Billy Corgan in 2010
|Born||William Patrick Corgan Jr.
March 17, 1967
Elk Grove Village, Illinois, U.S.
William Patrick Corgan Jr. (born March 17, 1967) is an American musician, songwriter, producer, poet, and professional wrestling magnate. He is best known as the lead singer, primary songwriter, guitarist, and sole permanent member of The Smashing Pumpkins. Formed by Corgan and guitarist James Iha in Chicago, Illinois, in 1988, the band quickly gained steam with the addition of bassist D'arcy Wretzky and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Strong album sales and large-scale tours propelled the band's increasing fame in the 1990s until their break-up in 2000. Corgan started a new band called Zwan, and after their quick demise, he released a solo album TheFutureEmbrace in 2005 and a collection of poetry (Blinking with Fists) before setting his sights on reforming Smashing Pumpkins.
The new version of The Smashing Pumpkins, consisting of Corgan and a revolving lineup, has released and toured new albums extensively since 2007. In October 2017, he released his first solo album in over a decade, Ogilala.
In 2011, Corgan entered the world of professional wrestling, founding Chicago-based Resistance Pro Wrestling. He later joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (now known as Impact Wrestling) in 2015, becoming its president in August 2016. After leaving TNA in November 2016, Corgan purchased the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), gaining its ownership in October 2017.
William Patrick Corgan Jr. was born at Columbus Hospital in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on March 17, 1967 as the oldest son of William Corgan Sr., a blues/rock guitarist, and Martha Louise Maes Corgan Lutz. He was raised Catholic. His parents had one more son, Ricky, before divorcing in 1970. His father was soon remarried to a flight attendant, and Corgan and his brother went to live with them in Glendale Heights, Illinois. During this time, Corgan alleges he was subject to much physical and emotional abuse by his stepmother. Corgan also developed a protective bond with his younger paternal half-brother, who had special needs as a child. When Corgan's father and stepmother separated, all three boys would live alone with the stepmother, with both of Corgan's birth parents living separately within an hour's drive.
Corgan, who grew much faster than his fellow students, was a strong athlete in elementary school. In addition to being a member of his Marquardt Middle School baseball team, he collected baseball cards (amassing over 10,000) and listened to every Chicago Cubs game. However, by the time he began attending Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream, Illinois, he had become only an average athlete. He decided to start playing guitar when he went over to a friend's house and saw his friend's Flying V. Corgan gave his savings to his father, who bought him a used Les Paul knock-off. Corgan, Sr. steered his son stylistically, encouraging him to listen to Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix, but offered little other support, and the younger Corgan taught himself to play the instrument. His musical interests in his formative years included hard rock like Guts-era John Cale, heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, and mainstream rock like Queen, Boston, ELO, Rush, and Cheap Trick. In high school, Corgan discovered alternative rock through Bauhaus and The Cure.
Corgan performed in a string of bands in high school, and graduated as an honor student. Despite grant and scholarship offers from a number of schools, and a tuition fund left by his grandmother, Corgan decided to pursue music full-time. Not finding the Chicago music scene to his liking, he moved from Chicago to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1985 with his first major band, The Marked (so named for the conspicuous birthmarks of both Corgan and drummer Ron Roesing). Not finding success in St. Petersburg, the band dissolved; Corgan moved back to Chicago to live with his father.
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Upon his return to Chicago, Corgan had already devised his next project - a band that would be called The Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan met guitarist James Iha while working in a record store, and the two began recording demos, which Corgan describes as "gloomy little goth-pop records." He then met bassist D'arcy Wretzky after a local show, arguing with her about a band that had just played, The Dan Reed Network. Soon after, the Smashing Pumpkins were formed. The trio began to play together at local clubs with only a drum machine for percussion. To secure a show at the Metro in Chicago, the band recruited drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and played for the first time as a quartet on October 5, 1988.
