A Perfect Circle is the ever changing heavy metal/hard/alternative rock group that was formed in 1999 by Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and guitar tech to the rock stars Billy Howerdel. Howerdel’s resume includes bands such as Faith No More, Fishbone, Guns N’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, and most fortuitously Tool. It is through his work with Tool that he approached Keenan with his music and Keenan offered up his vocals in the event that Howerdel ever formed a band.
Fortunately for us, dear reader, that little venture came to fruition and has provided us with three excellent albums. In 1999, the band comprised of Howerdel, Keenan, female bassist Paz Lenchantin, who later left to help Billy Corrigan create the forgettable Zwan. Tim Alexander, formerly of Primus briefly handled the drums and was replaced by Josh Freese. Troy Van Leeuwen rounded out the band on guitar. Easy to see why A Perfect Circle was bestowed with the over used and oft times kiss of death title of “Super Group”.
Mer de Noms (translates to Sea of Names) was the debut album for A Perfect Circle and was released in 2000. The album entered billboard charts at #4 and stayed on the charts for consecutive 51 weeks. The album yielded three singles: Judith, 3 Libras, and The Hollow.
Their follow up album, Thirteenth Step, was released in 2003 and reach #2 on the billboard chart. Shortly after the release, both Paz and Troy left to pursue other musical interest. As mentioned Paz left to help create Zwan and Troy left to tour with Queens of the Stone Age. In an ironic twist of fate, James Iha, formerly of Billy Corrigan’s Smashing Pumpkins replaced Troy on guitar. Jeordie White a.k.a Twiggy Ramirez (bassist for Marilyn Manson) replaced Paz.
They quickly released eMotive, their third album, in 2004. The album is basically a cover album of political and protest songs. There are two original songs on the twelve track disc. The covers include John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, Depeche Mode’s “People Are People”, and Joni Mitchell’s “Fiddle and the Drum”.
A Perfect Circle Discography:
- Mer de Noms
- Thirteenth Step
It appears that Howerdel was an apt pupil while working with the upper echelon of rock music geniuses. Whether it is the musical theatrics of Smashing Pumpkins or the distortion of Nine Inch Nails Howerdel knows how to texture the music and get the most out of the accomplished musicians that make the band. With Maynard’s vocals, A Perfect Circle is reminiscent of Tool, especially on Mer de Noms as it is darker and more bombastic while Thirteenth Step seem to be more melodic.
Top 5 Perfect Circle Songs:
- What’s Going On (eMotive)
- The Hollow (Mer de Noms)
- Weak and Powerless (Thirteenth Step)
- Judith (Mer de Noms)
- Blue (Thirteenth Step)
The bands last performance was in 2004 and it appears that they are on a lengthy hiatus with rumors of both their demise and resurrection surfacing over the years. We may not have realized, ten years ago, how much we needed A Perfect Circle to broaden the musical landscape, but I think it is safe to say that we could certainly use them now given the auto tuned vocals and saccharine musical confections that pass for music today.
Check out A Perfect Circle at www.aperfectcircle.com.
Great music awaits!