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Pumpkins' founder reflects on past Smashing success, future

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CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Forget the "passe image of hookers and cocaine," says Billy Corgan, lead singer of the defunct Smashing Pumpkins. He wants to reinvent what it means to be a rock star.

"I think there's a new way to approach it, a way that has a little more social responsibility in it," he told CNN WorldBeat before the band's final show at the Metro in Chicago, Illinois, on Saturday.

"Look at what (U2 singer) Bono has done in the past couple of years with debt relief. That's what rock 'n' roll needs to do," he said. "It needs to bridge the gap between social consciousness and pop flamboyance."

The Pumpkins have expanded the boundaries of what a rock band can be, in both a positive and negative ways, Corgan said.

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    "In the early '90s, it was easier to be negative because it was sort of shocking and progressive," he recalled. "Now it's novel in rock 'n' roll to be positive, to talk about what it means to have responsibility in the world sense (and) to care about people.

    "It's not about charity; it's about compassion."

    Looking back

    The past 13 years have been "a crazy, wild ride," Corgan admitted. Had someone told him what would happen to the Pumpkins, he said, he wouldn't have believed it.

    "I used to come down to this very bar that we're sitting in 14-15 years ago," he said. "I used to tell people in this bar that 'I'm going to have this band, the Smashing Pumpkins.' ... They would laugh. They would say, 'You? You're going to have a band?'"

    Not only would he have a band, he would produce multiplatinum albums including "Siamese Dream" (1993), "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" (1995), and "MACHINA/The Machines of God" (2000). So Corgan got the last laugh, plenty of cash and the memories.

    "When I think of highlights, I always just think of the band playing ... in a rehearsal space," he said.

    "Those are the moments I take away from the band -- the kinship, the camaraderie and the stupid jokes. The band is really much more about that. The music is sort of the expression of that camaraderie."



    RELATED STORIES:
    Smashing Pumpkins bid farewell
    December 3, 2000

    RELATED SITES:
    Smashing Pumpkins (Official site)

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