Even though his robust and imaginative playing has been the dominant musical force behind the moody and metaphysical sound of A Perfect Circle, earlier this year guitarist Billy Howerdel decided that it was time to take a few lessons.
"I know guys who can just play you anything you want to hear," Howerdel says. "So I thought, 'Hey, I should be able to sit down and at least play a song on the guitar.’ I’m just not good at that. I mean, I can play Love Cats by The Cure, but once you get into learning arrangements and things like that, I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ That's OK. I have my strengths, I guess."
That he does. Howerdel's intense, squalling guitar figures are front and center on two new APC releases, the greatest hits package Three Sixty and the sprawling live set A Perfect Circle Live: Featuring Stone And Echo. Howerdel sat down with MusicRadar recently to talk about both sets (including the new song By And Down, featured on Three Sixty), his plans for future Perfect Circle and Ashes Divide music, and what it was like to guitar tech for Nine Inch Nails.
You're originally from New Jersey. Were you a part of the "Jersey scene"? Did you play clubs like the Stone Pony?
“I worked for bands that were part of the scene. Before Perfect Circle, I only played three shows in my life. When I first picked up the guitar, after about six months, my two friends and I played a high school party. Our next gig was at some frat house, and then we played at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, which is a place I had worked.
“I graduated high school and started doing lighting for bands and corporate events, plays and things in New York and Jersey. So I didn’t play that much at all, but I certainly worked the scene – that I knew. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I was everywhere.”