(Billy) The song I wrote, "Today," which ended up being a pretty big song--that song literally saved my life. I was completely suicidal, and I wrote that song in a cold bedroom on a day where it was like, "I'm either going to kill myself today, or I'm going to live because I'm sick of thinking about this." When I played it, it was an intense, extreme feeling. Last year, I was offered heavy, heavy money to license that song. I actually turned down two huge, huge, seven-figure-plus deals last year for two songs.
(Newsweek) For "Today" and for which other song?(Billy) "Tonight, Tonight." That's a fundamentally difficult position to be in. At this point, it's just free money. Song's already been played. It's been exploited. The record company's literally begging me: go ahead and take these commercials. At this point in my life, I don't feel comfortable. Those songs are the reason I'm alive. If your music is not sacred to the point where it's a really, really, really heavy decision about whether or not you would allow somebody else to exploit it, then what's not for sale?
So now everything is for sale. Is that selling out? In a sense, absolutely. But looking at it as a progression of the Pumpkins it's a natural step in where the band has been headed. I've been a huge fan for years the last 16 years, but looking back there's a definite break between Adore and Machina, and things haven't been the same since. Gish, Siamese Dream, MCIS, and Adore were the work of a band (and a frontman) that wanted to express things that could only be expressed through music. From teen angst through the shock of realizing that you're an adult now, those will always be magical CDs.
Machina I and II were different. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the music, but the meaning just isn't there. It's a CD about grappling with the fact that you're a huge rock star. We can all relate to that, right? Then the breakup, Zwan, Billy Corgan's solo CD, SP reformation with 2/4 of the original members, and Zeitgeist, which is a CD about America. Again, good music, just not on the same emotional level as the first albums.
So for the last 9 years the music hasn't been emotional. Musically it's still great, but it hasn't been the kind of music that teenagers will listen to late at night and thank the stars that somebody out there understands what it is to be lost and confused in the big, big world.
With the licensing of Today, Billy has told us all that he realizes that his music doesn't mean what it used to anymore. It's a sad position to be in, but it's somewhat honest as well. Add to that the departure of Jimmy Chamberlin from the Pumpkins, coupled with the announcement that Billy will be going into the studio, alone, to record as The Smashing Pumpkins, as we have a clear picture of Billy's view of the world:
He is the Pumpkins, and music will continue to be made. The music will continue to rawk and be spectacularly constructed, but if you're looking for music that will save your soul the new CD probably won't be it.