Billy Corgan on The Howard Stern Show on June 19th, 2012 in New York City, New York, USA.
Billy Corgan appeared live on Howard Stern TV for more than 90 minutes as part of his promotional tour for the new Smashing Pumpkins album “Oceania”. He poured out heart, soul and song during this interview. Corgan delved into his childhood, his previous relationships, the rise and fall of the original Smashing Pumpkins and the inspiration for the band’s new album ‘Oceania’. He also gave a live acoustic performance of “Tonight, Tonight” off the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 album “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”.
The following is a transcript from howardstern.com
The Howard Stern show began with “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” by the Smashing Pumpkins. Howard said that he is not sure what happened to rock and roll or what’s going on in the record business. He said he is not sure what Billy has been up to, but that he loves his music. Howard said that he becomes depressed when he listens to Billy’s music. Billy responded and said that he is just trying to get people to feel something. Howard said he feels that the world is about to end when he hears his music. Billy laughed and asked if that sells records. Howard said it does. Howard said that Neil Young and Bowie stuff did that to him too. Billy said that he’s not sure why people listen to music that doesn’t evoke emotion.
Howard asked if Billy is a sad guy. Billy said that he is not really. He said that he did have a pretty rough childhood though. Howard said Billy’s father abused him. Billy said that’s not the case. He said it was his step-mother that beat him from about 5 to 17 years old. He said that his dad basically told him ”tough shit” when he told him about it. He said that it was along the lines of bursts of violence that you couldn’t anticipate. He said that she would ask him to take out the garbage 5 days a week and then she would come in swinging fists on the 6th day. Billy said he read about women who are battered and you get this kind of tension of waiting. He said the waiting is the worst.
Billy said that he is not looking for sympathy or anything. He said that stuff triggered a lot of stuff that he could not control so he became a workaholic. He said he put up with a lot with regards to the band and that wasn’t good. Howard asked Billy about the band not getting along and how he keeps it going. Billy said he loves the band now. He said that he loves calling the band Smashing Pumpkins because it annoys some people.
Howard asked Billy if he is the problem with the relationships with the other band members. He said that Jimmy Chamberlin was an addict before he even joined the band and that he put up with it because he was such a good drummer. Billy said he never thought that they were going to be playing Madison Square Garden 5 years later. Howard said Billy is so great and you would think that the rest of the band would put up with him because he is the golden goose. Billy said they all grew up in the band together and that things were different then. Billy said that when he would do interviews in 1993 and that he would get all of the questions. He said that the band would get mad at him over that and he felt that it was not his fault. He said they were singling him out on the inside of the band and that led to it becoming the Titanic. Howard said when you have one guy who is the singer and songwriter, then that is the guy that you want to talk to. Howard said that is the way he looks at it from an interviewer’s point of view. Billy said that the former band members did not see it that way. Howard said he thinks that the dynamics of the bands are interesting. Billy said that in the 1990s, he told the band that if they did not last 25 years that they were idiots. He said he thought they could make it work but they were not satisfied. He said that James Iha would go and negotiate his own record deal without his knowledge. He said that he got his own solo deal and he was okay with that. He said he never consulted him or asked for advice or anything. He said that when he heard the album, he had about 40 comments that could have improved the album. He said he could have shadow wrote the stuff with him just so it could be better. He said it would have been good for him and for the band. Billy said that D’arcy decided she wanted to be an actress. He said that she had never acted before. She had not even acted in a high school play. He said she told him that she knew producers who could get her work. Billy said he told her that it does not work like that and that she cannot just go and be an actress. Howard said you have to know what you are good at and stick with it.
Howard asked Billy if any of the guys from the band came back to him and said they made a mistake. Billy said they have not. He said that he ran into James Iha at an event in 2001, but he ran off before he even got to say hello. He said that James did not even say goodbye after their last show on December 2nd, 2000. Billy said that he is glad that James is out of his life now. He said that his new guitar player Jeff Schroeder is a great moral support. Howard asked if he went into hiding to make the new Smashing Pumpkins album “Oceania”. He asked how long it took to make. Billy said it took about a year. He said they went to Sedona, Arizona for a while and then recorded it in Chicago.
Howard asked Billy if he turned to the guitar when he was going through the stuff with his step-mom. Billy said his dad did not even want him to play guitar. Billy said that he tested high for musical aptitude in elementary school. Howard asked what that means. Billy said that when he was about 7 years old, they tested the kids in school. He said that the test was really simple but they said that he had such a high test that they wanted to re-test him. He said that they re-tested him and he tested even higher than the first time. They though that Billy was a musical savant and encouraged him to start playing an instrument. He said that his dad did not want to pay for lessons, so he did not start playing guitar until he was 14 years old. Howard said that he knew a kid who was able to draw and paint but his parents told him that he would never make a living as an artist, so he just stopped. Howard said that he could have had a great life as an artist. Billy said that his dad told him he did not want him to have a hard life like he had. He thought that he was more talented than his own son. He said his dad is very talented though.
