Smashing Pumpkins singer and guitarist Billy Corgan may be considered an alternative rocker by most of his fans, but he wants everyone to know he has always been a big metal fan. And he feels like the people who constantly badmouth metal are generally elitists that have had privileged upbringings.
“For years, I would take shit about being a fan of metal – it should be beneath you,” he told Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich on Beats 1 Radio’s It’s Electric. “It gets into weird class politics – most of the people who criticize people like us, for being who we are, what we are, or what we represent, had better backgrounds than we had,” said Corgan.
Corgan added that in his youth, he discovered that metal gave him a feeling of belonging and a sense of community and that seeing Metallica in Chicago on the Ride the Lightning tour was unbelievably unifying and solidified everything he believed in.
“We didn’t necessarily go to the nice school, we didn’t get to read the cool newspaper. For me, bands like [Metallica] told me that there is this other world that is more closely aligned with the experience that you’re having than the one you’re being told about,” he said. “So when I heard Mercyful Fate, Metallica, or Ted Nugent – ‘Wait, there’s this other world than the world you’re telling me that I’m supposed to believe in.’ Even to this day, for all the money that metal moves, it’s amazing how disrespected it is.”
Although many outsiders consider metal fans to be closed-minded, Corgan feels like hipsters are actually less open to new ideas and experiences than most headbangers and that they refuse to discard their prejudices and don’t grasp the inclusiveness that metal provides.
“You can’t get that through to a hipster’s brain,” he said. “If you sat around and drew up who you wanted to be on paper, you wouldn’t be in Metallica or the Smashing Pumpkins. Those type of bands grow out of, almost, a personality conflict. We’re not stupid. We get who you think we should be. And then there is who we are. And then when we are actually who we are, we see this resonance that tells us, ‘No, we’re going the right way.”
Corgan compared the relationship between metal and the public to that of a high school student and his classmates. “So, now I’m in the bigger high school and now we’re playing with millions of dollars and millions of people, and it’s just like a popularity contest. And it brought out maybe the worst or the best in my personality, which was like, ‘I’m gonna take this on and I’m gonna use myself as the battering ram so I’m gonna make it about me, knowing it’s not about me.’”
Smashing Pumpkins are getting ready to launch the “Shiny and Oh So Bright” tour, which starts July 12 in Glendale, Arizona and runs through Sept. 7 in Boise, Idaho. See their dates here. They are also expected to release three EPs of new material with their classic reunion lineup in the weeks leading up to the tour.