The addition of the powerful Chamberlin drove the band in a heavier direction almost immediately. On the band's inaugural album, Gish (1991), the band fused diverse threads such as psychedelic rock and heavy metal into a distinctive sound. Gish fared better than expected, but the follow-up, Siamese Dream, released on Virgin Records in 1993, became a multi-platinum hit. The band became known for internal drama during this period, with Corgan frequently characterized in the music press as a "control freak" due to rumors that Corgan played all the guitar and bass parts on Siamese Dream (a rumor that Corgan later confirmed as true). Despite this, the album was well received by critics, and the songs "Today" and "Disarm" became smash hits.
The band's 1995 follow up effort, the double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, was even more successful, spawning a string of hit singles. According to Jon Pareles from the New York Times, Corgan wanted to "lose himself and find himself..." in this album. The album was nominated for seven Grammy awards that year, and would eventually be certified ten times platinum in the United States. The song "1979" was Corgan's biggest hit to date, reaching No. 1 on Billboard's modern rock and mainstream rock charts. Their appearance on Saturday Night Live on November 11, 1995, to promote this material (their second appearance on the show overall) was also the television debut appearance of Corgan's shaved head, which he has maintained consistently ever since.
On July 12, 1996, touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died of a drug overdose in a hotel room. Chamberlin was present at the scene but could not revive him. The Pumpkins made the decision to fire Chamberlin and continue as a trio. This shakeup, coupled with Corgan going through a divorce and the death of his mother, influenced the somber mood of the band's next album, 1998's Adore. Featuring a darker, more subdued and heavily electronic sound at a time when alternative rock was declining in mainstream cachet, Adore divided both critics and fans, resulting in a significant decrease in album sales (it sold 1.3 million discs in the US).
Chamberlin was reunited with the band in 1999, and 2000 saw Machina/The Machines of God, a concept album on which the band deliberately played to their public image; critics were again divided, and sales were lower than ever. During the recording for Machina, Wretzky quit the band and was replaced for the upcoming tour by former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur. In 2000, the band announced they would break up at the end of the year, and soon after released Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music free over the internet. The Smashing Pumpkins played their last show on December 2, 2000 at the Cabaret Metro.
Following a brief stint touring with New Order in the summer, Corgan reunited with Chamberlin to form the band Zwan with Corgan's old friend Matt Sweeney in late 2001. According to Neil Strauss of New York Times, during his few live performances with the band, Corgan says "is still a work in progress." The lineup was completed with guitarist David Pajo and bassist Paz Lenchantin. The band had two distinct incarnations, the primary approach being an upbeat rock band with a three-guitar-driven sound, the second, a folk and gospel inspired acoustic side with live strings. The quintet performed throughout 2002, and their debut album, Mary Star of the Sea, was released in early 2003 to generally positive reviews. In the midst of their supporting tour for the album, mounting conflict between Corgan and Chamberlin, and the other band members led to the cancellation of the rest of the tour as the band entered an apparent hiatus, formally announcing a breakup in September 2003.
In 2004, Corgan began writing revealing autobiographical posts on his website and his MySpace page, blaming Iha for the breakup of the Smashing Pumpkins, calling Wretzky "a mean spirited drug addict," and criticizing his former Zwan bandmates' fixation with "indie cred" and calling them "filthy", opportunistic, and selfish.
On September 17, 2003 Billy first presented his poetry at the Art Institute of Chicago's Rubloff Auditorium. In late 2004, Corgan published Blinking with Fists, a book of poetry. Despite mixed reviews, the book debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list. Around this time, he began posting autobiographical writings online under the title The Confessions of Billy Corgan.
Also in 2004, he began a solo music career, landing on an electronic/shoegaze/alternative rock sound for his first solo album, TheFutureEmbrace, co-produced and arranged by Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb. Released on June 21, 2005, through Reprise Records, it garnered mixed reviews from the press and only sold 69,000 copies. Corgan toured behind his solo album with a touring band that included Linda Strawberry, Brian Liesegang and Matt Walker in 2005. This tour was not as extensive as previous Smashing Pumpkins or Zwan tours. Prior to recording TheFutureEmbrace, Corgan had recorded some 72 songs inspired by Chicago history for the largely acoustic ChicagoSongs project, which have yet to be released.
