TOOL Frontman: 'When I'm Doing Something I'm Looking For Truth In Some Way'

Steve Baltin of recently conducted an interview with TOOL frontman Maynard James Keenan. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow: Do you think people have the same love for music today as previous generations of kids?

Maynard: One thing that's not going to change is people like music. They're really inspired by music and even now with the digital downloading it's actually made it a lot more accessible to people who might not have heard stuff before because you had to buy the CD with this mysterious cover, you don't know what it's about. Well, now a lot of people are just passing around MP3s. "Check this world music out, check out this country song, check out this GIPSY KINGS" — stuff you wouldn't normally have been exposed to because radio stations have pigeonholed themselves. They're not going to be diverse in what they're playing on their format. They're just going to play this. And some people are going to spend that $14.99 on a CD. With TOOL and A PERFECT CIRCLE you say had to be more knowledgeable, 'cause what you were doing was different. Yet you found that audience. Was there a moment where you knew you had found that audience?

Maynard: Yeah, over the years it's obvious there are people that have come around, and that's inspiring to kind of know, "Oh, yeah, you guys are kind of getting it." But then it starts to get to that weird Holy Grail level where at some point you go, "Dude, we were just having fun. They were just songs. We inserted some codes in there just as a joke, but we weren't serious. We're not wearing masks in some basement chanting, nothing to do with any of that stuff. It's just us having fun." And so when it becomes familiar, like most of my peers, we take off in different directions, and do something else to just have more fun in a different way. Do these other projects allow you to go back to that point where it's just fun and without expectations?

Maynard: It's harder now, especially with PUSCIFER, since I'm really picking my experiments. The lead track that we just released, "Queen Bee", was an experiment. It was me and Tim Alexander in his new-built studio on two-inch tape going, "Let's see if we can do a song that's just drums and vocals." And who gives a s--- about the lyrics? It's not about that. It's about, "Let's just see if we can come up with some catchy groove and let's see if I can riff over it and layer it and see what we come up with as fun." Just two guys hanging out, making some stuff, and because it didn't have anything to do with dead relatives or child molestation or hating or wanting to shoot somebody or whatever, it's viewed by many of my fans on other projects as being less. But actually not, it's just a different experiment. I tried to see if I could make cupcakes with syrup instead of sugar. Whatever. It tastes good, shut up. As an artist, how much do you pay attention to people's responses to things, and how those responses have changed?

Maynard: I think on some level I recognize that there are stories attached to those, and that's because as a storyteller I recognize there's a story being told by these actions by these people or by these artists. But then looking at my earlier choices of music, I was always kind of choosing rather than the festivities of it all, and responding to somebody who on some level seemed to be searching for some kind of truth, self-searching in a way. Even Bowie, just constantly, all the theatrics and the changes he did and even the "Let's Dance" era I thought was great because it was him going, "I'm going to try this now. I'm going to see where I can take this." And I thought it was great. I prefer the older stuff, I even prefer the newer stuff, but that he made the choice to look for something and seek something out, as an artist, I respect that. So I guess that's always been my choice. When I'm doing something I'm looking for truth in some way. And hopefully people who pay attention to what I'm doing get that, there's an idea in mind. There's a method to the madness and I'm looking for something.

Read the entire interview at


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