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"A Perfect Interview: A Perfect Circle's Paz Lenchantin"
By Jason Koerner
An interview with Paz Lenchantin demonstrates that there are musicians trying to write good music in the rock world. Here is a bit of our conversation:
LMN: I was checking out your web site (www.aperfectcircle.com- great site!) - there are a lot of facts about your current tour. Tell us more.
PL: We're in Nashville (right now) and it's been incredible. Sold-out shows, fortunate to be playing out for everybody.
LMN: Are you carrying the same opening acts for every tour date? I understand (in Louisville March 16 at Louisville Gardens) it will be Snake River Conspiracy?
PL: Yeah, and actually, just for an Irvine show my brother played with us; his band is called Big Milk. They're an amazing, amazing band. At the moment they are looking for a drummer, so they could not do other shows with us. But basically, we are touring with the same opening act.
LMN: Why did you choose Snake River as your opening act?
PL: We listened to a bunch of CDs and that one stood out. We were going to tour with Queens of the Stone Age, but that didn't work out, so...
LMN: On the web site, there is an interview with Billy Howerdel and Maynard Keenan (front man of Tool); both making comments that your drummer Josh Freese smells good! Does he really smell good? Where did that comment come from? Is there a story behind that? (laughing)
PL: We're just always joking around!
LMN: In a lot of interviews I have read with Maynard, he gives a lot of cynical answers. Is he always kind of the jokester on the road?
PL: I think we all just try to pretty much make the best out of everything and every situation, and try to make things a little bit lighter and not so serious.
LMN: Howerdel had mentioned in that interview that he had seen you play in LA and that was how you came into the band. You were playing there with a different band, could you go into that a little bit?
PL: I was playing with a band called the Martinis with the guitar player (Joey Santiago) from the Pixies. They called me literally last minute. Their bass player just quit and they needed somebody for these shows. I had about two rehearsals to learn 13 songs and sing backup. I just pulled it together and Billy was a good friend of mine, and I told him to come down, he goes "Yeah, I'm doing this thing right now." He's never seen me play or anything. So he came down to support me...
LMN: Apparently he liked what he saw...
PL: Yeah... considering I only had like two days to rehearse.
LMN: What was the name of the club he first saw you play at?
PL: Uh, I think it was called "Smalls."
Lenchantin went on to explain the history of Howerdel and his creative works, leading to the formation of the present configuration of A Perfect Circle. He did not have a band at the time of the discovery of Lenchantin's talent on bass; but instead had many 4-track recordings and collaborations with Tool front man Keenan. Answering the call for more difficult material to play, Paz jumped on the opportunity to work with such talented musicians. This remained within the constraints of rock music, as opposed to fusion and other genres that are stereotypically viewed as more "difficult to play." Lenchantin stayed true to what she related best with, bringing "rock" music to her level; not vice-versa.
"The second I heard his music, this light inside of me just grew and grew. I knew this was something I would learn from, benefit from, grow from and will keep me challenged. Still today, four years later, I'm still playing the same songs and I still feel like I'm growing. It's a beautiful feeling, you know?" Lenchantin explained as she recollected about her experiences of taking this project to the top from the ground floor.
"I felt like I was walking with two left feet or something," Lenchantin described her development as a bassist under Billy's suggestions. The "two left feet" remark is a reference to her changeover from playing finger-style to using a pick. "It's a totally different sound. I just realized that. It's like ballet shoes vs. jazz shoes. You don't compare them." She also modified her style a bit when working with Howerdel to a more aggressive attack on her Fender P/J bass.
The band moved very quickly into the light of the public eye. This was partially due to the group's own initiative to set goals for themselves that felt impossible at times to reach. "Two of the things I try not to do is 1) To compare myself, 2) To expect."
"I was excited to finally play out with A Perfect Circle. We rehearsed and rehearsed ... I remember when I got the phone call that we were going to play our first show; I was just jumping off the walls! I was so excited! I was at my grandmother's house, and I was jumping up and down saying, `We're playing our first show' and she's like `What's going on?' You know, my grandma's like... 85."
I felt the need to ask about the song "3 Libras" because I've heard numerous comments about the quality of this piece. Personally, it gave me chills the first time I heard it. It's one of the most well-written songs on the radio. Lenchantin composed the strings, which are an essential component of the song. When she first heard the song with all the elements in place, she said, "I had to hear it over and over."
Having downloaded "3 Libras" from Napster (and subsequently bought the album), I wanted to get her feelings on the "sharing is caring" policies of Napster.
"Human nature is to abuse things," she says. What started out as a good thing has led to something negative, in her opinion, through the abuse by Napster-users who use the network for more than just sampling music. "An album is more than just sound. It's pages, the artists' work..." This way of thinking exemplifies Lenchantin's "pro-human" sentiments.
Another example of this benevolence is her thoughts on sexual equality. she spoke of her hard work and dedication as no different than anyone else's struggle to get ahead. "Nothing comes easy." She points out the obvious, but it is so easy to loose sight of that fact at times.
Lenchantin has a new solo CD entitled, Yellow My Sky Captain, that can only be purchased online at her web site (www.pazlenchantin.com) for $15. Everyone should check that out and see what she can do solo. What I heard from a track called "She Can" was very hip.
A Perfect Circle and Snake River Conspiracy. Will be at Louisville Gardens on March 16. I will leave you with some words that I found to be inspiring from Lenchantin regarding her music.
"When something comes from the heart, people just listen."