A Perfect Circle guitarist Billy Howerdel discussed writing Eat the Elephant in a new Noisey interview, and working with Billy Corgan, Trent Reznor, and Axl Rose.
You know, there can be things that are triggering right off the bat. You take a minute and look back and go, ‘Maybe there’s something to this. Or maybe this is just a power struggle, or maybe this is just…’ Like with anything, you kind of have to assess. He’s emotional, I’m emotional, and that’s why we do what we do. There’s baggage that comes with that. My least favorite question about Maynard is: “So what’s it like working with Maynard?” It’s like, “What was it like being breastfed by your mother?” I don’t know—compared to what? I can’t compare it to anything else. It’s all I know. It was just happening.
I will say, you can’t be a great lyricist… If you’re tapping into all this stuff, it can be challenging to be graceful in every other aspect of your life. One thing I’ve learned from working with bands is an understanding of characters. Like when I was a guitar tech, I’d be paired with a lot of big personalities. I think it was understood that I was kind of good at navigating it. Some were tough—you know, like Axl [Rose], Trent Reznor and Billy Corgan. You can’t expect everything to go exactly how you want it to go. But if you can do everything, then why don’t you just do it yourself? Getting back to your initial question, like when do you pick your battles? I have great trust and respect for where Maynard is coming from, what he’s capable of and what he can see. Because I’m down in the trenches and have my head so far in it. He doesn’t bog himself down with the progress the way I do. So I’ll give him that he can see a clearer picture sometimes than I can.