Most of the original lineup of the Smashing Pumpkins has moved on — victims of drugs, death or personal rivalries — but frontman Billy Corgan remains.
The singer-songwriter is currently on tour with a new lineup, which hits Toronto and Montreal in support of the group's latest album Oceania.
According to Corgan, the songs on Oceania all have a positive vibe —the result of a new spiritual centre he’s reached in life. However, he added that he’s putting this new music forward in the face of what he calls "the loss of the American dream."
"I think what we’re experiencing in terms of hard times is the tip of the iceberg as far as hard times go," Corgan said in an interview with CBC’s Q cultural affairs show.
The combative and occasionally enigmatic Corgan said he believes fans have to shake off the nihilistic dreams they had in the band's early years and embrace changes, both those in the band and those in the world. This is why he's unapologetic about playing Oceania in its entirety at his concerts before treating fans to his older songs.
"I don’t think people are fans of me because I wrote hit songs. I think they’re fans because I’m a lunatic or a weirdo. The hit songs came out of my idiosyncratic personality, not the other way around."
The Chicago-born musician mused to Q host Jian Ghomeshi about bands with longevity, including Rush and the Rolling Stones, and says Smashing Pumpkins, who have survived since the 1980s, have that kind of potential.
"The ideology of the Smashing Pumpkins was ultimately more valuable than the music of the Smashing Pumpkins. That’s what critics can’t put their finger on," he said.