Billy Corgan Recalls Nirvana Producer Ripping Off His Guitar Sound

The Smashing Pumpkins have influenced several artists with their musical styles, such as Marilyn Manson, Mark Hoppus, Panic! at the Disco, and many more. While these names publicly addressed the band’s influence on them, one band drew inspiration from them, particularly from their lead singer Billy Corgan. The musician recently talked to Rick Beato and detailed how Nirvana ripped off his guitar sound.

In 1991, the Smashing Pumpkins worked with producer Butch Vig for their debut studio album ‘Gish’ at his Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin. Later, the band had the opportunity to work with Vig again in late 1992 on their second album. While Vig helped them with their career, he also benefitted from this collaboration.

Billy Corgan recently looked back on his conversation with Vig about Nirvana. He recalled hearing their song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and said, “So, we were very close to Butch. Butch bangs off to go to what became ‘Nevermind.’ As I’ve told this story a few times, we were sitting with him on a Wisconsin lake on July 4, whatever the year would have been. He says, ‘Do you want to hear the new Nirvana? He’s got a boombox. He presses it, and it’s ‘Teen Spirit.’”

“The sun’s going down on a beautiful Wisconsin summer day,” he continued. The musician also revealed his reaction to the song and claimed the producer ripped off Boston’s classic hit, saying, “I had two reactions. First of all, I was like, ‘Oh, he ripped off Boston’s More Than A Feeling,’ interesting.”

Corgan then heard the rest of the track and realized Vig stole his guitar sound to create ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit, “Then, when the song kicked in, I looked at Butch and said, ‘You ripped off my guitar sound, motherf*cker.’” The producer didn’t deny his actions, as Corgan said, “He was like, ‘I guess I did.’”

The singer continued, “Because everything that he took into that was stuff I taught him. Butch didn’t need me to teach him how to mic up a cabinet, but the way I would layer the guitars, which was like, ‘Oh, I’ll take that.’ So now, Nirvana’s on the radio every 18 seconds. Of course, every time I hear this guitar, I’m like, ‘Oh, here’s my guitar sound.’”

Surprisingly enough, Kurt Cobain previously addressed the rip-off rumors and admitted being inspired by a few names, including Boston. Dave Grohl also once confessed that the drums on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was directly inspired by the Gap Band song, ‘Burn Rubber On Me.’ Nirvana’s timeless hit appears to have many elements from different artists. Still, none of their fans truly care if they ripped off from other songs, considering the track’s huge success.