Smashing Pumpkins Interview: Billy Corgan Talks About New Album

Smashing Pumpkins are releasing a new album, Monuments to an Elegy, December 9. Billy Corgan is giving the world a little taste with a preview track, "Being Beige," released this week on Soundcloud (click link below to listen). The band recorded the new album, the follow-up to 2012's Oceania, in Chicago. Corgan and guitarist Jeff Schroeder were joined by Tommy Lee of Motley Crue on drums. Lee appears on all the tracks on the album.

We hope to get a more in-depth interview with Corgan in the near future, but for now, here's what Billy had to say about the new album. You're planning to release two albums in the next year, with Monuments to an Elegy as the first. What's got you so fired up and cranking out all this new music?

Billy Corgan: My goal was having the impetus for a double record. But thinking of how it would be consumed in a surface-level culture made me want to split the work apart: which in itself has changed the process, writing, and review. There's a lot going on with the record, including a nod to past Pumpkin sounds. What were you hoping to achieve?  

Corgan: I rarely go into an album thinking what it 'has to be.' Albums, as a way of coalescing songs, are just an organizing principle, and each is different given what's going on within at that moment, and without. So if there was any sense here it was bringing all I'm interested in musically to the table at one go. How did Tommy Lee get involved? 

Corgan: The songs, in demo form, had a strut, and so the suggestion was made that we ought to get someone who 'plays like' Tommy. Jeff Schroeder, Pumpkins' guitarist said, ‘Why not get the real deal?’ Tommy brings the power and grace he's known for, which gives the music a vibrancy that is both immediate and unmistakable.” Guitarist Schroeder has been in the band since 2007. How does his playing mesh with yours? 

Corgan: To Jeff's own admittance, it's taken him some years to find his place within a sound that was uniquely formed before he came on board. For that he's turned to playing more melodically so his voice, so to speak, is additive. And it's that triumvirate between he, Tommy, and I that you hear most keenly on the record. Plus, Jeff's just a natural producer in a recording situation, and really pushed me to be my best in a way that most wouldn't understand how to, through patience, and encouragement. There is a definite "classic Pumpkins" tone to much of the record, but of course you've moved forward as well. How much of a part did producer Howard Willing have in that?  

Corgan: Howard lives in the real world, unlike me. And so it was his task to be the traffic cop. To point out where the Pumpkins’ sound needed to come forward, and for that I'm appreciative, because it was never the idea of the band as conceived to live in the past, or to become a machine of sentiment. And like all good rock and roll scythes, we're back to chopping forward.” I heard you had a ton of songs to choose from for this album. How did you narrow it down? 

Corgan: We honestly just tried to pick the best songs, of which there were about 80 ideas to choose from. And in that, Howard Willing was attracted to those with strong identities more so than just a good riff.” The second album is already titled, Day for Night. How far along are you with that, and what can we expect to hear there?

Corgan: We're at work on it already, and it literally is the other side of the sonic moon. At this early stage it appears to be a deeper work: less shiny, and more personal; which is always a quizzical thing to bring out into the open.


Related Links: 

Smashing Pumpkins Official Website

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