When they’re onstage, the members of a Perfect Circle perform in fluid synergy, but behind the scenes all they seem to agree on is when to disagree.
Band founder and guitarist Billy Howerdel was uninterested in releasing the moody, melodic “Weak and Powerless” as the first single from Thirteenth Step, and he was against using the cover art of a slug crawling across a woman’s face, which is why he gave singer Maynard James Keenan credit for all artwork. Currently, the bandmembers are torn between releasing the melancholy “Blue” or the bruising “The Outsider” as the second single.
Bassist Jeordie White’s vote goes to “The Outsider,” but of course he was with Marilyn Manson for years and likes things that rock. “It’s the one track that sticks out and seems really strong to me,” he said. “I think it’s a high point in the record because it’s very aggressive and it’s surrounded by some more moody material, which makes that song even better.”
Even so, the bassist is also pretty fond of “Blue,” which Keenan seems to favor. “It kind of reminds me of something off the Cure’s Disintegration,” White said. “I’ve always been a fan of some of the Cure stuff in secret because I like their music, but [their singer,] Robert Smith, kind of bummed me out a little bit. But the Cure definitely influenced a lot of the songs on this record.”
Deciding which single to go with hasn’t been the group’s only issue; determining the direction of some of the material has also been a concern. Howerdel wrote many of the songs years ago and was perfectly happy with them, but then Keenan stepped in and insisted on altering many of the arrangements to match his vocal and lyrical presentation. If it weren’t for White playing peacemaker, the members of a Perfect Circle might have been left searching for a new supergroup.
“I tried to mediate some of the differences and play the middle man since I was not as close to the songs as they were,” White said. “Billy felt married to the way the songs were, so he took offense at being asked to change them. But that’s the whole point of the writing relationship. If everyone agreed on everything it would probably come out pretty boring.”
Much of the discord occurred because Howerdel wanted to keep things heavy and Keenan wanted to break away from the type of crashing rhythms he already explores with his other band, Tool. As confused as he may be by the contrasting wishes of his bandmates, White is downright befuddled by the imagery and content of the band’s video for “Weak and Powerless,” which was shot by the Brothers Strause. About all White likes about it is that is doesn’t feature any of the bandmembers, so he didn’t have to show up for a video shoot.
“I have absolutely no idea what it means,” he said. “There’s some girl in a forest throwing snakes into a hole. I’m as confused as you are. I’m just glad I didn’t have to be involved. Press photos and videos can be a little silly because you see yourself posing in pictures and you start to believe your own hype. I like not being in the videos and letting the music speak for itself. No one makes live videos anyway. You’re just pretending to play your instruments, so it’s all a big hoax that I’d rather not be a part of.”
A Perfect Circle will tour North America through December 5 before heading to New Zealand and Australia.
For more on a Perfect Circle, check out “A Perfect Circle: The Pain Of Perfection.”