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Billy Corgan: Radiohead choose publicity over music

Following Trent Reznor’s recent rants on Radiohead’s ‘Pay-What- You-Want’ method of releasing music (In Rainbows promotion was insencere), it’s Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan’s turn.

In an interview with Rolling Stone Corgan says that Radiohead were in it for the publicity when they released ‘In Rainbows’ on the internet last Fall: “I think it’s really difficult for the young artist, who doesn’t have at least some sense of a pathway. For example, if you were a kid today and you’re looking at the bands who are successful right now, you think, if you don’t sort of sell out and let somebody make you a star, go on American Idol, then you can’t be successful. Alternative culture is really critical towards introducing new ideas. We need those young bands to push old band like us, to push new boundaries. We need our butts kicked regularly. That’s where all the energy comes from, from the bottom. And when the message on Amy Winehouse is drama is better than music, and for Radiohead publicity is better than music — no disrespect to them. But I think it’s a bad message to young bands of how to make it happen. It’s almost like the evil stepchild of the rap bling-bling thing, like, the only way to make it work is I’ve got to come up with a gimmick.”

In the meantime, Corgan will be releasing new Smashing Pumpkins material the uncoventional way as well: “I can tell that our plans right now are to do an album over two or three years and put it out in pieces and then maybe eventually bring it all back together. The album doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be ten songs. Some dumb white guy somewhere doesn’t have to like it. Some old fart, out-of-touch has to decide, oh, these ten songs aren’t as good as Sgt. Pepper’s. Well, you know what? I don’t think the Beatles would be making an album right now.”

62 Comments

  • im a big bald cock!

  • a gimmick? come on billy…

  • I used to be a huge SP fan, but Billy has turned into quite an idiot. Particularly when he said he doesn’t care if the old fans don’t like the new material. He totally lost me as a fan right there, as I vowed to never buy another SP album. He has no right to comment on other band’s ideas.

  • This from the guy who released the last SP album in something like 5 different editions at every different major retail store so you had to buy all 5 (or the expensive special edition) to get every song.
    That wasn’t publicity?

  • If I were Billy Corgan, I would retire to the mountains and never bother a soul again. I can’t listen to old Pumpkins stuff, knowing what he’s become.

  • Nonsense all the way

  • billy corgan is a washed up, self absorbed has been. who cares what he says. he wishes he would have thought of it. And billy, apparently no young bands have been kicking your ass lately because all your new stuff sucks.

  • jealousy once again

  • the earlier version of that interview reported:

    Billy Corgan: Number one, I think there’s just too much. I mean, how can you ask an eighteen-year-old to sort through everything that they’re presented with? Realistically, just being hot and talented and having a good single isn’t enough anymore. You really need like the extra story, like Amy Winehouse had, or a Britney freak-out. Like, Radiohead putting out a great album is not enough of a story. Radiohead putting out a free album, and blah, blah, that’s the story. So it becomes more media-driven, event-driven, than music-driven.

    God knows why RS deleted this portion of the interview (surely not because of publicity eheh)..
    you can not agree with him, but he’s not just ranting on them

  • the smashing pumpkins. tee hee.

    it’s like being criticized by n’sync.

  • Half the things he said didnt even make sense.

    “Well, you know what? I don’t think the Beatles would be making an album right now.”

    what the hell does that even MEAN?

  • superfunk: I think he means if the Beatles were still able to make records, they would of stopped cause it’s not worth it with the current state of the music industry….something like that

  • billy = meh

  • “…Radiohead putting out a great album is not enough of a story. Radiohead putting out a free album, and blah, blah, that’s the story.” While he does kinda have a point here, why does it matter what sort of publicity Radiohead’s stuff receives? I realize he probably meant that Radiohead was apparently taking certain steps to ensure that a certain amount (and type) of [noise] was made. Debating that is pretty pointless, and more importantly: Who gives a shit? Not to mention that he’s being a part of that bullshit/marketing/pandering/publicity or whatever you want to call it by speaking about it to RS in the first place. It’s not like he was even discussing the actual music (at least not in this excerpt).

    “…the only way to make it work is I’ve got to come up with a gimmick”

    Just like how Trent Reznor also failed to mention [after complaining of the crap quality of the MP3 downloads for In Rainbows] the fact that Radiohead, Billy also seems to have failed to mention the fact that Radiohead was GIVING IT AWAY FOR FREE. Enough people simply chose to offer up what became a combined total of what, 10 million dollars? Yeah, it does sound like jealousy. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty douchey really.

  • is it just me, or is the headline for that news item misleading? it doesn’t look like Billy said In Rainbows was about publicity at all. I think he’s talking about the fact that its release is overshadowing it. he even said “no disrespect to them.”
    oh, but i’m not forgetting Billy has become an mega huge hypocrite/sell out. christ, he once gave an entire album away for free.
    but like i said, i think his point was that a lot of people cared more about how In Rainbows was released rather than the fact that it was a good album.

  • Not another Lilly.

  • So the media reporting on radiohead’s method of releasing an album and amy winehouse’s drug habits is their fault? They didn’t hype it, the news did, billy go back to zwan you tool.

  • i suppose saying that they were only looking for a way to get the music out to the fans as quickly and painlessly as possible and were not looking for any sort of revolution is also a gimmick…?

  • Says the guy who puts money before music and release 4 different version of the same album after bringing an unrelevant band (says Corgan himself as reason for breaking it up in the first place..) back from the grave. Shame on you Corgan.

  • it seems clear from the deleted portion of the interview that Corgan was not putting blame on Radiohead, but rather on the media and music industry. he did not say “Radiohead choose publicity”, just that publicity is what the industry demands of artists. he even implies that In Rainbows is a great album, so to pass this off as him bashing Radiohead is ridiculous.

  • wow what a bitch. that’s the definition of oxymoron…talking shit about publicity while trying to drum up his own publicity by such a useless and meaningless figure in music

  • bring back Zwan!!

  • Went to Smashing Pumpkins a few weeks ago and I quite like Billy. He’s a complete nutter and a hypocrite, but that doesn’t change the fact that he wrote some of the best songs of the 90′s.

    Also, I think the interview title is misleading. He was really referring to the media, twas not an attack on Radiohead.

  • Is it just me, or does corgan’s comment make absolutely no sense whatsoever?

    first he’s saying that new bands should push the boundaries of music (okay alright) but then he somehow makes the connection between that and bands relying on cheap gimmicks to sell…confusing

  • In a way Billy is right, and just because we are all die hard Radiohead fans here doesn’t mean we have to attack him for what he said. However considering his statement is completely hypocritical considering his much more commercial marketing strategy, its almost as if he’s mocking himself. So, let him.

  • maybe he should fuck off and make a decent album for a change.

  • this guy it´s living in the past.
    goodbye

  • I like how the release of IR is a “gimmick”, while he plans to release a full album in several separate sections. Great way to maximize profits and have people buy your six times, again, you douche.

  • Isn’t this the guy that took out an ad in the friggin’ Chicago Tribune to beg his once-former band mates to get back together? Yes, yes it is. I think the British would call him a “twat”. Not me, though, I’m much more restrained.

  • Honestly, I used to respect Corgan. He’s run out of the respect that Siamese Dream and “mayonaise” earned him.

    What a joke. TheFutureEmbrace and that Zwan album were even better than the new pumpkins album.

    He was talented once, but it’s like that “Hook” movie where Peter pan grows old and thinks he’s a lawyer, except Billy’s grown old and thinks he’s a musician. Whoops.

  • Thanks for that left-out excerpt, Beckless. I guess Mr. Corgan isn’t necessarily criticizing Radiohead, as much as the media’s interpretation: putting out a great album isn’t as important as what drew in everyone’s attention of the pay-what-you want system. Maybe he accidentally chose the word “publicity”, when he meant the media were publicizing the album that way.

