Before guitarist Billy Howerdel formed the band Perfect Circle with Tool Singer Maynard James Kennan, he spent a few years working with Axl Rose on the album Chinese Democracy. Howerdel was being interviewed on WRIF Radio where he talked about his involvement in the record.
“I was… you’d call me ‘Pro Tools engineer,’ basically,” he said. “I came in, to start, making sounds for Robin Finck, who I knew from NINE INCH NAILS. He called me and said, ‘I just got this offer to come down and play some guitar or get some sounds with GUNS N’ ROSES. They want interesting sounds. Can you help me program?’ And that kind of turned into this two-and-a-half-year gig with the band. And I became close with Axl [Rose, GN’R singer] and I felt connected and passionate about the project and wanted to see it through. But it was just… it was taking too much time for me, because I had a window of opportunity with A PERFECT CIRCLE that was just catching. And I kind of… I resigned in September of ’99 and then we just took off in APC world.”
This isn’t the first time Howerdel talked about his work with Guns N’ Roses. Almost a decade ago he first discussed his involvement on the album. He was initially brought in to program guitar sounds on “Chinese Democracy”, he “wound up hitting it off with Axl,” after which his job “kind of migrated into the computer guy. I don’t know what you would call me exactly,” he said. “I kind of was there all night with Axl as he would work. The band came in during the day with a producer and would work most of the day, and then I would come in ten o’clock at night, say goodbye to those guys, Axl would show up later on, and then we’d do our thing all night and then do it the next day.”