By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Look at someone who's a brilliant and talented person: Christina Aguilera. Two years away, does the big buildup for the record, record comes out, critics pan it, "Oh, it's like Lady Gaga," and everything's blown up for her — overnight.
You can't make that kind of investment as an artist anymore. I think it's too much, as we say in the business, downside. I can't ride the Twitter wave, is what I'm saying.
Are you still interested in having a strong visual component in your music?
Oh, yes! I just don't have the money. And even if I had the money — let's say I decide to blow my own money. It doesn't do what it used to do. You don't get your return on your investment, you know what I mean?
And you wouldn't want to do it just as a statement?
No, I'm not interested in statements anymore. I made plenty of statements [laughs].
I do talk all the time about visual components — I think everything I do from now should have a visual component. The problem is right now all my energetic focus is in the music. I'm trying to summon, like a native dance, you know when they're starving and they're trying to get that shamanic energy. I'm trying to re–jack up that shamanic energy around me so I can do what I used to do at that same experiential and energetic level.
In the past I was able to ride an energetic wave — I was young, I was motivated, I was ambitious, I was poor. I had a zillion reasons to succeed, including insecurity.
My reasons are different now. It's gotta come from here [points between his chest and his gut], it's like a very deep, you know, orgasm of fucking ... you know what I mean? I'm trying to generate that energy as somebody who's not impressed, someone who's not easily impressed, I don't buy the rock & roll mythology, I don't buy the mystical culture of death that continues to surround rock & roll, which is really passé. I don't buy any of it.
I'm part of a new ideological and energetic construct of what rock & roll is supposed to be about. It's more communal, less proprietary, and less projection and less rock god.
Is this change related to the Smashing Pumpkins now being essentially your project, as opposed to before, when you and your former bandmates were coming up together through the ranks?
Actually, I was always pulling a lot of weight, and the problem was that in the old version of the band, I was insecure and I really wanted their approval, and they figured out along the way that the way to control and manipulate me was to not give me their approval.
The real, true internal story of the Smashing Pumpkins is actually a little bit like Cinderella [laughs]. I know it sounds a little strange, but I would write these really successful songs and their reaction to them was, "Meh," and then they would complain about their flights or something like that. Because I sort of pseudo-managed the band, I dealt with all the band's affairs: scheduling, contracts. They dealt with none of that stuff; I dealt with everything.
So they'd just sit there and complain, like the wicked stepsisters, "I don't like this" and "I don't like that." I'd go and sit in the three-hour meetings with the labels — me, the manager — and I'd deal with all the details, and labels would even offer me deals on the side, give me more money to do what I wanted to do, and I'd say, "No, I don't wanna do that because it would fuck my bandmates." I would sort of put myself as the protector of the family, and then I'd go home to the family and they'd just fucking hate me. It was a really weird, bad co-dependent relationship.
The only difference for me now is that I'm OK with who I am. I'm OK with my power, I'm OK with my ability, I don't need to inflate who I am to make myself feel better. I know I'm a good songwriter, but I know I'm a shit tennis player. I don't have to pretend I'm something. I don't have to go in the public and brag. I don't have to grandstand. I don't have to draw attention to myself — I seem to do a good job of that without trying, falling down, collapsing onstage ... [laughs]
It just comes a point as a man when you have to be comfortable with your power. Like I love old movies — do you know Robert Mitchum?
Like Robert Mitchum always struck me, at least how he came across as an actor, he was a man who was comfortable with both his grace and his darkness. If John Wayne was the hero version of that, Robert Mitchum is the darker version of that. He's the darker hero. He's the guy who's not sure whether he wants to fuck the chick or go home to his wife. He's gotta sit there and smoke a cigarette and think about it, you know what I mean? He's closer to my archetype of being conflicted by the forces of the world but really wanting to make the best of it.