A Perfect Circle Proves More Than Side Project
By Doug Pullen

Bassist Jeordie White knows a thing or two about enigmatic frontmen. Before joining art rockers A Perfect Circle two years ago, White toiled for nearly a dozen years as bassist for shock rocker Marilyn Manson.

"This band's a little more serious, as opposed to a lot of tongue-and-cheek stuff with Manson. You didn't have to take yourself too seriously. If you messed up, you didn't worry about it," says White, known as Twiggy Ramirez during his 11-year run with Manson.

"Manson," he adds, "was like a porno movie. This is like sci-fi. They're both equally enjoyable."

Going from the over-the-top theatrics of Manson to the brooding, cerebral musings of APC frontman Maynard James Keenan isn't so much a creative leap. It's the personalities and the egos of the frontmen that are so different, White says.

"Usually, they want the spotlight. Everything is me, me, me. Every picture is me. Every album is me. Every T-shirt is me," White says. "Maynard is the complete opposite. It makes you want to look at him even more. You've got to respect him for it. It gives him a sense of mystery."

There's nothing mysterious about the success of A Perfect Circle, a group perceived as a Tool side project when its debut album, "Mers de Noms," came out in 2000. APC sprouted from a collaboration between Michigan native Keenan and guitarist Billy Howerdel.

But its sound is like nothing else that's out there today. APC has taken on a life of its own. It doesn't rely on radio or MTV exposure. Its debut album, which provided a moodier, more melodic contrast to Tool's aggressively dense metal, sold more than 1 million copies largely on the strength of word-of-mouth, rave reviews and the band's performances both as an opening act (for Nine Inch Nails) and a headliner.

"Maynard has a responsibility to keep it alive for the fans, himself and for us, so it's grown into, I suppose, a real band from his perspective, working in two different bands," White says. "It's like another child, you can't really neglect it. They're both equal bands."

APC remade itself over the past two years. White joined at the invitation of journeyman drummer Josh Freese. Former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha joined last July, just before the new lineup's debut on last summer's Lollapalooza tour.

"The Thirteenth Step," released last September, has sold more than 700,000 copies and appears well on its way to the million mark. Its dozen songs veer from spasmodic to beautiful, and the lyrics are less cryptic than Tool's.

White, whose Web site is, likes the way things worked out.

"I don't think I could've joined a better band (than APC), to be honest," he says.

"It's very well respected."