William Patrick Corgan Details the First Time He Heard 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

"...and I thought -- wait, that’s 'More Than a Feeling' by Boston!"

William Patrick Corgan celebrated the release of his new album, Ogilala, by stopping by the Billboard offices on Oct. 13. Following a performance of three songs on Billboard Live, Corgan sat down for an in-depth interview with Billboard, discussing his experience collaborating with producer Rick Rubin on the latest material, a possible Smashing Pumpkins reunion, along with his memories of hearing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the first time ever.

Corgan estimates he had to have been one of the first people in the world to hear the now-iconic rock anthem as it was Butch Vig, the producer of Nirvana’s second studio album, Nevermind, who played it for the former Smashing Pumpkins frontman.

“It was July 4th of whatever the year was -- ’91 or ’92. He’d just come back from California and he was like, ‘Oh, you want to hear the new Nirvana album?’ It’s like, ‘Sure.’ So, he had a boombox and he presses play and you hear the 'Teen Spirit' [imitates the guitar riff] and I thought -- wait, that’s 'More Than a Feeling' by Boston!"

Continuing his trip down memory lane, Corgan remembers discovering that he hadn't just imagined the song's similarity to that classic Boston track, when Kurt Cobain confirmed it himself.

"In a beautiful synchronicity not too long after that -- maybe six months, a year later -- we were in Tokyo and Nirvana was playing and we went to see them play and they got to the moment in the show where they were going to play ‘Teen Spirit.’ You had a sense like, 'Here it comes,’ or it was an encore or something, and Kurt started playing 'More than a Feeling.' Of course it went right over the heads of the crowd but it was like, ‘OK! So, I’m not crazy!’”

Corgan began a 14-date North American tour in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday, that will conclude in Los Angeles on Nov. 12. Ticket information can also be found on the Ogilala website here.