Corgan wants rock to get dangerous again
Facepuke: Billy Corgan with Smashing Pumpkins
Smashing Pumpkins mainman Billy Corgan says it’s time for for rock music to get dangerous again, because the world around us has more become dangerous than it’s been in decades.
And he says the reason artists aren’t responding is that the Facebook era has made too many people scared to move away from the mainstream.
Corgan, poised to release new Pumpkins album Oceania, tells Antiquiet: “We’re all insecure in our own ways, most of us. You’ve got a Facebook with a few hundred friends. If you do something truly radical are you ready to withstand the 40 negative comments? Most people aren’t – so they’re getting peer-pressured at levels they don’t even realise.”
As a result, he says, people are more likely not to share ideas they might have shared in the past. “It’s the same thing with culture,” he continues. “I’m just willing to say it, and deal with the 40 negative comments.”
The frontman believes he’s able to understand the position more than most because he’s spent his career playing with the idea of “conceptual identity” that’s now being foisted upon artists and fans alike. “Meanwhile the real me is standing behind it all,” he says. “Now I’m strong enough that I don’t need a mask; I’m just myself. I’m 15 pounds overweight, I’ve got crooked teeth, I’ve got a funny voice – but I’m fucking good at what I do.”
Corgan insists more of the same attitude is required to ensure music doesn’t lose the ability to challenge authority. “I still think rock’n'roll done correctly is one of the most dangerous things in the world to the systems of power. It’s the ultimate viral concept.
“Go back to 1956 with Elvis. That was much more a mellow and serene world in many ways, beyond the nuclear holocaust that was always waiting. Elvis was en electrifying figure: he fucked stuff up – the culture, concepts of masculinity, sexuaity. He fucked stuff up just like the Beatles did.
“You don’t need an army. You don’t need a tank. You don’t need a bayonet. You just need a really good idea. Just like Tom Morello has the quote on his guitar from Woodie Guthrie: ‘This guitar is a fucking weapon – this guitar kills fascists.’
“Love kills fascists. And when music is so fucking iTunes friendly-cuddly it makes me want to puke. Where is that voicing in the greater collective voices? Why don’t we have that any more?”
And Corgan says that’s why, love him or hate him, it’s essential for him to keep making music. “This fucking voice kills fascists. That’s the way I look at it.”