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  • Writer's pictureConny Chavez

Billy Corgan Speaks About His Memories With His Father, The Early Days, AI & What’s To Come

Updated: Jan 18

The Smashing Pumpkins’ vocalist Billy Corgan recently sat down with Allison Hagendorf for an intimate conversation on Tuesday, August 8, hosted at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, California. A limited number of fans were lucky enough to sit-in and listen to Corgan share various stories of his musical journey, his childhood, the early days of The Smashing Pumpkins and what’s to come for the band. A few fans were even fortunate enough to ask the alternative rock pioneer questions, including if he has considered using artificial intelligence in his music, what influenced his writing, and so much more.

Frontman of one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands of the ’90s, Billy Corgan shared tons of personal stories during his appearance at the Grammy Museum. In between shows for the World Is A Vampire Tour, Corgan joined music journalist Allison Hagendorf for a special two-hour conversation taking the audience through his childhood, his musical journey, a sneak peek into his thought process as a composer and writer, and what he looks forward to with the band including details of an upcoming album. It was not long before Corgan mentioned that the band is already working on a new album set to follow their 12th and latest record Autum: A Rock Opera In Three Acts. Corgan was quick to state that the new record will be a rock guitar-led album. “It’s the closest record we’ve made to the classic ’92, ’96 style of the band,” said Corgan. “It literally sounds like we stepped out of a time machine.” The record currently holds 16 songs and is said to be heavy with an old-school Pumpkins’ sound. “It sounds good on paper, but you may not like it when you hear it,” he warned.

The Grammy-winner shared the reason as to why it has taken the band so long to return to their heavy grunge rock sound heard in the Siamese Dream album. Corgan reiterated that the band resisted going back to that specific sound because the band “felt it was going backwards” and “it never felt organically the right moment.” The singer-songwriter explained that he always knew the exact blueprint on how to make another record similar to Siamese Dream, but the issue was getting back into the dark emotional place he was in when he originally wrote the record. Corgan shared that he was in an eight month depression and attempted suicide several times before he wrote the hit songs such as “Today,” “Cherub Rock” and more of Siamese Dream. The singer also shared that there is over 100 unreleased finished songs and over 200 more ideas that are “half-baked” stored away, so don’t be surprised if the new Smashing Pumpkins record is another massive record.

Corgan also shared some stories about his father and his harsh opinions of the early Smashing Pumpkins’ music. Corgan was often pushed to do his best as his father was a tough critic, up to the point where Corgan consistently practiced guitar for four hours every single day for four years. His father wasn’t the only challenging one to impress as Corgan shared that his bandmates are also some of his toughest critics. “I mean pick your classic Pumpkins song, they were not impressed.” Hagendorf also questioned Corgan on his relationship with the band today and Corgan explained why he believes they are in such a great place. “We don’t want to not do it together, and they give me the space to do my thing. So that’s why I think we’re having this musical renaissance because we don’t need to play this game.” Corgan also reflected on playing with The Smashing Pumpkins co-founder and guitarist James Iha again. “Oh my god, its 36 years later and we’re not in dad’s bedroom anymore that he sold heroine out of, we’re here. He and I didn’t talk for 16 years. Did 14 years of complete compressed intensity, fighting about deli trays and then nothing for 16 years,” Corgan went on to credit fans for bringing him back together with Iha.

During the fan Q&A, someone in the crowd asked Corgan what influenced his poetic writing style, Corgan explained that after reading the book No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugarman he was lead to read Jack Kerouac, William Blake and William Burroughs who talked about the hidden violence of words. Corgan also mentioned being influenced by Rush’s Neil Peart and his incredible ability with words. Another fan asked Corgan if he would ever consider using artificial intelligence as a tool in his music, with another incredible story Corgan shared that years ago Napster co-founder Sean Parker had offered him an AI tool that allegedly analyzed songs and created original melodies, but Corgan declined as he is confident in his own talent, but would not envy those who opt to use such technology. As a final question, Corgan was asked about his opinion regarding the current state of rock music, Corgan stated that rock music particularly in the youth culture is making a comeback channeling 1994’s powerful era. The rock legend mentioned bands such as Turnstile, Death Heaven, Amyl and the Sniffers, stating that the newer generation has found their own authentic sound mixed into the influence of previous bands.

Billy Corgan is currently on tour with The Smashing Pumkins. The tour ends on September 9 in Noblesville, Indiana. For more information on the band or to find out their next tour date visit here.

(Originally published on

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