Interview: Billy Corgan and the Fool’s journey (pt. 2)

Interview: Billy Corgan and the Fool’s journey (pt. 2) (photo)

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Part one of this interview with Billy Corgan where he discusses finding spirituality, misogyny in female wrestling, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.can be found here.

What about the idea of the band, what’s changed?

In essence the band isn’t a real thing anymore. I mean, we work as a band, but much of the public doesn’t accept that it’s a band because it no longer falls into the traditional model — the four people who rode around in a van. Of course that was a true story, the four of us did ride around in a van and became successful. But I treat it more as a collective now, the band means more as a symbol than a literal thing. I’m tired of trying to sell people on the literal thing because that falls into an old way of thinking which isn’t really relevant anymore. Where is this great love for rock and roll that existed for 50 or 60 years? The world’s changing so fast and if you look at most artistic constructs within the music business people work together for one album, two albums, and then they move on to some other collaboration. That’s more emblematic of what life is like. We’re lucky if we can find a partnership that can last 10, 20 years in any regard, beyond our family. We’re holding on to an old idea of what the band family looks like, but the way people actually live is probably closer to something like Arcade Fire, more of a collective mentality.

Everything is changing at light speed, unrecognizable from 50 years ago.

Yeah, the thing I’ve learned over the last four or five years since coming back to the Smashing Pumpkins, is that; is there a person named Billy Corgan, or William Patrick Corgan? Yes. Does it matter if he exists or doesn’t exist? No. Because in a weird kind of way I exist whether or not I choose to because people can google me and listen or watch all these things I’ve already done. It’s more the act of creation than trying to uphold a symbolic partnership that hasn’t existed since…

It was simpler in the 90’s wasn’t it? Toil on a critically acclaimed record, follow up with another, releasing a happy sounding song that plays on MTV in wild colors and the four of you singing in an ice cream truck, and overnight, you’re cultural Gods.

We also existed at a time where that system was ending. In the heyday of the 90’s, MTV, million dollar videos, no one new that in five to seven years the music business was going to implode. That was the end of that. So everyone was living within that paradigm and the game was, can you work and exploit and prosper within it? Since that paradigm has fallen apart no one’s replaced it with anything. They continue to beat the dead horse and diminished sales. CNN headlines about how few records Lady Gaga is selling. But if you look at an artist like Lady Gaga, who’s very successful on many levels, does it really matter anymore whether she sells records? Her influence is so huge as a cultural icon, I would say it doesn’t really matter. I’m sure it matters to her, and it would matter to me, but my point is the old markers of what used to matter, don’t matter. Is it more important that Lady Gaga sells 100,000 CD’s or that she gets 3 million web hits on an article? I would say it’s more important that she gets the web hits, because that will get her a perfume line, or whatever.

Yeah, a perfume line, that’s a big one.

All those dynamics are shifting. Rock and Roll is still asking people like me to live up to the old guard’s concept of what success is but it doesn’t mean anything. You can still do it, but everybody exists in a bubble.

So why bother to go through all this work putting out a record like “Oceania?”

Because I want to.

Do you still believe in the album as an art form?

No, not at all [laughs]. No I don’t. But it pushes me. It pushes me to do something I wouldn’t do without it. Do I believe that people are going to sit and listen to the whole thing and really glean something out of it? No. What indication in the culture would I have to think the average person is going to listen to this 10 times? My only hope would be that I do something so extraordinary that they would be compelled to listen to it more than once or twice. But, for me, it’s a personal journey to push myself into a space that I thought I’d walked away from.

There are people who will really listen to it. I remember when “Siamese Dream” came out, it was a huge event, you guys had a style and influence that’s immeasurable, you affected people’s worldviews, and none of that could have happened without the integrity of that album. People still want that. Although, I had an ex-girlfriend remark to me sometime in the late 90’s that she could no longer stand to listen to the Pumpkins anymore because it reminded her too much of us [laughter].

