Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan looks ahead, not back

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Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan looks ahead, not back
HONGKONG,CHINA - AUGUST 13:American pop group The Smashing Pumpkins hold concert on Tuesday August 13,2013 in Hong Kong,China.(Photo by TPG/Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Musical guests D'arcy Wretzky, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performson September 26, 1998 -- (Photo by: Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NETHERLANDS - JUNE 20: ROTTERDAM Photo of Billy CORGAN and SMASHING PUMPKINS, Billy Gorgan playing live on stage (Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns)
**FILE**Members of the Chicago-based band Smashing Pumpkins, from left, D'arcy, Billy Corgan and James Iha, wave to the crowd that formed outside the theater to see them play on "Late Show" with David Letterman, on July 30, 1998, in New York. The group will open its U.S. concert series on Saturday, June 23, 2007l, at small club in Asheville, N.C.(AP Photo/Suzanne Plunkett)
AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 27: Lead vocals/musician Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins performs in concert at Stubb's Bar-B-Q on September 27, 2012 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1944-- Pictured: (l-r) Musical guests Smashing Pumpkins, James Iha, D'arcy Wretzky, Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin during a performance on November 17th, 2000-- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Billy Corgan, lead vocalist and guitarist for The Smashing Pumpkins, left, performs with the band during the Cumbre Tajin 2013 music festival in Papantla, Mexico, Sunday March 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)
Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan poses for a portrait in promotion of the band's new album "Monuments To An Elegy" at BMG Chrysalis, on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP)
FILE--The rock group the Smashing Pumpkins, clockwise from top left: James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin, D'Arcy and Billy Corgan are shown in this 1995 file photo. Jonathan Melvoin, 34, a backup musician who played keyboards for the group, was pronounced dead at the Regency Hotel Friday, July 12, 1996, in New York. The group's drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, was charged with heroin possession, police said. (AP Photo/Virgin Records)
Billy Corgan during Billy Corgan in Concert at Webster Hall in New York City - June 27, 2005 at Webster Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
LANDGRAAF, NETHERLANDS - 22nd MAY: singer Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins performs live on stage at Pinkpop in Landgraaf, Netherlands on 22d May 1994. (photo by Frans Schellekens/Redferns)
US singer Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins, gestures during a press conference in Mexico City on August 25, 2010. Smashing Pumpkins is in Mexico to participate in the MTV World Stage Mexico on August 26 . AFP PHOTO/Ronaldo Schemidt (Photo credit should read Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)
NETHERLANDS - JULY 01: Photo of Smashing Pumpkins; Smashing Pumpkins photographed in London. July, 1993 (Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)
NEW YORK CITY - SEPTEMBER 4: Rock group The Smashing Pumpkins: Billy Corgan, D'arcy Wretzky and James Iha attend the 13th Annual MTV Video Music Awards on September 4, 1996 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
INGLEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Musician Billy Corgan performs onstage during day two of the 25th annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Forum on December 13, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for CBS Radio)
Frontman Billy Corgan of U.S. rock band Smashing Pumpkins, performs on stage in Munich, southern Germany Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. (AP Photo/Uwe Lein)
** FILE ** In this April 23, 2008 file photo, Jimmy Chamberlin, left, and Billy Corgan of rock band The Smashing Pumpkins pose together after a ceremony to induct them into the Hollywood RockWalk in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, file)
Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Singer Billy Corgan arrives at the premiere of the feature film "Taking Woodstock" in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
Musician, recording artist, and poet Billy Corgan speaks during a news conference held by the Chicago Concussion Coalition Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, in Chicago as Chris Nowinski, left, chairman of the coalition listens. Corgan was taking part in a workshop for high school coaches, administrators and trainers in Chicago, which in January passed an ordinance requiring public and private schools to take athletes who show concussion symptoms off the field. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
INGLEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (EDITOR'S NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs at The 25th Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas - Day 2 at The Forum on December 14, 2014 ingInglewood, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for CBS Radio)
GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 30: Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins performs at day 4 of the 2013 Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 30, 2013 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Billy Corgan attends the Alternative Press Music Awards at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on July 21, 2014 in Cleveland, United States. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Redferns via Getty Images)
Smashing Pumpkins performs during the Live Earth concert at Giants Stadium, Saturday, July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, N.J. The concert is part of a 24-hour series spanning 7 continents to raise awareness for global warming. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)
GERMANY - FEBRUARY 21: OLYMPIAHALLE Photo of SMASHING PUNMPKINS and Billy CORGAN, Billy Corgan performing on stage, holding up guitar (Photo by Stefan M. Prager/Redferns)
Billy Corgan, Courtney Love and James Hetfield at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins performs at Manchester Evening News Arena on February 15, 2008 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)
Ginger Reyes, Billy Corgan and Jeff Schroeder of Smashing Pumpkins (Photo by Greetsia Tent/WireImage)
Billy Corgan of Zwan during KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas Concert at Universal Amphitheater in Universal City, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins holds up his hands after putting them in cement at a ceremony to induct The Smashing Pumpkins into the Hollywood RockWalk in Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Pink Floyd members Rick Wright, left, and David Gilmour, right, perform with Billy Corgan, head of the band "The Smashing Pumpkins," after Pink Floyd's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Wednesday, Jan. 17, 1996. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Chicago music legend Billy Corgan listens as he is introduced along with students from St. Paul, Our Lady of Vilna middle school choir Friday, Oct. 1, 2004, before they perform his song about the Chicago Cubs called Black Sox at a Potbelly restaurant in downtown Chicago. Corgan's appearance was part of a fund-raising event to raise money for Rock for Kids, a non-profit organization that provides support to children that are homeless or in need. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
LOS ANGELES CA, UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 18: Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins poses for a portrait holding an umbrella on October 18, 2005 in Los Angeles, Ca (Photo by Wendy Redfern/Redferns)
Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs at Lollapalooza, Chicago, Illinois, May 15, 1994. (Photo by Steve Eichner/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 14: D'Arcy Wretzky, Jimmy Chamberlin and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins perform on stage on the 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' tour, at Wembley Arena on May 14th, 1996 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Still/Redferns)
American musician Rick Nielsen (left), of the band Cheap Trick, performs with special guest Billy Corgan, of Smashing Pumpkins, onstage at the Metro auditorium, Chicago, Illinois, May 1, 1998. Drummer Bun E Carlos is visible at right. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
Smashing Pumpkins (L - R, D'arcy Wretzky, James Iha, Billy Corgan), circa 1996. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) -- The Smashing Pumpkins are dead. Long live the Smashing Pumpkins.

