|Genres||Alternative rock, hard rock, progressive rock|
|Associated acts||A Perfect Circle|
Ashes Divide (typeset as ASHES dIVIDE) is the name used for the solo project of American rock musician Billy Howerdel, guitarist of the alternative rock band A Perfect Circle, where he is the primary songwriter, musician, producer, and vocalist. The project's debut album, Keep Telling Myself It's Alright, was released in 2008. Howerdel formed a live band and toured in support of the album through the rest of the year, but the project fell to the wayside after A Perfect Circle reformation in 2010. Howerdel frequently discussed working on new material for the project as recently as 2017, but no further material had been released, with Howerdel instead focusing on A Perfect Circle's fourth album, Eat the Elephant, released on April 20, 2018.
Background and early years (2003–2007)
After being a guitar tech for a number of alternative rock bands such as Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails in the 1990s, guitarist Billy Howerdel desired to start a musical project of his own. In 1999, he formed A Perfect Circle with Tool singer Maynard James Keenan. The project was a success; their debut album, Mer de Noms, released in May 2000, went platinum in the US, selling over 1 million copies by the end of the year. However, complications arose; Keenan could not commit all of his time to the band, still fronting Tool, and over time, he began to be more and more involved in the creative process of the music, leading to disagreements on the musical direction for the second A Perfect Circle album, Thirteenth Step. The album, released in September 2003, was still a success, going platinum as well, though the two still decided to take a break with the band, so that Keenan could return to Tool, and Howerdel could pursue a solo project.
Howerdel first started working off and on on solo material during the writing sessions for A Perfect Circles second album, Thirteenth Step, in 2003. Rough versions of three or four songs had been written during the era, including the track "Stripped Away", which was even played at soundchecks at A Perfect Circle concerts while supporting the album. Additionally, the A Perfect Circle demo "Army" was eventually reworked into Howerdel's own "The Stone". Shortly after Thirteenth Step, A Perfect Circle decided to quickly throw together a collection of anti-war cover songs just prior to the 2004 Presidential Elections, entitled Emotive. Keenan pushed Howerdel to sing lead vocals on a few of the songs on Emotive to "get people used to your voice", and to help Howerdel transition to a role of primary singer in his solo work. Once Emotive was completed, A Perfect Circle went into hiatus, and Howerdel centered his focus around his solo work.
He was quoted as saying that his solo music would be more uptempo than his previous work with A Perfect Circle, but many of those uptempo electronic meets guitar tracks ended up as instrumentals for the Jak X: Combat Racing video game. He wrote many songs during this period, some of which he kept for the Jak X, and some of which he kept for his future solo project (which would become Ashes Divide). Songs that were omitted from any Ashes Divide releases in favor of the Jak X soundtrack include "Ascension", "Migraine", "Fracture", "The Chopper", and "Death From Above". In an IGN/YouTube interview with Matt Pinfield, he revealed that at one point "Denial Waits" was going to be for Jak X instead. However, Billy, not used to working alone, ended up spending years tweaking his music so that he was happy with it, with constant revisions. An example of this is how the "Army" demo, originally done while still in A Perfect Circle, eventually evolved into "The Stone".
Keep Telling Myself It's Alright (2008)
The band's first single, "The Stone", made its radio premiere on January 22, 2008. Their debut album, Keep Telling Myself It's Alright, was released on April 8. On February 22, Howerdel explained on Chicago radio station Q101 that the date was pushed back from March 18 because of the record label.
The album features drumming by Josh Freese, and a guest performance on the track "Sword" by Devo Keenan (cello), the son of Maynard James Keenan. In addition to Freese and Keenan, the record also features contributions from drummer Dean Sainz, Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano (assisted with "Too Late"), Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba (helped with editing lyrics of "The Prey") and former A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin (assisted with "Denial Waits").
In promotion of the album, Ashes Divide was featured on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution 2008 tour, performing on the main stage. They also performed with Stone Temple Pilots and Filter for the K-Rock's Return of the Rock event. In addition to the songs on "Keep Telling Myself It's Alright", they also frequently played a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain", although in a vastly different state from the original, much in the vein of the covers on A Perfect Circle's 2004 release Emotive.
Since Billy Howerdel played majority of the instruments himself on the album, and Josh Freese was busy with other commitments, a touring band was necessary. The touring lineup consisted of Jeff Friedl on drums, Matt McJunkins on bass, Jonny Radtke on lead guitar and Adam Monroe on piano/keyboards.
The album debuted at number 36 in the U.S., selling 15,800 copies its first week. As of August 2010, Keep Telling Myself It's Alright had sold 61,000 copies to date according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Inactivity and second studio album (2009-present)
Ashes Divide toured extensively in 2008, although they pulled out of a tour opening for Puddle of Mudd at the end of the year, for undisclosed reasons, and fell out of the public eye. Additionally, towards the end of 2008, after Maynard James Keenan announcing that he and Billy Howerdel were working on music for A Perfect Circle, rumors of Ashes Divide's breaking up arose.
In late summer 2009, Twitter posts and Myspace blogs indicated that the band was still active, and since then the band has played a few live shows. A notable part about this time period, was that the Ashes Divide debuted a new song. Although Billy Howerdel originally called it "Untitled" when the song was first presented, it has since been dubbed the name "Trafficking" by fans who were at shows in late 2009 and early 2010. However, no information has been released in regards to ever releasing a second album, or how A Perfect Circle being active again in 2010 will affect the band.
However, Howerdel, in a September 2010 interview, said that he had been working on demos for the last 3 to 4 years, and that it was up to Keenan as to which songs would be A Perfect Circle songs, and which ones may end up being Ashes Divide songs, suggesting the possibility of future Ashes Divide music. In April 2011, Howerdel mentioned that Ashes Divide would have released music in late 2010 had A Perfect Circle not reconvened for touring. However, he still plans on releasing more Ashes Divide music in the future.
In December 2012, Howerdel updated the status of the band's second album, stating "right now, I’m focusing most of my energy on a new Ashes Divide record, which is under way with 11 songs. Still working on finishing vocals and writing lyrics, and hopefully [will] get that thing mixed in January or February." Progress on the second album was delayed, however, when Howerdel decided to redesignate a number of the songs to be A Perfect Circle songs instead, leading him to work on creating more replacement songs for Ashes Divide.
The band played their first live shown in three years on May 8, 2013 at a sold out show at The Satellite in Los Angeles for Pathology Brand's "Wednesday Society" fundraising event. As of 2013, Howerdel was still working on a second album, although by 2017, an album had still not materialized, and Howerdel then returned his focus on releasing a fourth studio album with A Perfect Circle. In April 2017, Howerdel commented that he still continued to work on the material, but the sound of the music had deviated so far from the band's first album that he was contemplating whether or not he'd release it under the Ashes Divide name."
For much of 2017, Howerdel refocused his efforts on writing and recording the fourth A Perfect Circle album - Eat the Elephant, to be released on April 20, 2018. In April 2018, Howerdel reiterated his plans to still release a second album under the Ashes Divide name; but that some songs he had been working on ended up being Eat the Elephant tracks instead, such as "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish".
- Billy Howerdel – vocals, guitar
- Jeff Friedl – drums
- Matt McJunkins – bass
- Jonny Radtke – guitar
- Adam Monroe – keyboard
|2008||"The Stone"||7||10||Keep Telling Myself It's Alright|
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.|
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