The funny thing is there still is that world of me, but it’s the tree falls in the forest. Does it matter if it falls if no one hears it? I mean my point as an artist is I’m on my own little weird journey across the sky here and whether or not anybody’s listening, or listening to the degree I would like them to, at the end of the day has to be an inconsequential thing because I can’t chase this culture. It’s the wild west out here. We made the video for “Owata,” but can anyone say if it’s going to change anything? Does it need a million YouTube views to be worthy of something? Does it need to be recognized via this interview? All you can do, is just do what you believe in, and hope that in this convoluted world we’re living in via social media that the right people will come across it and it will influence them in the right ways. If I go on YouTube and see a count of 42,000 views, but those 42,000 people are idiots than it doesn’t mean anything. Because those idiots won’t turn around and do anything about it, they won’t make anything from it, they won’t create their own art. They might go on a website and say it sucks, but will it change anything, change them, make them more politically active? Will it make them go to a wrestling show or a Smashing Pumpkins show? What if only 3,000 people saw it, but all of them were really inspired to make their own video? That’s old thing about the Velvet Underground.

Right, only a thousand people ever saw them, but each of them went off and started a band.

Yeah, they didn’t sell any records back in the day, but they’re one of the most influential bands in the history of rock and roll because everyone who listened to them were inspired. My band’s had a big influence, you know, but it depends on who you read. This culture writer guy says I suck and I’m an idiot, but you talk to a musician who started a band because he saw me in concert — which is more valuable? Well, it depends on who you talk to. All I can go on is my own value system. All the other value systems I grew up counting on, record sales, Rolling Stone reviews, those have essentially disintegrated into meaninglessness. Who can count on the credibility of what anybody’s saying anymore because everybody’s in business for themselves… to use a wrestling term.

Nice, back to the beginning.

And there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s like going into a market in Istanbul. There’s a thousand people screaming, “hey hey hey, hey, come in here! Buy this cup.” Well, okay. We’re all on the street corner screaming. The idiots get rewarded just for screaming louder. But there are artists out there making credible work, trying to do something different and new. With “Owata” we tried to do something different and not repeat something that’s been done a thousand times. Whether it’s successful or not we can’t gauge in this paradigm. It’s going to take ten years to look back and say, “yeah that’s a total piece of shit, what the fuck were we doing?” Or “actually that was pretty cool.” There are obvious home runs, but there’s lots of other things we do as artists that aren’t recognized. The general public only cares about the obvious thing, but that’s not what I live for as an artist…[long pause]. Rock and roll, that’s what we say.

[Laughs] What film soundtrack or score has made an impact on you?

I think the great scores are those that enhance the movie and then you want to listen to them as works of art in themselves. So you think of people like Bernard Herman. Or Morricone. Your like, “what the fuck is this music!” And you want to listen to it because it’s so perfect. My complaint about music in the movie business these days is they’ve kind of gotten rid of that guy. With all respect to Danny Elfman, who’s maybe the most recognizable auteur, there’s a lot of guys — it’s just paint by numbers music. You don’t see as much unique musical contribution to film these days, it’s disappointing. I’ve tried to get some projects started because I’d love to [do it myself].

What director would you want to work with?

At one point I almost worked with Darren Aronofsky. It didn’t work out, but it was nothing bad, just didn’t happen. I’d love to work with him because I think he really gets it, music wise. Scorsese. I don’t think he knows I exist, but he has such an incredibly intuitive understanding of how to put music in film.

I think about that scene in “Mean Streets” with Harvey Keitel all the time, where the camera is fixed to him as he rolls into the bar and the Rolling Stones are playing, it’s magic.

Yeah, that’s what I’m saying, I mean as a musician, I die for that moment. It just doesn’t get any better than that. I would also love to just sit and listen to him break down a scene from his perspective. And Tarantino too.

What film would you live inside of, if you could?

I’ve been living in the film “Andrei Rublev” by [Andrei ] Tarkovsky for about 15 years [laughs]. It’s a beautiful film about art, about being an artist. It’s set in, you know, 1600’s Russia, or sometime equally bleak. Have you watched much Tarkovsky?

Oh yeah, just not that film in particular. I found I needed to set aside some serious mental space in order to cope with his films.

[Laughs] Yeah, that’s exactly what I love about him.

Will you listen to the whole album? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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