Bassist White Happily Sheds Dress For Circle
By David Glessner

For a guy who spent a decade dressed like a left-for-dead rag doll, Jeordie White will look unusually normal this Halloween.

Once known as Twiggy Ramirez, Marilyn Manson's former bass player now answers to his real name while lending his skills to the all-star, alt-metal band A Perfect Circle.

"I don't know too many other bands I would have joined," he said from Los Angeles. "It's good music and the people involved were friends and peers. People that were fans of Marilyn Manson and knew who I was wouldn't think this was too far of a stretch."

Contrary to Manson's visual violence and hammering heavy metal, APC toils in a shadowy aesthetic and haunting musical majesty. Led by Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan, the revamped APC worms into the collective psyche assembled at Freeman Coliseum tonight [basetendencies.comadmin note: show takes place 10/31]in support of the soon-to-be-platinum second album, "Thirteenth Step." The album's first single, "Weak and Powerless," is already a radio mainstay.

APC's current lineup includes former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, journeyman drummer extraordinaire Josh Freese and founding mastermind guitarist Billy Howerdel. Howerdel and Keenan had "Thirteenth Step" well under way when the lineup responsible for the band's debut album, "Mer De Noms," departed for the ranks of Queens of the Stone Age and Billy Corgan's post-Pumpkins band Zwan.

"They were looking for a bass player," White recalls. "I was friends with them and we got together a couple times and it worked out for both of us. I wasn't really looking to get back into a band at the time. I was really just sort of looking toward doing my own material. They probably had most of the songs already. We worked on a couple together, like 'The Package' and a song called 'Pet.' I played almost all the bass on the record."

On the strength of earlier hits "Judith" and "Three Libras," APC garnered an immediate cult audience a few years ago that ultimately bought more than a million copies of "Mer De Noms." Having Keenan at the forefront certainly didn't hurt, as his full-time band, Tool, is one of the most popular, respected and artistic bands of its time. As such, it keeps APC on the back burner and in a constant state of flux.

"I think it would be really unfortunate if this band as it is now doesn't put out a record," White says. "I think everyone agrees it's a great band and we'd like to capture that. We might have to wait another year and a half until we do a project because, primarily, Maynard has to go back to Tool."

Keenan is widely praised as that rare musical visionary who walks a fine line between artist and weirdo. Having recently escaped from the heavy hand of Manson, it seems reasonable to question White's motives for aligning himself with another eccentric.

"That's a good question," White says. "They're two complete polar opposites, I think, in a lot of ways. I think they're both great artists. Manson likes a lot of attention and draws a lot of attention to himself as far as being a pop star or whatever. With Maynard, he hides in the back of the stage and performs kind of silhouetted.

"If Marilyn Manson was a movie, he'd be 'Friday the 13th,' where it's in-your-face gore as opposed to a movie like 'Alien' where you can't see the monster and the less you see, the more mysterious it is. That's how I describe those two guys."

On the topic of his departure from the Manson family, White says there are no hard feelings.

"Some people grow up and some people grow in a different direction," he says. "I think we kind of grew out of each other. For me personally, it started to become a job and not something that I loved. But I'm very proud of what I did with that band and I would probably do another record with them if the opportunity came up.

"I think we both have respect for each other and are almost kind of scared of each other. It was really hard for both of us (to split). If we would have just said, 'Let's take a break from this for a while, because this sucks right now,' it would have made more sense. But you get business involved in it and you have contracts and tours and all this other stuff, it becomes a drag."

Speaking of drag, White is barely familiar minus the tattered baby-doll dress and smeared lipstick he wore as a Manson member. The wardrobe and name change are not so much a transformation as a reversion, he says.

"Jeordie's my real name," he says. "I wasn't trying to pull a pretentious Prince move or something like that. It just seemed silly to appear on A Perfect Circle record and use this character or stage name that I had made up.