Billy Howerdel talks solo album and tour, A Perfect Circle debut at 30, gumption of Billie Eilish

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Billy Howerdel’s June 29 performance was to be at the Newport Music Hall but the show has now been moved to the A&R Music Bar. 

Billy Howerdel is renowned as chief composer and axman for A Perfect Circle, his partnership with legendary Tool singer and lyricist Maynard James Keenan. Their seminal 2000 debut album, “Mer de Noms,” was an instant success — shattering a record for the highest chart debut of a hard rock album in Billboard Top 200 history. In between subsequent top five albums for A Perfect Circle, Billy launched another successful outfit in Ashes Divide.

Today, Billy Howerdel is marking yet another milestone in his storied career: his debut album billed as a solo artist, “What Normal Was.” Lauded by critics, Billy is supporting the album with his very first solo headlining tour, backed by an eclectic array of musicians – including “What Normal Was” co-producer Danny Lohner, of Nine Inch Nails, for whom A Perfect Circle famously opened on their Fragility Tour (and Howerdel worked as a guitar tech on their historic Downward Spiral Tour).

A moody, black and white promotional image for Billy Howerdel's album "What Normal Was."

WOUB PBS’s Ian Saint had an exclusive interview with Howerdel, ahead of his Ohio concert at the A&R Music Bar in Columbus on Wednesday, June 29.

Howerdel and Saint discussed a variety of topics from his present and past, including:
•The premise of “What Normal Was” exploring the start of Howerdel’s intrigue in music during his early teens; and how raising his children sparked this introspection
•How “What Normal Was” is a record that has long been percolating, but couldn’t have been made at the stage of his life he revisited; nor even during his rock star heights in the 2000s
•Why Billy ultimately decided to release the album and tour under his name for the very first time, after initially exploring the project as an Ashes Divide sophomore record
•Consciously deciding to feature female vocalists to sing on this record, a vision he had first considered for A Perfect Circle
•Assembling the members of his new live band from many different directions
•Tempering the pressures of ageism in rock ‘n’ roll, as his own first album premiered when he was 30 years old; and how accumulating experience from working as a tech for other bands throughout his 20s readied him for navigating the instant onset of A Perfect Circle fame
•Why Billy continues to embark on new endeavors, despite his high status from A Perfect Circle
• What Billy admires about Billie Eilish, and how her annual Time Capsule series for Vanity Fair inspires him
•The importance of being appreciated for being a good person in order to have a fulfilling life, even if specialty in a craft is what you’re famous for

Click Play on the YouTube video embedded beneath the headline, to stream the entire segment on-demand.

Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle is performing at the A&R Music Bar (391 Neil Avenue) in Columbus on Wednesday, June 29. For tickets, and Billy Howerdel’s full tour itinerary, visit his official website: