A Perfect Circle – it's the perfect name for a band who blend heavy, emotional, dark, light and spiritual sounds together into a seamless whole through their discography. Their music evades the usual glib music criticism; it seems so much bigger. Maybe they create something that can't be explained in words, pictures or social media posts. Music such as this should be celebrated entirely in the moment.
Like many, I first heard of A Perfect Circle through being a fan of vocalist Maynard James Keenan's main project, Tool. But A Perfect Circle became more than a side project. The combination of mainstay guitarist Billy Howerdel's brilliant, delicate and progressive guitar playing bolsters Keenan's infamous voice and soul-searching lyrics, well, perfectly.
Orlando Weekly recently spoke to Howerdel, a founding member and songwriter of A Perfect Circle, about their new album, Eat the Elephant.
The song "Disillusioned" touches on how people have become disconnected from each other. What do you think it would take for people to reconnect?
Billy Howerdel: Listen. Listen to each other. I think that whatever point of view or side you're on, there are intentional or unintentional evil forces at play that have intentions for something else. It seems like we are entering more rapidly to this place where the salesman always wins. People are relying on the familiarity of immediacy and instant gratification.
One of the big changes on Eat the Elephant was bringing in an outside producer, Dave Sardy (Incubus, LCD Soundsystem). What did he bring to this album?
There were pros and cons to it. It was great having the pressure off me, to get out of the janitorial duties of the engineering and producing side. Managing, scheduling, budgets, etc. can be distracting. It was great being able to sit down with a guitar and just play music.
The hard part was, the way that I write music is being part of that file management. Seeing music on a screen and recording it, and being able to clean things up visually, comes natural to me. In working with someone else, I found myself having to prove to that person to trust me with this sort of direction. It was a challenge in balancing those things, to speak about music to someone versus self-producing. I had to learn to communicate better about music to another person this time around.
A Perfect Circle has toured with a wide variety of opening acts. How do you choose who opens for you on tour?
We have Tricky opening up for us in the States on this run. He is a big influence on me. I am curious to see where he is at nowadays. He is royalty to us in the music that we came up on in our 20s.
With this record, it's interesting to hear how you've all grown over the 14 years since the last album. Individually, though, what has this meant for you as far as personal and creative breathing room?
It is all about being in a creative place. When you're overwhelmed, take a walk. Whether it's literal or metaphorical. Taking a walk ... without a phone, without a distraction, without a conversation. Reconnecting to your chatty-brain and letting it subside. The definition of mindfulness is paying attention to how you feel in that moment. Finding those places, and taking a break from music for some time. When you come back to what you're good at, I think you're more inspired to get your best work.
What are you looking for within yourself as a musician?
Growth. Having music that is, hopefully, as timeless as it could be. Having music that people listen to today and 20 years from now.