Editor's Note: This blog has been modified from its original version to reflect that the interview was conducted with Mat Mitchell of Puscifer.
It's hard to keep up with Maynard James Keenan's Puscifer, let alone predict where he's taking the project next.
The music melds the masculinity of industrial, comedic and experimental rock with the feminine side of ambient, trippy instrumentals. After all, Keenan, the only permanent member of the band, has described Puscifer as "simply a playground for the various voices in my head...a space with no clear or discernible goals...where my id, ego and anima all come together to exchange cookie recipes."
If Puscifer were a person, it would be a moody, playful one, damn near bipolar and waaay too secretive--getting information out of the band members is like pulling teeth.
But the enlightening genius behind Puscifer's music is undeniable--not surprising, considering the bevy of musical masterminds behind it. And fans are in luck this June. The band is on a third mini-tour to promote their sophomore album, Conditions of My Parole, which was recorded amidst wine barrels in Keenan's Jerome winery Caduceus Cellars. The three-week stint includes a stop at Bonnaroo, River's Edge Music Festival in St. Paul, and also a stop in Prescott at Yavapai College Performance Hall on Saturday, June 30.
Up On The Sun sat down with guitarist and producer Mat Mitchell, to talk about Puscifer's upcoming album, working with Maynard, and the influence of the subconscious.
Up On The Sun: So currently, are you just working with Puscifer or do you have other projects in the works?
Mat Mitchell: Mostly Puscifer, but I have some stuff I'm working on with Katy Perry.
Katy Perry? Interesting...Any writing in the works for Puscifer?
We're working on material. We're trying to figure out what it turns into, whether we do another EP, full-length or live album; we're not sure yet. But we are writing songs.
What's the writing process like for you guys?
It varies. [It could be] anything from us sitting in a room and hashing a song out together, to individuals kind of, you know, myself or Maynard, bringing things to the table and seeing what mixes. There's a variety of ways. We have a couple songs where Maynard's like, "Oh I kind of have this vocal idea," and I'll have a guitar idea, and a couple hours later we work something out. Right now we're just sending ideas back and forth. One person will say they have an idea for a song, and then we'll develop it to be more abstract.
What's working with Maynard like?
It's great, very inspiring. He's very uh, up very early and is a very hard worker and you can do your best to keep up. He doesn't rest.
Do politics influence Puscifer?
Not so much politics, in an intentional way. Certainly, everything going on around you affects your mood, so in that way, current events do affect the song. But it's more...we try to make it more....I don't know how to explain it. Emotions...how we're feeling at the time...that kind of thing. I'd have to say the main influence is just the subconscious.
So the material you're working on right now, what is it inspired by? With all the crazy current events happening as we speak, do you think it will have more of a--
Yeah. Musically, it's what comes out. The inspiration is in being around each other and being inspired by someone coming up with creative ideas. Feeding off of each other.
I love the cover you guys did of "Rocketman." Any plans to do other covers?
There's a cover in the works for a couple of the live shows that we're doing on the next tour, so a few people will get to see that. Not sure if we are recording it though yet. And actually there are a couple covers we've toyed with that we are going to record, and we'll see how those develop and what happens with them. But nothing's really planned out yet, as far as covers.
Can you name off any ideas you have for covers?
[Laughs] People just have to be patient, and wait to find out.