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Interview with Billy Howerdel
ASHES dIVIDE Billy Howerdel Talks to

					Billy Howerdel

Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: April 2008

Brian Rademacher: Let’s start with getting into your past before heading to your new project ASHES dIVIDE.

Since you grew up in West Milford, NJ, do you remember Jungle Habitat?

Billy Howerdel: Too well, too well. Famous high school party spot. It was an abandoned zoo that came to funk in the 70s and by the time I went to school, the Tiki Hut became the famous party stomping grounds with hundreds of beer cans forming pyramids in various locations around the grounds.

Brian Rademacher: As a child, did you have anything taped to your walls in your room?

Billy Howerdel: There was ELVIS COSTELLO album covers lining my entire ceiling of my incredibly small bedroom. There was a CURE poster that was on the back of my door that would scare my grandmother every time she would stay over. I remember her screaming the first time the door closed. There was also eye-blinding wallpaper that I changed out right before I went blind.

Brian Rademacher: Do you remember the first record you owned? Billy Howerdel

Billy Howerdel: The first record I bought was THE CARS first record, at the local grocery store.

Brian Rademacher: How about the first concert you attended?

Billy Howerdel: ELVIS COSTELLO at Ashbury Park.

Brian Rademacher: Stephen Porcello your high school teacher actually brought you to New York to pick out your first guitar and what guitar was that and why did you happen to pick that particular one?

Billy Howerdel: A Fender Telecaster Squire, which is the cheaper model. It was all I could afford at the time. It was the biggest bang for the buck. It was the best guitar I could afford and seemed like a safe choice.

Brian Rademacher: You spent sometime in New Jersey as a guitar tech for club bands. Could you tell us some of those bands?

Billy Howerdel: A band called “CATS”, they were a cover band that did some originals, and then just some peripheral bands to them that came around, when I worked as a stage hand at the Stone Pony at Ashbury Park.

Brian Rademacher: As you matured as a tech you stared working with some great bands FAITH NO MORE, FISHBONE, David Bowie, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, NIN, QUEEN, and GUNS N' ROSES. Can you give us any special moments with any of these seven bands?

Billy Howerdel: never worked for QUEEN, there is some weird thing going around now about that. There was a point in the NIN shows when a screen came down that projected a movie for nine minutes or so, and while that screen was loading the band was resetting from the destruction that frequently happened. One night Trent was lying on the ground in a pool of shredded shrapnel and as I heard the count coming down, and I heard 15 more seconds, and I’m counting it off to him. And then I said, “Come on man get up! What, do you want me to play this?” and he said “yeah!” and then I wound up playing for him until he could muster up the energy to get up and start singing which was about a minute later. It actually went well and then he invited me to do it again for the next twelve shows or so. And that turned out to be the highlight of my teching career.

Brian Rademacher: Then you worked as a tech for TOOL? What was that experience working with them?

Billy Howerdel: I started working for them after I became friends with them all. So it was kind of strange in that it was less formal, it was more like family. The recording rig that I brought with me was not typical, I don’t think I could take those liberties on a normal job, but it afforded me the luxury to record a lot of ideas. I just sat with headphones on in the corner and recorded. It was nice to feed off the energy of the recording sessions. A lot of the songs I recorded back then have made it onto A PERFECT CIRCLE and ASHES dIVIDE records.

Brian Rademacher: You became close with Maynard and he gave you advice. What is your impression of Maynard on and offstage?

Billy Howerdel: To some extent, a lot of great musicians are musicians on one side of their brain and performers on the other. Maynard struck a very successful balance with those two sides. He has a great work ethic and is a very hard worker, and is still very compelling and interesting both creatively and in entertainment (live shows).

Brian Rademacher: In 1999, you formed A PERFECT CIRCLE, how much of a difference as a frontman is Maynard from TOOL to A PERFECT CIRCLE?