Billy said that his dad was thrown in jail after they found him unconscious with a needle in his arm and heroin next to him. He said that he got his dad out of jail and that they became closer after that. He said that his dad claimed responsibility for what he did. He said that he is proud of him for doing that and being accountable for what he did. Billy said that his dad is his biggest fan now.
Billy said that he still talks to his step-mother that beat him. He said that he believes in forgiveness. He said that it is hard but he thinks that it is the right to do. Billy said that is what Jesus teaches. Howard said that he is shocked that Billy is into Jesus. Billy said that God is something you can take or leave, but he looks for a higher mind. Billy said that he learned to forgive and that has helped him a great deal in life.
Howard asked Billy if he’s ever been in a long time relationship. Billy said he had one that was 8 years long. He said that was his last long term. Howard asked if he dated Jessica Simpson. Billy said she is pretty interesting. He said that she’s getting the last laugh because she has a billion dollar clothing company. Billy said that it just kind of fizzed with her. He said she’s really a great person though.
Howard asked if he still talks to her. Billy said he does. He said she has a lot of yes people around her and she kind of gets sucked into that Hollywood vortex. He said she can’t gain 5 pounds without someone writing about it. He said that most women are insecure about their looks and it’s not too hard to understand why she’d surround herself with people who can build her back up. He said he thinks that she liked being with him because he would tell her the truth. He said that she really appreciated that. Howard asked if she dumped him. Billy said it was mutual.
Howard asked Billy about cutting himself when he was younger. Billy said that it’s a small way of feeling like you’re in control. He said when you feel that you’re out of control then the cutting gives you control. Howard said that he must have a bleak view of the world. Billy said he really doesn’t.
Howard asked Billy if he got lessons when he started playing guitar. Billy said he was blowing people out of the water after about 6 months of playing. Howard asked if he just listened and imitated bands. Billy said that he isn’t good at learning other people’s songs. He said he would just play his own style. Billy said when he was 15 that his music sounded like Smashing Pumpkins sounds today. He said he created his own music world. Billy said that he really looked up to guys that could play technical stuff like Eddie Van Halen. Howard asked if he did a lot of drugs while writing his stuff. Billy said he didn’t. He said that he did some drugs back in the day but he doesn’t believe in abusing the stuff. He said he hasn’t done anything in the past 10 years and he doesn’t even remember what it feels like.
Howard asked Billy what song he was planning to play in the Howard Stern Studio. Billy said that he will play ”Tonight, Tonight” for him and he would never do this for anyone but Howard. Howard said he appreciates that. He asked if he has any memory of writing this song. Billy said that he remembers writing it in a different key. He said he has a demo of it from about 94 with no lyrics or anything.
Howard asked Billy if he gets the music first. Billy said he doesn’t have a lot of memory of writing this song. Howard said the song is hopeful sounding but he still gets depressed listening. Billy said the song has become a classic and he never thought that it would be. He said 1979 might be his biggest hit but this song is the one that has endured on that other level. He said some songs become songs that aren’t even really yours anymore. He said sometimes he can’t believe he actually wrote it. Billy went on to play ”Tonight, Tonight” with an acoustic guitar.
After the song, Howard said that was fantastic and that it was beautiful. Howard asked why he won’t do this for anyone else. Billy said he doesn’t want to live in the past. He said that it’s a shame that some bands have to live in the past and do songs from the old days. He said that he respects Howard so much that he’s willing to do the song but he wants to move forward. He said the past 10 years has been a lot of shit about the past and he just wants to move on. Billy said they have to move forward. He said his generation is stuck in a perpetual past and he doesn’t understand it.
Howard said Billy is looking at this the wrong way. He said his new album is beautiful and he loves it but his old songs are fantastic. He said he shouldn’t be uptight about it. He said he goes out and sees McCartney and he loves the old stuff. Billy said he agrees but he wants to get to a place where he’s comfortable. He said that he has been told that he has to play an old song to come on a show and psychologically he’s a punk and he doesn’t like being told what to do. He said he’d probably play 10 old songs but if he’s told to do it then he’ll just be like ”fuck you.”
Howard asked Billy if he sings that song ”Tonight, Tonight” to himself. Billy said it’s definitely about himself. He said it’s about getting out of the city and not even knowing how he made it.
Howard asked Billy if he’s worried about the new album doing well. Billy said he’s not. Howard asked how does one get the word out today and how to market an album. Billy said it’s pretty simple. He said they figured they had to make a great album and everything would just fall into place. He said if you sit down in a room with smart people they’ll say you have to leverage the past to make it work in the present. He said he sees a lot of people doing really marginal music now. He said that he thinks that you have to respect the position he’s taken. He said that the auto-tune stuff that’s creeping in and all of the rules they have for music now are strange. He said it’s supposed to be a world without rules and it’s filled with rules.
