Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan popped up on a recent episode of Last Call with Carson Daly for a very casual and remarkably frank conversation in an empty bar that touches on his struggle to survive in the record industry, his earliest inspirations, and most alarmingly, the fact that he came close to committing suicide several times over.
“I almost killed myself about three, four, seven times,” he told Daly. “I literally started planning my death and what I would leave behind, and what I was gonna write. Three or four times in my life. What I finally realized, at least on the back end of this, is that God, at least as I understand God, was there all along. Once I was able to process my reality in that way, I no longer felt like a victim.”
This isn’t the first time Corgan has spoken candidly about suicide. He touched on this topic last year when discussing the reissue of Siamese Dream with the NME. “I was suicidal, and I’d been plotting my own death for about two months, and if you’ve ever read anything about the warning signs of suicide one of them is you give away all your stuff, and I’d given away all my stuff, I gave away all my records, I started giving away my guitars,” he said. “I was fantasizing about my own death, I started thinking what my funeral would be like and what music would be played, I was at that level of insanity.”
Corgan’s spirituality informs a lot of Oceania, his most recent album with the Smashing Pumpkins. The record – widely agreed to be his best release since the mid-Nineties – kicks off with a diptych of songs that call back to the heavy dynamics of the band in their Gish/Siamese Dream phase, but with the epic despair swapped out in favor of clear-eyed serenity. You can hear those two songs, “Quasar” and “Panopticon,” below.