Side projects.

“Is your halo slipping down?” – A Perfect Circle, “The
Noose” from Thirteenth Step.

A late 2003
release, Thirteenth Step is the second album from A Perfect Circle, a group
which is a side project of the guy who sings for Tool. The thing about side
projects, of course, is they’re on the side; excursions from the main line,
inevitably measured against it, although sometimes excused from class. They are
vacations, escape hatches, outlets for experimentation. With a side project, you
can fiddle with other personas, or reveal what you previously hid for the sake
of the fans.

There are musicians who’ve
turned side projects into entire careers. One man who comes to mind is Mark
, enshrined in the collective unconscious of millions of grunge
fans as the guttural growl of the Screaming Trees, and more recently, Queens of
the Stone Age. His 1994 album, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, was released to much
critical praise, after the requisite critical double take. “Huh? Mark Lanegan?
Man, who knew he was, um, intellectual? Duh.” There are the guys from Jane’s
Addiction, the (late) October Project, the (kinda late but who knows) Dead Can

Other side projects are
universally vilified, and with good reason. They sound like the artist’s just
doing scales for the sake of vanity. James Iha, what did you think you were

The corporate world discourages
side projects, but one company has made it a vocation – 3M. They build playtime
into the schedule, and thanks to that, the rest of the world can strew your
desktop with Post-It notes.

I don’t know
what the critics will have to say about my perennial status as some guy’s side
project. Maybe I’ll get half a star for effort. Or who knows? It could be my
ticket to Joey’s two favorite things, fame and glory. (Now if only I can figure
out how to earn from it the same way 3M rakes it in from