In 2005, Corgan took out a full-page ad in Chicago's two major newspapers (The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times) revealing his desire to reform the Smashing Pumpkins. Several days later, Jimmy Chamberlin accepted Billy Corgan's offer for a reunion.
On April 20, 2006, the band's official website confirmed that the group was indeed reuniting. The band went into studio for much of 2006 and early 2007, and performed its first show in seven years on May 22, 2007, with new members Ginger Pooley (bass) and Jeff Schroeder (guitar) replacing Wretzky and Iha. The new album, titled Zeitgeist, was released in the United States on July 10, 2007, and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Corgan and the rest of the Pumpkins toured extensively throughout 2007 and 2008, also releasing the EP American Gothic and the singles "G.L.O.W." and "Superchrist". Chamberlin left the band in March 2009, and Corgan elected to continue under the name.
In summer 2009, Corgan formed the band Spirits in the Sky to play a tribute concert to the late Sky Saxon of the Seeds. He then toured with the band, composed of ex-Catherine member and "Superchrist" producer Kerry Brown, the late Electric Prunes bassist Mark Tulin, Strawberry Alarm Clock keyboardist Mark Weitz, frequent Corgan collaborator Linda Strawberry, flautist Kevin Dippold, "Superchrist" violinist Ysanne Spevack, saxist Justin Norman, new Pumpkins drummer Mike Byrne, and Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, playing covers and new Pumpkins material at several clubs in California. At the end of the tour, Corgan, Byrne, Tulin, and Brown headed back to Chicago to begin work on the new Smashing Pumpkins album, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. The lineup at the time which included new bassist Nicole Fiorentino, toured through much of 2010, then spent 2011 recording the "album-within-an-album" Oceania and mounting tours of the United States and Europe. However, Byrne and Fiorentino would later leave the band in 2014.
In April, Corgan announced a new solo record of "experimental" recordings he made in 2007, via the Smashing Pumpkins' website. The album, entitled AEGEA, will be released exclusively on vinyl, with 250 copies being made; 200 copies being sold online, through Madame Zuzu's Tea House's online store, 30 being sold at Madame Zuzu's Tea House itself, 10 being sold by way of famed Vintage Vinyl, in Evanston, Illinois, and 10 being set aside for promotion. The album was released on May 15.
On July 25, 2014, Corgan announced that the tapes from his "Siddhartha" show from March 2014 were being transferred for sale, much in the vein of AEGEA. The set is expected to be between 5 and 6 discs.
In September 2015, Corgan started a blog of vintage photographs curated by himself called People and Their Cars. The website also includes an email listing for the blog entitled "The Red Border Club". This list will be used for information on upcoming People and Their Cars and Hexestential books and merchandise along with access to additional images.
On September 8, 2016, Corgan announced via a Facebook live video, that he had recorded a new solo album with producer Rick Rubin, and it would consist of 12 or 13 tracks. He described work on the album as being near completion, though a release date was not given.
On August 22, 2017, he announced the solo album Ogilala.
Billy Corgan has struggled with depression for much of his life, and has endured bouts of self-injury, obsessive-compulsive disorder and suicidal thoughts. Corgan attributes these problems to the abuse he endured as a child as well as personal anxieties and other issues. Corgan has since become an advocate for abuse support networks.
His mother, Martha, died in December 1996. The song "For Martha", from Adore, was written in her memory. In the early 2000s, Corgan named his label Martha's Music after her as well. A picture of Martha as a little girl sitting on a fake moon at Riverview Park is featured on the flipside of the Siamese Dream booklet.
Corgan is an avid sports fan. A fan of the Chicago Cubs, he is an occasional commentator on that team for WXRT DJ Lin Brehmer, and sporadically, in interviews. He has appeared at Cubs games many times, occasionally throwing the ceremonial first pitch or singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". He was a devoted fan of the Bulls and Blackhawks in the 1990s, and became personal friends with Dennis Rodman and Chris Chelios.
