The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan Recalls What Surprised Him About Tony Iommi, Shares Honest Opinion on Black Sabbath

Recently, The Smashing Pumpkins frontman and mastermind Billy Corgan signed with legendary amp brand Laney. To celebrate, they set up an interview to discuss his work and various other topics.

Looking into the biggest influence in terms of his guitar and vocal tones, Billy Corgan recalled hearing Black Sabbath’s “Master of Reality” album for the first time when he was 8 years old. After reflecting on the opening track “Sweet Leaf” and other songs, he said (transcript by Ultimate Guitar):

“I’ve chased that sound my whole life. And you can hear echoes of it in… Whether it’s Randy Rhoads with Ozzy or even Freddie Mercury with Brian May. There’s other echoes of that type of thing. Even Sweet was another band guitar voicing and the voice in their unique way.

Sweet Leaf (2009 - Remaster)

“But for me, Sabbath was the blueprint. And until I started using Laney Amps… I bought a vintage amp, which was the same Supergroup series — I never realized that part of what attracted me to that sound was the Laney sound.

“Because a lot of guitar players — and I’m sure we’ve all met them — they kind of see guitar sound as sort of like ‘pick your flavor of a hot sauce’ or something. For me, tone is everything. When you think of Tony’s tone, it’s synonymous with the vision I get in my head of Tony’s width and size and power.

Tony Iommi Feat. Billy Corgan - Black Oblivion

“The Laney sound is not always the ‘biggest’ sound. And even when I worked with Tony in the studio on his solo album [2000’s ‘Iommi’], I was shocked Tony’s gain was on 6. It’s the way that Laney sound makes you feel. It’s not always a high-gain thing.”

The Tony Iommi collaboration that Corgan is referring to is on the Black Sabbath guitarist’s debut solo album. Titled “Iommi” and released in 2000, it featured various famous rock artists and session musicians. Each of the 10 songs had a different vocalist and a co-writer. Corgan took part in co-witing and recording “Black Oblivion.”

Photos: Claudia Rahanmetan (Billy Corgan with The Smashing Pumpkins 2008-02-18 (2)), Guy Evans (Tony Iommi HomeofMetal Fox 0659)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.