There have been a few sensationalized stories about Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan’s “rants” at SXSW this year. A lot of quotes were presented as headlines without the burden of context, and perhaps, like us, you skipped over them as you would the display of tabloids on your left at the checkout line. What did captivate our attention, however, was a follow-up conversation Billy had with Mashable’s Brian Solis for his Revolution series, finally posted this week:
Corgan makes a lot of sense when he’s given the time to explain himself. We don’t agree with everything he says, but let’s focus on what he nails…
On supporting artists:
We need to recognize that there’s a cultural gulf, and it’s widening. Over here, you have a very sophisticated fan that gives a shit, and cares, and will pay attention to whatever codified information they need… Whatever you need to feel about your artists. And then there’s a wide gulf, and then it’s like, ‘whatever we [artists] have to do to get your attention.’ If we have to light ourselves on fire… And that gulf is going to get wider. And what the sophisticated fan needs to understand is that if they don’t support artists in total, from “their” world… It’s actually a vote for the other side. And [that] side is only going to get bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
On what artists need to do now:
Artists are going to have to represent more than just the narrow bandwidth of music. If all you are is a musician, I don’t see… I mean, maybe the Beatles is not the best example, but the Beatles represented more. You know, they were a social thing, they were a human thing, they were a heart thing, and that impact lasted and endures, and you can see how they continually come up because their impact was so wide. And oftentimes, they’re referenced not as musicians. Okay, well that’s the modern model… You have to mean something and be more, which is going to, in essence, bring the best and the brightest out of the closet so that they’re not in this situation where they’re being reduced down to one song…
You’ve got to say to a young kid, you can’t be about that one song. The label’s going to tell you [that] you need to be about the one song, the manager [will too]… If all you’re about is the one song, you’re basically putting a shelf life on yourself, and you’re done. And don’t buy this argument where it’s like ‘well let’s just get you on the radio, and then you’ll build a career after that.’ It doesn’t… that’s very rare.
Smashing Pumpkins’ forthcoming album Oceania is due out June 19th. Details here.