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A Perfect Circle is Billy Howerdel's baby, his passion project in the music industry.
Except the band hasn't toured since 2011 and hasn't released a studio album since 2004's "eMOTIVe" which was a covers album, at that.
Needless to say, the guitarist and songwriter and group founder has been itching to do more.
That time has come.
A Perfect Circle is finally back out on the road, doing a monthlong run of shows, including this Saturday at the Maverik Center in West Valley City. All those concerts will feature at least one new song, some in the very near future will get a second, and those near the end could get as many as four. And there will be more new music to follow in the coming months, with Howerdel promising a new album possibly by this November, but next spring at the latest.
He understands fans' disappointment at the band's lack of more frequent activity, considering he shares it. But he's also made his peace with it, considering it's the cost of maintaining Tool's Maynard James Keenan as APC's frontman.
"Sure. Yeah. I'd like to do it more, I'd like to … I mean, in a perfect world for me, I would make an album, tour, take a break, make an album, tour. But there's costs to that, too," Howerdel said in a phone interview. "There's a benefit to having an appetite out there when we haven't been out in a while, and it makes us approach things a little differently. It's just like saying, 'Would you like to eat something delicious every day?' You'd be like, 'Yeah, of course,' but if you don't, you're really going to appreciate it when you get it."
Howerdel said he's been working on a new batch of music and "started peppering [Keenan] with songs as early as, I'd say, maybe 2010." APC released a single a year later, "By and Down."
But he acknowledges it's been difficult to make significant progress on new music, let alone to go out on the road, given the singer's various commitments.
"I've always been there, ready for Maynard to get a window in his schedule. The bottom line is, if you know anything about him, then you'll know that … many things take his attention. He's owns a winery, he's also a father and a husband, he's got three bands," Howerdel noted. "Finding that window to put a tour together is not something you can do in a whim or just do on a month's notice. You need planning, you need notice a year in advance to start chipping away at the schedule."
Howerdel is used to the process at this point that 2011 tour was actually in support of that 2004 album, after all.
But it's been a fact of life since A Perfect Circle's inception. In fact, it's the reason he didn't initially believe APC would exist in this incarnation at all.
After starting in the music business by doing show lighting for small bands around New York and New Jersey, Howerdel graduated to the position of guitar tech and worked for a Who's Who of 1990s rock bands, including Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, Fishbone and, of some consequence, Tool.
As the story goes, once he got the itch to form his own group, he started composing songs. Keenan heard about them and asked to hear them, and he came away sufficiently impressed to offer up his services as vocalist should the guitarist get his project going.
Howerdel didn't really believe him.
"I didn't think a whole lot of it I took it as an elaborate compliment," he recalled. "I thought, him being in Tool, it just didn't seem feasible, or any time for that to happen."
But it did. APC's debut album, "Mer de Noms," came out in 2000. Keenan's return to Tool and lineup changes resulting from other band members' impatience with the situation pushed the sophomore effort, "Thirteenth Step," back to 2003. Then "eMOTIVe," which included off-kilter covers of John Lennon's "Imagine," Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," and "When the Levee Breaks," a Memphis Minnie track made famous by Led Zeppelin, followed shortly thereafter.
Then … years and years of nothing.
Howerdel knows it's an unusual situation, but considering he willingly spent a decade in the business happy to be a guitar tech for a band rather than a guitar player in one, unusual situations are not really all that unusual for him.
And it's not as if he's been sitting around, staring at his phone, waiting for Keenan to call. He's had his own side project, Ashes Divide. He just scored the soundtrack for and acted in an indie movie made by some friends of his. He also drives his kids to and from school.
And in between, he's writing always writing.
"We have a good batch of material under way that I'm feeling good about. It's been a solitary process up until very recently," he said. "It's an interesting thing sitting with these songs in their infancy and you're the only one who really knows them or hears them, and then all of a sudden you're releasing them into the world for the band to hear and to get their interpretation on, and Maynard's interpretation. It's a wild process."
Because APC doesn't have a new album ready to promote, doing this tour now came down to Howerdel simply wanting to get the band and its good batch of new material into the world for the fans to hear.
"This was just a way to get out there and play again and try out some of these new songs. A big part of doing this four-week run is to try to feel out some material in a live sense," he said. "I go back and forth between the process of just presenting the audience or fans with what they're gonna hear or including them in the process of discovery, and that's kinda what we're doing with these songs."
And, as he and audiences will undoubtedly agree, it's about time.
When • Saturday, doors at 7 p.m., show at 8
Where • Maverik Center, 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City
Tickets • $50-$65; Smith's Tix