One night in 2007, Deerhunter opened for the Smashing Pumpkins at the Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina. This past weekend, Deerhunter returned to headline a show at the same venue, and from the stage, frontman Bradford Cox told a story about him and Billy Corgan fighting over a bottle of water. As Cox told it, he tried to open a bottle that had been intended for Corgan, and a bodyguard for Corgan ended up shoving him against a wall. Later, Cox said that Corgan chewed him out, calling Deerhunter “a shitty little insignificant fucking indie rock band” and telling him that they were not invited to open for “the Smashing Pumpkins.”
Corgan and his camp didn’t remember things going down like that, and they threatened legal action. In a statement to Pitchfork, The Pumpkins’ manager wrote, “Several eyewitnesses can attest that Cox’s account is a complete fabrication, probably to get some much-needed attention. He is correct about one thing, that the whole thing is on tape, and that we have a video of the encounter. Since this is intentionally slanderous, I will likely suggest we pursue charges unless a retraction is forthcoming.”
Since then, as NME reports, Cox has thought better of the whole story. He’s retracted the entire thing, writing, “What I did was open my big fucking mouth and go off on one of my usual tangents… I will be the first to admit that there are two sides to every story and it is unfair that I gave mine without the other party being there to counter.” He also cites Corgan’s eulogy for Scott Weiland, as well as his own general respect for Corgan, as his reasons for retracting the story. Here’s Cox’s full statement:
Firstly, I would like to say that my intention was not to defame Billy Corgan. What I did was open my big fucking mouth and go off on one of my usual tangents. Some people call this “stage banter.” I do not need, or seek any attention, and in fact was embarrassed that this ended up being uploaded to Youtube, and then considered a news story. The story I told was just a contextual rap about something that happened at the venue we were playing – eight years ago. I will be the first to admit that there are two sides to every story and it is unfair that I gave mine without the other party being there to counter.
The thing that bothered me most about this incident was that after I got off stage I went to the bus and was reading about Scott Weiland’s death (which I find very tragic) and happened upon Corgan’s very moving and heartfelt tribute to his deceased friend. I do not find any humour in kicking someone while they are down. Bringing up a half-remembered interaction from so many years ago was not beneficial to anyone, especially If it causes someone who is already going through a dark moment to feel slandered or attacked. I feel very insensitive and stupid in that regard.
As far as what was said at the show, I prefaced it all by saying it was my recollection of the events. As Corgan’s management has confirmed, it is all on video. I would like to avoid any further drama by just categorically retracting my statements out of respect. I respect anyone who has worked hard playing music for decades, seen their band fall apart because of things out of their control, continued to try to pursue artistic interests and had ups and downs. Perhaps I met Corgan and his crew at an especially difficult time for him. It would be completely hypocritical for me to imply that I have never been just as much of an asshole to people around me as I accused Corgan of being. Who am I to cast stones in a glass house?
I don’t know Billy Corgan other than a five-minute interaction that left a definite impression on me. I have no doubt there are many sides to his character. My statement was my recollection of the events mixed with some humour. It was meant to be taken as casual stage banter. Not defamation or slander. The easiest thing for me to do to kill this story and hopefully avoid anymore drama is to admit it now. I was tacky and I retract my statements. If the video from 2007 ever does surface I will be very interested to see how my memory matches or contradicts reality.
In all earnestness I offer Corgan my apologies and my empathy during what I imagine is a difficult time with the loss of his friend.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’m suddenly really interested in seeing that footage.