Q&A with Maynard James Keenan of Puscifer and Tool

Categories: Profiles

maynard with cowboy hat and bottle.jpg
"My name is Maynard James Keenan -- and I think you've got a purty mouth."
Maynard James Keenan is tough to pin down. Over the years, he's fronted a variety of different bands -- most famously Tool, but also A Perfect Circle and, currently, Puscifer, a wild and sometimes wacky ensemble that headlines on November 20 and 21 at the Paramount Theatre.

But Keenan's interests off-stage range from sketch comedy to winemaking. He owns his own vineyard in Arizona, and is considering branching out into cuisine that would make a perfect match with his particular brand of intoxicating beverage.

Keenan talked about all these subjects and more in an interview conducted for our Puscifer profile. Read the entire Q&A below:

Keenan begins by offering details on the men and women who make up the 2009 version of Puscifer, as well as his belief that the band has more in common with his other projects than is often acknowledged. From there, he discusses Puscifer's origins; the ways technology has allowed him to realize in-concert ideas that had previously been either impractical or too expensive; the influence of Mr. Show-style comedy on the group; the fun of risk-taking, even when everything comes undone; the thin (and sometimes nonexistent) line between Tool songs and Puscifer material; background about his wine-making operation; correlations between music and vino; and his focus on creativity, which supersedes the particular medium in which he's working at any given moment.

Art for art's sake -- Maynard James Keenan-style.

Westword (Michael Roberts): Who will be the members of the band accompanying you in Denver?

Maynard James Keenan: Most likely it'll be Tim Alexander, Jonny Polonski, Mat Mitchell, Matt McJunkins, Jeff Friedl and Carina Round.

WW: Will this musicians form a basic core for Puscifer? Or is the idea not to have a basic core?

MJK: There'll be a basic core, I would imagine, but that's all flexible, depending on people's availability.

WW: Is there a specific skill set you need to have as a member of Puscifer?

MJK: I'm not sure. I suppose it's more about relationships than anything. People that we know, people we have fun with. Being able to present some of these ideas that's a result of those particular people on any given day, when they're on stage or in the same room.

WW: Your mention of the word "fun" seems key to me. Is a sense of humor a requirement? Or at least a sense of the theatrical?

MJK: Absolutely. That's definitely a part of it.

WW: So shrinking violets aren't invited?

MJK: I guess not.

WW: There have been times during your musical career when you didn't seem that into theatricality - shows with Tool where you stayed out of the spotlight. Does your approach with Puscifer represent an evolution? Or is it more than this approach is right for this group?

MJK: I think your observation about the sense of the theatrical would be incorrect. I think all projects that I've done have always had a sense of the theatrical. If you do a little Google search on photos, you'll find me with a Peg Bundy wig and fake tits. And a long wig for another project. It's always been there. Just because you can't see me doesn't mean the presentation isn't of a theatrical nature.

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