Billy Corgan Reveals He Contemplated Suicide Following the Breakthrough Success of Nirvana and Pearl Jam

Billy Corgan Reveals He Contemplated Suicide Following the Breakthrough Success of Nirvana and Pearl Jam
Photo: Kevin Jones
The Smashing Pumpkins are often recognized as one of the preeminent rock bands of the '90s, but frontman Billy Corgan has revealed that witnessing the meteoric rise of some musical counterparts brought him close to suicide in the early years of the decade.

In a new interview on the Why Not Now? With Amy Jo Martin podcast, Corgan spoke about watching Nirvana and Pearl Jam release Nevermind and Ten, respectively, in 1991, the same year he and the Pumpkins made their debut with Gish. The way the two aforementioned grunge classics overshadowed his own band's release affected Corgan's mental health significantly, he revealed.

"The Smashing Pumpkins had put out one album, which was very successful, but as we were out promoting our album, the Nirvana album came out, and as everyone knows Nevermind was a massive album, and then Pearl Jam came out too at that time, and they were massive," Corgan told the podcast.

"So 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 I felt like something had been not taken, but the change made me feel kind of inadequate in a way I wasn't prepared for."

He continued: "I went through a very long depression where I could not write songs, and really struggled for a breakthrough, which I've talked about a few times. It really came off the heels of like a suicidal depression, I just really struggled with the emotions I was feeling. 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."

The moment of clarity of Corgan came in writing the Smashing Pumpkins song "Today," which appeared on 1993's Siamese Dream.

"I woke up one morning, and 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,'" he recalled. "That morning I wrote, I think it was the song 'Today,' which people would probably be fairly familiar with, it's the ice cream truck video song. It's sort of a wry observation on suicide, but in essence the meditation behind the lyric is that every day is the best day, if you let it be."

As of late, Corgan has been preoccupied with his #ThirtyDays project, in addition to a trio of upcoming releases. Hear his interview with Martin in the player below.