Billy Corgan Reflects On MCAISBilly Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins recently spoke with Rollingstone about the re-release of a deluxe re-mastered edition of the ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” LP on December 3rd. The album will be complete with 64 bonus tracks and a live DVD. This is all part of a massive reissue project Billy Corgan is overseeing that affects all of the bands albums from 1991-2000 loaded with B-sides.

Billy Corgan: “In many ways it’s beautiful that we were able to make something so grand as kind of a final statement of solvency of that group togethe. But that was pretty much it. That was as good as it was going to get for the four of those people together.”

Here’s more of Billy Corgan’s interview with RS as he looks back on the album.

RS: When was the last time you listened to Mellon Collie all the way through?

Billy Corgan: Fairly recently. Because I had to approve the mastering. I think when I listen to old records, it puts me back in the atmosphere of what it felt like to make the record and who was there and what the room looked like. It’s more a sensory memory. If I go deeper than that I start to remember the funny stories. When we were recording we had a rehearsal space we called Pumpkinland. [Album co-producer] Flood wanted to record Mellon Collie in there, which really surprised us. He liked the way we played in there. He thought we would be more comfortable. We’re working in there and I think [co-producer] Alan Moulder and I were in the other room, and all of a sudden one of the pipes burst. And suddenly, this massive amount of water is coming out of the floor and was flooding the entire floor. We were trying to throw all the equipment in a corner where it hadn’t flooded. We’re all laughing ’cause it’s so absurd. But meanwhile there’s gallons of water coming out of this pipe and you don’t know when it’s going to stop. You remember these funny little memories when you listen.

RS: After the massive success of 1993’s Siamese Dream, you could have played it safer, but instead you went with the dark sprawl that is Mellon Collie.

Billy Corgan: What surprises me is that it’s a very dark album. And that such a dark album was so successful. People always say, “Oh, it’s dark,” and I would think, “Eh, it’s not dark to me.” But now I listen to it years later and I think, “Wow, there’s some pretty dark tones. There’s some pretty dark themes.” A song like “X.Y.U.” and “Tales of a Scorched Earth,” those are pretty dark. There’s something about the darkness of it all that really resonated: the tonality of the thing. The production is fairly stark in many places. You listen to say, “Cherub Rock,” which is very layered and nuanced, and then you listen to something like “X.Y.U.,” which is the band live in the studio. Those are completely different contrasts. So the fact that we were willing to go from one extreme to the other in such a short period of time surprises me.

RS: You told Rolling Stone in ’95 that you viewed Mellon Collie as “the end of an era.” What did you mean?

Billy Corgan: I think you could argue that in many ways it really was the last album for that lineup. That lineup never really managed to record together ever again with any consistency. It really was the last time the four of us worked together in earnest. And maybe I picked up on that; maybe I sensed that and maybe that had something to do with the sort of the desperation and the approach to try and get as much as possible out of it. I wrote something like over 50 songs and we recorded this entire pile of stuff. As the reissue shows, there is a lot of other stuff that was there, work product that was interesting because you can hear the transitions of some of the work. So yeah, I probably think it was the last album. There were other albums that came afterwards that had to do with what was left. And in many ways Oceania is the first new album, if that makes sense. And everything in between is what’s happened in between the shipwreck.

RS: Did you have a sense that things were coming apart at the seams for the original lineup?

Billy Corgan: If you talk to somebody’s who’s been married they’d say, “Oh, I didn’t know what marriage was like until I got married.” And if you’ve ever talked to someone who’s lost a parent they’d say, “Oh, I didn’t know what it was like to lose a parent until I lost mine.” Because you can’t imagine what it feels like. Well, when you’re in a band and you’re together that much and you’re going along at that speed, you really can’t imagine what it’s like to disintegrate until it happens. In your mind you think you know, but you don’t really know. Because you don’t understand the ramifications.

Billy Corgan: When Jimmy left the band we didn’t truly understand the ramifications it was going to have on the way we operated with one another. We didn’t totally understand the way it was going to affect the live show. It looks really obvious to me that we were going to hit a reef; the warning signs were all there in so many ways. In many ways it’s beautiful that we were able to make something so grand as kind of a final statement of solvency of that group together. But that was pretty much it. That was as good as it was going to get for the four of those people together.

Read more of Billy Corgan’s interview here

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