For someone who once released a double CD, Billy Corgan has had it with the album. “I was never comfortable with the album format,” Corgan tells Rolling Stone. “It always felt so forced and was obviously an economic decision made by others and not an artistic decision made by creators. It can be draining to try to record 15 songs over a six-month period.”
True to his word, the in-progress, psychedelic-leaning Smashing Pumpkins album, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, will be released one track at a time, as free downloads, starting in late October. “No strings attached, no e-mail address need be given, no fees, nothing, totally free,” he says. “A 44-song free-for-all!” Even when it will be available physically, the format will be 11 EPs with four tracks each. “I thought it would emphasize that each song is really important to me,” he says, “and also try to get myself up to the speed of a world that is absolutely devouring information.”
Corgan says he wasn’t inspired by any similar approaches, like Radiohead’s recent move to put out singles and one album online. “I want no limitations on what I can, and will do,” he says. “I think the size and shape of the traditional album is just morphing into something much more in the moment. Four songs at a time will mean I can give my heart over to the music fully without giving away my now happy life.”
Although Corgan says he already written 53 songs, he won’t say whether he’ll be recording them with the latest edition of the Pumpkin or reveal any song titles. “The first four songs are speaking a new language to me, rooted in the psychedelic music I love but still sounding quite modern and like the Pumpkins I long to hear,” he allows. He’s also hoping to have the first track available just after Halloween.
Can Corgan, who parted ways with Warner Bros. last year, afford to give music away for free? “I can’t afford it!!” he says. “But I would rather be free than rich. The [major] labels are dead ghosts walking, and they know it. They never should have left this mystic free, because I am way more of a pied piper than they could ever fathom.”