Music News

Maynard James Keenan rests his Tool in favor of his "Cuntry Boner"

Maynard James Keenan describes a show by Puscifer, arguably the oddest sibling in a family of Keenan-connected bands that includes Tool and A Perfect Circle, as a theatrical experience that's carefully planned in advance — for the most part.

"We want to make sure that some stuff is solid, some stuff's rehearsed, but there's also this element of risk," he says — and if everything winds up going to hell, that's fine by him.

"It's like watching the scene of an accident; it's fascinating," he maintains. "And then you just try to get the train back on the rails. Or you just go, 'I meant to do that,' and you move on."

Puscifer is often seen as a jokey side project for Keenan, and there's evidence to support this thesis. Note that the first major media mention of the band happened during a Keenan cameo on the HBO sketch program Mr. Show — and don't forget flat-out parodies like "Cuntry Boner" (on the "V" Is for Vagina album), in which he boasts about boinking "Elvis Presley's little girl" and the Judds.

Still, Keenan rejects suggestions that Puscifer is a big departure for him. For one thing, he feels that Tool, whose music is generally thought to be sober-sided bordering on grim, features more comedic moments than most people realize. "The first Tool video was for a song called 'Hush,' and the video consisted of a black-and-white set with, basically, four naked guys foaming at the mouth," he points out. "If you go back to that video, the humor was already there." Moreover, he sees all his musical projects as "an extension of me. And it all depends on the conversations that are occurring between what group of people. This is the result of these four people getting together, and this is a result of these other four or five people getting together."

The latest musical chats issued under the Puscifer name — titled, believe it or not, "C" Is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE) EP — further blur the lines between his assorted projects. Tracks such as "Polar Bear" and "Momma Sed" boast notably Tool-like intensity.

Keenan's approach to realizing this material live has had a long gestation period. "I'm sure there's pieces of this show that go back twenty years," he says. Of course, he knows plenty about the benefits of time, having developed into a winemaker of considerable repute. But he's all for spontaneity, as well, even if it leads to disaster. In his view, a Puscifer show "has to be volatile, or otherwise it's not exciting. It could go either way. It could go all ways."

Visit http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/ for more of our interview with Puscifer's Maynard James Keenan.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts