A PERFECT CIRCLE guitarist Billy Howerdel says that the band's upcoming album contains "some of the best songs we've ever done."
A week ago, A PERFECT CIRCLE released a new tune called "The Doomed". Aside from a sole studio track, "By And Down", released in 2013, and two new songs debuted on its tour last spring — "Feathers" and "Hourglass" — this is the first new studio recording from APC since 2004. The band also announced that it was in the studio working with producer Dave Sardy on the follow-up to 2004's "eMOTIVe" album.
Speaking to Cutter of Razor 94.7 at this past weekend's Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California, Howerdel stated about A PERFECT CIRCLE's decision to return to the studio (hear audio below): "There was a couple of false starts, but there's a lot of moving parts in our schedules — [singer] Maynard's [James Keenan] schedule in particular — so this seemed to be the time it worked out. And that being said, there's many other factors that play into it. But there was something that needed to be said and we have a lot, musically, to say right now."
Howerdel also talked in more detail about A PERFECT CIRCLE's songwriting process, saying: "Typically, I'll start an idea at home, kind of in isolation, and just kind of work on it until I don't hate it anymore. And then send it over to Maynard, see if he finds anything compelling about it. He'll kind of say 'yay' or 'nay' and find something he latches on to. And he'll throw down a scat vocal — syllables and a vocal melody idea, and it helps me move the song forward from there. And then if it's enough, then he starts working on lyrics, so he does all the lyrics and melodies and orchestrates the backups and all that. And then I concentrate on making the music. So that's kind of the back-and-forth conversation that we have musically."
According to Billy, "ninety-nine percent of the time," the music comes first "and [Maynard's] kind of responding to the music. And it's great." Howerdel admitted that this time around, "We're working less physically together, physically in the same room, but I have more input from him than ever, which is nice. It's also challenging when you're trying… It's easy when you do your own thing, but it's also nice to have some collaboration as far as, like, [when you have] a macro idea to go from, and then sometimes it's detail. So it's been an interesting process."
Howerdel, who helmed all of A PERFECT CIRCLE's previous albums, explained his decision to enlist an outside producer for the new disc. "I wanted to bring a producer on in this record, just to take the musician's role more than the engineer-slash-producer-slash, you know, looking at budgets and the whole thing," he said. "And it let me, I think, hone in and see a twenty-thousand-foot view of these songs in a way that I've not been able to do in the past."
As for how "The Doomed" came together, Billy said: "It started as a little… as a film-score kind of motif, like a little piece that I was putting into a bank of songs, or a bank of little cues to have possibly [used] in a film score. I just scored my first movie last year, and that was an undertaking. So this cue wasn't in the movie, but I was sort of thinking about it for it. And I put it in this folder for Maynard to listen to, amongst other real songs, as just a color to choose from to let him know where I was musically at this moment. You know, 'This is what we could go towards if wanna pull on any of these colors.' He seemed to like it, wanted me to flush it out into a song. I gave him a song like a day and a half later. He responded strongly with a really great melody. Pretty much the song you hear now was… the notes were written the next day. So sometimes it happens really fast. 'Judith' was another song like that, where that song, for me, I wrote that song in one night. 'Cause I was late to go somewhere, and that's usually what happens. I missed the party I was supposed to go to, but it's, like, when there's something pressing, unfortunately, that's when the good ideas come —when I have to be an asshole and not go to the thing I'm supposed to go to. So that's what happened there. This one was just a strong reaction from him that made me inspired to keep going."
A PERFECT CIRCLE's upcoming album will be the band's first for BMG after releasing its previous three records through Virgin.
A PERFECT CIRCLE's three previous albums are 2000's "Mer De Noms", 2003's "Thirteenth Step" and 2004's covers collection "eMOTIVe".
Howerdel is excited for fans to hear A PERFECT CIRCLE's next disc, telling Razor 94.7: "I've said this before, so I'm being a little redundant: I can talk you out of anything, really, and I can talk you out of listening to our music or anything I've ever done, but I would say this record is some of the best songs we've ever done, and certainly some of the favorite things I've ever heard Maynard sing."
A PERFECT CIRCLE completed its first full-length tour since 2011 earlier this year, and has just kicked off a fall run at Aftershock.