The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan talked about the band’s early days and late Nirvana mastermind Kurt Cobain, telling Lars Ulrich during a recent appearance on It’s Electric:
“When we would first go to New York or Los Angeles or London, we would get treated a certain way and it was really confusing to us because we grew up very working-class. So hard work – that was just what you did. It was like, work or die.
“So, we would go to a place like New York, and it’s like, ‘You guys are too into this.’ We would get castigated for working too hard, you know?
“I remember Courtney Love calling me once and saying, ‘Your first album is unfair because it sounds like a second album. Like, you guys work too hard. The solos are too good.’
“And you know, Metallica had that, too – an ambition. That was almost like, that some people would Kind of scoff at.”
I hear exactly what you’re saying. It’s too heady.
“Yeah, ‘You guys care too much.’ And I’m thinking, ‘Get the fuck out of my way.’ You know what I mean? Like, do you know what I’m coming from? Do you know what I want to escape from?
“And I used to say about Kurt – they wanted to believe that Kurt Cobain would roll out of bed, take some drugs and write a fucking classic.
“Kurt Cobain as a lyricist, as a songwriter, as visionary was a fucking assassin. He was great at what he did and it’s a shame he didn’t do more of it, ’cause he was fucking great at what he did. And he let people believe that he was the guy that was, ‘Uh, yeah, you know, uh…’
“How many nights do you think, that long before Nirvana he sat in a fucking basement, trying to figure out, ‘Why does this chord go with this chord?’ And listening to Nirvana’s early demos, listening to Nirvana’s first album, listening to the second album – his voice is changing. It’s not just changing physically, he’s finding the character of Kurt Cobain.
“They wanna sit there and talk about, ‘Oh, he did this and didn’t do that.’ And him and Dave got into arguments. It’s like, give me a fucking break. And the great thing is the public, by and large, only cares about the music.”