Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle (APC) is an alternative rock supergroup formed by guitarist Billy Howerdel and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan. The original incarnation of the band also included Paz Lenchantin on bass, Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar, and Tim Alexander on drums. The latest line-up features then-former Marilyn Manson bassist Jeordie White, past guitarist for The Smashing Pumpkins, James Iha, and session drummer Josh Freese, who is most well known for his work with Nine Inch Nails. Despite having a varied cast since inception, the stylistic content of the songs has remained consistent with Howerdel as composer, and Keenan penning the lyrics.

A Perfect Circle has released three albums: Mer de Noms, Thirteenth Step and eMOTIVe. A CD-DVD set, aMOTION, has also been released and contains thirteen music videos in addition to a number of song remixes created by Danny Lohner. The group has not recorded, toured or released any new material since its hiatus began in 2004. Since then band members have worked on other projects; the most notable being Keenan's work on Tool's 2006 album 10,000 Days, and Howerdel's founding of the band Ashes Divide.


Mer de Noms (1999–2001)

A Perfect Circle was conceived by Billy Howerdel, a former guitar technician for Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, Fishbone and Tool. Howerdel met singer Maynard James Keenan in 1992 when Fishbone was opening for Tool, and the two became friends. Three years later, Keenan offered Howerdel, who was looking for lodging, a room in his North Hollywood home. This provided Howerdel the opportunity to play demos of his music for Keenan. Pleased with what he heard, Keenan remarked, "I can hear myself singing [those songs]. Although he originally desired a female vocalist, Howerdel agreed that Keenan would be a good fit, and A Perfect Circle was formed a short time later. They were then joined by bassist and violinist Paz Lenchantin, former Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, and the previous drummer for Primus, Tim Alexander. The band played their first show at LA's Viper Club Reception on August 15, 1999. After playing shows in L.A., the band entered the studio to begin work on their first album. Alexander was soon replaced with session drummer and member of The Vandals, Josh Freese, but Alexander's performance can still be heard on the album version of the song "The Hollow".

Soon after recording was finished for their debut album, Mer de Noms (French for "Sea of Names"), the band began touring. Initially, they served as the opening act for Nine Inch Nails on the 2000 Fragility v2.0 tour, but they then embarked on a number of headlining tours all over the world, including the Canadian festival, Summersault. As Keenan was well known through his other band, he would often wear long wigs on his otherwise bald head when performing, to distinguish himself from his Tool persona. Mer de Noms was released on October 31, 2000, while the band was on tour. The album is distinctive in that it is the highest ever debut for a new rock band, selling over 188,000 copies in its first week, and appearing at number four on the Billboard 200.

The album produced three singles: "Judith", "3 Libras" and "The Hollow". As is the case with a great number of bands, A Perfect Circle added hidden touches to their songs. "Judith" is unique because it is named after, and about, Keenans's mother who suffered a stroke and was left paralyzed when he was 11. The song "Renholdër" is a reference to guitarist and sound engineer Danny Lohner and reads Re:D.Lohner backwards. Ironically, Lohner did not know the song was about him despite his first name being sung—albeit in a distorted fashion—in the song.

Thirteenth Step / Emotive (2002–2004)

During the recording, release and tour for Tool's previous album Lateralus, from 2000 to 2002 the band experienced a considerable amount of downtime. This made the band extremely dynamic in terms of its members. During the recording of Thirteenth Step, APC lost two of its members, Paz Lenchantin & Troy Van Leeuwen. Lenchantin left to join Billy Corgan's new band Zwan in April of 2002, while Van Leeuwen left to handle touring duties as the new guitarist for Queens of the Stone Age. Ex-Marilyn Manson bassist Jeordie White, formerly known as Twiggy Ramirez, replaced Lenchantin on bass in January 2003, with Danny Lohner taking the reins on guitar. However, Lohner did not quite fit as a second guitarist, as the band was looking for more of a high-speed metal sound. Both Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha were considered for the job, with the spot eventually going to Iha.

