Billy Corgan opens about feeling suicidal due to Nirvana’s success

The Smashing Pumpkins frontman also reveals what inspired the song 'Today'

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan has opened up about how he felt depressed and suicidal as a result of Nirvana‘s success diminishing his own.

Much has been written about Corgan and Cobain’s rivalry over the years, with both bands not only at the forefront of grunge at its peak, but Corgan also used to date Courtney Love. Now, he has spoken out about how the success of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ and Pearl Jam’s seminal ‘Ten’ overshadowed that of the Pumpkins’ debut ‘Gish’ – having a negative impact on his mental health.

“The Smashing Pumpkins had put out one album, which was very successful, but as we were out promoting our album, the Nirvana album came out, and as everyone knows ‘Nevermind’ was a massive album, and then Pearl Jam came out too at that time, and they were massive,” he told Amy Jo Martin’s ‘Why Not Now’ podcast.

“So within a short span of time I went from thinking I was very successful within my given field, to all the rules had changed in my given field. Everything I had built myself up to be and do was no longer as relevant as it needed to be. I went into a very strange depression because I felt like something had been not taken, but the change made me feel kind of inadequate in a way I wasn’t prepared for.”

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He continued: “I went through a very long depression where I could not write songs, and really struggled for a breakthrough, which I’ve talked about a few times. It really came off the heels of like a suicidal depression, I just really struggled with the emotions I was feeling. I reached this kind of morning in my life where it was like I’m either going to jump out a window, or I was going to change my life. I know that sounds very dramatic, but that’s literally what happened.”

Corgan then revealed how his state of mind helped inspire the song ‘Today’ from their breakthrough second album, ‘Siamese Dream’. “I woke up one morning, and I kind of stared out the window and thought, ‘Okay, well, if you’re not going to jump out the window, you better do whatever it is you need to do’,” he said. “That morning I wrote, I think it was the song Today,’which people would probably be fairly familiar with, it’s the ice cream truck video song. It’s sort of a wry observation on suicide, but in essence the meditation behind the lyric is that every day is the best day, if you let it be.”

For more help and information around suicide and mental health, visit Mind here.

Meanwhile, last month Corgan gave fans an update on the chances of a reunion of the ‘classic’ Smashing Pumpkins line-up.

“[Guitarist James Iha and I] are alking about it. We’ll see,” he said. As for the rest of the line-up, Corgan isn’t ruling it out. “There’s a willingness for us to play, but also the world’s changed a lot since we didn’t play,” he said. “So the reunion thing is always a bit weird because people come in with their expectations.

“So my whole thing is if we’re gonna do it, I think we do it to make people happy and not go against the tide of what people would want to hear in that type of stuff, but my interest in it is sort of limited. I’m not gonna do it for like 14 years of my life.”