"For God and country I'll fight/For God and country I'll die/For God and country my soul is so alive/My soul is so alive/Lay down your arms to me/Lay down your arms for God and country"—from "For God and Country"
"And God is empty, just like me."
So declared Billy Corgan in his song "Zero" back in the mid '90s at the peak of his career fronting Chicago band Smashing Pumpkins. At the time, the mantra was a fitting synopsis of Corgan's outlook on faith and himself—a theophobic whine that, coupled with the singer's trademark nasal tone, gave the group one of the most distinctive voices in alternative rock. Yet despite their pop glory, dysfunctions plagued the band. Drug use, infighting, and Corgan's micromanagement of anything Pumpkins-related ultimately fractured the foursome, leading to its inevitable disbandment in 2000.
Not long after the breakup, something happened to Corgan. His tune began to change almost overnight. If the album with his short-lived super-group Zwan was any indication, he was no longer writing angst-ridden anthems and faithless manifestos, but rather the opposite. Mary Star of the Sea was brighter and more optimistic than anything else Corgan had ever done. All of a sudden, he was now singing about love, sunshine, and surprisingly, even Jesus.
Corgan didn't exactly have a road to Damascus experience—though raised a Christian, he doesn't necessarily consider himself one today. But he did at least become more acquainted with Christ. "I didn't find Jesus," he told Paste in a 2005 interview. "He's been there the whole time."
This awareness permeated TheFutureEmbrace, Corgan's solo outing after Zwan's premature demise. Without skipping a beat, the beleaguered Corgan pressed on without a backing ...1