Maynard James Keenan hung up on me. To be fair, the publicist who connected the call warned me beforehand that I was scheduled for exactly 20 minutes of phone time, but I expected a gentler goodbye. Somewhere deep inside, I felt my inner 14-year-old — formerly so thrilled at the prospect of interviewing the lead singer of Tool, A Perfect Circle, and now Puscifer, an umbrella name for practically everything else Keenan’s working on (other than his vineyard, which, speaking of inner 14-year-olds, is named after a pubic wig) — cry a bitter, “Stinkfist”-scented tear. But, ironically, the only thing that would cheer the little guy up was listening to Opiate for two days straight. Damn you, MJK. We so could’ve been besties.
If you’re unfamiliar with Keenan’s Puscifer guise, he’s purposefully vague about the project in the interview below, so here’s Las Vegas Review-Journal’s description of a concert: “equal parts comedy cabaret show, guerrilla theatre, lysergic animation sequences, Krautrock-inspired metallic jams and leering lunacy of various stripes.” The music itself, believe it or not, sounds surprisingly serious.
You’ve said in previous interviews that you wanted Puscifer to be sort of a formless project —
I don’t know that I would necessarily adhere to the “formless” idea, I just want to make sure that we don’t direct it in a way that it won’t be possible for it to go anywhere else, if that makes sense. If we decide to put out a jazz record that should not be any surprise. What we have to establish first is that that’s possible. When people hear enough about it and get enough of the variety attached to it, then all things are possible. … Anything we’re doing these days, you can’t use a prior model to describe it. … The thing we really need to point out at this point is that right now, all we’re talking about is music. This isn’t just a musical project. … I want to leave all possibilities open. We could be the new Monkees. This could be the newest incarnation of Hee-Haw.
Are you taking any specific steps to ensure there’s an unexpected side to this? Is there anything you’re trying not to repeat?
There’s definitely steps we’re taking.
Can’t tell you. … This isn’t really a project we’re going to try to convince people at Wal-Mart to accept. This is going to be something we’re going to end up just doing, and the people who show up will either get it or they won’t, and those are the people we’re playing for. But it requires that person to be there and have that happen to them in their body where they go, “I get this.” And no amount of explaining will really help with that, and in fact explaining it will ruin that moment for you. … If you can discover things on your own, then that becomes more a part of you rather than it being something that was forced on you and leaves you.
I know at one point you said you wanted to play multiple nights in every city you stop in. Have you gotten more confident about just doing single shows?
We prefer to do two nights in every city, honestly. It just makes more sense. If they come back a second night and see a different show, then they really start to get it. But to only see one portion of what’s possible kind of limits your experience. We’re in Texas, so each city is about three hours apart from each other. It is a little bit of a distance, but we’re hoping that some of the locals make the trek, hit San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas, and get to see the difference in the shows.
It seems like the performance-art aspects of this show make it more of an expensive tour.
Absolutely. We’re still talking about a very small band. Just because I have a name attached to me doesn’t mean people are going to relate to the show. … What we’re doing with Puscifer, there’s never going to be the same kind of money I made with my previous projects. … There’s definitely some expenses attached. For us to try to pull this stuff off, it’s not easy. It’s not cheap. `Click`
Hello? Hello? `the sound of a heart shattering`•