Billy Corgan has opened up about the poor state of mental health care in the music industry, opining that it holds a lack of awareness and resources for artists struggling with mental illness.
Earlier this week, The Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman appeared on New York’s WFAN Sports Radio, where he gave an interview on the Boomer & Gio program. At one point in the show, Corgan was asked about how happy he feels now as an adult, after experiencing an abusive childhood.
Speaking candidly, the singer-songwriter said (per Loudwire): “I don’t know if you can be happy in the music business because the music business is sort of designed to mess with your head. I think the music business in particular has been very late to the game with mental health and artists.
Corgan then pointed to Jimi Hendrix – who died from an incident linked to drug addiction at age 27 – as an artist who died young in a preventable situation stemming from mental illness. “Think of all the music that Jimi Hendrix didn’t make,” he said. “We’re still talking about Jimi Hendrix 54 or 55 years after his death. I get lost in there because it’s so sad to me.”
He went on to note that music’s issue with mental health is systemic, with the industry being late to catch up with others. “The NFL has figured it out but the music business hasn’t,” he said, “because the music business is based more on exploitation, which goes back to more of its 20th century roots.
“I think the 21st century of the music business should be a legacy of finding artists young, fostering them and making sure that they go on to create great music for generations to come.”
Circling back to the notion that artists tend to die young from situations related to mental illness, Corgan continued: “Think of all the people my generation has lost just to addiction and suicide alone. It is a travesty that there wasn’t more support systems around those artists. I don’t mean to throw shade at anybody. I just know how the business works. It’s one of exploitation.”
Noting his own longevity in the music industry – particularly as an artist who’s long been open about his struggles with mental illness – Corgan said he “feel[s] blessed” to be where he is today: “I would just like people to say he made it through, and if that inspired them to try harder, great. I’m not trying to be that role model, but I don’t want to be on the other end of the casualty list.”
Corgan’s interview came ahead of the Pumpkins’ “intimate club performance” in New York City, which took place yesterday (September 22). It acted as a warm-up show for their imminent North American tour with Jane’s Addiction, which kicks off in Texas on Sunday October 2.
Also this week, the Pumpkins released a rocking new song called ‘Beguiled’, and formally revealed their long-teased 12th studio album. Titled ‘ATUM’ (pronounced “autumn”), the ambitious rock opera – a sequel to 1995’s ‘Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness’, as well as both of 2000’s ‘Machina’ records – which will be released in three acts over the next seven months.
Each act will comprise 11 tracks, with the first due to be released on November 15. The second act will then arrive on January 31, with the final one set to land on April 21. Also appearing on the record will be the song ‘Empire’, which the Pumpkins debuted live in Chicago this week.
Word of ‘ATUM’ first arrived before the release of the Pumpkins’ last album, 2020’s ‘CYR’, when Corgan revealed his ambitious vision for the album’s concept. He then confirmed last March that he and the Pumpkins had begun recording, and that July, guitarist Jeff Schroeder said the band was “about halfway through” the process. Then, back in April, Schroeder confirmed that production on the record had been wrapped.
The following month, Jane’s Addiction and the Pumpkins teamed up to perform ‘Jane Says’ together during an appearance on the Howard Stern Show. Corgan then joined Porno For Pyros (who like Jane’s Addiction, are fronted by Perry Farrell) during an appearance at this year’s Lollapalooza, where they teamed up to cover Led Zeppelin‘s ‘When The Levee Breaks’.
In July, Corgan held a fundraiser for victims of the Highland Park mass shooting. He performed a series of new tracks at the event, including a song inspired by the tragedy called ‘Photograph’.
For help and advice on mental health:
- Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians (CALL MUSIC MINDS MATTER ON: 0808 802 8008)
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably
- Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues (CALL: 0800 030 6789)
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day