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Listessa Interviews Billy Corgan - Karl Daher
Listessa & The Pumpkins
1998-05-29


Winnipeg, Canada... the silent, frigid north...  

Suddenly, that silence is broken by the telephone.  It's a call from sunny
southern California... Los Angeles to be precise... and it's from none
other than the Great Pumpkin himself, Mr. William P. Corgan!  

Yes, Billy has granted an exclusive interview to the Internet's biggest
Smashing Pumpkins fans... the members of Listessa!  However, due to the
special nature of this interview, please read the following paragraph
carefully:

The following interview was conducted during the recording sessions for
Adore.  It is copyright (c)1998 The Smashing Pumpkins.  It is unlawful
to reproduce, retransmit, or distribute in any format (electronic or
otherwise) in whole or in part, without written consent of The Smashing
Pumpkins and/or their representative(s).  In other words, don't even think
about showing this interview to anyone else!


Okay... now here is what you want to see... THE INTERVIEW!


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Listessa>  The Smashing Pumpkins is one of the most unique bands out
there, and it is this quality that has attracted me most to your music.
Do you agree that your music is unique, and what do you think makes it so?

BC>  I think our music is unique in a couple of ways.  First off,  our
attitude has always been one of a free ranging expression,  without limits
or self imposed generational boundaries, and i think that that shows
more as time goes by.  What many fans don't understand about our most
recent musical changes is that it is all done in the same spirit we
started with in 88; to fuck with peoples perceptions and to challenge
our own intuitive ability to respond to awkward situations; to go where
no one has gone before. That said, we also have a very keen awareness of
musical history, some would say to our detriment, but i think that it
is this keen sense (and healthy respect for all that is good) that has
allowed us to embrace what we like; to manipulate, avoid,  and
ultimately destroy it; and lastly, it is the over reach and
absolute dedication to these aesthetic principles; a true love of our
world that has given us the strength to endure.


Listessa>  What does music mean to you, and what do you feel about the
connection between a band and their fans?

BC> The music is quite simply my life.  It is really all i concern myself
with.  As far as our connection to our fans, it is one of complete
compassion and respect,  but not without our own criticism, mainly people
refusing to accept the band as we have always put forth; a non
compromising vision; that is not to say that we cannot be criticised!
We have gone many wrong directions, but as i have said, so what somewhere
somehow we dare, and i guess we dare you to continue to follow us and
be amazed at our complete ability to dazzle and confound.


Listessa>  What is most rewarding about being a musician?

BC> The creation of the songs from total scratch.  When i feel that
something is borne out of the ethers, it could make me cry because
it is of the earth and universe; a magical moment!  That also leads me
to another common misconception,  and that is the way the world views how
we/me work.  The creation of the music doesn't end until it is fully
realized/mixed and recorded, but that is where James and d'arcy and
jimmy when he was around have been fantastic; to allow me to completely
pursue my vision of what i hear and feel,  and provide the glue to make it
real.


Listessa>  You put so much time and effort and emotion into your songs,
and you've made so many amazing feats, and you continue to do so.  What
keeps you going?

BC> I honestly don't know except to tell you that it is all i know.  I
really now enjoy all of it; writing, playing, the competition of
getting songs played, making unique videos; I like all of it and feel
there aren't enough hours in the day to do all of what i want to do.


Listessa> Since SP are such a heavily bootlegged group, are you planning
to release an official live album?  

BC> Yes,  we hope to someday release a multiple (5+?) comprehensive set 
that will span the entire time (1988 to the present,) but that won't be
any time soon.


Listessa> Is 'Vieuphoria II' in the works?  We all heard about the shows
at California's The Pond  being filmed with a "million dollar camera". Will
we be seeing this for sale? 

BC> We also hope to do another Vieuphoria and also release an interview /
video package.


Listessa> What was the second concept for the Tonight, Tonight video
(Besides the one similar to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Aeroplane" and
the concept actually used)?

BC> As the band played on a surreal stage, the camera would go into
people in the audiences eye and you would see that persons dream/vision of
the song. One person might be on stage with us; one person might be
in bed with 5 girls... blah blah blah.


Listessa>  What is your take on the "Pumpkin sound"?

BC> For me, I guess it's the two guitar interplay; the harmonic
configuration and tonal stacking... but it's a little more complicated
than I can explain.


Listessa>  Where do you think this generation's music is heading as far as
style goes?

BC> I think that music is headed towards a more hyper-poppy sound (ala
Puffy) where people take old catchy things and combine them with new
sounds and textures, hooks with sound collages.  New original music is
going to disappear as less and less people have to be able to play.  The
great thing is technology makes it more accessible, but the net result
won't have as much depth,  but may have more immediacy.


Listessa>  Where do you go and what do you do to relax?

BC> (To the) piano or bedroom and write songs.


Listessa>  You've talked about "realness" and being "real".  What is
"real" to you?

BC> Everyone knows what that means to them; being true to what you want
from your life.  My standard of real may be higher or lower than the
next persons, but i know what my truth is.


Listessa>  I have read that there is an album following "Adore" that will
be a rock album.  Is this a set plan, and what else can you tell us about
it?

BC> Who said that?  You won't know what to call the next one, if you
can ever give a name to this one.


Listessa>  One of the Smashing Pumpkins shirts I have has a series of
faces on it with bar codes over the foreheads.  Does this shirt have any
relation to the song Pennies (the faces could be pennies)?  Did the band
have influence into the making of the shirt, or any shirts?

BC> That is a James creation, and it has no connection to pennies.


Listessa>  Does the band have influence over items that are marketed?

BC> Yes, we make all decisions concerning our merchandise.  You
wouldn't believe the crap they try to get us to sell.  We are very
picky, and have probably not done the best job with our stuff, but it
is very time consuming.  But there is also a lot of illegal stuff, like
those stupid fucking books with our pictures in them, where people make
money off us.  We have no control over those things.


Listessa>  What song off each Pumpkins album is most important to you?

BC> (From) Gish, Siva
    (From) Siamese (Dream), Disarm.
    (From) Mellon Collie (and The Infinite Sadness), 1979.
    (From) Pisces (Iscariot), Starla.
    (From) (The) Aeroplane (Flies High Boxset), Last Song.


Listessa>  Have you always wanted to be a musician?  If not, what other
options did you consider?

BC> When I was younger i wanted to be a baseball player.  I also
considered being a history major.


Listessa>  Was there any moment in time where you remember jumping
backwards in disbelief from all the success? 

BC> Many, many times, but I have never felt it was undeserved.
The hard work for me has always equaled the success


Listessa>  Here are some questions that Listessa members have been
asking on the list in the past year.  Why did you use the name "Porcelina"
for the song, "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans"?

BC> Just made it up!


Listessa>  What are the words being said in the background of the song,
"Bodies" from 1:57 to 2:14?

BC> A bunch of words that start with dis-....disarm/disconnect/distroy


Listessa>  How are you in general?  How is Jesse?

BC> I am very happy and excited about the new album.  I know everyone is
going to be very surprised.  I did an interview recently where the
interviewer described the album as "totally different".  My brother is
good.


Listessa>  How are D'Arcy and James doing?

BC>  They are fine as well.


Listessa>  One sec, I need a sip of tea here.  Are you a coffee or tea
drinker?

BC> Tea... chamomile.


Listessa>  Okay, back to the interview.  Will the new album be coming out
on vinyl as well?

BC> Yes, in mono.


Listessa>  Do you think you may release another collection of b-sides as
you did for "Pisces Iscariot"?

BC>  Not while the band is together.  (We're) tired of b-sides.


Listessa>  Who are your favorite authors?  Poets?

BC> William Burroughs and Phillip K. Dick.


Listessa> Will there be a tour for the new album?  How big will it be?
Where will you go?

BC> A short tour (with) no more than 3 or 4 months.  Hopefully, all the
major cities of the world.


Listessa> Here is another frequent Listessa question.  Will the Siamese
Dream 7" vinyl boxset be re-released on CD?

BC> Possibly.


Listessa> Currently, what band or group of musicians are your favourites
to listen to?

BC> Radiohead and Spiritualized.


Listessa> Will there every be a biography on The Smashing Pumpkins?

BC> Not by us i don't think.


Listessa> Have you ever thought about writing a book?

BC> (I) started one, but got distracted.


Listessa> Okay, back to some short questions that list members have been
curious about.  Were you ever a "nerd" in school?

BC> No.


Listessa> Does Marilyn Manson have an influence on your new songs?

BC> As a friend.


Listessa>  Will you be creating an unplugged album or performing on MTV
unplugged?

BC> Possibly.


Listessa> Have you ever seen the Siamese Dream laser show?

BC> No.


Listessa> Is MCIS a concept album based on religion or the human
condition?

BC> The human condition of mortal sorrow.


Listessa> Will you be playing most of the music yourself on the new album?

BC> My dog handled most of the parts.


Listessa>  I deserved that.  Will there ever be a compilation of rare SP
songs released on CD?

BC> Possibly.


