Remember back in the olden days when rock stars made rock albums for rock fans? Ah… history, you’re so silly! These days, hip stars are all about leveraging their brand for fun and profit. At least, one could be forgiven for thinking so.
On the heels of an announcement earlier this year that he was starting his own professional wrestling company (WTF?), Smashing Pumpkins head Billy Corgan is now set to launch a 1930s Chinese-style tea house in Chicago's tony Highland Park neighborhood.
According to Rolling Stone, Corgan has already signed a lease on his as-yet-unnamed salon –which is expected to open in March or April 2012 - and he has begun planning a modest menu of exotic teas, vegan sweets and coffee. Because, you know, Starbucks doesn’t have it totally covered.
Alas, Corgan stalkers needn’t start trolling the web for discount flights to the Windy City; the towering singer/guitarist doesn’t plan to darken the doorway of his own cafe. "I won't hang out because I don't want to disrupt the customers," he says.
He adds of the space: "It has a whimsical feel to it... It'll feel like you're stepping back in time in terms of space, but what we put into the space will change. My dream number is changing it 15 to 20 times a month where you're inviting people to talk about film or have an open mic night."
Corgan is hardly the first celeb to slap his endorsement on a food and drink establishment: electronica star Moby owns a cafe in NYC; pop singer Justin Timberlake’s boite Southern Hospitality brings Memphis soul food to the Big Apple while rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd have just opened a BBQ joint in Vegas. And that’s to name just three examples.
Oh yes, and the music? Corgan and crew are gearing up to release a new disc, Oceania, which follows a comprehensive re-issue campaign of previous Pumpkins titles. Britain’s NME also notes that the Smashing Pumpkins have just completed a full UK tour and are strongly rumoured to be in line to play a number of European festivals next summer.
Hopefully that won't get in the way of other business ventures.