Ahead of their “Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour”, the (mostly) reunited Smashing Pumpkins have been making the rounds. They appeared on Fallon Monday night to perform their new single “Solara” and the seminal “Zero”, and on Tuesday they stopped by The Howard Stern Show to chat about coming back together.
When Howard Stern asked how reuniting with guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin felt, frontman Billy Corgan said bluntly, “It’s really awesome.” He recalled working alongside his bandmates in the studio with Rick Rubin and feeling like it was the good ol’ days. “I looked across the room at James… it was like looking through a tunnel back through all those years and I just was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re back in the same room and we’re making music. This is so cool,’” Corgan said.
“I always said we never really disagreed about music,” Chamberlin chimed in. “There was cultural differences and differences of opinion, but as far as the music goes we’ve always had common ground… If you spend that much time with somebody there’s gonna be bumps in the road. but as far as the music went, we always had a commonality, a common vision, which really was kind of the saving grace of all of our careers.”
Where common ground couldn’t be found, however, was with former bassist D’arcy Wretzky. The drama between her and Corgan is well documented at this point, but Corgan resigned to provide the “simple version” of the story once again. He spent two years trying to rebuild a relationship with Wretzky, and things seemed to be going well. He had hopes that music was possible again, but as he recounted,
“Every time I talked to her on the phone she was absolutely lovely, she was sweet, she said things she’d never said to me, she complimented me… So I’m dealing with somebody who seems to me to be like the grown up version that we are now, so I was thinking, ‘Ok, this is possible.’ But every time I would address logical concerns like, ‘Well you haven’t been on stage in 19 years. You haven’t been in public in 19 years, are you going to be okay with that?’, she would just kind of brush it off.”
He tried to get in a room with her to talk things through, but apparently couldn’t get Wretzky to commit. The band attempted to forge ahead, sending along business details, but she flatly refused the terms. “She just didn’t like the way it was set up. I’m not here to talk about that, per se, but it wasn’t unfair,” Corgan said. “It wasn’t ridiculous. Every time I tried to explain the constructs or things involved, she just didn’t want to hear it.”
What’s more, because Corgan hadn’t been able to actually meet with Wretzky, he said he wasn’t sure if she’d be able to handle the challenges of performing Smashing Pumpkins’ music. “I know this sounds strange,” Corgan said, “but I didn’t want to put her in a position where she would look bad or fail. So it was coming from a place of I want to make sure she’s protected in this situation.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Stern brought up the last time Corgan had visited his show. During that October discussion, the singer revealed a wild story in which he claimed to have encountered a shapeshifter. Stern tried to goad more out of him this time, and though he was cagey on the details, he strongly implied that the shapeshifter was actually a woman with whom he was having sexual relations. And he said it happened twice. “I will say, since we’re on radio, that the story is even more fantastical than you think,” Corgan teased. “The person was naked.” He kept saying “the person,” but Stern made a few assumptions to which Corgan pled the fifth.
“Maybe I had a hallucination, but I saw what I saw,” Billy maintained.
The Pumpkins also played two songs during the show, “Solara” and the classic “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”. SiriusXM subscribers can hear the whole thing via their subscription, while the rest of us can check out some snippets from the interview below.
On D’arcy Wretzky:
On Billy Corgan’s Dad’s Reaction to Smashing Pumpkins: