Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan recently gave a revealing, surprising and oftentimes confusing interview to The New York Times during which he boldly addresses a number of rumors and controversies. This, all the while promoting the Pumpkins’ comeback album and a more than 38-date summer tour titled “Shiny and Oh So Bright.” The band has been in the studio with the producer Rick Rubin working on new songs, which are rumored to be released as two EPs before the end of the year. Corgan says “I would say this is the happiest time of the band,” while flanked by three-fourth’s of the original group, bassist D’Arcy Wretzky conspicuously absent from any of the proceedings.
Corgan and the Pumpkins had been teasing their reunion for some months, while prior to the official announcement, Wretzky made it clear she would not be part of the project.
According to the Times’ article, initially “in pseudonymous comments on a rock blog and then in leaked text messages and an interview, the bassist detailed a long making-up and negotiation process that was ultimately derailed by miscommunication, worries from Mr. Corgan about her ability to perform and, of course, money”.
Wretzky claims in the interview that she and Corgan had gone back and forth about a reunion for nearly two years, however, he was, in her word, “stringing her along,” and was originally told they would make “millions of dollars.” Wretzky says it was clear Corgan would be making the most of any potential payday, and that she wanted to do the tour for the right reasons, saying, “If everybody was doing it for free, I would have done it for free.”
In other parts of the interview, Corgan credits his difficult personality leading to the group’s downward spiral and breakup as some part of a convoluted master plan straight out of professional wrestling, while addressing the touchy issue of personal politics barring any caution towards the topic.
Confronted with his appearances on the alt-right conspiracy theorist show InfoWars, Corgan is asked whether he voted for Trump. Corgan responds that the last time he voted was for Bill Clinton in 1992. “I’m a free-market libertarian capitalist,” he explains. “I’m not anti-anything except establishment. I find institutions and systems suspicious.” Times reporter Coscarelli notes during the interview that, Corgan used the terms, “culture war,” “fake news,” “globalists,” “Maoists,” “purity tests,” “left-leaning groupthink,” “protected minority groups,” “mass hypnosis,” and “social justice warriors.”
Returning to the convenient, it’s all-part-of-the-plan explanation, Corgan explains how he purposefully leaned into the role of a “bitter contrarian,” explaining that that, for a time, “the controversy worked to our favor” and that the Pumpkins pulled off five world tours and produced around 200 recorded songs. “So how dysfunctional were we, really?”
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat