Billy Corgan Understands If Fans Don’t Get ‘Atum’ Backstory

Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan is fine with fans not following or diving too deeply into the concept of the band's ongoing song cycle, Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Parts. The final release from the conceptual trilogy — Atum: Act Three — drops on May 5th and is directly linked thematically to group’s 1995 double LP, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.

Regarding the completion of the Atum trilogy, Billy Corgan admitted to Rolling Stone: "For a while I thought this album was never going to happen because the band’s enthusiasm was suspect. But the pandemic was a watershed moment for me. I thought, 'What’s happening in the world, I have no control over. At least I control the world of (the character) Shiny and his friends.'"

Corgan went on to say that concept albums seem to find their audience in strange ways: "Most people don’t know what the records are really about. They’re focused on their favorite song or their favorite drum solo or whatever. It’s totally fine. The last 20-something years of social media have taught me to respect the fact that everybody has their own level of engagement, and any engagement is good."

He went on to explain, "If somebody likes a song, great. If somebody wants to know every guitar pedal and what these lyrics mean and stuff, that’s great, too. It doesn’t bother me at all. I’ll just take engagement, because I can do something with engagement. That’s something that professional wrestling teaches you. Without engagement, there’s no opportunity."

In the past, Billy Corgan has tested his audience — and trusted them to hear material that had yet to be released: ["We've taken it as an opportunity to write and push the band over the cliff, y'know? Like, I'll write a song and I'll play it that night. It's very interesting because it puts us on situations with wobbly legs, but that's the place to do it — y'know? A small, supportive crowd that you can wipe out in front of."] SOUNDCUE (:15 OC: . . . in front of)