The activity with A Perfect Circle doesn't point to new recorded material from the band, which features Ashes Divide guitarist Billy Howerdel, former Smashing Pumpkins member James Iha, bassist Matt McJunkins, and drummer Jeff Friedl (the latter two also play in Puscifer). The band hasn't released any recorded material since 2004's eMOTIVe, which found Keenan and company recording discordant and re-imagined takes on songs by Nick Lowe, Marvin Gaye, Black Flag, Fear, John Lennon, and Joni Mitchell, among others.

His best-known band, Tool, hasn't released an album since 2006's 10,000 Days. This month, the band announced via its website that it would play Ozzfest Japan in May, and the band's webmaster speculated that it was "about half-done" writing material for a new album. Keenan has nothing to say regarding a new Tool album. He's much more eager to discuss Puscifer.

The slow production schedule he typically favors doesn't apply to his multi-media ensemble. On February 19, the band will issue Donkey Punch the Night, an EP followup to 2011's full-length Conditions of My Parole. The record features seven songs, including two new Puscifer compositions, covers of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Accept's "Balls to the Wall," and a handful of remixes. Puscifer moves fast: Since the band's recorded debut, Don't Shoot the Messenger, was released in 2007, Keenan has made sure that no more than two years go by between records.

Interior of Four Eight Wineworks, which Maynard James Keenan says is Arizona's first wine co-op.
Jamie Peachey
Interior of Four Eight Wineworks, which Maynard James Keenan says is Arizona's first wine co-op.
Keenan shows off Four Eight Wineworks' graffiti-style logo
Jamie Peachey
Keenan shows off Four Eight Wineworks' graffiti-style logo

"The general approach to the project always has been to do a couple songs at a time and put them out," Keenan says, explaining that there's an economic benefit to the single-release model of the '50s and '60s. "The single format was the format of the day, and I kind of like the idea of getting back to that a little bit, where you just focus on two thoughts, or one thought, and release that thought."

Keenan describes Conditions of My Parole as the band "on a roll," and while that album's blend of English folk rock and electronica made for a satisfying listen, there's something even more enjoyable about the scatter-shot approach of Donkey Punch the Night. Puscifer's take on "Bohemian Rhapsody" hews closely to the original's format, with Keenan and vocalist Carina Round wrapping their voices around Freddie Mercury's original vocal tapestry, as the band mimics the orchestral rock 'n' roll approach that made the song a radio staple, resisting any urge to add industrial undertones or alter Mercury's delicate arrangements.

The band's cover of "Balls to the Wall," however, is a radical reinterpretation of the song, reading the German heavy-metal band's cocky anthem like an existential manifesto, substituting airy synthesizers, echoing guitars, and a slow-motion, disco-punk beat for power chords and a fist-in-the-air chorus.

"Too many people don't see the imprisoned human race," Keenan seethes. "They believe slaves always lose / Fear keeps them in their place."

Rounded out by clubby remixes by Drumcell, Big Black Delta (pseudonym of Jonathan Bates, who's played in Mellowdrone and toured as a guitarist in M83), and Central American DJ Silent Servant, the EP solidifies Puscifer's electronic credentials — though Keenan admits that the EDM zeitgeist, one that sees electronic dance music acts selling out arenas and clubs worldwide, is far from his point of reference.

"I don't have my finger on that pulse whatsoever," Keenan says. "I'm in the bunker or composing, or something. I couldn't even speak to that, [but] the electronic component is very compelling to me. [I hand off programming to other bandmates] — I don't work on the computer at all. So I can hear it in a fluid and emotional form, and then kind of guide them, like, 'Hey, guys, you're off track.' In a way, I'm kind of a producer, an executive producer."

Whether the EP's glitchy remixes will find an audience in crowded clubs — far from the remote mountain town of Jerome — isn't something Keenan's particularly concerned with. But while EDM is experiencing an industry boom, he says electronic music hasn't returned — it's always been there.

"It's like Members Only jackets," he says. "They never will truly go away."


In 2013, making money playing music is tricky. Online streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora pay pennies to artists and CD sales continue to slump. Vinyl records are experiencing a steady growth, but the sale of LPs still remains a slight niche in the marketplace. Fans still consume music — more so than ever. They just don't pay for much of it.

"There's a disconnect between people not buying music and not understanding why [bands] go away," Keenan says. "There are people who are like monkeys in a cage just hitting the coke button. They don't really get that for [musicians and artists] to do these things, they have to fund them. They have to have something to pay the rent."

For Keenan, it means scaling down the operation. He's proud of Puscifer's status as an independent project, free from "some artless, soulless, heartless funding person getting in the middle and fucking up the art." The band records at Caduceus Cellars, and Keenan funds the manufacturing of CDs and merchandise. "[It's that] survivalist, end-of-the-world mentality," he says, "Pulling together your skill set so you don't end up becoming food."