It's fair to say lead singer Billy Corgan has an ambivalent relationship with his band - as well as with the music industry, the media, fellow musicians and his fans.

"People say, `Are you going to break up the band?'" Corgan said backstage before a recent London show. "What band is there to break up? There is no band."

Corgan may be the Pumpkins' only remaining original member, but the non-band has just released its eighth studio album, "Monuments to an Elegy." A slice of grungy pop-rock featuring guitarist Jeff Schroeder, who joined the Pumpkins in 2007, and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, it's received good reviews - though not good enough for Corgan.

"There's no way this is a three-out-of five record," he said, grumbling about one newspaper's assessment.

You might think that sounds a bit thin-skinned for the man behind two best-selling 1990s albums - "Siamese Dream" and "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" - now regarded as classics.

But Corgan is not the type to rest on his laurels. He says he abhors nostalgia, and turned down good money to do a retro "Siamese Dream" tour.

"I know exactly where that goes," he said. "That's Vegas."

Corgan is an icon of `90s American indie rock, perhaps second only to his late friend Kurt Cobain.

In the decades since, Corgan has revealed a willingness to speak his mind on everything from politics to astrology and a knack for nursing a grudge. He has had a public spat with Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, and recently berated Anderson Cooper after the CNN host poked fun at Corgan's cat-cuddling cover shoot for Paws Chicago magazine.

Swaddled in a sweater and scarf backstage at a London club, 47-year-old Corgan is sensitive to the cold - and to criticism. He is alternately confident and insecure of his place in music history, which makes him both prickly and refreshingly honest.

"Imagine if every week of your life for the rest of your life somebody'd be walking down the street going `Here's a picture of you when you were 18. Didn't you have a better hairstyle then? Look at this T-shirt you were wearing. Don't you want to wear that T-shirt again?' That's what it's like," he said.

"It's a mirrored paradigm which you cannot escape. And if you complain, which I have, you're not grateful."

He's had his ups and downs, but feels with the new record that he's regaining his musical mojo.

"This is the best reaction I've had on an album, up off the street, in 20 years," Corgan said.

He says creativity is a funny thing. "When you have it, it feels like a font that just flows through you, and everything gets real easy. And then one day it sort of slows down or it stops and you tell yourself, `I'm just having a bad day or a bad month.' And then next thing you know, people start doubting you, you don't have that magic touch. And then you start doubting yourself."

Corgan plans to release a companion album to "Monuments to an Elegy," - titled "Day For Night" - in late 2015.

He says he has finally embraced the philosophy of Popeye: "I yam what I yam."

"I wish I had Robert Plant's voice, or Robert Smith's voice," he said. "I got this one, OK, so go with it. But you have to go through all that to come out the other side, to find strength and power in it."


Monuments to an Elegy

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