No more Mis­ter Mel­lon Col­lie guy

Billy Cor­gan and his Smash­ing Pump­kins re­turn to Australia to star at Splen­dour in the Grass, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY COVER STORY -

BILLY Cor­gan doesn’t ex­pect ‘‘my girl Jess’’ to join him and his band on­stage when they head­line the final night of the three-day Splen­dour in the Grass fes­ti­val in By­ron Bay in July.

‘‘I don’t think so. Our worlds are so far apart, as far as our fan bases,’’ he says. ‘‘And be­sides’’, he adds, ‘‘it would look weird’’.

‘‘I don’t think peo­ple re­alise I’m so much big­ger than her. I look like some mon­ster who wan­dered in off the street next to her.’’

Jess, of course, is one half of pint­sized Bris­bane pop/rock duo The Veron­i­cas, aka twin sis­ters Jes­sica and Lisa Origliasso. Cor­gan, 44, has been dat­ing Jes­sica for the past two years, act­ing as a sound­ing board for the sis­ters as they record their new al­bum.

Speak­ing on the phone from Chicago, Cor­gan says he and his Pump­kin band­mates – Jeff Schroeder, Mike Byrne and Ni­cole Fiorentino – will head into the stu­dio this week to be­gin re­hearsals for a tour to show off their new al­bum, Ocea­nia, due out in June.

Cor­gan says per­haps the big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween pre­vi­ous re­leases and Ocea­nia is his in­spi­ra­tion.

‘‘I’m writ­ing a book right now ex­plor­ing a lot of these themes and one thing that is ob­vi­ous to me is that I felt un­seen by my fa­ther,’’ he says.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing I did was like ‘here I am, no­tice me’. A lot of what I did then trans­lated into the world where, if some­one wasn’t telling me it wasn’t the great­est band, it wasn’t enough.

‘‘Good wasn’t enough. My apolo­gies to ev­ery­one in­volved,’’ he laughs.

‘‘I felt driven. The good thing about that was I pushed my­self to places I prob­a­bly never would have oth­er­wise – but it killed me in­side.

‘‘Once I re­alised the cost of that – and that you can’t stay up all night and turn into a ca­su­alty type – mak­ing mu­sic comes from a spir­i­tual place. I’m find­ing a real love for mu­sic. I fell back in love with mu­sic, but not in the teenager ‘can’t live with­out you way’.’’

Cor­gan says the band’s Aussie shows mark the ‘‘de­but of our Ocea­nia tour’’.

‘‘I haven’t played gui­tar for a while. It’s ex­cit­ing, be­cause it will be the first time we’re go­ing into the whole thing (the new al­bum),’’ he says.

The Pump­kins lineup has changed since the band last vis­ited the Coast to play the now-de­funct V-fes­ti­val. ‘‘It feels good,’’ Cor­gan says. ‘‘When you make a good record, there’s a cer­tain con­fi­dence that comes into the band. I’m lucky in that the band can play any­thing. There’s noth­ing Jimmy (Cham­ber­lin) played that Mike can’t but that doesn’t mean ev­ery­thing we play we play well.

‘‘There is some ma­te­rial where we have to go ‘well, it’s real hard to play it but we can’t’. There’s some stuff we play far bet­ter than other line­ups.

‘‘This band is re­ally good for space and that big­ger, fes­ti­val type stuff. Den­sity doesn’t al­ways work for fes­ti­vals. We used to come out and play with all this crazy den­sity.’’

Cor­gan ad­mits he’s proud, pleased and some­times sur­prised with how well the band’s back cat­a­logue – in­clud­ing the clas­sic al­bums Gish, Siamese Dream and Mel­lon Col­lie and the In­fi­nite Sad­ness – have stood the test of time.

‘‘There’s some stuff that I’m re­ally sur­prised by how it’s held up and how it makes more sense lyri­cally than when I wrote it. Then there’s other stuff I thought was cut­ting edge at the time . . . ,’’ he laughs.

While many of his con­tem­po­raries have strug­gled with ad­dic­tion and ex­cess, Cor­gan is still stand­ing.

‘‘There are two parts to that one,’’ he says, asked how he’s sur­vived the pit­falls many of his friends fell vic­tim to.

‘‘I grew up with a fa­ther who had a lot of prob­lems with ad­dic­tion. I had a very dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive than most peo­ple com­ing in. There’s noth­ing ro­man­tic to me about that life­style. I never ro­man­ti­cised it. The other part is, some­where along the way, I re­alised I had to think about my mu­si­cal fu­ture, so I started think­ing about those things.

‘‘I thought I still want to be here in 20 years. The things I’ve done and took shit for be­fore have helped long term. I trusted my­self to be around . . . I wanted to be here. I’m glad I’m still around.’’

Smash­ing Pump­kins play Splen­dour in the Grass, at Be­longil Fields, By­ron Bay, from July 27-29. Tick­ets go on sale to­mor­row at 9am via Moshtix.

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Billy Cor­gan

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