Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Further Disintegration of Billy Corgan

So I'm coming out of blogger hibernation because it's time once again for me to castigate my former hero, Billy Corgan. I don't *enjoy* calling him out constantly, but he makes it impossible not to do so!

In fact, I was actually feeling somewhat sympathetic to him after he posted a rambling explanation as to why he was going to continue working as a Smashing Pumpkin after even his right-hand man Jimmy Chamberlain jumped ship.

Well, this is the part I found kind of touching anyway, if you ignore the normal Billy pretentiousness:

"I appreciate that for many fans, the public part of my musical journey has often been quite confusing. I've tried to explain many times in both public and private venues that it's really not so different than a character on tv who embodies the role they are in. I don't think there is anything inauthentic about my play-acting within those created personas (zero, the whyte spider, the sad guy, the vampyre, etc) and acting them out on the grand stage in front of the glare of whoever cares. That to me IS what rock and roll is about. But many lack the sophistication to appreciate that just because I play a baby-faced killa upon the darkened stage that it doesn't come close to who I really am. I would point very gently to the diversity and complexity of my artistic work to give you some sense of who Billy Corgan really is (that is a joking 3rd person by the way). Part-alien, part-human, part-robot, part-star-crossed lover and part-mercury filled apparently if one was to read the songs in that way. I am a sensitive soul and I make no apologies for that. As Popeye said, 'I yam who I yam'. Or in my case maybe it's 'I am who I ain't.'"

And I mean, maybe this is all just more of Billy and his persecution complex, but as someone who has been criticizing him steadily since like, oh, 2006 or so, I can understand his frustration when people mistake the public image for the real person. If this frustration stems from his recently bitching at his audience during the Smashing Pumpkins anniversary shows, well, that's a problem all of his own making. Sure, that could be part of a "character" or "onstage persona," but it's just fucking stupid to start yelling at your biggest fans. In fact, in the same rambling blog post, he has this groundbreaking revelation:

"My wish is that from this day forward this group will represent nothing but love and light. If you see BC out there griping, it is only because I have failed to set the proper conditions to be in the love and light with you. The fan is NOT responsible in any way, shape, or form for my happiness or the my ability to do my job. (Nor have they ever been) If I have given that impression to any of you through the years I am sorry about that. That was an error on my part. When a fan comes to an SP show we owe it to you to put on the best show possible, rain or shine. I believe the days of standing on a stage somewhere in the world feeling torn about why I am up there are over. SP will be about peace from this day forward as well. The music WILL also reflect this shift in devotion and humble gratitude. You shall see!"

Well, gee, thanks Billy...that's quite a load off of my shoulders, as a fan. Okay, so my sympathy for him only goes so far. But I will say this: obviously, my criticism of Billy is criticism of the Rock Star and the Public Image and the Businessman and not the real, personal Billy who probably likes puppies and ice cream and who may just do nice things for strangers when no one is looking. That's how it is with anyone we write about on this site, even when it almost feels like we know that person. Because we don't.

But it's not like I don't have enough material with Billy The Rock Star and Public Image. In fact, he seems to be doing all he can to trash his own public image. I'm not even angry about it anymore, as a fan. I guess now I'm more curious...like, what is going on with Billy these days? Does he have a gambling addiction? An expensive blow habit? Why is he making everything about money, to the detriment of his own dignity and at risk of screwing over his biggest fans?

(Oh, and if you check out the Stereogum link above, you'll see a classic picture of Billy with Tila Tequila. Classy!)

To wit:

So after scorning bands who sell their best songs to advertising agencies, Billy has recently done just that, and I'm sure we've all seen the Visa commerical featuring "Today." Actually, I'm not all that riled up about this. Sure, sure, he explained his decision to refuse to sell "Today" for a commercial in this way:

"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?"

But, really, this is what every single rock star says before every single rock star winds up selling his/her songs for a commerical.

So, honestly, I could care less about that, but when you examine the Visa commercial in conjunction with every other terrible decision he's made recently, it all seems to be part of a disturbing pattern.

