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The topic clearly opened a Pandora's box full of lingering resentment and pain.
"There's no way to properly convey what it was like to be in that band," Corgan says. "And the fucked-up stuff is ten times more fucked up than what the world even knows — but that's the mystery and magic of the band. How could we have these incredible acts of betrayal happening, yet turn around and be able to surmount this impossible mountain and, for a brief time, stand there unchallenged?
"Then, of course," he adds, "implode in our own hubris and greed. But that's what makes it a fascinating tale."
Though he's quick to drop his gloves when dissing his former bandmates, Corgan can't mask the deep bond they once shared.
"I was in love with the Smashing Pumpkins," he says, wistfully. "I really believed in what we were doing. But I idealized the band [members], which, of course, overlooked their incredibly flawed human personas, and which now bites me in the ass, as they rear their heads for lawsuits."
He goes from longing to bitter resentment in just a few seconds — a trend as he speaks of the former group he once so loved.
As our conversation wraps, Corgan becomes reflective. A guy known for his tough talk, he suddenly seems defenseless and reflective, filled with the memories of great success and the greater demise of the longest and most intense love affair of his life —his band.
"It's been a long, weird journey," he says. "If somebody would have told me fifteen years ago that at 45 I'd be living in a big house with two dogs and two cats, with no wife and no girlfriend, I wouldn't have believed them. My life did not turn out the way I'd planned it. Not even close."
This rare glimpse of Corgan so exposed, so unequivocally human, makes Oceania's themes of isolation and love seem perfectly true.
But ultimately Billy Corgan's story is no tragedy. "Being healthy, humbled by God, musically engaged and surrounded by good people — those are the moments I'm OK with, because maybe this was the way it was meant to be all along."