About A Perfect Circle
A Perfect Circle is an American rock supergroup formed in 1999 by guitarist Billy Howerdel and Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan. A Perfect Circle has released four studio albums, the first three during the early 2000s: Mer de Noms, their debut album in 2000, and followed up by Thirteenth Step in 2003; then in 2004, Emotive—an album of radically re-worked cover songs titles. Shortly after Emotive's release, the band went on hiatus; Keenan returned to Tool and started up solo work under the band name Puscifer; and Howerdel released a solo album, Keep Telling Myself It's Alright, under the moniker Ashes Divide. Band activity was sporadic in the following years; the band reformed in 2010, and played live shows on and off between 2010 and 2013, but fell into inactivity after the release of their greatest hits album, Three Sixty, and a live album box set, A Perfect Circle Live: Featuring Stone and Echo in late 2013. The band reformed in 2017 to record a fourth album, Eat the Elephant, which was released on April 20, 2018.
Prone to downtime due to Keenan's other musical commitments, the band has featured a variety of musicians in the other roles throughout its alternating periods of activity and inactivity. The original incarnation of the band included Paz Lenchantin on bass, Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar, and Josh Freese on drums. Primus drummer Tim Alexander had briefly stood in as a drummer prior to Freese in the band's initial live shows, however this was prior to releasing any material. Band collaborator and producer Danny Lohner and Marilyn Manson bassist Jeordie White were also members for a short period in the early 2000s. The band's current lineup features Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, bassist Matt McJunkins, and drummer Jeff Friedl, the latter two also being contributors to the related Puscifer and Ashes Divide projects. Despite the varied cast and numerous lineup changes, the stylistic content of A Perfect Circle's songs has remained consistent with Howerdel as music composer, and Keenan writing lyrics and vocal melodies. The band's studio albums have been generally well received critically and commercially, with their three studio albums selling 4 million copies collectively as of 2005.
A Perfect Circle was originally 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 Tool was opening for Fishbone, 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 ." 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. The two rounded out the band's initial lineup with bassist and violinist Paz Lenchantin, former Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, and Primus drummer Tim Alexander. The band played their first show at LA's Viper Club Reception in August 1999, followed by a larger-scale, more widely publicized show at the Coachella Festival the following October. While initially in talks to release the album on Volcano Records – Tool's record label – Keenan stated that they instead chose to go with Virgin Records, who Keenan felt better understood that Keenan meant for the band to be an equally important band to Tool, not a minor side project. After the initial shows and securing a record deal, the band entered the studio to begin work on their first album. Alexander was soon replaced with Josh Freese, who previously worked with Howerdel on the Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy, with Alexander's only studio contribution being drums on the album version of the song "The Hollow".
Billy Howerdel, on the band's logo.
The band's debut album, Mer de Noms , was released on May 23, 2000. The album was well received commercially and critically. It debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, selling 188,000 copies in its first week and making it the highest selling debut album for a rock band.Mer de Noms was later certified platinum by the RIAA, indicating 1 million copies sold, on October 31, 2000. The album was also well received by critics. The release earned the band the "Best Debut Album" award from the California Music Awards. In the album review by Rolling Stone, Pat Blashill wrote that Keenan "added an almost operatic angst to Howerdel's songs" and concluded that "A Perfect Circle sound like a desperate dream of what rock used to be. Maybe that's the point."AllMusic's review expressed that "there's little question that the addicting combination of Keenan's aching voice and Howerdel's accomplished songs and production skills made for one of 2000's best splashes in whatever was left of 'modern rock'."
Promotions began shortly after recording for the album was finished. Initially, they served as the opening act for Nine Inch Nails on the 2000 Fragility v2.0 tour, but subsequently embarked on a number of headlining tours all over the world, touring for around eight months straight. 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. The album produced three singles as well: "Judith", "3 Libras", and "The Hollow". All three performed well commercially; peaking at fourth, twelfth, and fourteenth on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart respectively.
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