The band released their second album, Thirteenth Step, on September 16, 2003. With the new album came a new sound. While Mer de Noms had a heavier, deeper sound, Thirteenth Step was more melodic and straightforward. After the release of the album, John Lappen from The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "They were never a band who beat the listener over the head with metal brutality, but now they're even more song-oriented than before—a move that illustrates that the band has a knack for writing instrumental hooks that show off a melodic talent that was not as apparent on the first album. This different sound can be heard in the three singles that came off the album: "Weak and Powerless", "The Outsider" and "Blue". Following the release of the album, the band toured throughout the U.S. until the year's end. Then, in January 2004, the group left the country to play shows in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. They headed home in mid-March and finished touring in mid-June.

A third album, Emotive, was released on November 2, 2004, and contains covers of anti-war songs by artists such as John Lennon ("Imagine") and Joni Mitchell ("Fiddle and the Drum"). Emotive was recorded with current and former members of the band, but is mostly the work of Keenan and Howerdel. The single "Passive" was adapted from the defunct band Tapeworm, a project composed mainly of Keenan, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and Danny Lohner. "Passive" first appeared under the title "Vacant" at a show played by A Perfect Circle in Portland, Oregon on January 31, 2001, notably, without the blessing of Reznor to play the song. The song remained unreleased by any artist until it appeared on Emotive as the song "Passive".

On November 16, 2004, the CD-DVD set entitled aMotion was released. The DVD contains music videos for six singles; previously unreleased videos for other songs, including three contest runner-up videos and the winning video for "Blue"; and three trailers for Bikini Bandits. The CD is composed entirely of remixes of the singles from Mer de Noms and Thirteenth Step. The songs were retooled by Danny Lohner, Joshua Eustis, Massive Attack, and James Iha among others.

Hiatus (2004–present)

The future of A Perfect Circle remains uncertain and has wobbled between "done for now", and "alive and well". The band became inactive after they played their last show in Denver, Colorado on June 13, 2004. Keenan left to work on Tool's upcoming album 10,000 Days, and Howerdel began work on a side-project with Josh Freese that flourished into Ashes Divide. In addition to Keenan's work with Tool, his side-project Puscifer released its first album, V Is for Vagina, on October 30, 2007. The rest of the band also went their separate ways. Freese once again took up the reins as drummer for Nine Inch Nails, White moved on to rejoin Marilyn Manson at guitar under his pseudonym Twiggy Ramirez, and, while there was talk of Iha joining Billy Corgan for the Smashing Pumpkins reunion tour in 2007, this idea was rebuffed and he is instead working on a solo record.

Both Howerdel and Keenan have discussed the future of the band in various mediums. During a February 2006 interview with Rock Hard, Keenan remarked, "I think [APC] is over. ... We pushed this project as far as it could go, and I see ourselves playing again together only in a few years to make one or two songs, nothing more. Howerdel's thoughts on the reunion of the band were similar to those of Keenan. In a May 2006 interview with MTV he stated, "[Maynard and I have] talked about it lightly. A few months ago, it was like, 'If we did A Perfect Circle again, I'd want to do this or that.' It was a benign conversation. I think we both entertain the fact that it could happen again, but for right now we don't have any plans to do it again. We're focusing on what we're doing now. A Perfect Circle is done for now."

Despite the comments made by Howerdel and Keenan in 2006, there have been hints that A Perfect Circle may return in some form in the future. A November 2007 issue of Spin featuring Keenan, when asked "Will there ever be another APC album," he responded, "Um, no. Maybe, someday, a song on a soundtrack. But an album? No." The following month, Keenan took part in an interview with Revolver. He discussed the other members of A Perfect Circle's recent activities and also hinted at the possibility of a reunion. During the interview, Keenan stated:

Although the band's official website has offered no insight as to whether or not the group will reunite, news continues to arrive through Keenan about the existence of the band. In Puscifer's May 2008 newsletter, Keenan remarked on the status of A Perfect Circle: "As many of you may have heard, Billy and I are engaged in our own little projects for the moment. His is called ASHES DIVIDE and mine is called PUSCIFER...Please be advised that A PERFECT CIRCLE and TOOL are still alive and well. This is simply MORE."

Band members


All members contributed to aMotion, and are listed in its liner notes in the above order.



External links

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