A Perfect Circle founder and guitar player Billy Howerdel spent a recent day off from the ongoing tour and soaked up some sun with fellow guitarist James Iha. The guys got up about noon, rented bicycles and went out for “some vitamin D” in Austin, Texas.
Howerdel said he also took some time to reflect on his gratitude for the open road and the fans who allow him to do what he loves for a living.
The band hasn’t released a full-length album since 2004’s “Emotive,” and that was a cover album, but Howerdel says he’s optimistic A Perfect Circle will debut a new release within 12 months. Last month, A Perfect Circle announced a new recording deal with BMG Music.
These things take time. And art for its own sake isn’t something any of the band members are willing to do though fans have been eager to news of a new album.
“You can’t say, ‘hurry up, create’,” Howerdel says. “It’s like performing in the bedroom. For the most part intimacy and true emotion come from a natural place and you can’t force it. It has to come from chemistry and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
And while the band - which along with Howerdel and Iha includes Maynard James Keenan, Jeff Friedl and Matt McJunkins - hadn’t been together since the 2011 tour, Howerdel hasn’t been idle.
He recently finished scoring music for a film about a drifter who alters the course of a struggling married couple. “D-Love” is making its way through the independent film circuit and Howerdel said he will attend the Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival in June, after A Perfect Circle wraps its tour on May 7 (the band will play Verizon Amphitheatre in Alpharetta on May 2).
The score for a film was a project Howerdel said he’d wanted to tackle since the “Mer de Noms” debut, from which songs were submitted for a science fiction television show. “But that never came to fruition,” he said.
Though director Elena Beuca and Howerdel are close, he said the writing project was much different than what he’s done in isolation.
“Synching music to picture – with deadline is scary,” Howerdel said. “She and I sat and hashed out what needed to be communicated emotionally and I don’t do that as much with APC – it’s in isolation.”
He described it as an exercise that worked a different set of muscles and forced him to face hard deadlines.
Howerdel admitted they missed the chance to enter the Sundance Film Festival because he wasn’t yet happy with his work, but he doesn’t consider himself a perfectionist.
Rather, in creating music, Howerdel searches for that perfect chemistry and opportunity to include “happy mistakes into the art.”
Letting go can be tough and accepting something is finished creates a certain anxiety, but a welcomed one.
“If you can work on something a long time and still feel butterflies that’s the mark I go for,” Howerdel said. “I understand letting go and into the world but once you do, you have to be happy with it.”
Of the material he’s been developing, Howerdel said it’s a big departure from the first record and is influenced by a more Depeche Mode, electronic and “dance-y” sound like material from the late '70s and '80s.
Three songs that Howerdel considers some of the better ones he’s written are in the pile, but he isn’t sure if they’d fit more with his solo work with Ashes Divide or A Perfect Circle. Part of that will depend on where singer and band co-founder Maynard James Keenan is.
“When creativity hits quick, the meat of something is present immediately,” Howerdel said.
With “By and Down,” which Howerdel starting writing about 2009 and A Perfect Circle played on tour the last tour, Maynard felt his way through the music and put down lyrics.
On the current tour, A Perfect Circle is testing two new songs, “Hourglass” and “Feathers.”
“I can see heads bobbing, eyes closing and tuning out,” Howerdel said.
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