For more than 20 years, William Patrick Corgan has been the frontman of one of the most popular bands of all time. He's also released two solo albums, the most recent just this month. He was "Billy" when we first came to know him as the intense frontman of alt rock's Smashing Pumpkins, but in the early 90s he was just a kid from the Chicago suburbs on a mission.
"I really wanted out," Corgan told "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Anthony Mason. "Suburban malaise, strip malls, the pedantic sort of structure of middle-class life."
Corgan saw music as his escape hatch.
"And everyone told me, 'You're wrong. You can't possibly do this. You don't have the talent. You don't have the voice. No one makes it. Look at your father. He didn't make it.' My father was a musician," he said.
He wasn't wrong. His band broke through in 1993 with the album "Siamese Dream." The follow up, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," went to No. 1 and sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone.
But he wasn't surprised by his success.
"I know it sounds terribly ungrateful, but no, I wasn't surprised at all. In fact, my mother told me she wasn't surprised 1 percent," he said.
Why? He says you'd have to ask her.
"See, that goes on the list of things I wish I'd asked my mother," Corgan said. He lost his mother to cancer in 1996.
"When you lose somebody quite young, you know, you look back and say, 'Oh, I just wish I knew a little bit more about this one thing.' It's like shadows. So I have to guess," he said. "I think my music is an attempt to reflect the inner world that I feel and that I believe in, but I see very little representation outwardly, which is a bit strange. It's like 'Wizard of Oz.'"
His new record, "Ogilala," is his first solo album in more than a decade. And "Billy" has become William Patrick Corgan.
"It just started to feel uncomfortable and it became kind of a weird, like, sign of my arrogance or something? And so once I saw that it irritated people, then I thought, 'OK, I'm definitely gonna do this,'" he said. "I like irritating people, yeah."
He's quite good at it, espousing free speech and conspiracy theories on controversial talk shows.
"I'm a natural contrarian," he said. "I just think the world's a little too comfortable for its own good. We need clowns. We need weirdos. We need freaks. They keep the system in check."
Corgan says he tried to walk away from music, but discovered he couldn't.
"Ended up pulling out an acoustic guitar and sort of starting over and saying, well, if I can prove to myself that I can still write a good song, then there's a reason to continue," he said.
Working with producer Rick Rubin, the songs took shape.
"Yeah, this is totally from the cosmos," he said of the new album. But asked if that feels good, Corgan says he's "suspicious."