“Are these your questions?” When Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan interviewed Nick Cave for MTV at Lollapalooza 1994, it did not go well

Billy Corgan and Nick Cave
(Image credit: MTV)

The bill for 1994's Lollapalooza festival was stacked with the cream of the 'alternative' music scene, from headliners Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, L7, A Tribe Called Quest and fast-rising Berkeley, California punks Green Day on the main stage, to the likes of The Verve, The Flaming Lips, Girls Against Boys and Luscious Jackson on the event's side stages. Not everyone on the Perry Farrell-curated roadshow that summer looks back upon the experience with joy, and when we say 'not everyone' we specifically mean Australia's own duke of darkness Nick Cave, who joined the caravan with The Bad Seeds. 

Talking to MOJO in 2005, Cave recalled, “When we did the Lollapalooza tour in America — 53 dates, I remember — grunge was happening, not one person there in long trousers, and they went for lunch while we played, then came back when we stopped (Laughs). I found it extremely difficult, but, contractually, we couldn't pull out. It was years before we went back to America.”

It may not have helped matters that Cave was regarded as something of a curiosity by his fellow performers. While the American musicians on the tour found lots to bond over, Cave wasn't really up for faking camaraderie and bonhomie with his peers, as was painfully evident when Smashing Pumpkins mainman Billy Corgan attempted to interview him for MTV on July 7, 1994 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

In his initial link, Corgan cheerfully informs viewers that he will soon he interviewing “my good pal” Nick Cave, but when the interview begins, it's very clear that Cave is very much not Corgan's “pal”.

The conversation begins with the fresh-faced Pumpkins leader asking, “Nick, how did you get involved with Lollapalooza?”, which received the response, “Well, my manager rang me up and told me I was going to do this.”

Corgan then follows up with the bizarre query, “No back taxes or anthing?”

“Basically we just decided that we should approach America in a different way...,” Cave begins, before glancing down at the questions on the notepad in Corgan's hand and saying, “Are these your questions?”

“These are not my questions Nick,” Corgan admits, smiling to the camera, “I take no credit for them.”

“I've already done this with MTV,” says Cave, already bored by this amateurism.

Corgan then decides to go off-piste, with some questions of his own, a decision he regrets almost instantly when, after musing upon why “English bands” struggle to break America, Cave says, “Well, a), we're not English...“ and points out that the Bad Seeds have members from Australia, Germany, England and the US.

“To all us Americans, it all looks like one country,“ says Corgan, in a badly-thought-out attempt at 'banter'. He then attempts to laugh off his mistake by saying that his mistake is one that would be made by, “your typical American teenager.“

“How old are you?“ his “good pal“ asks.


“You're not a teenager.“

By this point, one images an MTV director frantically gesturing to Corgan to wind things up, before this car crash gets any more bloody.

Watch the interview below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.