Listessa> What label will the Pumpkins be on after the Virgin contract
expires? Will you start your own label?

BC> I plan on starting my own in the right situation.


Listessa> Do you think the Collective Soul song "Smashing Young Man" is
about you?

BC> I heard it is from someone who would know.  That guy is very
talented but a shameless rip off artist.  He ought to get his own sound
and video style!


Listessa> Is there a video for Muzzle?

BC> No.


Listessa> Have you every considering becoming an actor?

BC> No.



Listessa> Okay, now I have some very general questions about
yourself.  Which is your favourite sport: Hockey, Basketball, or something
else?

BC> Basketball.


Listessa> As a kid, did you watch Looney Tunes?  Tom & Jerry?

BC> 3 Stooges and Johnny Sokko.


Listessa> Will you be making an appearance on an upcoming X-Files episode?
Another Simpsons episode?

BC> No.


Listessa> How often to you get to watch TV?  What do you watch?

BC> Sports is all i watch, and 3 Stooges.


Listessa> Were you tall as a young child? 

BC> Very!


Listessa> Back to questions about the band... Do you have plans to use a
drum machine on future albums?

BC> Who wants to know?


Listessa> What are your feelings on bootlegs?  Do they bother you?

BC> as long as its for fans, I don't really care.


Listessa> What do you think of James' new album?

BC> I'm very proud of James work on the album.  I think he surprised
everyone.


Listessa>  Are you able to let insults to your character by the media
slide off you?  What irks you about them?

BC> I've learned to take praise and criticism with an equal grain of salt.  
What irks me most about the criticism is they can't really cut down the
music so they become personal.  If fans were more assertive, I think
the magazines would think twice before being so callous... but we live in
a negative world, so the magazines only feed into that.


Listessa> How comfortable do you feel with the rate of technological
advances?  Are you comfortable on the Internet?

BC> Technological advances?  It's all the same.  We are looking for the
next big thing. The Internet; I like the info access, but despise
the kings and queens who hide behind words and taunts.... digital cowards


Listessa> I'm going to go back to some questions I've received from
Listessa members.  Did you enjoy being on Regis and Cathy Lee? Other TV
shows?

BC> I enjoy doing anything that is outside the ordinary.


Listessa> Did you plan the "dancers" as you performed "1979" on the Grammy
Awards?

BC> That was my idea to not make the whole thing so "serious", and it
worked!


Listessa> What's up with Rasputin on the 33 album?  Is it a Boney M
reference?

BC> (It's a) Russian influence.


Listessa>  Are the Pumpkins set to split up any time soon?  Do you see
yourselves lasting as long as the Rolling Stones?

BC> With us it is always album by album...


Listessa> What's up with the SP fanclub?  Is it still active?

BC> What fanclub?  There never was one.... that was Virgin's fault... we
just had this p.o. box.... next thing we were supposed to have a fanclub.


Listessa> Where you trained on any instruments as a child?

BC> No.


Listessa> Why do you use the word "June" so much?

BC> (It) rhymes with spoon.


Listessa> What comments do you have about the songs you wrote for the
"Ransom" soundtrack?

BC> Experimental. (I) wish I'd had more time and control over the music
placement in the movie.


Listessa>  Do you know why James is so tired?  Perhaps he needs more
exercise or iron?

BC> James is 800 years old.


Listessa> Are you planning on coming back to Canada any time soon?  
How about another world tour?

BC> Yes.


Listessa> What is the answer to the meaning of life? 

BC> 42.


Listessa> Do you have any more plans for the Starchildren?

BC> Yes.  We are going to go nowhere.


Listessa> Where are the Gish lyrics?

BC> In a barn in Oxnard,  CA.


Listessa> Will the 1989 demos ever be released?

BC> Probably.


Listessa> What is the inspiration behind the new album, Adore?

BC> Love.


Listessa> The End is the Beginning is the End... of the Pumpkins?  What is
the meaning behind the song?

BC> See, that's a big joke, and none of you got it.  Everyone is too
serious.


Listessa> Is the future of the Pumpkins Techno?  Acoustic?  Rawk?

BC> None of the above.


Listessa> Here are a two questions about Listessa.  What do you
think of the Listessa tribute book? The Listessa shirt?

BC> Very flattered.


Listessa> Have you ever heard the Listessa tribute tape?

BC> No.


Listessa> I'd play it for you, but it's in my car right now.  What kind of
car do you own?

BC> A jalopy.


Listessa>  Okay, back to some serious questions again. Thinking back to
1991 (the Gish era), how can you compare your life as a band then to your
life as a band now?  What kind of progression/regression has occurred?

