les paul classic

“I was thinking about how I might’ve had to approach it if I was making this record in the early ’80s.”

Photo by Annie Atlasman

Working with some of rock’s biggest bands, including GNR, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and the Smashing Pumpkins, prepared the guitarist to produce records—A Perfect Circle’s and his own. On his new What Normal Was, vocals and dark ’80s pop propel the soundtrack.

Billy Howerdel has topped the charts in A Perfect Circle (APC). He’s been a guitar tech with high-profile acts like Nine Inch Nails, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Tool (where he worked with future APC frontman Maynard James Keenan). He’s even scored video games. All the while, he’s crafted a unique and identifiable guitar style full of expansive ambiance, octave-fuzz-laced melodies, and crushing low-C riffs. Each of these experiences informed and inspired the next, like a row of dominos.

Read MoreShow less