Billy Corgan: "I am The Svengali Behind Hole's Next Album."

It's not exactly any big secret that more than a few people believe that the late Kurt Cobain was the ghost author of the last Hole album, Live Through This, whose best songs bore more than a passing resemblence to the verse-chorus-verse-isms of his own band, Nirvana, and were a major departure from anything found on his wife Courtney Love and company's previous disc, Pretty On The Inside. This feeling has only intensified as a follow-up has failed to materialize in the four years since Hole's big hit appeared. And now, with that same follow-up tentatively entitled Celebrity Skin , scheduled for a release later this year, Love is once again facing accusations that she is not the captain of her own musical ship.

In an interview published in the July issue of the UK rock monthly Select, Billy Corgan -- aided and abetted by his bass player in The Smashing Pumpkins, D'arcy Wretzky -- maintains with some vehemence that he is the mastermind behind Hole's next album. "True! Yeah. I am the svengali," he claims. "She [Love] invited me to be the svengali." Corgan is incensed at what he sees as Love's recent PR efforts to downplay his involvement before the album even sees the light of day. "That's a bunch of bullshit" he says. "She's trying to have her cake and eat it. . .People around her asked me, before we went into the studio, specifically not to get involved in the writing, but she encouraged me to write songs with and for them, so. . .I did." On the main issue at hand, Corgan is definitive: "There would not be a new Hole album without me" the singer claims.

All of this flies in the face of the Hole cover story in the June issue of another UK rock monthly, Vox, a piece which might be described as a "Love-fest." In the article, the Hole leader presents a carefully tailored portrait of herself -- to a journalist plainly awed by his proximity to her -- as a yoga-loving, vegetable juice-drinking Buddhist and Fleetwood Mac fan far removed from the smack-loving grunge-queen days of yore. "I'm getting to be sober, sober in thought and deed" Love claims, "to become a responsible member of society. . .You can choose to live your life that way or you can be Judy Garland and die in front of a thousand clowns. Fuck that!" Love also astutely leaves it up to Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson to downplay Corgan's involvement with Celebrity Skin; he claims the band "wrote a bunch of songs, started rehearsing with everybody, did a little bit with that Corgan guy and finished up writing in April a year ago." A far cry from Corgan's claim of authoring "about 25 per cent or something" of the album. One thing is certain: we've haven't heard the last word in this scrap between two icons of '90s American rock. They've only just begun to fight.

-Johnny Walker (Black)