Billy Corgan Says He Admires Axl Rose For Being 'Truly Free'

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan says he admires Axl Rose and the Guns N' Roses' 'brand' for a lot of the same reasons that made Rose the subject of ridicule over the years.

Corgan suggested on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast that he believes Guns N' Roses' breakup, Rose's stewardship of the band and its eventual reunion with Slash and Duff McKagan was ultimately good for the everyone involved.

"The freedom in Axl and the path that they took added to the brand," Corgan said. 

"When I look at Axl Rose, I see a free person," he continued, cautioning that he doesn't know Rose personally and that he's speaking only as a fan. "That means more to me than whether he did the right thing in [whatever year]." 

Corgan says he loves the fact that Rose went about his business in the early-2000s, bringing Guns N' Roses back without any other original members, despite what many longtime fans thought he should have done. 

"So you like the fact that he didn't give a f--- and he just went crazy?" Rogan asked.

"I love that about Axl Rose," Corgan replied. "I love that he doesn't give two f---s about anything. I think that's so fascinating. Because there are only a few American iconic artists that are truly free."

Rose's flaws and the mistakes he's made are outweighed, Corgan says, by the Guns N' Roses catalog and the band's cultural impact. 

"I love comebacks," Rogan agreed. "[Rose] turned it around."

"It's very American; we love the comeback," Corgan said.

Corgan continued, discussing his own fear of being labeled a one-hit-wonder in the '90s after Smashing Pumpkins exploded. He says nowadays his priorities as an artist are about doing what he feels he needs to do, not necessarily what he knows will work.

"I've been playing these acoustic shows and, you know, at some point people just start shouting out songs. And I just say to the audience, 'Look, the greatest thing about turning 50 is I don't give a f--- what you want; I'm just gonna do what I wanna do."

But following his muse and giving the audience what they want aren't mutually exclusive, Corgan adds. 

"And at the end of the day, that sells better to most of the audience. Because most of the audience, I would argue, appreciates me being independent, even if they don't get what they want, than being a shill. 

"I don't think people get behind rebels because they want them to sell out; they get behind rebels because they want them to stay rebellious."

Corgan and Rogan's wide-ranging interview covered many topics, including Corgan's challenging childhood, pro wrestling, the famous meme of him at Disneyland, his connection to Nirvana and the dichotomy of being an independent artist to that of being with a major record label.

Listen to the full podcast here


Photos: Getty Images


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