Is A Perfect Circle really just Tool-lite? Many rock fans have hastily labeled this band as such. However, A Perfect Circle’s first album, Mer de Noms, is certainly unlike anything from Tool. It’s a totally new style, often sweeping and melodic, exemplified in the achingly beautiful song “3 Libras.”
The band’s new album, Thirteenth Step, is heavier than its predecessor, musically as well as lyrically. It’s closer to the Tool-lite moniker than Mer de Noms is, but still has its own unique style. A better label for this venture might be A Perfect Circle-heavy.
With the track “Pet” this style works very well on Thirteenth Step. APC singer Maynard James Keenan begins the song delicately, showing off his range of emotions as a vocalist. Then the mood is like a rug pulled from under the listener’s feet by thrashing guitars and the creepy refrain “Count the bodies like sheep/ To the rhythm of the war drums.” Nothing is ever as it seems in Maynard-land.
The comparison of APC to Tool is inevitable. Keenan’s reputation as Tool’s front man supersedes him.
He is a similar performer with APC as with Tool. For this tour, Keenan will be singing inside a raised cage for part of the concert. He is known for his stage antics, sometimes entertaining the audience and other times just shocking them.
However, Keenan isn’t the only creative force behind APC, which explains why the band is different from Tool. APC is the brainchild of Billy Howerdel, former guitar tech for bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and Guns ‘n’ Roses.
Howerdel, encouraged by former roommate Keenan, formed a band of his own and recorded an album from a backlog of songs. Howerdel took charge during the recording of Mer de Noms, but Thirteenth Step is a collaboration between Keenan and Howerdel — a fusion of their styles.
There have been several line-up changes to APC. According to a joke by Keenan and Howerdel, former APC bassist and violinist Paz Lenchantin followed a Billy Corgan onto the wrong tour bus when she left APC to join the short-lived band Zwan.
Guitarist Troy van Leeuwen also jumped ship shortly after the beginning of recording for Thirteenth Step.
However, the newest crop of talent to join APC, Jeordie White and James Iha, helped the band evolve into a formidable hard-rock powerhouse and ensure a diverse audience interested in seeing them live.
Before his stint as APC’s bassist, White was known as Twiggy Ramirez, the makeup-clad bassist for Marilyn Manson. Iha is known as the funny, stylish guitarist from the now-defunct Smashing Pumpkins. Both Iha and White were used to playing different types of music, but they adapted to APC’s challenging hard rock at lightning speed.
APC will perform songs from its new album on this tour, but they will also play songs from Mer de Noms, including “Judith” and “3 Libras,” ensuring that fans of the new album and old album alike will enjoy the show.
A Perfect Circle plays Friday at 8 p.m. at the USF Sun Dome. Tickets are $28.50.