Smashing Pumpkins bandleader Billy Corgan is reintroducing himself to fans this year.
At 50, the proud father of Augustus (his nearly 2-year-old son with girlfriend Chloe Mendel), the musician has released his most grown up work to date, under the classy sobriquet William Patrick Corgan.
The nonsensical-titled, Rick Rubin-produced, acoustic-based solo record “Ogilala” reveals his songwriting acumen in bare-bones glory. He’ll be playing the album in its entirety in the first set of his two-night run at The City’s Herbst Theatre this week; he’ll also perform catalog chestnuts.
“This is probably the first time in a long time where I didn’t think about things too much; I just let whatever happen, happen,” says the Chicagoan, who became president and owner of the National Wrestling Alliance, an extension of his former involvement in the sport’s Resistance Pro organization.
“I’m out of intellectual options now, so I’m going to go with the intuitive ones. It’s like, Door No. 1, Door No. 2 and Door No. 3 — you can argue why Door No. 2 makes more sense all day, but your gut tells you to pick Door No. 1. So you just go for it, and you’re willing to live and die by that decision.”
When Rubin first received Corgan’s skeletal piano-guitar-vocal demos, he was intrigued, and he immediately scheduled studio time to hear the music performed live.
Corgan says he doesn’t even remember writing the jangly “Processional,” with its forlorn refrain, “Won’t you christen me.”
He adds, “But I remember first playing that song for Rick and thinking, ‘Is this too boring?’ Because it’s basically a folk round with no choruses that cycles back down like a Dylan song. But Rick was excited, and said, ‘You’re really on to something here! This is awesome!’ And I was like, ‘Wow! I didn’t even know what I had!’”
Other loping cuts — including “Shiloh,” “The Spaniards” and “The Long Goodbye” — were inspired by vintage Sons of the Pioneers, and flicker past like smoky campfire singalongs.
“There’s a lot of space in those early 1930s country songs,” says Corgan, who felt vindicated when he discovered that William Randolph Hearst regularly hired the Sons to play at Hearst Castle. “In Hearst’s weird brain, they were having their little rodeo time eating baked beans in his castle, and somehow that all works in my brain, too.”
The biggest “Oglilala” influence is probably Augustus, who is featured on the album cover. “He came into the world a strong spirit,” dad says. “So my job is to just get out of the way and figure out how to help him. And it’s been nice to be No. 2 for a change.”
IF YOU GO
William Patrick Corgan
Where: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 1-2
Tickets: $55 to $75
Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.livenation.comAugustusBilly CorganChloe MendelOgilalaPop MusicRick RubinSmashing PumpkinsWilliam Patrick Corgan