Smashing Pumpkins founder and frontman Billy Corgan said in an interview with the Why Not Now? podcast that he contemplated committing suicide in 1991 when he realized that the success of Pearl Jam and Nirvana was dwarfing that of his band. At the time the Pumpkins had released their 1991 album Gish, which had sold well for an independent release, but then Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten came along and shattered all previous expectations.
Corgan explained, “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 . . . the change made me feel kind of inadequate in a way I wasn’t prepared for.”
- Corgan said his depression deepened to the point where he could no longer write music and he began to consider his options. He recalled, “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 . . . I was giving away stuff, and planning my eulogy, and all sorts of weird self-absorbed things.”
- Corgan added that he finally woke up one morning and things had changed. He said, “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.’ That morning I wrote, I think it was the song ‘Today,’ which people would probably be fairly familiar with.”
- “Today,” which became the second single from the Pumpkins’ 1993 album Siamese Dream, reached Number Four on the Modern Rock chart and became their first outright smash, helping the album to sell more than four million copies and vaulting the Pumpkins to nearly the same level as Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
- Corgan has been hinting in recent interviews that a reunion of the band’s original lineup could happen at some point soon, after he repaired his friendships with guitarist James Iha and bassist D’Arcy Wretzky last year.
- Corgan has been touring under the Smashing Pumpkins name for years with a newer lineup of musicians, although original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin rejoined in 2016.