On Friday night, Deerhunter played a show at the Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina. In the midst of the band’s set, Bradford Cox set his guitar down and told a colorful story about opening for the Smashing Pumpkins at the same venue in 2007. Cox did not have kind words for Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, who allegedly did everything he could to make Deerhunter’s run of shows with the Smashing Pumpkins a “week-long torture camp.”
According to Cox, things began to unravel as soon as Deerhunter finished their set at the Orange Peel. Cox grabbed a bottle from “this big pyramid of Voss Water” backstage and was immediately confronted by a member of The Smashing Pumpkins’ crew. The crew member reportedly cornered him and said, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? This is Mr. Corgan’s water,” before shoving him against the wall. Deerhunter’s then-bassist Josh Fauver intervened and the two band members eventually retreated to “the broom closet down in the basement where they had given us a backstage.”
The next night, Cox claims that he was smoking a cigarette outside the venue when a woman approached him and ominously said, “Mr. Corgan needs to see you.” He found Corgan sitting on the stage, surrounded by cameras and members of his crew. According to Cox, here’s how the encounter went down:
“They’re videotaping me the whole time, which I found bizarre … [and] they bring me up to this stage, and he says to me, “’ hear you’ve been causing a lot of trouble. Do you know who you are? You’re shit. You’re a shitty little insignificant fucking indie rock band, and you were invited, not by me—who knows what fucking idiot in my management did this—but you were invited to open for The Smashing Pumpkins.’”
After picking his jaw up off the ground, Cox says he responded by peeling off Corgan’s backstage pass and slapping it back onto his leg. Corgan then claimed “assault” and threatened to “sue the fucking shit” out of Cox before his crew members broke drummer Moses Archuleta’s kit by throwing it offstage.
For what it’s worth, Corgan’s manager has categorically denied Cox’s story, saying in a statement, “Several eyewitnesses can attest that Cox’s account is a complete fabrication, probably to get some much needed attention. He is correct about one thing, that the whole thing is on tape, and that we have a video of the encounter. Since this is intentionally slanderous, I will likely suggest we pursue charges unless a retraction is forthcoming.”
Update – Monday, 8:45 a.m.: Cox has apologized and retracted his story. In a statement issued to NME, Cox wrote:
“Firstly, I would like to say that my intention was not to defame Billy Corgan. What I did was open my big fucking mouth and go off on one of my usual tangents. Some people call this ‘stage banter’. I do not need, or seek any attention, and in fact was embarrassed that this ended up being uploaded to Youtube, and then considered a news story. The story I told was just a contextual rap about something that happened at the venue we were playing – eight years ago. I will be the first to admit that there are two sides to every story and it is unfair that I gave mine without the other party being there to counter.
The thing that bothered me most about this incident was that after I got off stage I went to the bus and was reading about Scott Weiland’s death (which I find very tragic) and happened upon Corgan’s very moving and heartfelt tribute to his deceased friend. I do not find any humour in kicking someone while they are down. Bringing up a half-remembered interaction from so many years ago was not beneficial to anyone, especially If it causes someone who is already going through a dark moment to feel slandered or attacked. I feel very insensitive and stupid in that regard.
As far as what was said at the show, I prefaced it all by saying it was my recollection of the events. As Corgan’s management has confirmed, it is all on video. I would like to avoid any further drama by just categorically retracting my statements out of respect. I respect anyone who has worked hard playing music for decades, seen their band fall apart because of things out of their control, continued to try to pursue artistic interests and had ups and downs. Perhaps I met Corgan and his crew at an especially difficult time for him. It would be completely hypocritical for me to imply that I have never been just as much of an asshole to people around me as I accused Corgan of being. Who am I to cast stones in a glass house?
I don’t know Billy Corgan other than a five-minute interaction that left a definite impression on me. I have no doubt there are many sides to his character. My statement was my recollection of the events mixed with some humour. It was meant to be taken as casual stage banter. Not defamation or slander. The easiest thing for me to do to kill this story and hopefully avoid anymore drama is to admit it now. I was tacky and I retract my statements. If the video from 2007 ever does surface I will be very interested to see how my memory matches or contradicts reality.
In all earnestness I offer Corgan my apologies and my empathy during what I imagine is a difficult time with the loss of his friend.”
Nevertheless, Corgan has a long history of unpleasant run-ins with other musicians and a stated aversion to most rock acts younger than Radiohead. He’s also known to have quite a high opinion of himself.
Check out the video below, which a fan in Asheville shot while Cox recounted the story.