Why Billy Corgan Refuses to Play Some Classic Songs Live
source: townsquare.media

Why Billy Corgan Refuses to Play Some Classic Songs Live

Why Billy Corgan Refuses to Play Some Classic Songs Live

Billy Corgan, the iconic frontman of the Smashing Pumpkins, has made it clear that he won’t be pressured into playing the band’s classic hits during live performances. In a recent interview with Kerrang, Corgan emphasized his stance on the matter, stating that he only plays songs he genuinely wants to perform, regardless of their popularity.

“I don’t play any songs I don’t want to play. I don’t care if they’re a classic or not,” Corgan asserted. “If I don’t want to play it, I just don’t play it. I don’t put that on the audience like, ‘Well, I’ve got to play this one for you.’ I think that’s kind of cheese.”

While Corgan acknowledges that fans’ desire to hear their favorite songs isn’t inherently negative, he warns that artists can’t dwell in the past. “It’s the death of any artist,” he remarked. He elaborated on the internal struggle artists face, likening it to having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The devil tempts with the promise of an easy night if they play crowd-pleasers, but Corgan insists that’s not the reason to be on stage.

He believes that fans don’t want to see “some aging relic” and that new music is crucial for emotionally engaging performances. Corgan has spent years finding a balance between old and new material, a concept that took him a long time to grasp. He explained that understanding the audience’s perspective helped him soften his stance and realize that his previous position might have been too “arty.”

The Smashing Pumpkins have a busy tour schedule this summer, starting with European dates alongside Weezer in June. They will return to the U.S. in July for the Saviors tour with Green Day and Rancid, performing in stadiums across the country until late September.

Despite the band’s success in the ’90s, Corgan’s public persona has often overshadowed his musical achievements. He admits that his reactionary nature sometimes led him to overcompensate, but he has since found a more balanced approach. “I’m really happy to play the songs in the way they were recorded, in a way that the whole history of the band is respected,” he said. “But I’m not a slave to do it.”

Corgan’s refusal to play certain classic songs is rooted in his desire to stay true to himself and his art. He believes that being an independent artist allows him the freedom to make these choices without being beholden to anyone. “I’ve saved all my money, I don’t need to do or be anything,” he stated. “I’m an independent artist, I’m not on a label, I literally just do what I want to do.”

He also touched on the cultural expectation for artists to remain frozen in their most successful eras. Corgan noted that this mentality is outdated and that rock and roll can have a future beyond its initial burst of fame. He pointed to other long-lasting bands like AC/DC and the Rolling Stones as examples of artists who continue to release new music and evolve.

For Corgan, the key to longevity is releasing high-quality new music. He differentiates himself from peers who are content to coast on past glories. “I refuse to become an oldies act. I’m just not interested. I think it’s boring,” he declared. “If you want to come and only hear five songs, they might get those songs, but that’s not what the show is about.”

As the Smashing Pumpkins approach their 35th anniversary, Corgan is focused on preserving the band’s legacy and continuing to create meaningful music. He believes that the band’s unique voice has endured and that they are back on the path they should have stayed on. “We were the ones who walked away from it; nobody took us off our game. And now we’re back to doing what we’re good at,” he concluded.