Billy Corgan Reveals What Smashing Pumpkins Got After Kurt Cobain Death


Apple Music and Beats 1 sent Alternative Nation a preview clip of Zane Lowe’s interview with Smashing Pumpkins members Billy Corgan, James Iha, and Jimmy Chamberlin. The interview will air Monday at 1PM EST on Apple Music. During the interview, Billy Corgan discussed Smashing Pumpkins being upgraded to Lollapalooza headliner in 1994 after Kurt Cobain’s death.

ZANE: People who are listening to this, or watching this, should go watch footage of you guys when it was all clicking into place. Which was the European festival tour on Siamese Dream when you were playing, s**t man, you guys were going on at like probably four o’clock.

BILLY: Yeah yeah. And just burn the house down.

ZANE: And you were f**king destroying everything. I mean… and playing fast and furious and just f**king like… All right you guys think that we’re idiots? You think that we don’t understand what’s going on here? Well this is how we’ll respond. And it would look like it’s going to spiral out of f**king control.

BILLY: And it did. It did sometimes, yeah.

ZANE : Crazy times, man.

BILLY: We took the grunge mandate and we kind of blew right past it and we turned into more of a meta mandate. It’s easy to talk about now. At the time it was all felt through. You’ve got this generation of people who wanna be unleashed. This is a generation that was coming out of a very repressed time.


BILLY: People did not talk about sexual abuse in public. People did not talk about a lot of other stuff in public. So we were the first generation that was bringing this stuff into the mainframe and the mainframe was very uncomfortable with how anarchic it was. And then we would walk on stage and play, literally, for sixty-thousand people in a mosh pit just losing their mind and singing every word.

ZANE: The pure f**king belligerence of it, man, turned into musicality and that’s just like… there’s a place for that.

BILLY: And the apotheosis of it all was Lollapalooza 94, which is kind of what has sent us careening into the Melancholy album because there we were, right. We’re headlining the festival, and originally – let’s not forget – it was supposed to be Nirvana, Pumpkins, Beasties. And obviously that didn’t happen.

So OK, we’re headlining what became historically the biggest Lollapalooza ever. And there they are. There are the same football players that used to bully us in the hallways.And there they are. Right? Every other band in my estimation, and I don’t mean to throw shade, this is the way I read it at the time because this is the mindset I was, everybody was cool with going along to get along. Because it was a wave, right? Let’s just ride this wave.

ZANE: Yeah.

BILLY: I looked at it as like, no. You’re the enemy and we are here to take you on. And to this day, I still have people walk up to me at airports going, man, I don’t know what that was about. There are people to this day, and again I usually meet them at airports, who refuse to ever see the band or listen to the band after that show. You’re talking about forty-three shows, one was cancelled due to rain. So forty-two times, I took the mic and went after that audience.

ZANE: Yeah.

BILLY: And you’re talking about turning off tens of thousands of people but I didn’t care, and by extension, I assumed we didn’t care. I can’t speak for everybody but that was the assumption that I made.

ZANE: Did you care, James? How did you feel at the time?

JAMES: I don’t remember that.