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Interview: William Patrick Corgan, What's In A Name?

By Michael Cerio

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Ogilala is the second solo release from Smashing Pumpkins leader William Patrick Corgan, arriving this Friday October 13th.

That title is something that only Corgan knows the truth of, a term that means something solely to the songwriter.

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"I made it up" Corgan explains on a call from his Highland Park, IL home. "I cannot get into the etymology of my word. It's a state of mind" he offers when pressed.

Despite a made up moniker for his album, it has been a real name that caught Corgan some headlines over the summer. This will be the artist's first release under his birth name of William Patrick.

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As is the case with all things Corgan does, it has caused a stir.

"I find it incredibly amusing and it's amazing to have controversy come out of someone using their own name but, only I can seem to engender this response" he laughs. "I'm enjoying it, it's up there with the 'Billy Looking Sad At Disneyland' at this point."

"Somehow as this has slipped into the public sphere it's turned into another side of my insanity or difficulty."

William Patrick Corgan
William Patrick Corgan | Credit: Alpha Pan

Underneath all of the names though is this new stripped-down solo outing, manned by producer Rick Rubin who has made such affairs a success. Their partnership on Ogilala came from Rubin latching on to the project after Corgan asked for advice.

"The fact that he was so attracted to what I was doing was enough for me" Corgan explains of Rubin's direction and interest in his new batch of songs.

"It felt good to me, but that doesn't always work. If Rick thought it was good I'm just gonna go with that. I certainly wasn't in a frame of mind to argue, because I was a little bit lost and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and so it happened so naturally that it didn't feel like that was the time to say 'while I think we should add some horns' or something. It wasn't part of the process. The process was let's just take these songs and see where they go."

The relinquishing of control is something else that plays against the character of Corgan that's been curated in the media. That perception though is something that William Patrick doesn't seem to trouble himself with.

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"I've come to the conclusion that I lost control of the avatar of Billy Corgan years ago" he says. "People can turn that persona into whatever they want it to be. No amount of arguing or finger pointing to contrary evidence has ever changed anything. In fact it seems to make it worse."

"I think it has more to do with what you care about" Corgan continues. "I think it's shown through the years that I just don't care enough about that stuff to really play that game. I've thrown plenty of logs on the fire, on purpose, because I thought it was funny. It's performance."

"Trust me, the 'Billy Corgan is a pain in my rear end' started long before Smashing Pumpkins" he laughs. "That goes back to like first grade. I was the guy messing with the teacher, I was the guy messing with the guy next to me in class, I'm a prankster, I'm a punk, you know whatever."

Beyond any public impression or internet noise, the one thing that's tough to argue against is the songwriting skills of Corgan that has spanned decades at this point. As he rolls out his latest Ogilala, he'll tour on the new material as well as intimate renditions of songs from earlier in his career.

"I try to touch on every part of the musical journey" Corgan describes of the set. "It's pretty wild because there's so much music."

William Patrick Corgan and The Ogilala Tour come to the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE on Wednesday October 18th. To hear much more from Corgan, check out the full interview above.

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