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My Voice Nation Help
34 comments
deadeadchemie
deadeadchemie

The internet killing album sales isnt the fans fault the dead toured for 30 years while the fans bootlegged everything but still supported them by buying tickets for every show they could make it to

shock29
shock29

there is no question the maynard is very talented...but coming from a tool fan I wish him and the band( tool ) would not have so much distance between tool albums

shock29
shock29

no question that maynard is talented ....just wish there was not so many yrs between tool albums...

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

Love me some Maynard, but it's way, way, WAY easier to be "independent", when your name & reputation were built on the corporate checkbook of the old record industry. God bless him, he's right in a lot of what he says, but he's not making enough from Puscifer (I don't think) to simply fund more Puscifer...this whole operation is Tool money.

Speaking of, that band will not release anything online (Tool). Maynard makes the incredibly silly point that music needs a physical product to feel complete. No, music enters your headphones, cracks your cranium, & envelops your soul. You're too lost in bliss to hold a picture on a sleeve. Release the hounds, Tool!  ;o)

chipnathan
chipnathan

I believe you can get all of it if you want it!

chipnathan
chipnathan

ITS STEALING IF YOU LIKE IT THEN PRICE IT IF NO NE PAYS ITS OVER FOR MOST INDIVIDUALITY AND ONE THING IS SURE NO ONE WANTS TO NOT BE HEARD BUT ID ONLY LISTEN TO RAREST NON ABLE TO OWN UNLESS .SOO I WONT SEE FUTURE DJ THATS IT RECORD SPINNER NOPE BUY THE GODDAMN PROCESS.

chipnathan
chipnathan

I'm just honored to be invovled in a fans perspective I believe I'm truly an awe for his vocal poetic gifts are my muise to be an artist as well thanks for allowing me to be counted .chipnathan

jerrybunker
jerrybunker

OK. Need yalls help please. My crazy pass gf has been gone for a week. Says she's with Maynard now and they are together together and she is leaving me for him. Says she's staying at his place w him in Jerome... her details are accurate.. is this possible.? Thought he was married as well.. please help.. no joking matter here... maybe a comment or two from someone close to Mr Keenan could shed some light for me... thanks

jerrybunker
jerrybunker

AIs Maynard still married? My crazy pass psycho gf supposedly took off from here in San Antonio, Tx. And says she's with him at his place in Jerome. Is this possible or is she full of it...?

chipnathan
chipnathan

Thanks for my Friday turned lucky 13

MJKisaTool
MJKisaTool

Get over yourself, Maynard.Get back to TOOL and stop fooling yourself. TOOL is the art. Pussyfart is very mediocre at best.If anyone else's name was attached to Puscifer,no one would care because it's just ok, not great. TOOL is the greatest thing you will ever do in your lifetime, so go back to perfecting it instead of spreading yourself out so thin.

mpohara3
mpohara3

Newtimes is completely bias and bogus , however, since manard has been writing a column for them, I find myself picking this yellow-rag up every Thursday

JackAzlin
JackAzlin

This man is an inspiration. It makes me happy that he's followed his dream of wine making and succeeded and excelled.

He'll have new Tool music for you when it's ready. In the mean time enjoy his wine. 

evrythngzen
evrythngzen

The man turned his angst into music to feed the soul; now, it's grapes into wine. Same result. Fuck YA Maynard

ckrescho
ckrescho

I don't know if anybody remembers the Tool concert some years back where somebody chucked a beer bottle at Maynard while he was on stage at what was Desert Sky. He got pissed and walked off stage.

KB2
KB2

Great Article Jason.  Kudos!  Thanks for the read.


GimmeAliterOfcola
GimmeAliterOfcola

Great to see Maynard doing his thing. For all the douchetards out there who just cry about MJK working on Tool, this is an example of a guy living the dream that is life and evolving as an artist. TOOL was/is a vehicle that has carried all four of these guys into a life that most people can only dream of. They create what they want and they share it when its ready. I wouldn't want it any other way as a fan. Even after six years of listening to 10,000 Days, I still listen to those songs and hear something that I maybe hadn't heard before, which is a testament to how much work goes into their craft. Anybody want a half-ass TOOL album that was pushed out too soon? Anyone? Bueller? I've been a Tool fan since I was a teenager and I'm 32 now. I enjoy the time in between new material, because it gives you an opportunity to really appreciate each release. Besides, Puscifer is the bee's knees or the cats pajamas as the cool kids would say. I've seen them three times; Apollo Theater, Tower Theater/Philly, and Asbury NJ. They've never been anything short of mind-blowing. I've never been to AZ, but listening to some of these songs, they almost put you there mentally. Its a very strange and enjoyable phenomena and I should note that I don't drink or do drugs. But hell, preaching words of reason these days is pretty hopeless. Fork it, I'm going to look at porn.

