Billy Corgan was preparing to perform with a children's chorus at a charity event when the host joked that the youngsters could join him on tour someday.

Billy Corgan was preparing to perform with a children's chorus at a charity event when the host joked that the youngsters could join him on tour someday. "Well, yeah, if you look at my history with bands, it always turns out real good," Corgan said, laughing. "I'm sure it will be a positive experience for them, too."

Corgan was being wry. In 2000, his Smashing Pumpkins broke up after 13 strife-ridden years, and his subsequent project, Zwan, dissolved after only one album. But now Corgan, who now jokes about his "tyrannical" ways, is beginning a new phase of his career -- alone.

The 37-year-old recently finished work on his first solo album, scheduled for a spring release on Warner Bros. "This has been the most peaceful album I've ever done," Corgan said. "There's nobody to fight with, there's nobody to yell at, there's nobody to say you're not trying hard enough. It's strictly a personal journey."

Corgan is also writing a novel, working on a DVD of a spring acoustic concert and spent the baseball season as a "correspondent" for Chicago radio station WXRT-FM, talking about his beloved Chicago Cubs. He also just released a book of poetry, "Blinking With Fists," published by Faber and Faber, Inc., and is spending the rest of the month on a 16-city tour of readings and book signings to support it.

Lyrics were his outlet for writing until about five years ago, when the Smashing Pumpkins began their final year as a band and Corgan began writing poetry. Many of the poems have a similar evocative, melancholy feel as his lyrics, but Corgan doesn't see the forms as interchangeable.

"They have a different intensity and rhythm. Song lyrics tend to be really focused -- you have to say a lot in a very short amount of time, and a lot of it is implied. Poetry, you don't have those restrictions," he said.

Corgan hasn't divorced himself from all reminders of his past musical life.
He still lives in Chicago -- a city he calls "so solid, there's nothing flaky about it." He performed his acoustic show at the Metro, the same intimate venue where the Smashing Pumpkins debuted as a band. He also freely discusses some of the problems with band dynamics and personality clashes that led to its breakup.

"If I look back at some of the decisions I made with the Pumpkins, I would do things maybe in a kinder way. But the intention of what I was trying to do, which was to have the best band make the best music, I don't apologize for that at all ... My heart in it was good, and I know that."

Despite the past problems, Corgan hasn't ruled out working with a band again. "When it's right, it's still the best. I still say the best music is made by bands," he said. "I think that's pretty much been proven to be true."


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