Re-igniting his war of words with ex-paramour Courtney Love of Hole, Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan claimed during an interview with shock jock Howard Stern on Monday that her band's upcoming album would not have happened without his help.
Corgan began by telling the notoriously prying disc jockey that it was his idea to collaborate with Love on the third Hole album, Celebrity Skin (Sept. 8).
"[Love] was telling everyone that she was going to make another album, but I've known her a long time [and] she wasn't going to make another album," said Corgan, who later told Stern that Love is embarrassed to admit she needed his help and that there was "no way in hell" the album would have made it this far without his contributions.
The appearance was one of a trio of high-profile interviews and appearances by Corgan earlier this week, in which the outspoken Pumpkins leader has, among other things, shared his view that his band has been caught in a backlash, which has resulted in slower-than-expected sales of the alt-rock group's latest album, Adore.
The Love/Corgan battle began several months ago, when Corgan told Select magazine that he was the "Svengali" behind the upcoming Hole record. Love vehemently refuted that claim in a subsequent letter to the USA Today newspaper. In the note, she said Corgan's role was as "mentor" and labeled the idea that Corgan deserved credit for more than what he actually contributed as "sexist."
Following the letter to the newspaper, Love seemed to back away from her initial angry response after her publicist said she had not read the full story. "Now that she's seen it, she realizes that's just the way Billy is," said Jim Merlis, a spokesman for her label, Geffen Records, referring to Corgan's penchant for speaking with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
"She's not mad at him anymore," Merlis said.
Merlis could not be reached for comment on Corgan's more recent statements.
When Stern asked Corgan if he had written a "majority" of the songs on Celebrity Skin, the Pumpkins leader, who is given a co-music writing credit on five songs on the album, said he was brought in to help the band sort through material, which he described as having a "ton of potential."
Corgan later lamented that Love was turning the whole thing into an "ugly incident because she's embarrassed that she needed someone to help her." He also said that he and Love are not talking.
When Stern played a snippet of the not-yet-released-to-radio first single from the album, the title track, Corgan told the host, "They can be mad about it if they want, but it's still my riff."
During an interview with SonicNet Music News last month, Love explained that "Celebrity Skin" was created during "our 12 days with Billy Corgan," and that the main Pumpkin and Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson created the central riff to the song after she expressed an interest in writing a tune about Los Angeles. Erlandson said the title track was a result of the group trying to write a "trashy L.A. rock song."
"I'm like, let's just write it really quick, really quick," Love said. "So, it's totally unrelated to anything that I might ever compose. These two wrote a riff ... which no self-respecting female would ever write. It's so cheesy."
Corgan was a bit less combative, but still openly honest, during a segment with PBS television talk show host Charlie Rose on Monday night. The Pumpkins leader laid his soul bare with the popular host, whose show often involves frank, over-the-table discussions against the backdrop of a bland living room-style set.
Corgan said that he felt there was a fan "backlash" against bands such as his. "I think ... [it's] our stance that rock music has kind-of reached a finite point," said Corgan, wearing a wicker cowboy hat to cover his bald head and donning his characteristic black button-down shirt.
His recent media campaign follows on the heels of the rocker's interview last week with the New York Times, in which he was quoted as saying that the Pumpkins felt "kicked in the head" by fans' relatively lackluster response to the electronics-tinged Adore, which features such acoustic-electric hybrids as the second single, "Perfect." Despite mixed reviews, Adore has so far sold about half a million copies since its June 2 release. However, compared to the multi-million-selling double album Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the sales seem lackluster.
The Pumpkins singer told Rose that he felt it was time to reassess what he termed the "anti-rock" movement of early '90s music. Since the success of bands such as his own, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, he said, the industry has gone too commercial.
"So it's time for us to push the plunger and blow it all up again," he said. "I think there's been kind-of a knee-jerk reaction [to Adore], not only because we're attempting to change, but because ... people are sad that the era has come to a conclusion. So, I think we're kind-of being punished for that."
Corgan had a few choice words when speaking of his peers, specifically the late Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994. While acknowledging that he didn't know the Nirvana singer well -- due in part to what he called a "rivalry" -- Corgan added that the Seattle-based songwriter could be either totally engaging or a "total brat."
At one point in the Rose program, Corgan invoked the name of legendary Beatles leader John Lennon, with whom he drew a comparison in terms of songwriting. "[Lennon] hit peaks of kind-of confessional deep material [as a solo artist], but no one ever really picked up that mantle," Corgan said. "I know why people don't, because you're opening yourself up ... like he opened himself up ... to every sling and arrow, because they're slinging 'em at you."
Corgan said he was not only prepared to go to the deep places Lennon went, but had, in fact, already gone there. "There's an emotional connection that I've managed to have," Corgan said. "And it's a part of who I am to ... let all this emotion go and kind-of transmute it into something that people understand. I think that's very, very powerful."
Completing a New York media hat trick, Corgan appeared on Tuesday's edition of the bubbly chat show "Live! with Regis & Kathie Lee" with Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and bass player D'Arcy. It was Corgan's second appearance on the show.