ASHES dIVIDE is the brainchild of guitarist and producer Billy Howerdel. Music fans know him as the founding member and producer of A Perfect Circle who featured Tool’s Maynard James Keenan on vocals as well as members of Smashing Pumpkins, Queens of the Stone Age and Marilyn Manson. Rather than simply rest on the multi-platinum success of that project, Howerdel decided it was time to start fresh, under the pseudonym ASHES dIVIDE, with a new collection of songs and collaborators. “In the late fall of 1999 when we were finishing Mer De Noms, things felt like they were actually going to happen. My pragmatic side was overcome by my optimistic side,” explains Howerdel. Fans of APC’s blend of bombastic riff-rock and atmospheric nuances will impress fans of Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure and Nine Inch Nails.
For the band’s debut album, Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright, they chose Alan Moulder (Depeche Mode, My Bloody Valentine) to mix the sessions which proved to be an ace decision. Billy explains the move, “Alan’s strength comes more from being adventurous and working outside of the box a little bit. He is really good at what he does.” The evidence is in their first single, “The Stone” which apparently was kicking around for some time before the new band even existed. The front-man explains, “…with that song, I had written all of the lyrics, but there were just two lines and the chorus that I was kind of shaky on and Johnette (Napolitano) from Concrete Blonde co-wrote some lyrics on this record with me.” The former Concrete Blonde siren also pops up on the track “Too Late” and further showcases Howerdel’s great ability to collaborate with other songwriters.
The proficient musician played nearly every instrument on the upcoming album. The drums were masterly handled by his A Perfect Circle bandmate Josh Freese. Maynard James Keenan’s 11 year old son, Devo, added some gorgeous cello. “Working with Josh was a no-brainer really,” says Howerdel. The vast range of sounds explored in ASHES dIVIDE showcases Howerdel’s eclectic tastes. Growing up in West Milford, New Jersey, Howerdel would spend hours in his parent’s bedroom, listening to the one radio in his house that could receive the modern rock radio stations emanating out of Long Island, New York. Lying in bed, he would scribble down playlists and then scout out the records he loved in stores, among them The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, Dead Kennedy’s, and Elvis Costello.
Despite Howerdel’s indifference to classic rock, it was the experience of seeing Pink Floyd at Giants Stadium that triggered his lust for finding a way to work in the music industry. “It was such a massive show, and it touched me on so many levels – both visually and sonically,” he remembers. “Before that, I had no burning desire to be a musician. But being around all that energy, where everyone feels so good…I had to get involved, in some capacity.”
The internet and rock radio are buzzing about the debut single “The Stone,” and Keep Telling Myself It’s All Right hitting stores in early April. In the meantime, Howerdel has put together a touring band comprised of some of the best musicians he could find. The band includes Jeff Friedl on drums, Matt McJunkins on bass, and Andy Gerold (ex-Daughters of Mara) on guitar. The new line-up will be out all summer as part of the “Projekt Revolution” tour along with Linkin Park, Chris Cornell and The Bravery. Howerdel is clearly excited to get out on the road, stating, “I want to find out where these songs are going. It’s funny, for this project, I was everything from the writer to the janitor, and whatever comes in-between. It’s a weird concept, for a control freak like me, to finally be able to let these songs go and let them live.” [ END ]