As frontman for the Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan has released albums under the band’s moniker for almost two decades, despite the absence of most of the original lineup.
So it was a bit shocking to see his latest release, “Ogilala” — a stripped down, acoustic experience produced by Rick Rubin — released as a solo record by William Patrick Corgan, rather than under the more familiar Pumpkins label.
For Corgan, it was more catharsis than strategy.
“I was making a record called Smashing Pumpkins and I just wasn’t feeling it.” Corgan explained. “So rather than saying I have to do this or it has to sound like ‘Siamese Dream 2’ or whatever, I’m just going to write songs and wherever those songs go, that’s what I’ll follow.”
And with that, “Ogilala” was born. Corgan spoke with amNewYork to talk about the record (out Oct. 13), what’s in a name and address rumors of a Smashing Pumpkins reunion.
What went into the decision to make “Ogilala” a solo record under William Patrick Corgan, rather than a Smashing Pumpkins album?
I was working on a follow up to the last Pumpkins album, “Monuments to an Elegy” and about half way through I kind of lost my mind. I just ran out of gas on Smashing Pumpkins music. So I wrote a batch of songs that ended up being the foundation for this record. I found if I just naturally let myself go where I wanted to go — more acoustic, less future rock — that’s how I ended up working with Rick Rubin and putting it under my name.
Do you think the artist title impacts how others perceive the music?
You get to a point in the world where, if I write the songs and I sing it and I call it “Billy Corgan” or “Smashing Pumpkins” or I call it “The Moon and the Stars” it doesn’t feel any different to me. But people really perceive it differently. And it’s a positive-negative. I get tired of putting out Pumpkins music and then answering the question “Why should we accept this as Pumpkins if it doesn’t involve ‘pick your band member.’” That gets old too. So I’m happy to do something that doesn’t have that kind of baggage. Here’s the songs I wrote, this is me, and if you like it, that’s great.
What can you say about talk of an original Pumpkins reunion happening?
I’m hopeful. I can’t say for sure we will and I can’t say we won’t. The good news is that the issues that were in the way, that were more personal than professional, have been sorted out quietly and I’m very happy with that. I have peace in my life that I haven’t had in a number of years. To have James [Iha] and D’arcy [Wretzky] back in my life is a great thing. James is on the record. There’s a song on this record that James played. So whether or not [we officially reunite], we play. If we play, how we play, what we play, that is all secondary beyond the fact that we have reestablished the relationships. Because that’s really what drove the music in the first place.