Retro rocker/funnyman Chris Isaak has a new interview show premiering on the Biography Channel :( tomorrow night. It’s called The Chris Isaak Hour, not to be confused with the fictionalized Chris Isaak Show that aired on Showtime a few years ago. Or maybe it is to be confused, they are pretty similar titles. It’s a Q&A and performance format, not unlike Elvis Costello’s Spectacle, except Chris’s hour isn’t filmed in front of an audience. Guests include folks we never blog about (Trisha Yearwood, Glen Campbell, Chicago, Michael Bublé) and also the Smashing Pumpkins, who we always blog about.

Pop & Hiss shares some details:

Musicians typically play five or six songs live in the studio, and Isaak usually joins on one or two. Then they sit down on a couch on the ’50s-retro set to talk. Isaak keeps a couple of guitars within reach in case anyone wants to illustrate a point musically, which is precisely what happened during both the Yusuf Islam and Smashing Pumpkins tapings.

The banter is often musically insightful and occasionally loopy, as when Isaak asked Yusuf — who walked away from his music career three decades ago to devote his life to his newfound Muslim faith — whether he got a lot of girls back when he was pop star.

While Pumpkins founding members Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin were busy running through a handful of songs, Isaak looked on with admiration, and just a bit of trepidation, from his director’s chair in front of a video monitor.

“I’m a little nervous,” Isaak whispers. “Billy’s really smart. I read his book of poetry, and it’s not just somebody putting crazy words together and trying to make them rhyme. It all makes sense, and it’s really heavy stuff. I want to ask him about it.”

Once they hit the couch, for which a mural of the Golden Gate Bridge provides the backdrop, Corgan is characteristically intense. “Life is dark, and we know we’re going to die one day,” he says matter-of-factly. Corgan, erudite and not without a sense of humor, takes the conversation into areas that his publicist, looking on from one of the green rooms, says he’s never opened up about before.

There’s also a highlight reel of the SP episode you can watch here. The bit where Jimmy and Billy explain the “movement of anger” directed at their band is wonderfully awkward.

CHRIS: “Your fans… They’re not just fans, they’re really intense.”
BILLLY: “Yeah, they really don’t like us, that’s the funny part.”
JIMMY: “I think they need something to hate and they found it in us.”

CHRIS: “Do they come to the show and say angry things?”
BILLY: “Oh yeah.”

I like how Chris is genuinely perplexed that this band’s fans “hate” them. As he should be, since it doesn’t make any sense. Billy continues to confuse criticism with something much uglier. The Smashing Pumpkins episode airs in April. No clue what songs they play, but it will look like this:

Comments (33)
  1. this oughta totally boost their credibility!

  2. Josh  |   Posted on Feb 25th, 2009 0

    Lollapalooza bound!

  3. Billy Corgan please stop.

  4. HappyParts  |   Posted on Feb 25th, 2009 0

    Chris Isaak is actually one funny dude- talented too. Yeah BG gets a bit stressed – perhaps some Paxil would be helpful – who knows- it seems like his fans bate him-
    and that’s just not fair – it’s like fucking with a pit bull. Not nice. Oh- and ‘criticism’ – now matter how you dress it up or rationalize it – is always tough on artists- Perhaps all bloggers should help track a record- before they pass-go.

  5. Jason  |   Posted on Feb 25th, 2009 0

    Why is it impossible for a band’s fans to have a love-hate relationship with them? For that is obviously what Corgan is getting at. (Does the concept of self-loathing also not “make any sense” to you?)

  6. HappyParts  |   Posted on Feb 25th, 2009 0

    No – I just think the world is quite fucked up- and we could all be a bit nicer- especially to artists who make the music. Here’s a thought filter for you: is it kind?, is it considerate? is it useful? – if it passes those 3 questions – then go for it.

    • OK Plato jr.  |   Posted on Feb 25th, 2009 0

      Corgan is a self-absorbed tool and grover is LOLZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!

      Effin Chris Isaak Billy????? Even Iha hangin’ with the Hanson kid is a better idea than this. What do SP non-fans think of your band, I wonder???

    • Nah. Honesty is better.

  7. I agree with allot of the criticism Corgan’s taken heapings of. At the same time, I’d give the same kinds of critism to Rock in general. It’s really sucked for a long while, It’s not only Billy.

  8. What exactly do you mean by Rock sucking for a long while Frederick? I have a hard time believing that an entire genre can suck as bad as Billy.

  9. Corgan made music that is awesome (both siamese dream and melancholy and the infinite sadness are beautiful collections of music). you don’t need to pummel the guy with derision.

    • fuckstick  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

      there are 10 good songs on mellon collie. out of 28.

      • cody  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

        10 good songs on mellon collie? wtf? i can name at least 16. at least. and for a 2 disc album it was a major success. some of their greatest songs are on mellon collie. songs from mellon collie take up a fair share of their greatest hits album. and as for this blog, i dont know what to think. the pumpkins are my favorite band and i love them more than many fans claim to. i guess we all can let this one go. billy sent an apology out to everyone on the sp forums.

  10. lawl  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    i wanted to make a space rock dance comeback, but my alien fathers dropped the digital level gamal levels up in this so i sat.

  11. FullFathomFive  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    Where did all this Billy hating begin? I’m thinking it has something to do with Rock itself…

  12. i think stereogum should blog about glen campbell,

  13. Bitches Brew  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    “Set the Ray to Jerry” is some Honeyman Scott ice cream for ya…but much like “Carouselambra”…

  14. Mike  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    I can’t wait for this to air. The Pumpkins put on some really excellent shows last year!