BC> We were much more of a band day to day. We rehearsed more, but
also had a more normal life.


Listessa> What sort of atmosphere do you find most inspiring for your
song writing?  Does it depend on the mood of the song?

BC> Quiet...  and no (it doesn't matter on the mood of the song.)


Listessa> Do you command the lyrics to get themselves on paper or do you
wait for them to come to you?

BC> Both i suppose.  I spend as much time these days on lyrics as
music, but on this album everything was done very quickly.


Listessa> Do you get overwhelmed by the amount of people who follow you
and to what extent they "study" you?  Are you used to this behaviour yet?

BC> You should ask them!


Listessa>  What kind of musical direction do you think the Smashing
Pumpkins will be taking with upcoming albums?  Are you investigating
computer generated sounds?  Are you moving towards acoustic sounds?

BC> Unconventional sonic textures with non-sequitur detours.


Listessa>  What's up with a replacement for Jimmy?  Will Jimmy ever be
back? How about that guy you promised on Vieuphoria to include in the
band?  Did he ever get asked???

BC> Jimmy is no longer in the band, but his prescence is with us
everyday.


Listessa> How accurate is Vieuphoria to the life of the Pumpkins?

BC> Back then, close.  Now, not even.


Listessa> Let me grab a few more questions from the mailing list.  Where
did you get the heart from on the back of Gish? Did it come from Ste. Anne
de Beaupre, Quebec, Canada?

BC> A woman in Florida gave it to me when i was 19.


Listessa> What was the inspiration for "French Movie Theme"?

BC> French porn.


Listessa> What's up with "2007" on the Pisces Iscariot?  Who is the
"Pisces Iscariot" that is being referred to in the title?

BC> 2007?  Not my deal... Virgin.... Pisces.... duh!


Listessa> Was MCIS influenced by the writing of Elie Wiesel?

BC> (I) never even heard of him nor read any of his work. (I) was deeply
insulted by the accusation of lyrical plagiarism.  Anyone who knows me
knows i would never be that lame.  A guitar riff, maybe, but not
words.  There are only 12 notes, but a million words.


Listessa> What do you want for your birthday?

BC> Nothing.


Listessa> Is Flood working on Adore?

BC> Very diligently.


Listessa> Are you currently writing "happier" music than MCIS era songs?

BC> Fuck that happy concept.  I write songs that reflect my surroundings
and experiences.  There is no happy or sad when it comes to music.


Listessa> Four albums over the next five years?  True or false?

BC> True.


Listessa> Are there any cover tunes in the Pumpkins near future?

BC> Yes.


Listessa> My final question for you.  After all of this time, how is it
that you can still write meaningful songs?

BC> Because i have a heart.


Listessa> Any final words for Listessa members?

BC> I have read many discouraging things in regard to the lack of a future
that my band has, or how we shouldn't change, or we used to be better.
For those that live in the past,  well you always have your c.d.'s there
to keep you warm, or hopefully you saw a memorable show with the
original lineup that you can dream back to.  I know that i get sentimental
sometimes for old days and times, but those days have passed.  The
band is not 20 anymore.  We have seen a lot.  We have been through a 
lot, and we can only pass our experiences through our music in a way that
is in harmony with the people we are today, not yesterday.  We wish
everyone could be happy and satisfied but alas, it is not human nature.
We never set out to be anything but ourselves.  I would hope that our
success could be viewed with pride and satisfaction, not as a sign that
something has been ruined.  For those of you that have been there from the
start,  well to you I can offer only gratitude.  For those of you that
have found us along the way,  try to connect the dots and see everything
in context.  

I would like to add that I'm very proud of this new album,  I believe it
is something to believe in.  It has many layers, some which
may not seem to be there on the first 3 or 4 listens, but this album has a
sneaking power,  and that is what i love about it. We could do all the
the things that people seem to like now, but remember that we did them
then when those things were not so popular... guitar solos in 1989???  I
would hope that all the true fans can extend to us a chance and a
positivity.  We wouldn't have come this far without you, and
we acknowledge your support graciously, but no one owns us but
ourselves.  If you feel betrayed,  then that is what you feel.  If you
feel that something has been lost,  then that is what you feel.  Remember
that it is you too who are changing,  and that us changing may remind you
of a change or of a future that you might not want.  All good things
come to an end, so let us begin again fresh... have faith.... it might
do us all some good.  I hope you like the new album.... love billy

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That's all folks!  I really hope you enjoyed our feature presentation.
Please forgive all of the typos in the interview... it was fairly long!






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