Just over a week after Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt explained the band’s approach to addressing politics in their music, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan is sharing his thoughts on the phenomenon. In a new interview on the Reinvented With Jen Eckhart podcast that Billboard has a first look at, Corgan opened up about making political music, being continually passed over by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and more.
“I can’t think of any political song I’ve ever written. That said, I’m a political junkie. I pay a ton of attention to politics. I’m not one of these people who thinks that politics doesn’t have a place in music,” Corgan mused. “I think that every artist should express their views however they deem fit. Whether or not those views are acceptable to people, I think is irrelevant … I’ve just never been that intrigued on putting that type of political messaging into my music.”
The Smashing Pumpkins — alongside fellow support acts Rancid and The Linda Lindas — are set to embark on Green Day’s upcoming global stadium tour in support of new album Saviors. While the jury is still out as to where the record will land on the Billboard 200, the set’s lead single, the fiery “The American Dream Is Killing Me,” has already seen success across several Billboard charts. Since its release in October, the track has reached the top of Rock Airplay and No. 22 on Hot Rock & Alternative Songs.
“‘The American Dream Is Killing Me’ was written by Billie [Joe Armstrong] almost four years ago. But we all knew it was just low-hanging fruit,” Dirnt previously said of the making of the hit single. “We’re not a parody of who we are, and songs like that need time to be fleshed out. If that means just sitting back and letting life happen, so be it. And it was one of the last things we recorded.”
Saviors marks Green Day’s 14th studio album, and the band’s third record since its induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame back in 2015. The band made it into the Rock Hall in its first year of eligibility, while Smashing Pumpkins have still yet to receive such an honor. In his conversation on the podcast, Corgan also criticized the current state of the Rock Hall.
“A general criticism is, ‘Why have a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame if the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame isn’t only relegated to rock n’ roll?’ Personally, I think Willie Nelson belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Because there’s no real clear definition, it’s confusing to people,” he said. “Why don’t you just call it the Music Hall of Fame? I quantify rock n’ roll as more of a spirit thing … I think it’s hard for people to understand the definitive qualities, especially when you start putting in pop artists who are strictly pop artists. Now if the argument is that, over time, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has morphed into an institutional culture which is more the ‘Music Hall of Fame,’ then I think that would be easier for people to understand.”
The 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees included Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine and The Spinners.
“I think the 20-year-old in me would be shocked, but I think the value of The Smashing Pumpkins has grown into something far more valuable than hit records or institutional approval,” said Corgan. “Our place in musical history has grown into something far more unique than even I would have imagined.”
Over the course of its storied career, The Smashing Pumpkins has sent seven titles to the top 10 of the Billboard 200, including its sole chart-topper, 1995’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (one week). On the Billboard Hot 100, the band has landed eight career entries on the chart, including the band’s highest peaking single, 1996’s “1979” (No. 12). As a soloist, Corgan has a pair of Billboard 200 entries: 2005’s TheFutureEmbrace (No. 31) and 2017’s Ogilala (No. 183), which he released under his full name, William Patrick Corgan.
Watch an exclusive clip of his interview on the Reinvented With Jen Eckhart podcast above.
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