He is a fan of professional wrestling and self-described "wrestlemaniac", and appeared at an Extreme Championship Wrestling event wielding an acoustic guitar as a weapon. In 2008, the Pumpkins song "Doomsday Clock" was used by Ring of Honor for promotional videos. On April 26, 2010, Corgan appeared live on the SIRIUS Satellite Radio program Right After Wrestling with Arda Ocal to discuss his love for pro wrestling and the importance of unique theme songs for characters. On August 26, 2010, Corgan took part in a professional wrestling storyline with wrestlers from the Mexican promotion AAA during a concert for MTV World Stage. He also ran his own professional wrestling company called Resistance Pro based in Chicago. As far as other entertainment, Corgan once commented that all he watches on TV are "sports and Three Stooges." In March 2008, he was spotted in the crowd at the final day of the cricket test match between New Zealand and England in Wellington. In early 2014, it was rumoured through many wrestling news sites that AMC were picking Resistance Pro up for a backstage and in-ring look at Corgan's promotion. In May 2017, it was announced Corgan through his production company, Lightning One, had agreed to purchase the National Wrestling Alliance as part of a deal that was eventually finalized on October 1.
He incorporates elements of Catholicism and Buddhism into his spiritual philosophy even though he has not publicly aligned himself with any one faith. In 2009, he launched Everything From Here to There, an interfaith website that is devoted to "Mind-Body-Soul" integration. He mentions praying each morning and night to be able to see through Christ's eyes and feel with his heart.
In 1993, he married his longtime on-again, off-again girlfriend Chris Fabian, art conservator and artist. They were married at a small ceremony at his house in Wrigleyville. Corgan and Fabian separated in late 1995, and divorced in 1997. Corgan refused to discuss the subject in interviews, saying "There is not and will not be any public record on my marriage - that's one thing I have to draw lines around." He nevertheless described the circumstances of his marriage in his online Confessions in 2005.
In late 1995, he started dating photographer Yelena Yemchuk, who later contributed to several Smashing Pumpkins videos and album art. He continued to date Yemchuk until around 2004. According to Corgan, his breakup with her contributed to the themes of his 2005 solo release, TheFutureEmbrace. In 2008, Corgan said, "I've had a bad marriage and seven bad girlfriends in a row", a perspective he attributes to his dedication to music.
In 2005, Corgan dated musician Emilie Autumn for a number of months. The pair collaborated on multiple occasions during this time, with Autumn providing vocals and violin on his solo album and costume for a supporting music video.
In early 2006, Corgan moved in with Courtney Love and her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. According to Love, he had his own wing in her new Hollywood Hills mansion. Two years later, Love criticized Corgan publicly over the latter's alleged refusal to attend Frances' sweet 16 birthday party. In March 2010, Corgan stated in an interview in reference about Love "I have no interest in supporting her in any way, shape or form. You can't throw enough things down the abyss with a person like that" and said he parted ways with her. Shortly after, when Hole's Nobody's Daughter was released, Corgan unleashed on Twitter a set of anger-filled words against her in reference to including two songs he wrote, "Samantha" and "How Dirty Girls Get Clean", that ended up on the new album without his permission. Love then wrote an apology to him on her Facebook, but things heated up. Corgan took to Twitter again in six parts, attacking her again. Love responded to Corgan on Twitter, saying "All i am is nice about you so if you wanna be mean be mean i dont feel anything. i have too much to feel dear."
In 2009, Corgan was linked with pop star Jessica Simpson. He started dating Jessica Origliasso from The Veronicas in 2010, and was still dating her until early June 2012 when the pair broke up. "It's one of those things. It's really difficult when you spend so much time apart", said Origliasso of the split.
Corgan's girlfriend, Chloe Mendel, gave birth to their son named Augustus Juppiter Corgan on November 16, 2015.
In 2011, Corgan formed a Chicago-based independent wrestling promotion called Resistance Pro. Two years later, in 2013, he starred in a commercial for Walter E. Smithe Furniture, using the platform to promote his wrestling company. In 2012, he opened a tea house in his native Highland Park called Madame Zuzu's Tea House. He is currently at work on his spiritual memoir, entitled "God is Everywhere from Here to There".
