SMASHING PUMPKINS mainman Billy Corgan says that bands who continue to play nothing but their "hits" without releasing new music and creatively pushing the envelope are committing "slow-motion suicide."
The SMASHING PUMPKINS' new album, "Monuments To An Elegy", which is being released December 9, is described as "an album within an album," part of their ongoing work-in-progress "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope".
Speaking to NME about the direction of the new CD, Corgan said (see video below): "I think after all the touring around these last seven years, seeing what music sticks, seeing what music doesn't, we were pretty clear that if we did not update what we were doing, we were pretty much dead in the water."
He continued: "I can't speak for Europe as much, although I've obviously played over here a lot in the past few years, but America is very much stuck on this sentimental idea of what grunge was, what rock and roll was, and you literally can phone in the same record over and over again, and the public is actually okay with it. That creeps me out, personally. And so that's sort of the choice you're given — either you update and you come forward and you get in there with the kids and be able to get people on the dance floor or wherever they've gotta be, or you might as well just get on the oldies circuit and get on those package tours and play the hits, which, to me, is like a form of slow-motion suicide. It's got nothing to do with why I started the band or I'm in a band. I don't wanna be facing oblivion that type of way. I'd rather do a record like 'Monuments' and take a good shot at it. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, but at least I'm on my feet trying."
Corgan previously said ever since bringing SMASHING PUMPKINS back to life in 2007 that he did not want the band to be a nostalgia act. "To go back under the SMASHING PUMPKINS name engendered a lot of people expecting us to be nothing more than a reunion band, playing its greatest hits, and with a fan base not particularly keen to listen to the new music," he said. "What I try to tell people that get caught up in the reunion kind of concepts — like where are the original members and stuff like this — the band was founded on an idea that it must be progressive and it must always be moving forward."
Corgan announced on November 19 that he's recruited RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE drummer Brad Wilk and KILLERS bassist Mark Stoermer for upcoming shows in support of "Monuments To An Elegy". It's the first time the PUMPKINS have performed without a female bass player — D'Arcy Wretzky, then Melissa Auf der Maur and Nicole Fiorentino all filled the role before — and Wilk is the fourth drummer to play live with the group. But Corgan told journalist Gary Graff that has a different concept of what the PUMPKINS are as a "band" nowadays.
"Sometimes people say to me, 'Who is the SMASHING PUMPKINS?' And to me it's such an open concept at this point," he said. "[Longtime guitarist] Jeff's [Schroeder] the only defined other member of the band, but even in that we float in and out of those roles... And in a way we don't take a personal possession of the band anymore. To us, the band is kind of like a weird shrine that we just show up and play around with and then go back to our other lives."
Corgan admitted it's been hard to get fans to pay attention to new music from the group, telling the Chicago Tribune, "How do you say, 'I still matter'? How do you say, 'How does one of my contemporaries get treated like a contemporary artist, and how do I get treated like I'm supposed to play 'Siamese Dream' for the rest of my life?' At some point you've got to fight this fight or go away."
The SMASHING PUMPKINS initially went on hiatus in 2000 after 12 years and six albums. Corgan revived the group in 2007 and has released three albums since then. He remains the only original member of the band.