Billy Corgan Says He Became a ‘Jerk With a Bad Message’
Billy Corgan has taken responsibility for the demise of the Smashing Pumpkins in 2000, saying he “became a jerk with a bad message” as a result of the attitudes he presented in public. He added that, if it hadn’t been for those, the band might have achieved much more success than it did.
“If I kept my mouth shut, and if I kept my band together, we’d be playing a lot bigger venues and we would be a lot more successful, and we’d be in somebody’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” he told The New York Times in a new interview. He said that he’d become a “bitter contrarian” and a “class-A heel,” noting, “I’d put me two, behind Lou Reed, who’s the king.”
Corgan said that his controversial profile had worked for a while. “To my discredit, I didn’t realize that that formula only works if you’re winning commercially,” he reflected. Once fans began to drift away, he said, he’d been left as “just a jerk with a bad message.”
He also accepted that he’d wanted the original lineup back for some time, but it took a long internal debate to admit that to himself. He wound up “wrestling with the ghost of the thing” and fighting “a war that was very much my own war” because he was “in denial about what I’d given up.” “I would say this is the happiest time of the band," he said.
Corgan is now reunited with original Pumpkins members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin, and has two EPs set to be released and a tour to follow. But original bassist D’arcy Wretsky – who engaged in a public war of words over her lack of involvement in the new project – will not return. Describing her publication of private negotiations as “horrifying,” Corgan said, “I think what she did demonstrates why she couldn’t be involved. I was vulnerable and shared things and trusted that there was a reason to give it a chance, despite plenty of empirical evidence that that was not a wise decision.”
Despite his comments about his attitudes, Corgan insisted that he knew what he was doing most of the time. “I would say 80 percent of the things that I get held up and mocked for, I’m doing intentionally,” he said. “It’s sort of funny to me that they actually think I’m that stupid.”