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2001.02.23 - The Record - Perfect Circle of Friends (Josh)

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Post by Blackstar on Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:51 pm

2001.02.23 - The Record - Perfect Circle of Friends (Josh) 2001_029


Perfect Circle of friends

A side project comes up roses

Special to The Record

Drummer Josh Freese was among an assortment of artists who had been trying to make Guns ’N Roses’ comeback album “Chinese Democracy” a reality.

One day, while taking a break, Guns ’N Roses technician Billy Howerdel handed him a phone. It was Howerdel’s roommate, Maynard James Keenan of Tool.

“Maynard said to me, ‘Billy doesn’t want to say anything because he’s a shy guy, but he’s written some awesome songs,” Freese recalls. “ ‘Billy is too insecure to play them for anyone, so don’t even listen to what he says about them. I’m going to write some lyrics and I would love it if you would play drums.”

With that, A Perfect Circle was born.

At first, it was pretty casual. Freese, Howerdel, Keenan, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, and bassist Paz Lenchantin worked on Perfect Circle songs on weekends.

“But then it became obvious that we were working on something special here,” Freese said in a call from Portland, Ore. “We realized we shouldn’t treat this as a side project. This was much cooler than much of what we were working on.” Freese, 29, and Howerdel, 30, quit Guns N Roses.

“I had fun playing with Axl,” Freese said, referring to Guns’ leader Rose. “He’s a cool guy, but it got really frustrating just reporting to a studio and not playing out live... I was in the studio with Axl for two years and I had to get out.” Keenan, meanwhile, took time off from Tool, while Van Leeuwen left his band Failure, and Lenchantin, a multi-instrumentalist, took a break from session work.

Virgin Records signed A Perfect Circle after a major bidding war. The group’s debut disc, 2000’s "Mer De Noms,” is composed of tunes that sound like Failure with muscle and are much more accessible than Tool’s rock.

"That’s a major reason Maynard and the rest of us were compelled to be a part of this,” Freese said. “We knew that this was something incredible. Billy’s music is beautiful.”

The single, “Judith,” is the most aggressive and metallic track on the album. It topped the modem rock charts, pushing “Mer de Noms” to platinum.

All this, and its sound is not even in vogue right now.

“I think that’s part of the album’s appeal,” Freese said. “It’s a breath of fresh air. There’s no drum loops. There’s no rapping. There’s nobody in dreadlocks in a convertible with strippers in a video. It’s mostly an album of pretty songs. It takes more skill to do that style of music anyway. It takes a lot to keep people’s attention with a whisper. We’re all loving making more challenging music. This band is a priority for each of us.”

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