It looks like Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan now has two highly anticipated albums to keep an eye on.
While Tool's long-awaited follow-up to 1996's "Aenima" continues to lurch forward, Keenan's other band, A Perfect Circle, has inked a deal with Virgin Records. Virgin will deliver the band's first album, "Mer De Noms," to stores on May 23 and the album's first single, "Judith," is expected to hit radio in April.
Virgin notes that the band (Keenan, guitarist Billy Howerdel, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, bassist Paz Lenchantin, and drummer Josh Freese) also plans to tour behind the album this year, though details remain to be hammered out.
Howerdel, a guitar tech with Tool as well as the Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails, produced and co-wrote the twelve songs comprising the group's debut.
The band made its official debut last August at Los Angeles' Viper Room and staged a larger coming-out party at last October's Coachella Art and Music Festival (see "Tool's Maynard To Roll Out 'Perfect Circle' At Coachella").
The folks at Virgin seem thrilled by the development, with Virgin Music Group Worldwide vice chairman Nancy Berry calling the album a "global priority for Virgin."
Of course, all this means you aren't likely to see a new Tool album anytime soon. Tool's manager, Ted Gardner, told MTV News that Maynard's work with A Perfect Circle is not interfering with work on the new Tool album, and that all parties were careful to give Maynard enough time to devote himself to A Perfect Circle without sacrificing Tool's next effort. Gardner said that the rest of the band is still writing and editing material for the next Tool album and that Keenan's Tool counterparts continue to be fully supportive of the singer and A Perfect Circle.