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14 years after the release of “eMOTIVe”, A Perfect Circle is back with a surprising new record “Eat The Elephant”. We had the chance to meet Billy Howerdel in Paris for an interview as deep as this new record.

Hi Billy! Welcome back in Paris. How are you?

Billy Howerdel (guitar): I’m tired! I’ve been in Europe for 6 days now and all I did is doing press and eating room-service (laughs). But I’m good. I’m flying all around the world to talk about a record I’m really proud of so, things could be worse!

In the same time, after 14 years without any studio album, you have to mark the occasion! How do you feel about being back after all this time?

Billy: It’s like we were never really gone. We’ve done some touring in 2011, 2012, 2013, a few shows in 2014 too. But yeah, for new music, we released “The Doomed” only last year so yes, it was a long overdue for a record but, jumping into it felt really familiar. In some ways, we didn’t work with familiar ways. Like I wanted to work with another producer to see if we can explore many other ways to make our music. But, for the most, the process is almost the same as always. I write some sketches, send them to Maynard and see how he feels about them and then we work on it, or not.

Did you kept this process for 14 years or “Eat The Elephant” was written during a particular period?

Billy: We really started last year in January. The making of this album was mostly last year but, during that time we went on tour two times. So it took between 3 and 6 months last year to make the album. But, those 14 years since “eMOTIVe” have contribute to who we are as person and how we are making music. So in way, it took 14 years in the making of this record.

So it’s not like a patchwork of different ideas born during those years?

Billy: Some sketches are pretty old now but, the thing is that we, Maynard and I, have to be involved at the same level to make a record. And this connection happened in 2017, even if during 14 years, we did tried to work on some ideas at a moment or an other. Except for “By And Down The River” who were written years ago.

It’s easy to see that the link between you and Maynard is the main support of this band. Which one of you said the first to the other “OK, let’s do this record now”?

Billy: Maynard. His availability was the thing that determined when we’re gonna make the record. He’s got 3 bands, he’s got a winery, he’s got a family. So that’s a lot of things to consider before we can get into it.

On your side, how do you manage the different projects you’re working on? How do you assign your different ideas to your different projects?

Billy: I used to put all of my ideas in a huge folder and, sometimes, I play some songs to my friends or family and goes: “what do you think of that? what pile do you think it should go?”. And it doesn’t mean I’m gonna put that song in that pile. But I find interesting to hear people’s feedback. Because I usually play songs that aren’t done. But for this record especially, all of the songs were Maynard’s choice, because we have to see if he is interested and inspired by those ones. So I try to give him the best ideas I can have.

Isn’t that frustrating to wait for Maynard during all these years to make this new record?

Billy: Yeah, it can be frustrating for sure but it’s something I knew from the beginning in 99 when we talked about doing this project. I knew he had Tool, the band that he comes from, so that’s gonna be when time allowed. So yeah, I can say it’s something very frustrating but it’s something I’m very aware of. It’s like living in a house but you want to live in a bigger house. You have to find a new job and save money to have this new house. It’s one of those expectations that doesn’t drive me crazy necessarily but if it was all on my choice, it would be make record campaign, do a tour, have a break for 6 months and get back into it.



It feels like Maynard is a strange road companion. How did you built this relationship between you and him?

Billy: I think the friendship came first. It’s like in any good match, the friendship came first. And then the trust and the common interest. I think comedy was the first think we connected on first. It’s the thing you need when you sit with someone and you don’t have a thing clearly explained but there’s an understanding. That was the beginning. And musically we were connected on some same things, and some not. So I think it was a good land. And from there, it’s easy to fall into.

When we’re listening to the new album, it’s not so surprising that it took 14 years to be released. What did influenced you?

Billy: It’s weird to say but it’s just life experience. It gets easier and easier to make music for everybody. Technology makes it easier. Even listening music that we always listened to. Earring Pink Floyd today, earring Missing Persons today means a little different than it did at the very beginning. I can kind of deconstruct it. It’s also a dangerous part because you can start to get where the specialness is. But I try to stay focus mentally, I’m not like: “OK, now I can do this more efficiently”. That’s why I also wanted to bring another person in the process. Musically I have been influenced by many things. Many things from the past but also many newer bands like The Horrors or Fever Ray.

You produced the firsts three records of A Perfect Circle but for this one you wanted to work with someone else. Why this choice?

Billy: I wanted to try something new. I wanted to be more a musician than a producer. I preferred to direct things from my heart than from a computer. And see how that translation works. You might get a different result, even if you have the same goal, when you take your hands off the control.

These days now, huge bands tend to produce their own music, especially because it became easier like you said. You are taking the opposite direction.

Billy: I used to make my own records but that was because I was too nervous to present my music to another person. I didn’t know if I can communicate the right way my ideas for my music. And, another big part of working with a producer is, for the first time we had a record deal with BMG so we had more money to do this record. It was nice to have the freedom to hire someone to help us for this project.

How was to have a record budget? Some bands are a bit lost when they have money. It’s like they don’t know how to manage it so they’re losing the aim of their music.

Billy: The reason why I worked for other bands for a long time was to learn what to do and what not to do. I saw that happened for a lot of bands. Bigger bands have a lot of money all the time. So I learned how not to be blurred by this. And Maynard is really good with deadlines, and schedule. So it makes it easier because when you don’t have too much time, you have to stay straight. It’s like if someone has an epiphany, a death experience, he might approach the rest of his life in a different way. It’s an extreme example, but I meant that urgency helped us for this album.

You’re practicing meditation. Does it help you through your music?

Billy: It helps with everything. Everything in life. Everyday. It helps how I see the world, how I know myself. Sometimes you feel like you’re a computer on the edge of crashing. I feel like meditation is a reset. It can help you to focus on what’s important.

We know that A Perfect Circle is a band that can be engaged or political, in ways. But, we felt like this album especially is more virulent than the others. What’s happening in the world for the last years inspired you?

Billy: Yes. Again, every life experiences inspired us for this record during the last 14 years and even before. When you are a musician, it’s impossible not to react of what’s happening in the world around you.

Except if you’re Taylor Swift.

Billy: Yes (laughs)! But some other bands chose music as an escape and it’s great to have that choice. People could want to have an escape in the music they are listening to. And they could listen to heavy records too. It’s easy to ear that “Eat The Elephant” is a reaction of what’s going on in the world. It’s been very heavy years.



Even the artwork is very provocative and have a disturbing message we can relate to the world. Who came with this idea?

Billy: Maynard. It’s really his baby.

Are you talking a lot about the connection between music, artwork, album title, songs title…?

Billy: If one of us come with a strong idea about something, the other’s gonna listen to it and give it a chance to have a full place on the record. There is trust between us. He had a strong idea about this artwork and told me everything about the concept months ago. I tried to understand everything what is saying to me. I just said “OK”. He started the process of it and I just walked for the ride. For the lyrics, for the content of this album, he is compiling a big picture in his head. It makes sense for him.



To finish, as our website is called “RockUrLife”, what rocks your life Billy?

Billy: This schedule. (laughs) I have a family, it is very important to me. Having a family and doing this and still being excited after doing this all this time is a rocky road for sure.




Nathan Le Solliec