Ex-Manson Bassist Finds Perfect Fit In "Circle"
By George Lang

His name is Jeordie Osbourne [sic] White, and until recently, few people had seen him perform without layers of death-doll makeup. Now, as the bassist for A Perfect Circle, arguably the most prestigious progressive-rock supergroup of the decade, White has removed the whiteface that he wore throughout the '90s as Twiggy Ramirez, Marilyn Manson's second-in-command.

"We don't send each other Christmas cards, but we don't dislike each other," White said of his former bandleader. "We just disagree on some things. It's just that for me, as a person, that chapter was closed. I didn't want to be 40 and still putting makeup on."

A Perfect Circle, which performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, began as a side project for Tool's charismatic lead singer, Maynard James Keenan. During an intense late-'90s legal battle with Tool's former label, Keenan partnered with guitarist/engineer Billy Howerdel to create a more melodic, ambient version of Tool's heavy prog-rock.

Howerdel and Keenan recruited Vandals/Guns 'N' Roses drummer Josh Freese, Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and bassist Paz Lenchantin for the band's first CD, 2000's "Mer de Noms," and the album eventually went platinum. However, before their latest CD, "Thirteenth Step," could be completed, A Perfect Circle became a revolving door.

Lenchantin left to join Billy Corgan's now-defunct band, Zwan, and, in something of a musical stock swap, Van Leeuwen departed and was replaced with Corgan's former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist, James Iha. Then, Freese called White into the studio to see if he would be an ideal Lenchantin replacement.

"I became friendly with Josh Freese, and he invited me to come down and play -- it worked out really well," White said. "I was a bit nervous at first, but a lot of practice makes things great. "Not to sound pretentious, but with age, you have the desire to be taken more seriously -- that definitely came into play. You know, it wasn't that I left Marilyn Manson to join A Perfect Circle. I left Marilyn Manson because it wasn't fun anymore. Now, in retrospect, playing this music and seeing things from a new perspective, it's nice to be taken seriously as a musician and not taken as a 'press baby,' so to speak."

White spent over a decade as that "press baby," following the former Brian Warner from one media controversy to another. As a band, Marilyn Manson enjoyed considerable success with its 1996 CD, "Antichrist Superstar," but came to depend on orchestrated mayhem to sustain that success. After 2000's "Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death," White left Marilyn Manson in search of new musical adventures.

"It was definitely not as challenging or as fun anymore, and I was looking for some new enlightenment. If you have job for a while and it gets boring, or if you're married for a long time, you fall out of love with it. So, putting something new into my life definitely helped fill that void," White said.

White did participate in Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme's side project, Desert Sessions, using his old stage name, but it did not last. He soon realized that the old moniker, which combined the runway name of Sixties model Leslie Hornby with that of Los Angeles serial killer Richard Ramirez, would not work in the more rarefied environment of A Perfect Circle.

"I didn't think it was appropriate to use the name 'Twiggy Ramirez' on A Perfect Circle's record," he said. "I definitely kind of alienated people by doing it, I think, because people don't know what to call me anymore, but Twiggy was a character that was involved in that music, and I just didn't think it would be right to carry that name over. But, it's worked out, and I almost have two different franchises now.

"The only problem with it is you start talking about yourself in the third person and you sound ridiculous."

"Thirteenth Step" received glowing reviews and is on the cusp of reaching the sales benchmark of "Mer de Noms." Now, A Perfect Circle is touring in support of a new single, "The Outsider," and will continue to tour through the spring. Then, White will return to work on an in-the-works solo album, one that he said will plumb some unexpected influences.

"I just have a bunch of good songs," he said. "I don't know what kind of sound I'm going to go for -- you can take a Coldplay song and make it sound like a Tool record, depending on the production. But, I was just going from where all the influences came from -- blues, Beatles, Bob Dylan. It doesn't necessarily sound like that, but I was trying to pull a little deeper from influences rather than just trying to sound like David Bowie or Ministry.

"I kind of learned that from being a 'Star Wars' fan," White said. "I read all the books that George Lucas read and watched all the movies that he watched and inspired 'Star Wars.' "It's interesting to follow the evolution of an idea."