Billy Corgan on Smashing Pumpkins’ New Tour, Quitting Twitter
Billy Corgan doesn’t know exactly where he is right now, but it’s somewhere outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Smashing Pumpkins frontman recently began work on a film project that has him traveling back roads along the old Route 66 and hanging out with the everyday Americans he encounters. “I’m still figuring it out, but I’m hoping to get it made into a series,” he says. “I’m trying to rekindle my understanding and appreciation for the core American value.”
Corgan is also gearing up for the Pumpkins’ In Plainsong Tour, where they’ll play stripped-down versions of tunes from their entire catalog. “We’ve organically stumbled into a new way to play,” Corgan says. “Although I know that no matter how many interviews I give where I explain it, there will be some guy in the back of the room going, ‘Why are they not playing “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” real loud?'”
What’s the Smashing Pumpkins lineup going to be on this summer’s tour?
Me, Jeff Schroeder and Jimmy Chamberlin. And then we’re being helped out by Sierra Swan and Katie Cole, who are both singer-songwriters. The shows tend to lean more towards vocal arrangements and stuff like that, so I need other people to help on that.
Is Jimmy back in the band full-time now?
I don’t really get into all that stuff anymore. One of the sources of tension always was, “Who’s and who’s out?” I run sort of an open-door policy now. There really are no band members. And if anybody’s in the band, it’s Jeff. With this, I asked Jimmy to be involved and he was very enthusiastic about it, and so I said, “Great, let’s do it.” I think we’re long past the point of trying to define what the band is. It’s gone through so many iterations and been delved into over and over again. There’s no straight answer and nobody seems satisfied with whatever answer I give, so I just don’t care anymore. It’s an open door.
Are there any songs in your catalog that just don’t work on a tour like this?
No, everything’s fair game. It’s literally a chance to sit and look through every song I’ve ever put out and ask, “Will it fit in this version of the tour for this moment?” It changes because my mood changes a lot, so this lineup of songs is different than the ones from last year.
On your tour with Marilyn Manson last summer, you surprised a lot of people by just playing most of Pumpkins’ hits from the 1990s.
I said to myself, “Look, we’re going to be playing to mainstream American crowds, many of which haven’t seen the band for a few years. Let’s just keep it simple.” The old arguments over who is in the band — all those arguments — they just got really old after a while, and I just wanted to have a good, fun month hanging out with my buddy on tour. We had a great, successful tour. What’s weird to me is that I’ve played so many difficult shows [set-list-wise], so that when I did that, it was treated as some sort of weird capitulation as opposed to a balancing act where you say, “OK, this is the time not to be that.”
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