photo & text by nacrowe
when i moved to NIGERIA in 1996 there were dubbed tapes passing around amongst my middle school peers of this band with a funny i hadnt heard of before called THE SMASHING PUMPKINS. those two albums were MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS (VIRGIN, 1995) and its immediate predecessor SIAMESE DREAM (VIRGIN, 1993). my first impression of the band honestly was that voice. frontman and main songwriter BILLY CORGAN has a distinctive whine that is both his limitation and his identifying signature. to me its interesting how so much of his persona as an awkward genius is derived from that voice.
with 1990s ALTERNATIVE ROCK there lots of nontraditional front-people who broadened what was culturally acceptable. my thoughts immediately go towards that of PERRY FARRELL (JANE'S ADDICTION / PORNO FOR PYROS), RIVERS CUOMO (WEEZER), TRENT REZNOR (NINE INCH NAILS) and COURTNEY LOVE (HOLE) who are all singularly identifiable and effectively one of one. but when i think of CORGAN the figure i am presented with is that of a gangly yet supremely talented midwesterner who is always seemingly slightly outside the mainstream looking in. his band is a neo-PSYCHEDELIC, fuzzed-out POWER POP band with PROG ROCK tendencies as if KING CRIMSON and THE RASPBERRIES had a lanky, colic child and dumped it somewhere outside CHICAGO in the late 60s.
tracks such as "TODAY," "ROCKET," "MAYONAISE," "CHERUB ROCK," "QUIET" and "DISARM" showcase a broad songwriting and musicianship range matched by few of their peers. they also present CORGAN as a disaffected figure who stands outside society, the most perfect encapsulation of GENERATION X dissatisfaction this side of fellow peer KURT COBAIN. during this period it seemed that these projected feelings of PERSONAL ISOLATION and SOCIAL DISCONTENT were directed at those elements of society that sought to restrict youth culture, i.e. the CHRISTIAN RIGHT and REPUBLICANS. this is why in the age of TRUMP it is so disappointing and just disorientating that CORGAN came out to support those neo-FASCIST elements of the ALT-RIGHT. its as if we as an audience had misread his music and creative output for most of our lives. we mistook his intentions and mistakenly took him as being someone with like-minded values. i was wrong.
i am a proponent of separating that ART from the ARTIST but with CORGAN that is extremely difficult due to how much his music affected me as a teenager. i looked up to him in no small part by how great SIAMESE DREAM was and what it represented to me as a teen and now i feel a deep sense of betrayal at his actions. which makes it difficult to listen to his music in general and i have to say, ive largely avoided it in recent years. i find it better to just stick with NIRVANA, PAVEMENT as well as most of the SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE ROCK and INDIE ROCK bands of the same era and beyond since at least with those i have a sense of security in knowing that they would never support an autocrat like TRUMP.