Why Billy Corgan Mourned Death of ‘Greatest Opponent’ Kurt Cobain
"When it's all said and done, I want the Pumpkins standing on the top of the heap of our generation," Corgan told Apple Music 1's Zane Lowe. "And if that means I've got to write 800 songs to do it, I'll do it. I ain't shy about that."
Corgan admitted that he viewed Cobain as the most gifted songwriter to emerge from the '90s alt-rock era — and his greatest competition. "I will go down always as saying Kurt was the most talented guy of our generation," he said. "Kurt had so much talent, it's like frightening. It was like a John Lennon level of talent, where you're like, 'How can you have all this talent?' Or Prince, right? But Kurt's not here, sadly. So I looked around and I was like, 'All right, well, I can beat the rest of them for sure.'"
You can watch the full interview below.
The Pumpkins bandleader said this sense of competition infiltrated his entire peer group, and as a result, nobody missed him when he retreated from the spotlight during his "fallow" period. "Nobody was calling me up," he said. "It wasn't like the biggest names in the business were like, 'Bro, where are you? Come back, we miss you.' In fact, a lot of my generational brethren and [sisters] didn't care if I came back, because that was one more person off the chess board that they didn't have to beat or compete with."
Corgan, on the other hand, relished the competition, particularly with the late Nirvana leader. "When Kurt died, I cried because I lost my greatest opponent," he said. "I want to beat the best. I don't want to win the championship because it's just me and a bunch of jabronis, to use a wrestling term. It's like, Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest sports competitor I'll ever see in my lifetime. I mean, you want to talk about an alpha? That guy wanted to win the valet tip, you know what I mean?"
The Smashing Pumpkins recently released a new album, the final installment of their three-part rock opera ATUM, and will embark on The World Is a Vampire tour this summer, with support on various dates from Stone Temple Pilots, Rival Sons and Interpol. The trek begins on July 28 in Las Vegas and wraps on Sept. 9 in Noblesville, Indiana.