|J.R. Griffin, Contributor
Tool Side-Project Band Enlists Former GNR Drummer
What is the connection between the two most-anticipated heavy rock albums of the year? 27-year-old drummer Josh Freese. Freese, who has been recording with Guns N' Roses for the band's long-awaited and lagging release, recently stepped down from that gig to help A Perfect Circle -- a new band featuring Maynard Keenan from Tool on vocals -- to take shape.
A Perfect Circle is made up of Keenan, Freese, guitarist and co-writer Billy Howerdel (who is Keenan's roommate and was a former Tool, Nine Inch Nails and GNR guitar tech), guitarist Paz Lenchantin (ex-Failure) and bassist Troy Van Leeuwen.
"We'd used to just get together once in while and just record on a weekend," said Freese who originally met Keenan on the Lollapalooza tour while he was drumming with Devo. "Then it became more of a consistent thing over the last six months. And now over the last three months, it's just been insane how quickly everything is moving. It went from being a side project to being something wrapped up in a huge bidding war."
Virgin Records hooked the band and has their debut album, Mer de Noms, scheduled for a May 23 release. The new album was written by Howerdel and Keenan, recorded and produced by Howerdel, and mixed by Howerdel and Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, U2). The first single, "Judith," is scheduled to appear on radio stations across America in April. With a proper Tool release still far off, fans are going to be quick to compare A Perfect Circle and Keenan's other band.
"I'm a huge Tool fan. I love Tool," said Freese. "But this thing is not as ferocious 100 percent of the time. I think it's a little more dynamic and a little more moody. We have a few rockers, too...Of course, it's going to be compared to Tool because Maynard has such a distinct voice. If you turn up any guitar really loud and have some cool drum beat behind it and have him sing, people are always going to compare it to Tool."
"We rehearsed in this place in North Hollywood about six months ago," continued Freese. "The guy that ran the place had no idea who the band was. When we were done, I was outside loading my drums and he said, 'Man you guys sound cool. I could hear you through the wall. That singer sounds like that guy from Tool. He's got his thing down.' If he only knew."
As for any comment on GNR, Freese, as many who are (and were) involved with the project are tight-lipped. "The only thing I can say about that is for the time being is that I'm not working with them," he said. "When they finish the record and when it comes time to tour we've kind of left the door open, where if they feel like calling me, and if they still want me involved, I'm going to do it with them. "The Guns N' Roses album's impending release date and tour are both still up in the air, but Freese can probably handle the double duty should the need arise. Not only is he the primary drummer for the SoCal punk band, The Vandals, he has also recorded with Chris Cornell, Tracy Bonham and Devo but has his own solo album coming out later this spring. For now, Freese and the A Perfect Circle crew will be busy preparing for the release of the album and then opening for Nine Inch Nails on the following dates: