Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan discussed Nirvana’s commercial success giving them pressure from the record industry to sell more records in a new 101 WKQX interview. Alternative Nation transcribed Corgan’s comments.
“To give you context, our record Gish, which was on an independent label called Caroline, at the time was the largest selling independent record ever released. I think at that point we had sold about 350,000-450,000 copies, which even today, is still a big number. Then a little band called Nirvana came out, and sold bazillion copies. Then Pearl Jam sold a bazillion copies, so the standard of what was a successful record, literally changed on us overnight.
We went from being like, ‘Wow you guys are great, big future’ to like, ‘you aren’t quite going to make it.’ Wow, what happened? Alternative radio around 1991, I think there were 7 stations in America, and by the mid-90’s I think there were 100 something stations, and here we are, still playing alternative rock. It was a cultural movement, it was a music business movement, it was really a hostile takeover of the systems that existed.
Suddenly it was being populated by people who didn’t really care about the perfect photo, and the perfect posture. It just felt so different. But to answer your question faithfully, we’re a bunch of misanthropes, but suddenly we’re staring down the barrel of, you better come up with a big record. We wrote everything before, we practiced like crazy, I think we practiced for 4 months. We knew it was this, or back to Burger King.”