Billy said there are guys like Neil Young who are still out there making music that means something and they fight for it. He said Neil gave him advice once when he was bitching and moaning about the business. He said Neil just said ”Just put your head down and keep walking.” He said he said it in the way that only Neil could say it.
Howard asked Billy if he goes nuts when he gets to go to Neil’s house. Billy said of course he does. He said that he went there once and he had a teepee in his yard and he had all of these big stars there. He said they had some interesting talk in that teepee. He said that it was a real one and that it wasn’t a Target teepee or something. Howard asked how he gets booked into a teepee like that. Billy said he’d have to get booked into the charity.
Howard asked if he’s been able to play guitar with Neil. Billy said he hasn’t had that chance yet. Howard asked if that’s just not cool to do. Billy said it just never crossed his mind. He said that Neil has a really nice piano and everything he does is done right. He said he does everything perfectly. He said that the piano is hand made and it’s done perfectly. He said he remembers passing the piano and thinking that he’d like to play. He said he was afraid to ask to play it though. Howard said that could be the greatest thing ever if they just sat down and put it on a tape recorder. Howard said it wouldn’t be a tape recorder but something digital. Howard asked if he hates digital. Billy said that a lot of people in that world of digital don’t buy albums. He said that they buy records because a friend tells them. He said that’s where the social media thing works but the other stuff doesn’t.
Howard asked Billy about Courtney Love and the Twitter war he had with her. Billy asked if she’s still alive. Howard said she is. Billy said she is the least loyal person he’s ever had in his life. He said he ghost wrote a lot of her music and she didn’t even remember what was going on when she was in rehab. Billy said she is very brilliant in her own way but he took her raw data and put it into another form. He said she was so out of her mind that she wouldn’t remember from one day to the next. Howard asked why he didn’t just walk away. Billy said he’s a loyal based person and he wants to help his friends.
Howard asked if he feels so betrayed when they start shitting on him. Billy said that Courtney attacked her own daughter. He said that’s her kid. Billy said her kid had to go through what her father did and then she had to deal with her mother.
Howard said that Billy and Courtney were lovers at one point. Billy said he was just being a friend when he helped her with her album. Billy said that Courtney asked him what she was going to tell the press when she had to tell them who helped her. Billy said she could just say that a friend helped her after she got out of rehab. Billy said what she did was come out and said that he barely did anything. Billy said that he had done an interview in London and the interview came out a week later and it made it look like he was battling with her.
Howard asked Billy if he sees a psychiatrist. Billy said not anymore. He said he did see one for 12 years. Howard said he must have gotten some help from that. Billy said he has had good advice and he’s been to psychics and other people like that.
Billy told Howard that he has been told that he has ghosts in his house. He said that he’s never seen them himself. He said that he had an intuitive come to his house and she felt something there and asked who ”Marty” was. Billy said that’s what his mother’s friends called her. He said her name was Martha but her friends called her Marty. No one but people really close to her knew she was Marty. Billy said that he’s not sure what the woman saw but it was a pretty good guess coming up with Marty.
Howard asked what happened to Billy’s mother. He said she was committed when he was 4 years old. He said that she lived right down the road from them when he was growing up so it was pretty tough on him. Billy said that he was getting beaten by his step-mom and his mother was right down the street. He said that was really tough.
Howard said that John Lennon song ”Mother” must really get to him. Billy said that it was a great song. He said Lennon was a great writer and we need that in the world.
Howard asked Billy about the new album ”Oceania” and what’s up with the name. Billy said that he’s in love with a woman and she’s an Aussie. He said she’s back in Australia now. Howard asked Billy what he’s doing with his life that he won’t be with this woman. Billy said this all sounds familiar. He said he really doesn’t want to get into it. Howard said he wants to call her now and have him propose to her. Billy said she’s a great person and they don’t always see eye to eye. Billy said Howard must have been in that position. Howard said he hasn’t really. He said that everything can be worked through. Howard asked Billy if he’s miserable without her. Billy said he’s really not. He said he may just be okay with the misery.
Howard said he picked out the song ”Violet Rays” from the new album. He said that this song made him sad and that’s the way he likes to feel when he’s listening to music. Billy said that the song does refer to his ex, Jessica. Howard asked if he thinks that it’s the best song on the album. Billy said he thinks it’s one of the best. He said he thinks that it shows incredible taste on Howard’s part. Howard said Billy wanted him to pick one from the album and that’s the one he picked.
Howard asked Billy if he said he would like to be a judge on X-Factor. Billy said that he was asked if he would like to be a judge on one of those shows and he said he would because they need people like him to tell people the reality. He said he can respect the talent even if he doesn’t like the music some people are making.
