After a six-year hiatus, A Perfect Circle will reconvene in November for a West Coast theater tour. The long-awaited shows feature a surprise for hardcore fans: the band will play all three of their albums in their entirety in each city. “We’re going to do three nights in each city,” frontman Maynard James Keenan tells Rolling Stone. “We’re going to do Mer de Noms the first night, Thirteenth Step the second, and eMOTIVe the third night.”
Keenan says the band chose theaters because they aren’t counting on fans to return after a lengthy wait. “There’s no way we’re going to sell out arenas,” he says. “We haven’t been around for six years. We have to start over … These shows are going to be very small intimate theater gigs, basically just the five of us [in the band] trying to connect with each other.”
Keenan formed the band in 1999 with Billy Howerdel, a former roommate and Tool guitar tech, who co-wrote Mer de Noms, a Top Ten album, with him. After releasing the covers disc eMOTIVe in 2004, Keenan shifted his focus to his original band, Tool, and a new project, Puscifer. Howerdel, meanwhile, formed Ashes Divide. “I would’ve personally loved to have a new A Perfect Circle record come out every 24 months since we started,” says Howerdel. “But it’s not the nature of the way this thing was set up to begin with.”
A Perfect Circle’s 2010 lineup will feature Keenan, Howerdel, drummer Josh Freese, former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and bassist Matt McJunkins. Keenan says the live performances won’t necessarily be faithful to the band’s albums. “I don’t see how they could be,” he says. “When you add the different people in the mix, it should sound different.”
Keenan says he’s inviting former bandmates — bassists Paz Lenchantin and Jeordie White along with guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen — to stop by the shows: “I think some of the shows, depending on timing and depending on scheduling, we’ll have Paz and Troy and Jeordie pop down for a song or two.” Keenan and Howerdel both tell RS that they are working on new material, trading ideas over e-mail. The writing “never really stopped,” says Keenan. “We always had music bouncing back and forth, but [this] just seemed like the right time” to regroup.
Without a record label overseeing APC, Keenan says “it’s kind of a good time to take what I’ve learned with Puscifer as far as being independent – do a few songs at a time, build it slowly — possibly — back up to where it was. The hard part is not falling back into the old pattern of how we used to approach it.” “The clock is ticking,” Howerdel adds, “and we have intentions of playing a new song or two at these shows.”
Keenan hopes the band will continue touring after November. “Maybe not in this format,” he says. “It might be more like a regular several week tour, instead of it being the multiple-night album shows.”
The two have several other projects lined up. Howerdel hopes to record another Ashes Divide album soon, and Keenan is working on a DVD set for Puscifer: Season One, a DVD he describes as an Adult Swim-style series with “some studio [footage], some live, some animation all kind of mixed together.”
Tool fans: don’t expect a follow-up to 2006’s 10,000 Days any time soon. Keenan says he’s been too busy at his Arizona winery to give his other band much thought. “It’s kind of hard to consider any of that stuff when you’re combating the weather, pests, roadies and hippies,” he says.
Tour dates won’t be announced for another week, but A Perfect Circle’s fall schedule will include:
Phonenix, Arizona , Tempe Marquee Theatre (3 nights)
Los Angeles, the Avalon Ballroom (3 nights)
Seattle, Showbox at the Market (3 nights)
San Francisco, the Fillmore (3 nights)
Las Vegas, The Pearl (2 nights, not playing eMOTIVe)