of adhering to the gargantuan guitar swells and nascent nihilism his Smashing Pumpkins were noted for, Corgan trades Black Sabbath influence for synth-pop sovereignty. ďMina Loy (M.O.H.)Ē thumps with New Order nuances. ďA100Ē could be the best song Trent Reznor overlooked for With Teeth, with its whip-crack beats and luridly dark keyboards. And the dynamite first single ďWalking ShadeĒ combines the theatrics of the Pumpkinsí final album Machina with an electroclash lure.

We caught up with The Great Pumpkin at a Beverly Hills hotel in May to chat about his first foray into solo artistry, working with Courtney Love (and living to tell about it) and the beguiling nature of the Bee Gees. Corgan last month told a Chicago newspaper about his desire to reunite the Smashing Pumpkins.

When you began to write the album, was it a conscious decision to make it more electronic than rock?
It doesnít bother me that people say that but I disagree. I think it is rock. Itís not rock in the dumb, riffy sense but itís rock like My Bloody Valentine. Itís closer to shoegazer rock. I think itís kind of a trick. I do these things where itís like, I rub your tummy while Iím stealing your wallet. I kind of like tricking people into comfortable sound, warm familiar sound ó The Joy Division sound, the Interpol sound. Itís my way of drawing you to my spiderís web and getting you to listen to what I want to listen to.

What have you found to be the pros and cons of being a solo artist as opposed to a front man?
In my case, the biggest pro was that there was no drama. And I didnít have to pretend that I wasnít doing most everything to keep peopleís egos happy. The con is that you donít have that immediate response, i.e. a band, to come and say, ďIíve got a new song, letís try itĒ and right away you know if itís good or not.

Any plans to start another band?
I can see a situation where [myself] and Robert Smith decide to put out an album under the name The Miserable Fuckheads or something. But as for a band, like ever having another band like [post-Pumpkins project] Zwan, Iíll never do it. Itís Pumpkins or Billy.

I wanted to ask you about the [albumís] Robert Smith collaboration on a Bee Gees song, of all things! How did you choose that cover song?
I just loved the song [ďTo Love SomebodyĒ] and I asked Robert to sing that song, not for any particularly twisted reason, although it did occur to me that it sounded kind of funny to ask him to sing on a Bee Gees song.

On the press release for your album, you talk about Courtney Love staying at your house during the writing process. How have you two remained friends over the years despite such public feuds, and will you be working on her new solo album?
I wrote a bunch of songs for her new album, so weíll see how that turns out. As far as our relationship, I think that goes back to [us being] a couple at a time when nobody knew who we were. Of course, when anyone thinks of us now, they think of all the shit thatís happened and who we are now. But I think when you bond with somebody at a younger age ó youíve only got five bucks in your pocket, how are you going to get across town and those sort of things ó they donít lose that.

Credit: Melissa Bobbit