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 reformed and toured in 2010 and 2011. Howerdel would work on both projects for a while until late 2012, where he announced his primary focus is completing the second album, of which he hoped to enter the mixing phase in January or February 2013.
Billy Howerdel was known to start working on music for his solo project as early as 2005, after wrapping up touring for A Perfect Circle's second album, Thirteenth Step, and recording their third album, Emotive. 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".
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.
Ashes Divide toured extensively throughout 2008. However, 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.Studio
Billy Howerdel - lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard
Josh Freese - drums
Billy Howerdel - vocals, guitar
Jeff Friedl - drums
Matt McJunkins - bass
Jonny Radtke - guitar
Adam Monroe - keyboard
2008: Keep Telling Myself It's Alright