The world of hard rock and heavy metal is filled with brilliant artists, and sometimes that thin line between genius and insanity gets erased. Usually in public. In very embarrassing ways. And there have been a lot of notable crazies in the music industry, but right now, Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan seem to be in a heated race to see which washed up rocker can reach the asylum first. Two auteur musicians, both of whom have made some really amazing music (and some really poor artistic decisions), both of them batshit insane in really surprisingly similar ways – but who belongs in a straitjacket more?
ROUND ONE: QUESTIONABLE INVESTMENTS
Both dudes are rich, so they’ve both frittered away their royalties on weird stuff.
Billy Corgan owns a regional wrestling promotion.
Dave Mustaine owns a tiny pony.
ROUND TWO: RELIGION
Now, I’m not saying that you have to be crazy to be religious. Plenty of totally sane people believe in some sort of deity. No, these guys are notable because of the extremes to which they take their Christian beliefs.
Billy Corgan is way into the crazy hippie stuff. To express his faith, he has recorded an entire album, Zwan’s Mary Star of the Sea, which is basically about Jesus and rock. He also started a website devoted to “Mind-Body-Soul” integration. Also, he’s into psychic mediums.
Dave Mustaine’s not pulling out the Tarot cards, but he refuses to perform at festivals with Satanic bands, won’t play old songs that he deems “too Satanic,” and he doesn’t seem particularly fond of gays, soooo…
WINNER: Billy. Christian fundamentalism doesn’t really surprise me anymore, but new age bullshit is always hilarious.
ROUND THREE: THE MUSIC
They are musicians after all, right? Which means they channel some of their crazy through their art.
Billy Corgan has done some really pretentious things with his music (for example, the current 44 song Teargarden by Kaleidyscope song cycle), but his real mania lies in his massive underground vault of unreleased material. He’s basically a squirrel, but instead of acorns he hordes songs. Even now that they’re rereleasing the Smashing Pumpkins catalog, he’s just putting out a bunch of demos instead of the bushels of unreleased songs he has piled up. Here’s a convenient list of the 250-odd original compositions he’s recorded but never released or even played live.
Dave Mustaine, on the other hand, has released most of his material, but he tends to like to bring in some of his extracurricular activities to his music. For example, did you know that Endgame was based on an Alex Jones film? Also note the 24 fanfiction in the booklet for United Abominations.
WINNER: Billy. It’s never a great sign when you can compare someone’s behavior to Prince’s.
ROUND FOUR: STATEMENTS TO THE PRESS
All rock stars say ill-considered things in interviews. These guys take it to another level.
Billy: “The Pumpkins, as a business, is a creative enterprise that’s constantly generating new waves of energy, through music, through cultural fucking-with… through the Tarot.”
Dave: “There’s so many houses without a dad that it’s just terrible. I mean, you know how they used to say there should be a license to have a baby? Well, as far-fetched as that sounds, I really think that, if the parents aren’t going to stick together, they shouldn’t make that kind of commitment to life. I watch some of these shows from over in Africa, and you’ve got starving women with six kids. Well, how about, you know, put a plug in it? It’s like, you shouldn’t be having children if you can’t feed them.”
WINNER: I mean, come on.
ROUND FIVE: CONSPIRACY THEORIES
THIS is the real meat of the thing. The previous sections could conceivably be written off as the results of decades of drug abuse or just general rock star behavior, but this is where the rubber (room) meets the road.
List of conspiracy theories Billy Corgan believes in: Chemtrails, the New World Order, the TSA as Gestapo, HAARP, Genetically Modified Foods, “criminal wars,” mind control, all news as propaganda
List of conspiracy theories Dave Mustaine believes in: Chemtrails, the New World Order, birtherism, FEMA camps, global government, basically anything involving Obama taking away our guns/freedom
Billy’s Alex Jones interview (Summary here):
Dave’s Alex Jones interview (Summary here):
Billy’s onstage conspiracy rant:
Dave’s onstage conspiracy rant:
WINNER: Dave. I mean, Billy’s hat in that Alex Jones interview was pretty nuts, but I think “Obama was behind Aurora” pretty much clinches it.
OVERALL WINNER: Dave. Looks like the “Sweating Bullets” video was pretty prophetic, huh.