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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)

Adam Biggs

Bassist, Rivers of Nihil

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Enter A Perfect Circle, and their breakout debut, 2000’s Mer de Noms. It seemed to show a new side of Maynard and a whole new context for his voice to shine upon. At the time, the “supergroup” nature of the band was sort of lost on me aside from Keenan himself — I was 13. All I knew was that I was hearing that intriguing voice I’d heard in all of those creepy, cool music videos from my childhood but with a sort of renewed vigor, and a new, more hook-oriented focus. It took until their second record for me to understand exactly who Billy Howerdel was and how understated and striking his contributions to my overall musical appreciation really were.

That being said, Mer de Noms’ contribution to genuine rock music in the early 2000s can never be undersold. “The Hollow” crushes with its fiery hunger, “Judith” lashes out with vitriol toward a manipulative dogma, and “3 Libras” lulls you in with melancholy and beautifully vibrant orchestration. All of this while keeping an incredibly refined focus on songcraft and that oh-so-coveted replayability factor. I have trouble not belting out these songs along with Maynard every time I hear them.

It’s hard for me to put a finger on exactly how much this record impacted my young and malleable musical mind. But its effect on me was certainly palpable, and unlike a lot of records I listened to at age 13, it holds up rock-solid to this very day.

Erik Leonhard

Guitarist, KOSM

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