Lemmy Kilmister Was The Only Figure That Didn’t Marginalize Punkers, Billy Corgan Explains

The Smashing Pumpkins‘ Billy Corgan recently took a break from their current ‘The World Is A Vampire Tour’ to chat on the ‘Octane’s Metal Ambassador Podcast.’ In this interview, he shared thoughts on Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and punk music, saying the late singer was the only one who didn’t dismiss punk musicians.

Sharing his first experience with Motörhead, the vocalist said:

“Here in ‘Ace of Spades,’ it was like this weird moment, and of course, a lot of people have talked about Motörhead. It was that weird moment where you knew this other thing was happening – I guess punk – but you didn’t know what it was because it felt so different. And in many ways, Motörhead was kind of the gateway drug for, I think, a lot of the alternative people to connect metal to punk to – You know, whether it was Nirvana or Mudhoney or something like that. There’s this kind of connective tissue there.”

Continuing his story, Corgan mentioned hearing about times when Kilmister was supporting and hanging out with punk and alternative bands:

“But Lemmy was sort of the translator on that, and there’s a cool thing. I was listening to, the other day, Lol Tolhurst, who was the original drummer, keyboard player for The Cure, and Budgie, who was the drummer of Siouxsie and the Banshees. They were talking about hanging out with Lemmy back in the ’70s and ’80s and how Lemmy was always around all the punk and alternative bands and how he was the one figure that, like, never made them feel weird for not playing heavy music. He would always sort of tell them, ‘Hey, I like what you’re doing. Keep going.’

So, even then, these guys, like – Imagine they’re playing post-punk goth music, and there’s Lemmy at the bar telling, ‘You’re alright, you know. Keep going.’ So, he was that guy; he really embraced music across every genre, and I think you can hear that in Motörhead, and that’s why some of the great bands – Iron Maiden comes to mind, you know. It was those other influences that expanded what metal became and is.”

While Kilmister had an impact on punkers, punkers also played a part in Motörhead’s story. The late musician once told the Chicago Tribune how people started to like the band more as the punk movement grew, despite the comments describing them as ‘the worst.’

He referred to the early criticism and the change by sharing:

“How did it make me feel? Determined. They started changing their tune. We became the best worst band in the world. Then people started to understand us better when punk came along. We were the first band of long-haired people who could relate to the punk crowd. They’d look at us funny at first, but after the first song, we never had a problem with them.”

With that being said, even though many people saw Motörhead as a heavy metal band, Kilmister didn’t agree. In a 2010 interview with The Independent, he made it clear he didn’t like being called heavy metal, saying:

“We were not heavy metal. We were a rock ‘n’ roll band. Still are. Everyone always describes us as heavy metal, even when I tell them otherwise. Why won’t people listen?”

In the video below, you can watch Billy Corgan’s chat about Lemmy Kilmister and punk music.