Mer de Noms at 20: Musicians Celebrate A Perfect Circle’s Debut

A perfect circle 2000
A Perfect Circle, 2000, US. Left to right Josh Freese, Billy Howerdel, Troy Van Leeuwen Paz Lenchantin, Maynard James Keenan, Paz Lenchantin. (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)

Ash Pearson

Drummer, Revocation

<p>I first would have heard <em>Mer de Noms</em> in 2001 when I was 13. My earliest impressions of the album were centered around the general quality of the production. It was during my early days as a musician, so I was still sharpening my ear to the nuances of sound, mixing, and other aspects that make a record sound different [or better] from another. All of the instruments were so well balanced and clear. Being a drummer, I especially loved the use of natural drum tones, bright cymbals, and Josh Freese’s articulate, world-class playing style. One could tell the band simply captured a good studio performance and didn’t edit it into stagnation.</p>
<p>It was also the first time I had ever heard Josh Freese on drums. I loved the restraint of his playing on this record. He was clearly a badass but always played what was right for the music: playing “straight-ahead” yet with complex, tasteful embellishments. This unhinged but highly methodical approach had a major influence on my drumming. It’s no wonder that even 20 years later, I can still remember almost every fill and kick pattern on the record. I also can’t believe it has been 20 years. Where the hell did the time go?</p>
<h2>Bill Calomiris</h2>
<p><strong>Singer, Gloom</strong></p><div class= Brian Johnson and Angus Young
<p>A Perfect Circle and <em>Mer de Noms</em> are turning 20 and I’m officially old. I was a senior in high school the year it came out. The Y2K scare was only a few months old, JNCO jeans were alive and well, and 9/11 wouldn’t happen for another 16 months. Then came A Perfect Circle: an interesting amalgamation of late ‘90s rock and metal sensibilities with a decidedly progressive attitude. They’re neither rock nor metal but have been able to comfortably walk that musical line and carve out a niche for themselves in both audiences as a result.</p>
<p>It is near impossible to find into someone in the metal community who’s never heard of them. <em>Mer de Noms</em> was the album that hollowed out that niche in the music industry. Unsurprisingly, Maynard’s lyrics on this album are timeless, brutally honest, and his hook melodies throughout the album are never boring or recycled despite being so uniquely identifiable as his. It almost seems that in A Perfect Circle, Maynard was able to grow into other areas as a vocalist that he wouldn’t have been able to just play in Tool.</p>
<p>The songs have a bleak-yet-hopeful, nostalgic, melancholic sound that meanders and undulates throughout the album. This cohesiveness is a large part of what gives the album it’s sonic character. What also defines A Perfect Circle for me is the pace of the songs which they haven’t deviated much from in the past two decades. The hooks are done so tastefully that nothing feels contrived or dated to any decade or trend, making it a more impactful and seminal album. So many aspects of <em>Mer de Noms</em> are unique that calling it anything but a classic almost feels like an insult.</p>
<h2>Sean Bilovecky</h2>
<p><strong>Guitarist, Frayle</strong></p>
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