Published Dec 07, 2015Deerhunter were having a pretty good year, with their latest LP Fading Frontier landing on Exclaim!'s Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums of 2015. Over the weekend, however, frontman Bradford Cox found himself in a bit of hot water over a spat with Smashing Pumpkins ringleader Billy Corgan.
At a show on Friday (December 4), Cox told a live audience in North Carolina an anecdote about opening for the Smashing Pumpkins. He claimed that after attempting to grab a bottle of water, Corgan's bodyguard approached him and said: "What the fuck do you think you're doing? This is Mr. Corgan's water." Cox then alleged that the "25-foot tall" guard pushed him against the wall.
When news of the incident got back to Corgan, Cox claimed that the Pumpkins' singer called Deerhunter "a shitty little insignificant fucking indie rock band."
The Smashing Pumpkins' manager has since told Pitchfork: "Several eyewitnesses can attest that Cox's account is a complete fabrication, probably to get some much-needed attention. He is correct about one thing, that the whole thing is on tape, and that we have a video of the encounter. Since this is intentionally slanderous, I will likely suggest we pursue charges unless a retraction is forthcoming."
Cox has now issued an apology, stating that his "intention was not to defame Billy Corgan" and that he was "embarrassed" that the rant was videotaped and turned into a news story. He notes that the timing was especially "tacky" given the death of Corgan's peer Scott Weiland. The full statement reads:
Firstly, I would like to say that my intention was not to defame Billy Corgan. What I did was open my big fucking mouth and go off on one of my usual tangents. Some people call this 'stage banter'. I do not need, or seek any attention, and in fact was embarrassed that this ended up being uploaded to Youtube, and then considered a news story. The story I told was just a contextual rap about something that happened at the venue we were playing – eight years ago. I will be the first to admit that there are two sides to every story and it is unfair that I gave mine without the other party being there to counter.
The thing that bothered me most about this incident was that after I got off stage I went to the bus and was reading about Scott Weiland's death (which I find very tragic) and happened upon Corgan's very moving and heartfelt tribute to his deceased friend. I do not find any humour in kicking someone while they are down. Bringing up a half-remembered interaction from so many years ago was not beneficial to anyone, especially If it causes someone who is already going through a dark moment to feel slandered or attacked. I feel very insensitive and stupid in that regard.
As far as what was said at the show, I prefaced it all by saying it was my recollection of the events. As Corgan's management has confirmed, it is all on video. I would like to avoid any further drama by just categorically retracting my statements out of respect. I respect anyone who has worked hard playing music for decades, seen their band fall apart because of things out of their control, continued to try to pursue artistic interests and had ups and downs. Perhaps I met Corgan and his crew at an especially difficult time for him. It would be completely hypocritical for me to imply that I have never been just as much of an asshole to people around me as I accused Corgan of being. Who am I to cast stones in a glass house?
I don't know Billy Corgan other than a five-minute interaction that left a definite impression on me. I have no doubt there are many sides to his character. My statement was my recollection of the events mixed with some humour. It was meant to be taken as casual stage banter. Not defamation or slander. The easiest thing for me to do to kill this story and hopefully avoid anymore drama is to admit it now. I was tacky and I retract my statements. If the video from 2007 ever does surface I will be very interested to see how my memory matches or contradicts reality.
In all earnestness I offer Corgan my apologies and my empathy during what I imagine is a difficult time with the loss of his friend.
Fan-shot footage of the onstage rant can be found below.