As Chicago's foremost rock star/wrestling company founder/tea house owner, Billy Corgan is a busy guy. On Friday his wrestling organization, Resistance Pro, will host its one-year anniversary show. On Monday, The Smashing Pumpkins will reissue their biggest commercial success, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness." And then there are shows to play, teas to brew and Bears games to watch.
Through it all, Corgan always has something to say and doesn't really care whether you like it. He talked to RedEye about wrestling, revisiting his most successful album and a similarly controversial Chicagoan who happens to play quarterback professionally.
How do you feel about Resistance a year later?
I feel good. I think we've made some inroads into the community and built a really solid wrestling company with people we can count on built a lot around local talent, which is awesome. People who thought it was a vanity project or a flash in the pan type of thing—we've made it a year and we're going solid.
Has it gone as expected? Any surprises along the way?
At the end of the day, wrestling fans are wrestling fans and my celebrity only took us so far. The good part about that is it made us work harder to improve the project and reach out into the community. If we had a ton of people coming because I was a Chicagoan and well-known, I don’t think we would have had as much success as far as what we were trying to do. The gains we made were real and the fans we made were wrestling fans and not gawkers.
Where do you see Resistance going?
We're still in discussions to get a reality show made. That's our No. 1 priority outside of the shows. If we can get that made, it changes everything. Outside of that, we ran our first show outside of Chicago in Racine [Wis.] and we're looking to expand in the area, as far as Indianapolis or Minneapolis, trying to reach out regionally and hopefully eventually be able to run nationally.
You kind of mentioned this, as far as Resistance, the tea house, even getting the Pumpkins back together is always met with skepticism. Is this just something you’ve gotten used to?
I think you have to acknowledge it’s a skeptical culture. I don’t think I’m being singled out. That said, I do think I come under a little bit more scrutiny than most people. Part of that is I’ve invited more scrutiny by being open with my psychological process. And secondarily I think you have to look at the world where this skepticism comes from, which is to negate that which does not fit into somebody’s box. For example, if I talk about alternative rock in a critical way, that’s OK. If I talk about another band, that’s not OK. If I talk about politics, that’s not OK even though I’m a taxpaying citizen. It’s funny because most people fit comfortably into a box and coloring outside of those lines gets you in trouble and is probably detrimental to whatever career they’re trying to run. It basically comes down to that I don’t give a [bleep]. I don’t have the time to manage my personality in the world when I have about 40 other things to do in the world.
I’m not saying this just to talk about myself, but I recently did a thing with PAWS, the no-kill shelter charity. PAWS to me is 50 times more important than somebody starting a wrestling company or a tea house. My priorities are straight but the world’s priorities tend to run negatively first. The media has built an industry around being negative. If you are already a pseudo-controversial figure, attaching controversial headlines to that figure gets clicks and that’s just the way it goes. I don’t really take it personally, I think it’s funny. I can say whatever I want, I’m a person of accomplishment, I continue to make records, I continue to produce things, I continue to tour, I continue to make records, I open businesses, so at the end of the day I will take that kind of attitude over people who just talk and don’t really do much of anything at all. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.
We can sit around at dinner and talk about how culture should advance forward but ultimately most people have very hard lives. If they come from a two-parent family, most likely both parents work. Many come from broken homes like me. Reading to take our minds away from our own problems can be a pleasure in sort of a sick way. That said, I think we’ve reached a certain level of toxicity in culture and what I do see is there’s a certain weariness out there in the public where people really do want a positive story.
Are you becoming more community involved?