Howard played ”Violet Rays” off of ”Oceania” and said he would stay quiet during the song.
After playing the song Howard said it was a fabulous song. Billy thanked him. Howard said it’s an instant hook. He said very few people can achieve that. Howard asked if it’s painful to listen to. Billy said it is. He said it’s all about hurting. Howard said the overall effect of the song makes him sad. He said he doesn’t get the lyrics and wondered if Jessica cheated. Billy said he didn’t want to talk about it. Howard said she must have cheated. Billy said that we all go through that feeling about someone being focused on something other than you. Billy said that he dated a girl for a while but she told him that she had to break up because she had to be with her family. Howard asked if he’s a hard guy to date. Billy said he thinks he’s fun. He said he likes rock and roll. Billy said he thought about it a lot and maybe there’s just one person out there who gets the whole thing. He said he has never been understood at the level he wants to be understood at.
Howard said he likes how honest Billy is. He said he has criticized Radiohead. Billy said he wasn’t doing that about the band, it was about everyone who licks their boots. He said that he is sick of the culture that says they are great and puts everyone else down. Howard said that he thought Smashing Pumpkins got that kind of special treatment too, but Billy said they really didn’t. He said they got a lot of bad press. He said between 1993 and 1996 they were killing it and they were out rocking the fuck out of everyone. He said they were way ahead of their time and no one ever said that they were. Billy said that even today it’s like that. He said that Rolling Stone asked for the top albums of the 90s and two Smashing Pumpkins albums were ranked. He said the press doesn’t give them any credit.
Howard said he thinks that Billy was the guy who wasn’t loved as a child and he’s looking for that love from the critics. Billy said he’ll never get it from them. Howard said he thinks that he has to get more therapy. He said he doesn’t appear to be able to find the love that he’s looking for. Billy said the thing that matters the most is that the band can continue. He said they’ve already done it. Billy said the public vibe on the street is that they have a future so that’s what they’re going with. He said he can just feel it on the streets.
Howard asked Billy about his fascination with wrestling. Billy said he started his own league. He said it’s called Resistance Pro. He said he’s just a creative person in it and he doesn’t own it. He said he is super involved in it but not financially. Howard asked how deep it goes. Billy said he knows wrestler dirt and he’s what they call a ”mark” for wrestlers. He said that wrestlers are like rock and roll and they just do what they have to do to get the audience going.
Billy said he has a special needs brother and he went to an event. He said his brother got into the wrestling match and he screwed up the whole match by throwing the match for the guy he was aligned with. He said that they asked him why he did that and he said he was sick of living in his brother’s shadow. Billy said that his own brother turned on him. He said that he has a form of mongolidism that’s really rare. He said that kids were cruel to his brother when they were growing up. He said the kids are one thing but the worst are the adults. He said the adults would talk like his brother couldn’t even hear them. He said that they were really cruel.
Billy said he thinks it was cool that Resistance Pro got his brother involved in wrestling. He said he has a regular job now and he lives on his own. He said he thinks it’s cool that he has something to be excited about. He said it’s perfect for him. He said it’s like what Howard has done for some of the crazy characters he’s had on the show.
Howard asked Billy if he dated Tila Tequila. Billy said that he never has. He said that was just a rumor. He said he has hung out with her but he never dated her. Howard said Billy must be having a great sex life. Billy said he has every right to be choosy. Billy said that the killer move is to play a song while you’re laying in bed. Howard said saying the song is about the woman is the second killer move. Howard asked if he wrote that song ”Violet Rays” about Jessica and then told her that it was about her. Billy said that he did that. He said that she’s a twin too. Howard said he wonders what Billy is up to. Billy said he had a few moments when her sister would have her back to him and he thought it was Jessica. He said that their body is the same so it’s hard to tell from a far. He said that you realize something isn’t right and then you realize it’s her sister. Howard asked if he ever got both of them in bed. Billy said he never did. He said that any inkling that you’re interested in the twin means the relationship is dead. He said you never even say that their sister is looking good.
Howard asked Billy if he ever did the blow job thing in the tour bus. Billy said he doesn’t believe in degrading women. He said that if you’re in a relationship with someone that’s one thing but just doing it with random people is degrading and that he didn’t like doing that type of stuff.
Howard said that Billy has confessed and come clean today. He wishes him luck with the new album and said he hopes that it does well. He said he’s not sure how he’s going to sell records if there are no record stores anymore. Howard said they heard about Billy’s real passion and that it’s wrestling. Howard asked if he has met Hulk Hogan. Billy said he has. He said he’s a good guy. Howard said he’s had him on the show many times.
Howard said Billy’s voice sounds great too. He asked if he smokes. Billy said he doesn’t. He said he’s got a clean liver. Howard wrapped up and went to break a short time later.