Billy Corgan, Rock God Interrupted: Rolling Stone's 2010 Feature

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Though he has a house in Chicago, Corgan spends much of his time here at the pool house, crashing on the property of a friend, producer and drummer Kerry Brown — who happens to be former Pumpkins bassist D'Arcy Wretzky's ex-husband (neither Corgan nor Brown has talked to her since the late Nineties). Corgan is practically a member of the family: Brown's kids call him Uncle Billy. "It's a stable situation," says Corgan. He goes to their basketball games, and they found his presence way more impressive after his avatar appeared in Guitar Hero. At the moment, Corgan is staring at a white board leaning against a bookshelf, where he's written 50 or so song titles in all-caps: "The Dauphine," "As Rome Burns," "Blurricane," "Fate the Lonely Actor." He composed and demo'ed all of these songs in the past few months, and has recorded and released two so far as free downloads: the epically Zeppelin-esque "A Song for a Son" and the baroque, liltingly poppy "Widow Wake My Mind."

Corgan has decided the traditional album is dead, so he's putting out a massive 44-song collection — Teargarden by Kaleidyscope — one track at a time online. Whenever he completes a set of four songs, he's releasing them on his own label as ornately packaged EPs, with the first due this spring. "I feel like I have probably 10 to 15 songs that are super-top-level," he says. "I originally thought I'd string those songs like little diamonds amongst the other good songs, but now I'm going to have to push those up to the front of the line. And I'll just have to write more."

As is his habit, Corgan got up around 7 a.m. in his little loft bedroom by the pool. He ate a frittata for breakfast, leaving the yolks in, even though he wants to lose some weight. A couple of years ago he was downright gaunt, but he's returned to his baby-face Nineties look — except for the wispy, graying full beard he's got going today, he looks more or less exactly as he did in the video for "1979." "I'm actually fat right now, although don't use that word, because a lot of my friends are women and they get upset with me," he says.

While he has steered clear of Western medicine (and recreational drugs) for a decade, Corgan says he suffers from an array of health complaints, including mercury, arsenic and lead poisoning. He believes that his lungs were damaged when he lived in Lower Manhattan after 9/11. He is "chronically, medically" dehydrated, allergic to alcohol and has weak ankles, which he protects with high-top Air Jordans.

Corgan recently built a gearhead's dream of a private studio in Chicago, with equipment from Motown studios and the kind of mixing boards used by Pink Floyd and the Beatles. To pay for it, he mortgaged his past, accepting a sum that can safely be assumed to be in the millions to sell the rights to "Today" — the Pumpkins' first hit — for a Visa ad. He is unapologetic about the sale of a song he calls "sacred," arguing that it completes his independence from the major-label system. "As I stood there with the white flag on indie island, everybody else blew by me, including all the indie bands that were licensing their music," he says. "I realized I was living in the Nineties, still living up to those old codes. Pete Townshend basically told me, 'Who gives a shit? Who gives a shit if Mary Lou lost her virginity in the back of a car to the song? What's the difference between whether you sell it on iTunes or a CD through a commercial?' "

Corgan's blue-gray eyes are glowing with indignation now, his voice rising. "I turned around and took that money and built a studio, and now it gives me the opportunity to give away my music for free," he says. "If I had gotten the accolades that I deserved, if I wasn't treated like some sort of pariah by my own musical country, if I wasn't sort of caught between pop land and alternative land, if I had a country, then maybe I would have a greater confidence in those systems supporting me, but they haven't. So at some point, I have to go in business for myself."

In several past lives, Billy Corgan was a monk, or so psychics have told him. The idea makes sense to him — he deals with problems through solitary work, and he's even made attempts at celibacy. In addition to writing the book about his beliefs, which seem to center on a highly personal New Age version of Christianity — he has barely read the Bible, recommending a 1907 book called The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ instead — he runs what amounts to a virtual ministry on a new website called Everything From Here to There. Recently, he posted a five-part series on "How to Put Your Good Anger to Use."

Corgan subscribes to the fashionable idea that we're building to a cataclysm, or at least a major vibrational shift, in 2012; he wonders what was really in the H1N1 vaccine; he fears that the United States is headed toward a Soviet Union-style economic collapse. If you get him started, he unleashes lengthy monologues along these lines, using the word "system" a lot as he traces patterns in the air with his gigantic hands — but when pressed on details, he backs off: "I don't want to be a dead hero," he says.

Corgan has spent a lot of time working with psychics and healers. "I went to see a shaman," he says. "He put his hands on me, and I cried like a baby for an hour. It was like at a funeral or something, where the grief is so immense that it feels like it's coming up through your feet. He was identifying things that needed to be mourned. He even brought up my dog from when I was a kid — he knew what he looked like."

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