Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan says that living life as a rock 'n' roll supervillain left him feeling suicidal

(Image credit: Linda Strawberry)

Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan says that he's tired of playing the role of a rock super-villain after coming to the realisation that trolling the world's media was leaving him feeling suicidal.

Corgan's admission comes in a new interview with The Guardian

“I used to perceive it as sort of a funny game,” the Pumpkins' 55-year-old leader says of playing a troll in the press. “But that sort of stuff works better as it does in wrestling, when you have a hegemonic position. If you’re winning, and you’re being a heel, it’s kind of fun. But if you’re not winning, then the heel thing turns into a grating white noise, and everything that comes out of your mouth, somebody’s rolling their eyes.”

Asked if there was a particular moment where this realisation 'snapped into focus' for him, Corgan replies, “When you get to the point where you’re suicidal. And it’s not because the meta-narrative isn’t working; it’s just your life’s not happy, and then outside of you is this squalling noise that has no bearing to your reality, your accomplishments, to who you are as a human being. You become kind of a pin cushion.”

“I don’t really see a value in it any more, honestly,” he adds. “In fact, I think it’s the opposite: I think people need to feel inspired, and so if you want to talk about a narrative, the story for the band overall is just one of coming together and survival.”

Smashing Pumpkins are set to release an epic 33-track album, Atum, as the concluding part of a trilogy that began with 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and continued on 2000’s Machina/The Machines of God. Atum: Act I is doe for release on November 15 via Martha’s Music/Thirty Tigers, with Acts II and III scheduled to follow in January and April.

Corgan recently criticised the music industry for its "exploitation" of artists and its lack of resources to tackle mental health issues.

“I don’t know if you can be happy in the music business,” he told New York’s WFAN Sports Radio, as a guest on the Boomer & Gio show, “because the music business is sort of designed to mess with your head.

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. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.