Billy Corgan: Nirvana, Pearl Jam success resulted in ‘suicidal depression’

Billy Corgan
Billy Corgan

Smashing Pumpkins vocalist Billy Corgan says the success of Nirvana and Pearl Jam in the early 90s caused him to have ‘suicidal depression.’

The Pumpkins released their debut album Gish in 1991, with Nirvana and Pearl Jam launching Nevermind and Ten that same year.

And Corgan says that those releases caused him to re-evaluate his work and reveals he struggled emotionally at that time.

He tells the Why Not Now podcast: “The Smashing Pumpkins had put out one album which was very successful – but as we were out promoting our album, the Nirvana album came out and as everyone knows, Nevermind was massive. Then Pearl Jam came out at that time and they were massive.

“Within a short span of time, I went from thinking I was very successful within my given field, to all the rules had changed in my given field.

“Everything I had built myself up to be and do was no longer as relevant as it needed to be. I went into a very strange depression because I felt like something had been not taken, but the change made me feel kind of inadequate in a way I wasn’t prepared for.”

Corgan continues: “I went through a very long depression where I couldn’t write songs and really struggled for a breakthrough.

“It really came off the heels of a suicidal depression – I just really struggled with the emotions I was feeling and I reached this morning in my life where I was either going to jump out a window or I was going to change my life.”

He reports that waking up one morning he “stared out the window and thought, ‘Okay, well, if you’re not going to jump out the window, you better do whatever it is you need to do.”

He then wrote the song Today, which featured on the second Smashing Pumpkins album Siamese Dream.

Corgan adds: “It’s sort of a wry observation on suicide, but in essence the meditation behind the lyric is that every day is the best day, if you let it be.”

Last year, Corgan revealed he was back on talking terms with the original members of Smashing Pumpkins and was thinking about the possibility of a reunion.

The last Smashing Pumpkins album was 2014’s Monuments To An Elegy.

The 10 best Smashing Pumpkins songs

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.