The Smashing Pumpkins reached the quarter-century mark as a recording unit last year, which means they are now eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “I get asked about that a lot,” says Billy Corgan. “If it’s a meritocracy, I think my band belongs in there because we were one of the prime bands of our era and we continue to be a top band. Next year will be, technically, our 30th year. So the fact that I’ve been in this band, you know, essentially 25 of the last 30 years, I think that says something.”
That doesn’t mean that Corgan isn’t a bit ambivalent about the Hall of Fame as an institution. “Whole genres of music get overlooked and people don’t get put in because somebody’s mad at somebody from 30 years ago,” he says. “I’m only speaking as a fan, but it’s hard to trust the institution as a meritocracy when you have people in there who weren’t very influential, didn’t sell a lot of records but because somebody somewhere was a fan, they’re in. And then you have other people who were hugely influential and they go, ‘Well, you know…'”
If the Pumpkins do get into the Hall of Fame, it will pose some logistical problems for the institution. Corgan is the only member to endure through every lineup of the group, and he is not exactly on good terms with founding guitarist James Iha and original bassist D’arcy Wretzky. There’s also current guitarist Jeff Schroeder, former bassists Melissa Auf der Maur, Nicole Fiorentino and Ginger Reyes along with former drummer Mike Byrne. The Hall of Fame tends to induct members from the classic lineup of the group, but there have been many exceptions, most notably Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo and Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick.
Might Corgan pull an Axl Rose and simply not show up if things get too complicated? “I can’t answer those kinds of questions,” he says. “What if I say I will come and then 17 years later, when I’m in a wheelchair, they finally bring me in? I don’t fucking know. I just saw Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick and I said, ‘It’s about fucking time they put you in. What the fuck?’ And Rick being Rick, he laughed. He said, ‘I don’t give a shit. I’m in now.’ I think at the end of the day you hope that it’s fair and you get in on your accomplishment and it’s not a political thing. But I don’t know what to think about any of that anymore.”
Watch our mini-doc on Billy Corgan’s passion for pro-wrestling below: