Billy Corgan ends feud with Stephen Malkmus; Pavement opening on Smashing Pumpkins tour
A double bill that seems equal parts impossible and inevitable, Pavement have been tapped as openers for Smashing Pumpkins' upcoming reunion tour. The announcement came at an Easter Brunch press conference at Chicago's Lula Cafe where attendees' phones were locked in Yondr pouches. "Sorry guys, no phones," Billy Corgan said. "No one wants to see me eat." He and Stephen Malkmus did answer media questions in between bites. "As much as I wanted everyone to know Malky and I are now 'friends'," Corgan said, utilizing air quotes, "I also wanted everyone to try this coconut brioche french toast. I get it delivered in the studio at least once a week."
While some may see this as just another pairing of '90s nostalgia, indie rock fans know it's more than that. It all dates back to Pavement's single "Range Life" off of 1994's Crooked Rain Crooked Rain where Malkmus imagines being "Out on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins...nature kids, they don't have no function," adding, "I don't understand what they mean / And I could really give a fuck." The song pissed off Corgan so much at the time, he reportedly had Pavement removed from the Lollapalooza 1994 lineup which the Pumpkins were headlining. When he learned that Smashing Pumpkins were playing the same festival as the reunited Pavement in 2010, he was still mad about it. "I get branded as a dick a lot," Corgan admitted on Sunday, "but would a dick buy everyone brunch while announcing that he's forgiven someone who had so clearly, viciously wronged him? Take that, Thought Police." Corgan then raised his glass and toasted with an awkward Malkmus, and then towards the crowd. "I'm alergic to alcohol, this is just OJ. But, please, drink up. It's endless mimosas till 10:30."
There have been reports of lagging ticket sales, but Corgan insisted that had nothing to do with the decision. "Look, the Smashing Pumpkins brand can sell out a tour on its own. People love the new songs, we could just play those. But this is about healing. Healing as a band and a brand, and that needed more than the total reunion. It meant Pavement." As for Malkmus he shrugged and said, "it’s not the 90s anymore. This beef was getting dated. Time to move on. Also I guess they do have a function: helping me pay for my kids' private school."
After Malkmus referenced "Range Life," veteran music writer Jim Derogatis, who refused complimentary food and insisted on paying for his own coffee, immediately asked whether Pavement would play the contentious song on tour. "Oh, I can answer that," Corgan interjected. "The answer is yes. They're going to play it at every show. I put that in the contract. Also in there, I get to come out and play on it any time I want, no hard feeliings, right?" -- he said, mussing Malkmus' hair, then adding, "also I get to write and sing my own verse." After the laughter died down, Corgan reiterated, "I'm serious! I get to write my own verse." Asked if he'd written the lyrics yet, Corgan replied "Not yet but I've got some ideas. Maybe I'll change them every time. What rhymes with ''revenge'? I'm kidding, I'm kidding!"
"I considered Guided by Voices as an alternative," said Corgan when asked what if Pavement had said no. "But... question... can anyone here tell me what a Guided by Voices song is about? There are elves...giants? Robots?? I thought they would go over our fanbase's heads. I mean 'Rat in a Cage,' people. Rat In A Cage!" Malkmus then said, "Was I surprised? Yes. I mean, why not ask the Shins? They were featured heavily in Garden State. But here we are."
Corgan mostly dodged questions about former bassist D'arcy Wretzky who was not asked back for this tour, saying only, "Steveo thought we should call it the 'Elegant Bachelors' tour, which is a nice tribute to Scott [Weiland], and once that was decided, we couldn't really have a girl, could we?" When pointed out that many members of Smashing Pumpkins and Pavement are married and not bachelors, Corgan shouted "Well I'm not! Look, it's a lyric in their, song, ok? I didn't write it!"
Malkmus chimed in, "It should go without saying saying, but every member of Pavement is back for these shows. Even Gary, who will play a few songs, do his headstand thing or whatever. Also his Plant Man Veggie Burger food truck is accompanying the whole tour." He then added, "Mark [Ibold, bassist] might have to miss a few shows cause he's working on David Chang's show, but if that happens, I think I know a bassist who's free."
Stephen then admitted he hadn't actually told the rest of Pavement that he'd accepted Corgan's offer. "I mean, they're not that busy. Bob and Scott keep go-bags by the door just in case of shit like this." Meanwhile, West Coast dates with the Jicks in July would be postponed. "Apart from Portland, where I live, and LA, where the show will be 90% music industry guest-list, nobody will probably even notice."
After the formal press conference, Billy was both more candid and evasive. "I believe there is a Deep State conspiracy to keep Smashing Pumpkins music away from consumers and or fans," Corgan said when asked if we'd get the new Smashing Pumpkins record before the tour started. "They want to shut me up. But you know what? I'm the Clown Prince of Crime in this motherfuckin' music scene. I brought down Urge Overkill." When asked how rehearsals were going, he said, "I was in our rehearsal space with James [Iha]... and he looked into a mirror for a good 17 minutes. Silence. Then he started welling up, like around minute 15. I don't really know what to expect with his stage antics."
Away from Corgan, Malkmus was more upfront, too. "I mean, I took [daughters] Lottie and Sunday to see Taylor Swift," Malkmus said. "So it can't be worse than that. I mean, Jicks records aren't paying the bills, exactly, though we all have high hopes for Sparkle Hard which is out May 18 via Matador. Preorders are available now!"
UPDATE: if you didn't figure it out...APRIL FOOLS.