Billy Corgan Uninterested In Playing The Classics: 'You Can't Live In The Past'

6 June 2024 | 10:22 am | Mary Varvaris

“It's not a bad thing that they [fans] want to hear songs that they love. But you can't live in the past. It's the death of any artist.”

The Smashing Pumpkins @ Hordern Pavilion

The Smashing Pumpkins @ Hordern Pavilion (Credit: Peter Dovgan)

Don’t expect a Smashing Pumpkins anniversary show celebrating a classic album anytime soon, as frontman Billy Corgan has revealed that he’s uninterested in delivering the hits.

While the band does still play some hits – a September 2023 set saw them perform Today, Disarm, Tonight, Tonight, Bullet With Butterfly Wings, and 1979 – the singer refuses to add songs just because fans want them.

“I don't play any songs I don't want to play. I don't care if they're a classic or not,” Corgan said in a new interview with music publication Kerrang!

He continued, “If I don't want to play it, I just don't play it. I don't put that on the audience like, ‘Well, I've got to play this one for you.’ I think that's kind of cheese.”

Corgan added that the best experience would be for fans who are into older music but walk away pleasantly surprised by newer songs, the inclusion of B-sides, and the odd cover.

“You come, and you hear those songs you think, ‘Wow, those sound great, band sounds great. The voice is still there.’ You feel good about your decision to come to the show,” he said.

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Discussing the fun of music discovery, the Zero singer went on to say: “But then you might hear five, six, seven other songs, and you find yourself going, ‘I don't know this one,’ so you look up one, and go, ‘Oh, that was a deep cut from 1996. I didn't know that one. It was some B-side. That's interesting.

“And then someone making the same discovery about your new stuff but thinking it was old.”

Corgan believes musicians “can’t live in the past” by relying on a show solely comprised of greatest hits. To Corgan, those kinds of shows would lead to the “death of any artist.”

He explained: “It comes from a good thing, which is that people really love your music, you know what I mean?

“It's not a bad thing that they want to hear songs that they love. But you can't live in the past. It's the death of any artist.”

Earlier this year, The Smashing Pumpkins revealed the identity of their new guitarist after issuing a public callout that attracted over 10,000 applicants.

The new guitarist is Kiki Wong, a veteran musician and online sensation. Wong currently plays in the Los Angeles rock band Vigil Of War. Her other notable moments include playing the drums for Taylor Swift at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards (on Shake It Off), performing as Bret Michaels’ lead guitarist in a Nissan advertisement and previously playing in the band She Demons.