10 Key Songs From A Perfect Circle's Inner Circle

Maynard James Keenan
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images)

A confrontational supergroup fronted by Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan, A Perfect Circle have a refreshing approach: they don’t really care whether you take them or leave them. 

We tell their story in issue 248 of Classic Rock, and to whet your appetite here's 10 key songs from A Perfect Circle and beyond...

A Perfect Circle - The Hollow 

With its taut but restless rhythm and Keenan’s inimitable voice, the opening track on APC’s debut album could have been a stripped-down Tool. But Billy Howerdel’s shifting guitar cuts through the density, offering up moments of lightness that the mothership lacked. From Mer de Noms (2000)

A Perfect Circle - Judith

Keenan has addressed religion before, though not with quite so much bitter sarcasm as he does here. Inspired by his mother’s unshakeable faith even after her life had been ruined by a stroke, he couldn’t have made his anger clearer: ‘Fuck your God, your Lord and your Christ. From Mer de Noms (2000)

A Perfect Circle - Weak And Powerless

APC’s second album broadened their sonic palette, and never more so than on this intricate number, its rhythmic density alleviated by a complex, prog-like acoustic sheen. From The Thirteenth Step (2003)

A Perfect Circle - Imagine

eMOTIVE was a Bush-era protest album disguised as a covers record. Most startling was Imagine, which reimagined John Lennon’s hippie optimism as apocalyptic gothic drama with a large side order of irony. From eMOTIVE (2004)

A Perfect Circle - When The Levee Breaks

Another iconoclastic cover. Here they totally upended the old Memphis Minnie blues number made famous by Led Zeppelin, turning it into a barely recognisable dreamlike ballad. From Three Sixty (2013)

Tool - Lateralus

If Stinkfist is Tool at their pithiest, than Lateralus took it to the other extreme – a sometimes head-spinning nine-minute progmetal epic featuring multiple complex time signatures and a lyrical pattern based on the mathematical Fibonacci sequence. The yang to A Perfect Circle’s yin. From Lateralus (2001)

Tool - Stinkfist

Tool started out as a straightforward(ish) alt.metal band, but by the time of their second album they were warping their sound in strange new ways. This opening track was both direct and weird, and features one of the greatest build-and-release parts ever committed to record. From Ænima (1996)

Ashes Divide - Stripped Away

Howerdel wasn’t idle during APC’s 14-year hiatus. Ashes Divide was a solo project in all but name, and their sole album, 2008’s Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright, featured songs that could conceivably have been written for the guitarist’s other band. Howerdel has neither the voice nor the presence of Keenan, but that’s not really the point; this is his band and his alone. From Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright (2008)

Puscifer - Conditions Of My Parole

Keenan’s Puscifer started as a fictional band in an episode of 90s comedy programme Mr Show before taking on a life of its own. The singer describes it as “a playground for the various voices in my head”. The title track of their second album is uncharacteristically straightforward, and hence one of the most atypical things he’s ever recorded. From Conditions Of My Parole (2011)

A Perfect Circle - So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish 

APC’s new album busts the doors wide open stylistically, and never more so than on this. Musically it’s the closest they’ve ever come to writing a pop song, although lyrically, with its scabrous references to dead celebs, plastic surgery and mushroom clouds, it’s gloriously dark. From Eat The Elephant (2018)

Read more about A Perfect Circle in Classic Rock 248, on sale now at all good newsagents, or available directly from us.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.