In March 2014, it was reported that Corgan was in discussions with American television channel AMC to develop an unscripted reality series about Resistance Pro. The premise being a behind-the-scenes look at the promotion as Corgan "takes over creative direction for the independent wrestling company." The show was given the green light by AMC, under the working title of "Untitled Billy Corgan Wrestling Project," the same month.
In April 2015, Corgan was announced as the new Senior Producer of Creative and Talent Development for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where his role was to "develop characters and create story lines", which he has called "a dream come true." In August 2016, Corgan took over as the promotion's new president.
In November 2016, Corgan had left TNA after disputes about not being paid on time, and subsequently, Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp and Impact Ventures, parent company of TNA Impact Wrestling, announced that Anthem has provided a credit facility to TNA to fund operations.  In 2016, he loaned money to Anthem Sports & Entertainment to fund TNA, and they promised to pay him back.[unreliable source]
On November 11, Corgan signed a settlement with Anthem - TNA and Anthem announced that they would be repaying TNA's loan from Corgan.
Newly-appointed TNA/Impact Wrestling President Ed Nordholm credits the invention of and the vision behind the Matt Hardy Broken gimmick to Jeremy Borash, Dava Lagana and Billy Corgan. While Borash specifically had the most input into the gimmick of the three aside from Matt, the Hardy family deny that Borash was the sole person behind the gimmick.
On May 1, 2017, it was reported that Corgan had agreed to purchase the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), including its name, rights, trademarks and championship belts. The purchase was confirmed by NWA president Bruce Tharpe later that same day. Corgan's ownership took effect on October 1, 2017.
Corgan said after the United States presidential election, 2008, "I'm very proud of my country right now for doing the right thing." He has since said that he has been disappointed with Obama's presidency, and lacks faith in both major political parties. In 2009, he posted a transcript of a webcast by political activist Lyndon LaRouche to the official Smashing Pumpkins forum. In 2016, he characterized progressive political campaigners as "social justice warriors", compared them to Maoists, cult members and the Ku Klux Klan, and called them a threat to freedom of speech.
On March 10, 2009, Corgan testified in front of Congress on behalf of the musicFIRST Coalition. Corgan spoke in favor of H.R. 848, the Performance Rights Act, which gives musicians and artists their share of compensation when their music is played on music radio stations.
Corgan has in recent years increasingly espoused conspiracy theories, voiced his admiration for radio host Alex Jones and frequently appeared as a guest on the latter's radio show, where he has endorsed conspiracy theories such as the chemtrail conspiracy theory and the connection between vaccines and autism, and decried the "emasculation" of men in contemporary society. Corgan has expressed controversial political views, such as that swine influenza was an "Obama conspiracy" and "propaganda".[verification needed]
In addition to performing, Corgan has produced albums for Ric Ocasek, The Frogs, and Catherine. He shared songwriting credit on several songs on Hole's 1998 album Celebrity Skin; the title track became Corgan's second No. 1 modern rock hit. He also acted as a consultant for Marilyn Manson during the recording of the album Mechanical Animals. He has produced three soundtracks for the movies Ransom (1996), Stigmata (1999) and Spun (2002) in which he appeared as a doctor. Corgan appeared at the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies. He inducted one of his biggest musical influences, Pink Floyd. He played acoustic guitar during the ceremony with Pink Floyd, when they performed their song "Wish You Were Here". He has collaborated with Tony Iommi, Blindside, David Bowie, New Order and Marianne Faithfull. Corgan would also guide and collaborate with three bands in the 2000s--Breaking Benjamin (during sessions for 2004's We Are Not Alone), Taproot (for Blue-Sky Research, 2005), and Sky Saxon. Corgan appeared as a guest vocalist on the song "Loki Cat" on Jimmy Chamberlin's first solo album, Life Begins Again, and Chamberlin played drums for the song "DIA" on Corgan's solo debut, where Robert Smith from The Cure teamed up with Corgan to do a cover of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody". Corgan has worked on Courtney Love's Nobody's Daughter, and Scorpions' Humanity: Hour I.