What terrible decisions, you may ask? Well, this one, for example:

Sure, Billy, we all liked The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke. That does NOT mean you need to start shilling for the WWE looking like Eminem with spoken-word renditions of your former hits. "You're still just a rat in a six-sided steel cage!"

And last night, I received this email from The Smashing Pumpkin, wherein he announced a subscription service. Now, I think subscription services are fine for the hardcore fans who want exclusive content, ticket presale opportunities, memorabilia, whatever. But of course, Billy has to announce a subscription service that would screw over the ones who love him most. Check out his plans, dependent of course on the interest he generates:

All of the details on this project are not concrete yet, but some information has all ready been provided.

$40 for 12 weeks. A minimum of 5 updates from the studio per week, so that's 60 updates for $40.
Updates would be posted in a less-than-24-hour consistency. For instance, if something happened on Monday, it would be posted no later than Tuesday
Each update would be a minimum of 5 minutes in length. That would mean subscribers would receive at least 25 minutes of unique audio/video material per week, and at least 5 hours over the course of the 12 weeks.
There is a possibility of live streaming video content in addition to what has been presented above.

Wait a minute...$40 for 12 weeks?! Meaning that if you had the inclination to sign up for another 12 weeks, that's another $40? Meaning that if you really loved Billy THAT much, you'd be paying him around $160 a year? We are in a recession! Is he mad? I don't even see that you get a t-shirt out of the deal!

It is certainly not my place to tell Billy Corgan that he has enough money. But I don't understand why he is allowing himself to flame out like this, when he has a large enough fanbase to comfortably pay his bills for the foreseeable future as long as he refrains from abusing us and gives us a fair shake.

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. I'm going to try to put together another post before the husband and I leave for Hawaii on Saturday, but no promises!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Checking in with Places Parallel...

Well it's been another couple of weeks and a whole lotta nothing is still going on but I thought I'd drop back in to share what's been entertaining me thus far this weekend.

Trent's Digg Dialog interview
You can watch it as a whole here:

Or they've convienently split it up into the individual sections by question. Several questions were pertaining to the NIN business model / distribution methods, which I would normally be all over because the "how do they do that" facinates me, but I've got an attention span of a gnat these days and this interview is 40 minutes long. He gives good arms though. For those of you who would rather just skip to the good parts I recommend checking out "most embarrassing song on your ipod" and "is there tension between Rob and JMJ on Scientology". Oh and the "what are your favorite video games" just because Mr. Iris has turned me into a bit of a gamer.

Josh Freese's $20,000 solo album
So on March 24th, Josh Freese released his solo album called "Since 1972" along with a crazy pricing scheme. What's even crazier though is that one fan with too much disposable income / allowance bought the $20,000 version which included such things as "Maynard James Keenan, Mark Mothersbaugh from DEVO and I take you miniature golfing," "I write 2 songs about you," and "Drum lesson OR foot and back massage". No doubt it would be a pretty awesome experience but doesn't this kid know there's a recession going on? I contemplated the $50 version which included a personal phone call from Josh but decided to settle for the sensible $15 copy.  What would I really have to say to Josh Fucking Freese anyway?  Don't be weird about it?  I do have a Twitter friend who opted for the $250 copy and had lunch with the man and his girlfriend. I'm trying to get here to share her experience here with us.

Indigneous: "Broken Lands"
I bought the latest album from one of my very favorite blues-rock bands, Indigneous, and have had it on non-stop repeat all. day. long.  If you're not listening to this, you should be.  I've followed this band for several years but I'm always hesitant to buy new albums from them.  I have three and I've loved each individual one so intensely that I'm always afraid that their next one will hit that sour note or that their sound will change just enough that it won't move me.  So far, thank God, my fears have been unfounded.  Mato Nanji's voice is just so smooth and it absolutely slays me along with his guitar-playing.  Here's a live recording of "Come On Home" from their previous album, "Chasing the Sun".  The quality is a little rough but still... *swoon*

If things work out I just might be seeing them here in a few months. Fingers crossed!

That about wraps things up for me.  What has everyone else been up to?