MotherRosetta
MotherRosetta

I have to say I prefer tangible recordings over digital downloads. I don't want to take the chance on the whimsy of electronics to "crash" and losing all of my music again and again. I am glad to see the comeback of vinyl. I have Lateralus on vinyl and the artwork on the albums themselves is unique and beautiful. I am still trying to locate 10,000 Days on vinyl but not having much luck. Looking forward to your biography upon it's release, Mr. Keenan, whenever that shall be.

fluidictenchu
fluidictenchu

love ya maynard, but get back to APC or even tool, pucifer sux.

jack
jack

I love Maynard, but how about a new fucking Tool album! It's been like almost 7 years! Stop farting around with wine and Puscifier and get back to your number one project. 

charlie_knoxaz
charlie_knoxaz

To support the bands that one loves, one has to make the commitment to engage: Buy merch, pay for tickets and go to see them, etc. PAY THEM for the pleasure they have brought you. Innovations allow one to enjoy VIP experiences. Costly? Yes. Worth it? Every penny's worth. The music I love has informed my life: Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Patsy Cline, Bill Nelson, Al Green, Philip Glass, David Sanborn, Public Enemy, Sam Phillips, The Clash, Kate Bush, Radiohead, Liz Phair, NIN and on and on and on... All three of Mr. Keenan's projects have fleshed out the never-ending soundtrack that enriches my life. And while I don't go quite the route of hero worship, I absolutely am a fan of a human whose experiences - as they are offered through their art - have helped me to identify, understand (or not) and embrace my own. And, interestingly, it seems that Mr. Keenan has a vision that, perhaps, just perhaps, by his establishing an ethic of finding and following one's bliss, a few of us fans may be prompted to do the same...

nina.smale
nina.smale

The desert sure does something to a man. I have, to admit to those who can relate, he is absolutely getting wiser in his age and I'm a huge fan. It's good to feel hope in something/someone's actions...I would like to continue to see him succeed because he puts forth such hard work in his dreams. Kudos, to you, Chicken Little. Puscifer has changed me and a few other fans I know in ways you wouldn't understand and I will continue to support and purchase merch to support these dreams and families. I'm waiting very patiently for that autobiography.

jherne66
jherne66

As a vinyl fanatic it's good to know sales of records are growing exponentially. Downloading just doesn't do it for me. Not sure if you can purchase Puscifer records on the website (I haven't checked) but if you ever make it to the store in Jerome the vinyl releases are usually autographed.

Tiltawerl
Tiltawerl

Good read. Love this guy :) and his music. Probably would like his wine too! He seems very professional and has a real passion for his work

tzugidan
tzugidan

Nice article. In addition to monkeys in a cage, fans have ADHD and as soon as a CD is released it doesn't take long for "when your next CD?" LOL... If Tool/APC/or Puscifer never makes another CD...I'm fine with it... There are a few bands in my 48 years that I continually go back to to listen over and over....picking up more nuance each time...Tool and APC are two of them. With regards to piracy...I've never downloaded a single song without paying for it...and buy CD's whenever I can...I much prefer the sound quality over downloaded music...and I encourage my kids to do the same thing explaining that's how bands make money...oh, and i encourage them to get their asses out and go see live music whenvever possible... 

churv69
churv69

Mistake: Billy Howerdel was never in Queens Of The Stone Age, you're mistaken for Troy Van Leeuwen - one time A Perfect Circle guitarist on their debut album only. He has been a permanent member of QOTSA since 'Songs for the Deaf'

ambller
ambller

Maynard is in an open marriage

chipnathan
chipnathan

Don't evenstop critique the artistfor styles transcend with wisdom and it is a bad move tobe a judge on a free man cushe isn't screeming and turnedmore melonicshut up and buy .

dougmott
dougmott

You are a simpleminded fool...Maynard doesn't care what you like. He makes music that he likes and if people enjoy it great. Its what separates him from all of these garbage musicians out today, whose main concern is to make pop hits for the masses. Go buy the latest korn album and get back in line with the rest if the sheep.

mcburton1
mcburton1

@GimmeAliterOfcolaVery well said, have two liters of Cola hehe.
Going to see Tool for the second time on March 4th in Spokane, so worth the wait!  Last time I saw them was 6 years ago, same venue, with my daughter who was 11 at the time; it was her first concert.  We're going together again, cannot wait!!
It never ceases to amaze me how so many fans of Tool fail to realize the depth of their music, the sheer metaphysical power of it, the evolving meanings behind the lyrics and notes.  No other band has ever done the things to my energy system that Tool has heh.  My favorite band, of all time.

chipnathan
chipnathan

This guy is speaking for me id give you a liter of cola you speak just and true we all share this phoney ownership that's built upon our demands for more more more well to be this band of ginormous artists to become each everysong is fully transcended in us thanks for all we can have.

Phxmusicdotcom
Phxmusicdotcom

@churv69 When you're right you're right, Churv. I've removed the Queens reference, and you're absolutely right that I mixed those two up. 

 
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