  15. john  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    billy corgan really has no idea what he’s talking about anymore. he and jimmy want to keep saying “our fans hate us,” but they’re being so dramatic. they really are confusing honest-to-goodness criticism with pure hate. they’re so touchy about it and so stubborn they refuse to just listen to WHY people are griping. it’s a lot less of a deal than they’re making it out to be.

    billy in particular strikes me as particularly bitter and resentful. and on top of it all, since he re-started the band, he hasn’ t once looked like he was having a good time on stage. he just looks bored. compare footage of him playing now with him playing 10 years ago… he’s 10 times more into it.

    and what a surprise… the music was better back then.

    • jujube  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

      i don’t know man. he was really into it when i saw them a few months back, and it was a fantastic show. maybe judging a band by a few youtube clips isn’t the greatest idea. also assuming you know what kind of criticism the band receives because you’ve read a few articles and messageboards on the internet is rather silly.

  16. Lisa Simpson  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    “Why would they come to our concert just to boo us?”

  17. Keiff  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    Billy and Jimmy rock!!! Can’t wait to see the show.

  18. erik  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    i’m a smashing pumpkins fan and i totally hate them.

  19. sunkissed  |   Posted on Feb 26th, 2009 0

    I think you have to understand that when they’re talking about the fans hating them they are talking about the general hate coming from netphoria and alike forums aswell as reactions to the tour which were pretty fierce. He can be a little foolish at times, no doubt, however he has recently posted on the official pumpkins board which I think is relevant to this post: Since it’s a new year, let’s try something new…
    Let’s try to forgive each other, support each other, be kind in our words and deeds, and get out of judging each other…
    The world around us right now is very complicated…
    I for one am very confused by much of the information I come across…
    I am concerned about so many losing their jobs, homes, and peaceful lives under an increasingly curious set of circumstances…there are however new opportunities to be had, even in the worst of times…we are all affected by the changes that are going on on a global scale…the politics of egoism and cultural divides mean very little if you can’t support your family, or help those in need, even if you want to help…it is a test for us now to find how to heal each other…i believe very strongly in the power of prayer to affect change and welcome in forgiveness…
    I don’t mind asking publicly for your forgiveness…if I have offended you somewhere along the way, out of my own ignorance or fear, please forgive me…it would be part of my own healing to be forgiven…
    I can honestly say that if I have ever wanted to do anything in this life it has been to heal others thru my work…i have failed many times to shine some light in this world, but I can still try and try again…

    Taken from:

  20. i think the billy hating comes from the fact he’s pretty much the ONLY sp member left, annnd that last album…just didnt sound very good. he IS a mother fucking smart person, i dont care how much you hate, go to his site and read his SP memoirs, they SHOULD be put in a book, they’re amazingly written. He’s very honest too, totally rips on himself (in those memoirs) about throwing away all (the momentum) they worked for thru Melon Collie by putting out that crappy Adore cd.

    I’ll prolly never buy another SP cd again, but…SO WHAT, that goes for a TON of people in the biz i respect and love, more than not actually, im just picky like that haha. U2/Iggy/Moz/cure/reznor/frankblack-pixies. IDK, im just glad people like him, and the others i listed keep going…cuz when they just disappear they do leave a big void, whether yer buying the cds and going to the shows or not. And hey, they cant ALL be radiohead haha:) PLUS…’buzz’ fades for everybody, EVERYBODY. Look at pearl jam, do THEY care? nope, they just keep going haha, even though i wish they’d implode. I kinda respect people for that…aftereall, what ELSE are they gonna do? Theres only so many slots out there for cable tv reality shows.

  21. hashper  |   Posted on Feb 28th, 2009 0

    The Smashing Pumpkins were allways my favorite band! But I woulnd’t recommend them to anyone.

  22. Abby  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    I love the pumpkins – always have, always will. I think that Billy can be a bit of a dick but i certainly dont hate him for it, if he had a different personality their music wouldnt what it is now so i reckon people should just shut up and get over it, as long as they are making good mucis who really cares

  23. Terry's Chocolate Shark Bath  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    MAN, if this had happened when i still LOVED S.P. with all my heart and soul i would never have made it into adulthood. @ 26 i find myself just laughing to myself about this…i will not grieve.

  24. If he didn’t hate himself so much he wouldn’t care or even notice that his fans hated him. He should stop making music for others and start doing it to please himself like he used to in the Gish/Siamese days. Drives me nuts

  25. AL  |   Posted on Mar 4th, 2009 0

    The fact that Billy is a well-read, intelligent individual does not cover the fact that he is also a whiny little bastard who needs to take whatever criticism he gets and turn it into actually GOOD music. Like when he defended himself and the band when they released “Zeitgeist”. The moment they started getting bad reviews for that hunk of shit, Billy got up and started bitching about how “no one understands alternative music/there’s a reason why it’s called alternative music, because it’s alternative to everything else”. We know that, Billy. But you should know that there’s a fine line between stupid and clever. Claiming that you and your art is misunderstood when it’s plain to see that it’s just a line on a canvas is not clever. It’s you being a smug asshole.

    IMHO, folks.

  26. I’m glad I did a blog search for “smashing pumpkins” so I could find places to shamelessly plug my article where I discuss the band. Now I know about the Chris Isaak show, which looks very entertaining; if it succeeds, maybe it will put things over the top so Showtime puts out DVDs of his last, underappreciated series.

    And thank you Mr. Isaak for the perfect synergy of interviewing the Pumpkin boys with a Golden Gate Bridge backdrop, since my little article discusses the band’s Bay Area show back in 1996. Did I mention “shamless” at all?

  27. interesting interview

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