  • Moron

  • do you morons need to read this again? RS edited the interview to get some sensationalism out of his words.. he was complimenting radiohead and commenting on how the media ignored the fact that they had released a great album (made a more of a big deal out of the release method).

    the earlier version of that interview reported:

    “Billy Corgan: Number one, I think there’s just too much. I mean, how can you ask an eighteen-year-old to sort through everything that they’re presented with? Realistically, just being hot and talented and having a good single isn’t enough anymore. You really need like the extra story, like Amy Winehouse had, or a Britney freak-out. Like, Radiohead putting out a great album is not enough of a story. Radiohead putting out a free album, and blah, blah, that’s the story. So it becomes more media-driven, event-driven, than music-driven.”

    way to go RS! twist the words up a bit and get some more hits!

  • Why should geniuses arguee :( <– referring to trent reznor as opposed to cordon!

  • You’d have to really be an idiot (which Billy definitely is) to deny the fact of how powerful the internet currently is for promoting and distributing music.

    Look at MySpace, fool! It’s loitered with everyone and their brother trying to solicit themselves.

    Billy’s just pissed cause the last decent record he made was over ten years ago. He’s a fucking ‘has-been.’ Go away, Billy!

  • As calculated as Smashing Pumpkins’ initial rise to worldwide prominence was, and as awful as everything they’ve recorded after 1994 might be, it’s unfair to lampoon Corgan for his comment on Radiohead. The quote appears to be taken out of context, and on top of that, this is from Rolling Stone? It seems more likely he’s saying “publicity is better” in terms of the methods used by obsolete publications like Rolling Stone or Spin, whose interviews and music coverage resemble celebrity gossip more than legitimate music publications, and he’s right. Corgan is undoubtedly aware Radiohead doesn’t need any help selling records, and on top of that, Smashing Pumpkins actually initiated the distribution of an entire double album online in 2000. Has anyone read a review of In Rainbows that didn’t mention the way it was released? Everyone from Playboy to Pitchfork wasted space talking about it when they could have been going into further detail about the songs, but no, it’s easier (and more interesting to most Americans) to hype the download thing instead of going into detail about the music on the record.

  • “I can tell that our plans right now are to do an album over two or three years and put it out in pieces and then maybe eventually bring it all back together” <– wasn’t this thom’s plan? i remember him saying something about putting out songs one by one/not using a conventional “album” method so they could let us hear them more immediately.
    …and by corgan’s “standards”, wouldn’t this be considered a gimmick? what a tool.

  • I have just lost a lot of respect for
    the smashing pumpkins.

  • Corgan should worry about his own ‘message’ of “Whinging & complaining is better than music”. All the hoopla for the new album–one so grand that half the member didn’t even want to play on it–and it came & went just like that. One single that *might* have been okay as a Pixies b-side 17 years ago, but has showed no progress or ingenuity since the last mediocre album. Corgan has no right to be whining about about others when his own music is so bland.

  • billy corgan is a talentless idiot and hypocrite. zeitgeist is a pointless piece of garbage, and weren’t like 7 different versions released to different retailers with assortments of bonus tracks? billy corgan’s life is a self-obsessed gimmick.

  • I think it’s funny he says he thinks they feel publicity is more important than the music when they spent so long working on the tunes. haha then at the end has the balls to say he doesn’t give a fuck that his music is shit now and he can’t connect to the youth of america anymore, let alone anywhere close to the scope radiohead connects on. Zwan didn’t self enough records for billy to remain popular so he makes the new SP with pretty much nobody from the original band. irony.

  • mark/superfunk: I was talking to my buddy about that comment and what he said makes sense to me. He read that beatles comment as saying that the beatles would have moved on from the album form of putting out music, and would be putting it out in a different fasion now. In the context of the interview, I would agree that’s what he meant to say.

  • So Billy Corgan whines about Radiohead doing this just for publicity (minus the label) and then pulls the same shit himself? Talk about a hypocrite. Oh, and at least Radiohead had release albums that aren’t complete and utter shit since 1996.

  • adam>>

    Okay, after actually reading the article instead of the summary, I can agree, Billy is not outright dissing Radiohead. But he is still under the common misunderstanding that Radiohead is trying to shake up and revolutionize the recording industry with this kind of business model. They’ve never said that! Ever! That’s Billy “not reading the fucking article”. Also, Radiohead doesn’t write these new snippets.

