metal + hardcore
pop punk + alt-rock
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A Perfect Circle Break In James Iha

Anyone who even slightly follows ChartAttack’s music coverage should know by know that A Perfect Circle is probably one of the most impressive “super bands” this side of Blind Faith. Heh heh… Blind Faith being “super.” Now there’s a gag!

So, with the introduction of ex-Smashing Pumpkin James Iha to the fold hot on the heels of Jeordie “Twiggy Ramirez” White taking up bass duties (as former APC bassist Paz Lenchantin moved to Billy Corgan’s Zwan… inbreeding?) how does APC brainchild Billy Howerdel feel the shift went?

“I couldn’t have asked for a smoother transition,” he says. “And without trying to sound cocky, this is certainly some very complex music to be pressured to learn.”

With their new album Thirteenth Step ready for a September 16 release, Howerdel was somewhat concerned with showing Iha songs he’s barely come to grips with AND select tunes off their first album, Mer De Noms, in time for a summer tour.

“I had to send James a videotape of myself playing the songs acoustically so he could learn the chord phrasings,” Howerdel says. “While I was doing it, I thought, ‘This might not be so simple,’ but I passed it off until James called me up and was like, ‘What the hell is this?’ He pulled it off exactly though.”

Sounds like quite a daunting task, but why not just get Iha to run down to the local guitar store and grab a copy of the Mer De Noms Guitar Transcription?

“I’ve seen so many of those tablature books for guitar that are written by ‘professionals’ that were way off, so there was no way I would put James through that,” Howedel. “Congratulations to him for understanding my jumbled video tape by the way. In fact, I remember when they sent me their interpretation of the tablature for Mer De Noms, I was like, ‘I can see right away that you’re way off track.’ They were like, ‘Oh well! We’re putting it out! Deal with it!'”

With the success of APC’s first album, it’s no surprise that so many big names in rock would be ecstatic to jump aboard. So, what made Howerdel, singer Maynard James Keenan (Tool) and drummer Josh Freese (Vandals, Guns N’ Roses) go with Iha and White?

“Contrary to what some might think, it wasn’t based on name,” says Howerdel. “We don’t bring someone into this band unless we feel comfortable with them as a person. When you’re going to be surrounded by them for a year straight, you have to be able to deal with their personality traits. It doesn’t matter if they can play their ass off… if we can’t stand them, why bring them into the band?”

And now that that these alt.rock ex-pats have a few gigs (and part of Thirteenth Floor in White’s case) under their belt, how does it feel?

“I think Jeordie already proved himself with what he added to the recording. He’s fallen into APC’s not-so-Marilyn Manson life quite well. James… well, he had to learn so much dense material so quickly, we couldn’t help but be impressed. They’ve already injected some fresh life into things.”

At this point, White and Iha begin an impromptu jig around Keenan at the other end of the tour bus. White’s hands flail madly about as Iha sports a lovely newspaper pirate hat. Howerdel and drummer Josh Freese are lost in laughter.

“Yeah, I think they’re going to add something special… and certainly keep us on our toes.”

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