Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan on making new music and learning family values from Filipinos
Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan said he learned more about family values among his friends in the Filipino community in his native Chicago.
Corgan – cofounder of the band known for its dense, alternative rock sound that explores diverse influences including psychedelia, metal, gothic, progressive and pop – is performing with new Smashing Pumpkins members Jeff Schroeder, Mike Byrne and Nicole Fiorentino on Tuesday, August 7, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Since its formation in 1988, the Smashing Pumpkins has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and won Grammy Awards twice, in 1997 and 1998.
At a press conference held on Monday, August 6, at the Edsa Shangri-La hotel in Mandaluyong, Corgan recalled seeing how Filipinos treat their elders, from their uncles to their grandparents, with respect.
He also recounted, with ironic humor, working as a cleaner in a Filipino restaurant in Chicago. “I was paid $2 per hour and I could eat for free.” Admitting he had a huge appetite, Corgan said he helped himself to the food which he nearly wiped out. Later, when he talked to the owners about his low pay, he was told, “But Billy, you’re family.”
Members of the Philippine media broke into laughter.
Corgan had a mouthful of comments on how the quest for fame and success tended to focus more on the performer and not the music, pointing out that people “have lost respect” for the earlier generations of songwriters that formed “the tradition” in contemporary music. “Music has been hijacked by business,” he lamented.
He said he keeps making music that would, hopefully, move his audience.
Asked to elaborate on what inspired him to conceptualize and record “Oceania,” the latest Smashing Pumpkins album, Corgan said he initially wanted to write about something but ended up doing another.
“It’s about the sense of alienation in love and life … It’s about feeling connected and yet being isolated,” he said, citing as an example today’s kids whose relationship with reality is tied to the Internet and mobile phones.
Staying relevant, he explained, means “making music for 2012,” adding that there’s a difference between old bands who keep touring only to make money and those who strive to create new material.
“Without new fans, there is no future for Smashing Pumpkins,” he declared.
On why he insisted that the band should play “Oceania” in its entirety on the first half of its concerts, Corgan said: “I expect people to listen to CD only once.” The opportunity to perform all the songs live is an experience and an opportunity that he seized, if only to reach out more effectively to his audience.
He added he would be glad if, for instance, the songs would remind someone of his grandmother or anyone in particular. “If people connect to it, that’s all I care about.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.