  • The words were taken out of context, and Rolling Stone didn’t quote the whole thing. Bastards. He meant that the media made a bigger deal of the way they released it, and not how the record actually was.

  • oh Billy’s got an ass for a face and shit for brains. He thinks if he mentions Radiohead negatively or otherwise then his records will sell better. He is the cliche gimmick…10 tracks over 3 years and release it in parts hmmmmmm, sounds mysterious.

    Man he’s so eccentric.

  • This divisive rhetoric shall have no place in this campaign. Oops…wrong message board. Pick a nominee already!!

  • Seems Corgan wasn’t being as much of an arse as RS were making out. Thanks beckless. Now let’s hope he shuts up and goes and makes some decent music again.

  • what a tit.
    this is the man who released his last album in four or five diffferent versions with tracks only available at walmart and best buy, effectively pissing on indie stores.
    stick it to the man.

  • ANd that is why Billy Corgan is insignificant today and will always be and oh ya….no disrespect!! lol

  • just vexted the has-been didnt come up with idea himself radiohead are so clever they have peple like him giving them FREE publicity what a fool! Andhow dare he compare radiohead to the talent free zone that is winehouse.

  • Man, is this talkabout still on?

  • It seems the title posted here is misleading and the way RS presented this interview was intended to fan flames of anger. Corgan was NOT implicating radiohead to be publicity whores…ponder his comments for a moment and consider them. “Hail to the Thief”, despite having a title that *may* be considered controversial, did not receive near the same publicity. Everyone knew about this album…EVERYONE….

    …or did they? I would venture further to say EVERYONE knew about the albums method of release, not the ALBUM. This method certainly overshadowed the music that was delivered with it.

    Where I don’t agree with Corgan is his belief that this has all been bad. I believe this has allowed positive growth for the band (more people appreciating their music) and served as an additional testament to why we all love them sooo much!

  • If only Smashing Pumpkins were as good as radiohead. Then his comments may be given more respect.

  • well, he’s right.. radiohead and smashing pumpkins still make good sales because they were popular in the 90s.. Nowadays you need something else to rise above the rest in terms of popularity, and music simply isn’t enough.. and if you play music you want people to listen to you.. Corgan is not so hypocrite to deny it.. he’s just telling how he sees the music biz.. people now just have to browse the internet to find a good band.. you don’t even have to download stuff, you just go to their myspace or last.fm.. it’s not like listening to shit bands all day from the radio and watching an hour a day of “alternative nation” from mtv and choose a band among the few who had made it till there.. major labels still think that they’re the “gate-keepers” of the music market and that they can sell anything with some ready-made articles and reviews for the press.. to them it’s never about the music..

  • i agree with what’s he saying about gimmicks and shit, but i totally didnt even think of the pay-what-you-want as a publicity stunt.

    gimmick artists are posers, radiohead is not.

  • I still love SP and look foward to the
    new stuff. But I think what Radiohead did
    was cool. I mean all they did was do it
    their own way. It was very atypical like
    their music and I loved that! I think they
    did do the right thing and simply announced
    that they were doing something that wasn’t
    about the money. THat they were doing it on
    their own. So its a Good example to young
    bands not a bad example as Billy said. It
    shows YOU CAN DO THIS if you’re a young band/artist
    .You don’t need the big dick labels . So I’
    simply disagree with him. I do agree that much
    the music business-mainstream-label oriented stuff
    is NOT about the music and has a lot of BS nand
    sell outs.. But Radiohead is NOT a part of that BIlly IMO . Nevertheless I look foward too
    new SP!

  • Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins :-) Come to thik of it this is pretty cool. 2 bands that are arguably the most important of the 90s and beyond
    who both put out some of the most important albums of the 90′s and beyond. Making it exciting to be a music fan again! Zeitgeist and IN Rainbows are both getting consistent listens as they are my faves of recent albums that have come out in past year .
    Foo Fighters too right up there… I don’t wanna battle between any of them cause I think they’are all awesome!

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  • [...] Corgan has dissed Radiohead for choosing publicity over the music when releasing In Rainbows. I find it funny that that’s coming from Billy Corgan who chose to [...]

  • The in time is a bad attitude.

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