When asked in a 1994 Rolling Stone interview about his influences, Corgan replied:
Eight years old, I put on the Black Sabbath record, and my life is forever changed. It sounded so heavy. It rattled the bones. I wanted that feeling. With Bauhaus and The Cure, it was the ability to create a mood and an atmosphere. The air gets heavier. With Jimi Hendrix it was the ability to translate this other level of guitar. Cheap Trick - it was a vocal influence. Although Tom Petersson once told me that Rick Nielsen called us 'tuneless and nonmelodic.'
Corgan wrote six articles for Guitar World in 1995, and his solos for "Cherub Rock" and "Geek U.S.A." were included on their list of the top guitar solos of all time. AllMusic said "Starla" "proves that Corgan was one of the finest (and most underrated) rock guitarists of the '90s", while Rolling Stone called him and his Smashing Pumpkins bandmates "ruthless virtuosos". His solo for "Soma" was No. 24 on Rolling Stone's list of the top guitar solos. He is a fan of Eddie Van Halen and interviewed him in 1996 for Guitar World. Other guitarists Corgan rates highly include Uli Jon Roth,Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Leslie West, Dimebag Darrell and Robin Trower.
Corgan has praised Radiohead, saying "if they're not the best band in the world, then they're one of the best". He is also a fan of Pantera. Other favorites include Depeche Mode,Siouxsie and the Banshees,Rush, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, Dinosaur Jr., Breaking Benjamin, My Bloody Valentine, and Spiritualized. Corgan stated in 1997 that upon hearing the U2 song 'New Years Day', at 16, "[U2] quickly became the most important band in the world to me." Corgan particularly went out of his way to praise Rush in his interview for Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, a documentary on the band, where he criticized mainstream reviewers for consciously marginalizing the band and their influence, and highlighted the fact that many of his musical peers were influenced by Rush.
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Corgan played (during the Gish-Siamese Dream era) a customized '57 Reissue Fender Stratocaster equipped with three Fender Lace Sensor pickups (the Lace Sensor Blue in the neck position, the Lace Sensor Silver in the middle position, and the Lace Sensor Red at the bridge position). It also has a five-position pickup selector switch which he installed himself. This battered Strat became his number one guitar by default. He owned a '74 Strat that was stolen shortly after Gish was completed.
Corgan also used a wide variety of guitars on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. On "Where Boys Fear to Tread", Corgan used a Les Paul Junior Reissue, and on "Tonight Tonight" he used a '72 Gibson ES-335. He is also known to use a '74 Strat which has since been painted baby blue. That guitar was used on the recordings for "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" and also "Muzzle", because the heavier wood gave it the basic Strat sound with a bit more bottom.
During the recording and tour of the album Zeitgeist, Corgan used a Schecter C-1 EX baritone, finished in black with Tony Iommi signature pickups.
In 2008, Corgan released to the market his own Fender Stratocaster. This new guitar was made to Corgan's exact specs to create his famous mid-'90s buzzsaw tone; the instrument features three DiMarzio pickups (two custom for this instrument), a string-through hardtail bridge and a satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish. When playing live, he uses both his signature Strats as well as two other Fender Strats, one in red with a white pick guard and one in silver-grey with a black pick guard; a Gibson Tony Iommi signature SG; and his Schecter C-1 (only used on the Zeitgeist song "United States").
A video called 'Stompland' on the official Smashing Pumpkins YouTube channel is informative on Corgan's choice of effects pedals. In the video he reveals an extensive collection of pedals used throughout his career with the Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan's tone is often characterized by his use of fuzz pedals, particularly vintage versions of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff 
Corgan is noted for having used Marshall and Diezel amps. He has also used modular preamps based off many different amps in conjunction with Mesa Boogie poweramps. The preamps were built custom built by Salvation Mods.
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William also fathered a half-brother, but Corgan has never found out who he is.
Also noted is their influence on Billy Corgan, who recruited the engineer of 'Loveless', Alan Moulder, for the latest Smashing Pumpkins album.