Billy Corgan Says He Paid Off a Hacker Threatening to Leak Smashing Pumpkins' New Album 'ATUM'

"The FBI got involved… I don't know how they got what they got."

Photo: Matt Forsythe

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished May 5, 2023

Today is the greatest day Billy Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins have ever known, with the third and final part of their rock opera ATUM now out in the world. But as the frontman has shared, keeping things under wraps until release day meant paying a hacker out of his own pocket to not leak the music online.

In an interview on KROQ's Klein/Ally Show, Corgan claimed a hacker was able to get their hands on nine songs from ATUM around six months before release, right as the record was due to be mixed and mastered.

"They were all probably the most catchy, single-y type songs," Corgan said. "So it's like, not only is it six months too early, you're pretty much giving away the album before you even have a chance to set your feet into the ground. Somehow, some hacker was offering the files for money, and we were able to trace it and pay off and keep it from leaking. The FBI got involved… I don't know how they got what they got."

Corgan shared that he and his Smashing Pumpkins bandmates weren't the only victims of the hacker's exploits. "What we were able to do was stop the leak from happening, because it was a mercenary person who had hacked somebody — I don't want to say who — and they had other stuff from other artists. It wasn't like some Pumpkins fan that was hellbent on breaking it on Reddit. Somehow, they gave some information that allowed the FBI to track them."

That "other stuff" the hacker had? Corgan characterized their haul as "shocking," and that it included "classic stuff from bands of the past probably doing reissues." Hopefully the 65 unreleased Zwan songs and the inclusions for the forthcoming Machina reissues weren't a part of it.

Corgan admitted he doesn't know the "end result" of the investigation, and you can hear his complete KROQ appearance below, with the hacker reveal coming around the 8:15 mark.

The Smashing Pumpkins are taking ATUM on a North American tour this summer.

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