Billy Howerdel: When we started doing shows with the raw songs in ’99 for A PERFECT CIRCLE, it was more just playing songs and then we had to figure out what A PERFECT CIRCLE was going to be. Then Maynard needed to figure out who he was going to be on stage, and how to differentiate projects. I think he pulled it off, and he usually has bold ideas that scare people when first revealing his ideas, and then by the end things work themselves out and he usually makes good choices. I think in the same thing kind of happened for me with ASHES dIVIDE, trying to figure out who I was going to be with this band and who I was going to be as the singer, what my point of view was going to be and come to the surface for this project. It took a little soul searching to figure that out.

Brian Rademacher: You did some music for video games in the past; do you plan on working on others?

Billy Howerdel: I may if I get time. It was an interesting process; I think it’s good to step out of the norm. I talked to one of the guys from Sony that I was working with about doing something a little more cinematic, something that you would expect me to do, but I think that will be a bigger undertaking than time is going to allow for right now.

Brian Rademacher: Up to now, have there been any disappointments in your life?

Billy Howerdel: Yes.

Brian Rademacher: After A PERFECT CIRCLE were there any artists or bands that asked you to join them?

Billy Howerdel: I heard third-hand that I was asked to join Chris Cornell’s touring band.

Brian Rademacher: At what point were you thinking of doing ASHES dIVIDE?

Billy Howerdel: In different forms, A PERFECT CIRCLE originally might have been the framework for ASHES dIVIDE, but I was lucky enough to recruit Maynard for A PERFECT CIRCLE. So really, the idea for ASHES dIVIDE came back in 2003, when we were on the road for “Thirteen Steps” and I really started thinking about what my next move was going to be after the tour.

Brian Rademacher: Listening to the two tracks on your MySpace they are of a completely different direction. “The Stone” is more of a smooth alternative style when “The Enemies” sound more of a British style. Is the new release that diverse? “By the way I loved both tracks”.

Billy Howerdel: I think it gets a little more diverse than that on the record. With that said, I worked hard to keep this as a collection of 11 songs that made sense and that was a truly an album from start to finish. There were keystone songs that wereASHES dIVIDE written that kind of anchored spots in the record, and things were written around them, to help the sequence flow. I have never had the flexibility to do that in the past. I have always written the best songs I could but never really got to work a record from front to back and then have every song turn out to be appropriate for coming out of or going into the next song.

Brian Rademacher: Are there any tracks that you think fans will be a little surprised at?

Billy Howerdel: When I play the record to people, usually with a few songs they are surprised and some said, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that”. There could be many surprises for people on this record.

Brian Rademacher: Will you tour with the new release?

Billy Howerdel: Yes, our tour is ready to kick off on May 9th.

Brian Rademacher: On your MySpace again why would you go and cover the beautiful women’s lower half on that press photo?

Billy Howerdel: Who said it’s a woman?

Brian Rademacher: The new video The Stone, did you enjoy filming that and were there any special experience doing it?

Billy Howerdel: It was quick and painful. It was against a green screen in Hollywood, except for the last shot of the video.

Brian Rademacher: Are you working on anything else at this time?

Billy Howerdel: 100% of my focus musically is on ASHES dIVIDE.

Brian Rademacher: What are your feelings about the current state of the music business?

Billy Howerdel: I think everyone who wants to make an impact in music today has to work very hard and be very creative and never stop thinking about what tomorrow can bring music. I think I am lucky enough to partner up with Island Records, who is being very gracious and giving a lot of attention and focus onto this project and it hasn’t even been released yet. I feel very fortunate.

Brian Rademacher: What are your feelings about the current state of the world?

Billy Howerdel: I think one’s perception of the world can grow and shrink in a matter of days, and right now my world is very small.

Brian Rademacher: With the presidential electing coming this year, do you feel that whatever president we get in office will make a difference?

Billy Howerdel: Yes.

Brian Rademacher: Do you believe there is a God and a Satan?

Billy Howerdel: There is someone for everyone.

Brian Rademacher: If you could make a donation to any cause, what would that be?

Billy Howerdel: MS.

Brian Rademacher: If you could change anything in the world what would that be?

Billy Howerdel: Parking meters.

Brian Rademacher: I you had a dream come true what would that be?

Billy Howerdel: World peace, Awww.

Brian Rademacher: Billy it’s been fun. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?

Billy Howerdel: You covered everything. Thanks.


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