Billy tells Stereogum “Music is a sacred thing to me”

In a lengthy interview with Stereogum Billy talks about the status of alternative music. But he first starts with talking about Oceania and how the reaction has been to the album. Which Billy says “We feel it’s sort of opened up the door — musically, to go to a different place, so we see where we want to go now, with more clarity, having opened that door. And then secondarily, it’s pleasurable to play music that people want to hear in the present, because that creates a sort of circular loop that feeds back into the confidence of the band.”

The interviewer then talks about how frustrating Billy seem to be during the Zeitgeist era. Billy said there was a time in 1990’s when people didn’t want to hear them and they put they’re fingers in their ears and he’d think “#%@! you. Good” and then there is the 2008’s  version where people say “I’m waiting for them to play -insert song here-” which felt different. Billy talked about how in 1992 the Pumpkins open for Buzzcocks and the audience didn’t seem to care and how he just said to the band to just jam and that the band took great pleasure in being annoying. Going on he said:

“On the Zeitgeist tour we’d play “Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun,” and we did this bit where we’d break down and we had little birds that we bought — they’re Audubon birds, where they actually have samples of the bird’s call. So we would walk up to the microphone and play our little bird calls, and people would boo the birds. And we’d laugh. We were like, “They’re booing bird calls.” Of course people are shouting, “Play some music!” OK, what are we playing? It’s totally a different experience, because what do you bond around? And then you read the review: “Ugh, Corgan. He wouldn’t play any of his hits.” And then I’d look at the set list and I would have played nine “hit” songs. So then you start thinking, “What’s the magic number?” And then you realize, there isn’t one. Twenty-four hits isn’t enough, because then you didn’t play _____. And then the punk-rock guy kicks in, and then of course I took it deeper and darker, and it got weirder and weirder. I drove Jimmy Chamberlain insane with how dark it all got. And that’s saying something.”….

“I look back at certain albums that I did and I just scratch my head and think, “What were you thinking?” But I had to go through that thing. It’s just what I needed to go through. I really loved once when I was talking to Jimmy Chamberlin about regret and he said, “Well, I’m really happy now. I’m happily married, and I have two beautiful children, so I really can’t regret too much of what’s happened because it’s made me who I am today.” That’s a really good way to look at it. Oceania wouldn’t have been possible without the frustration of Zeitgeist.”

Billy then went on to talk about the live setlist and how that worked with playing Oceania followed by other songs and how they seem to fit well.

He also spoke about how the system is broken especially the media namely Pitchfork

“when I was at South By Southwest … first of all, in alternative rock music, generally speaking, there have been very few bands in the past 10 years that have made OK Computer-level records. I guess you could say Arcade Fire made one, but there’s been a real scarcity in great, A-level work that crosses over into the mainstream. That’s very interesting, because I don’t think it’s a lack of talent. And if anything, you could say that technology should afford the ability to make ideal records even more easily than we used to be able to make when we had to do it all on tape. Secondarily, the main alternative voice for at least seven years now, and you could argue possibly longer, has been Pitchfork. And they have not produced the level of movement commensurate to their power. So what does that say to me? That system doesn’t work. Now it might work for the kids down in Wicker Park or Echo Park. It might work for the guy with the handlebar mustache. But it doesn’t work overall in the way that the Stooges work, the way that the Velvet Underground worked, or the Cure worked, or Depeche Mode”

Billy said at one time he thought about writing a letter to the media

“Dear you all, of this community. I’m going to ask you for a favor. Those of you who don’t like me, those who never liked me, those who will never like me, never write about me again. Just pretend I don’t exist. Shun me, don’t write about me.”  They write about me because people click on it. Why do they click on it? Is it because I’m terrible? No, because at some point somebody recognized some form of legitimacy, so the argument is not my legitimacy, the argument is over my decision-making. But isn’t my decision-making more in line with an alternative artist than a mainstream artist? That’s where the hypocrisy and the double standard doesn’t make sense.

Billy ended the interview on a funny note

I’ve gotta tell you one story. Last time I saw Gene Simmons was backstage at a Judas Priest show or something. And I introduced a friend of mine to Gene, and in the course of the conversation, Gene asked my friend, “Does your penis have a name?” And he said, “No.” And so when we left, I said, “Oh that’s cool, you got to meet Gene Simmons.” And he said, “Well I’m a little freaked out. I’ve met him before, and both times I met him he asked me if my penis had a name.”