Billy Corgan: 'I'm actually quite shy and insecure'

By Chris Schulz

Billy Corgan.  Photo / File photo
Billy Corgan. Photo / File photo

He's got a reputation for being one of rock's more outspoken personalities, but Billy Corgan says the media has turned him into something he's not.

The Smashing Pumpkins front man, in town for the band's one-off show at Auckland's Vector Arena tonight, is known for making outlandish comments and over-the-top statements.

Recently, Corgan made headlines for saying he wanted to "piss on Radiohead", attacked rock band OK GO's inventive music videos as "gimmicks" and called former Pumpkins guitarist James Iha a "piece of s**t".

But in an interview with nzherald.co.nz, Corgan said the media often used his quotes out of context and his personality was much more complex than just being "the angry guy" .

"I'm a good enough musician that I can be different people," he said while enjoying a cup of tea at an inner city hotel.

"I don't have to be the angry guy, or the dumb guy, or the cantankerous guy. At some point it became part of the business that I was that person and the more I struggled not to be that person the more they wanted me to be that person because it sells magazines.

"They try to turn you back into that guy. The fans aren't having it, because they know I'm not that guy."

Corgan, the only original member of the band left since their mid-'90s peak that included the albums Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, said he amplified parts of his personality in interviews, but denied being arrogant.

"It's hurt me more than it's helped me but it's meant I've stayed in the game more than maybe I should have. I'm musically arrogant, but I'm not an arrogant person.

"I'm actually quite shy and insecure like everyone else, but I'm musically arrogant and I should be."

No one would blame Corgan for being arrogant about the Pumpkins' latest album Oceania, which Kiwi fans will hear in its entirety at tonight's show. It's been a critical success, with reviewers praising it as their best record in 17 years.

Corgan, 45, said that came down to finding the right people for his band, which includes guitarist Jeff Schroeder, drummer Mike Byrne and bassist Nicole Fiorentino - a line-up that's been solid for more than two years now.

"Musically I have to give a lot of credit to my band, It's just worked out. We work together really, really well. They've taken possession of this business, which is ultimately more of a spiritual business than it is a musical business."

While they are playing Oceania in full at recent shows, Corgan said he'd never jump on the nostalgia bandwagon and play older albums in full for fans.

"(Oceania) is new, it's timely, people are getting healed from the music because it's talking to them in this time frame. To replay Siamese Dream, it's a great album (but) it can't be of this time.

"Siamese Dream wasn't appreciated in its time for as great an album as it was. Oceania maybe won't be either (but) at least this album speaks to where people are at now."

Despite Oceania's success, which comes after drummer Jimmy Chamberlain left the band following 2007's underwhelming comeback record Zeitgeist, Corgan said he was still fighting for mainstream credibility.

"We only became popular when we became popular because we just kicked the f**king doors down. People didn't embrace us like they embraced Radiohead or Nirvana, we weren't warm and cuddly, I wasn't the poster child for somebody's teenage wet dream.

"I'm the guy who gets in your ear and f**king hammers you with the truth."

* Check nzherald.co.nz tomorrow for a full review and photo gallery from tonight's show.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 22 Sep 2014 06:22:59 Processing Time: 351ms