Billy Corgan Recalls Critics Being Baffled By Smashing Pumpkins Sound

Although these days Smashing Pumpkins music is regarded as a genre unto itself, Billy Corgan recalled a time when the music world struggled to figure out where his songs fit. During an online chat with Rick Beato, Corgan remembered, “At the time when (Gish) came out in 1991, all the reviews were (saying we sounded) like throwback psych, hippie crap, jam band, Grateful Dead. I think it was so not what people thought music would be that they just grasped at comparisons. I mean, there’s reviews that were like, ‘They sound like a cross between R.E.M., the Black Crowes, and Jimi Hendrix‘ — it didn’t even make sense. Like, the DNA splices they would put together to try to describe our music was so off.”

He went on to say, “There was also the whole thing of playing solos, which was verboten in alternative circles at the time, you weren’t supposed to play solos. And if you even think of Kurt (Cobain) on Nirvana (songs), he would play ironic solos, but they weren’t real guitar solos. . . (Soundgarden‘s) Kim Thayil would play solos, but they weren’t solos played by people who were necessarily trying to play like Richie Blackmore. I was trying to play Ritchie Blackmore. My father was a guitar player, so I came from that route of, like, if you’re gonna play a solo, you better play a good solo.”

Not too long ago, Billy Corgan told us what he believes his music and music of the Pumpkins’ generation will be remembered for: “As much as the music of the late-’60s was about a flowering consciousness, the music of the early-’90s was about a flowering of reality, and kind of calling America out for the phony, kinda shiny object that it is. And that’s it. We just shattered it to pieces. Nobody knew how to pick up their own pieces, including ourselves, and we’re still dealing with that. But there’s an arc of energy there between 1989 and 1994 that’s unmistakable.”

Smashing Pumpkins’ next show is set for March 4th at “The World Is A Vampire” festival in Mexico City, Mexico.