Date: July, 2000
Laura Munkholm (email@example.com)
Laura Munkholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
page: 75 title: A Beautiful Mind author: Robyn Doreian Maynard James Keenan is an intensely private person. The Tool frontman will speak freely on issues such as censorship and President Geroge W. Bush. But when asked about his personal life, Keenan responds with "I am not going into that," and the conversation comes to a screeching halt. What does get Keenan talking, however, is his passion for art, music, spirituality, and psychology. And when the conversation shifts to religion, the government, and the horror of compromised integrity, the singer is positively verbose. It seems Keenan has deemed it his responsibility to speak out against the forces that seek to oppress him. Considering that Keenan has so much to say, it's not surprising that the singer fronts two bands: Besides his lengthy relationship with Tool, he is also the mouthpiece of A Perfect Circle, the project launched by former Tool guitar tech, Billy Howerdel, in 2000. Both bands are equal priorities for Keenan, who insists that APC is NOT a part time gig. "People can't get it through their heads that A Perfect Circle is not a side project," says Keenan, adding that APC should be releasing another album next year. "It's just like having two children and saying that you just thought you would have the second one for fun. No, they are your children and part of your life." The two groups, he explains, allow him to wxplore different sides of personality; while Tool are rough, caustic, and deeply exploratory, APC delve into softer territory -- What Keenan likes to refer to as his "feminine side." In this interview, however, Keenan moves beyond framework of either Tool ro A Perfect Circle and focuses on more pressing -- and controversial -- concerns. The result is as raw as it gets. ***** Revolver: Tool's live shows are a unique sensory experience. What do you think it is that sets them apart from other live acts? Maynard James Keenan: We are totally at odds with the current musical climate. Do you really think people are impressed by Nickelback? Or Limp Dickshit? How could you be impressed by Fred Durst? When they come to see something that has more substance, it is a moving experience -- there's more heart. There is intent. Going to see Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, or Rage Against the Machine, there is heart. It breathes. You have to be affected by that. Revolver: Are the costumes you wear onstage -- wigs, Speedo bathing suits -- purely for the benefit of the audience, or do they transform you into someone different every night? Keenan: It's said that when Michal Keaton was contemplating playing Batman, wondering how he was going to do it, Jack Nicholson told him, "Sometimes you have to let the costume do the acting for you." That is kind of where i am with that. Revolver: Is it something you plan in advance? Keenan: Not really. The ideas come from the music, and you do it and it either works or it doesn't, in which case you abandon it and go on to the next thing. Revolver: Have any of them not worked? Keenan: Oh, plenty. I don't want to bring them up, but there is photographic evidence. Revolver: Is it odd to wear fake breasts? Keenan: Who says they are fake? (laughs) Revolver: During Tool's live shows, you tell the audience that "art saves lives." Under what circumstances did it save yours? Keenan: Things happen to you as a child and they might damage you in some way, and that can make you see the world in a strange light. If you allow that damage to run your life, you could end up being a guy on a building with a rifle. Alternately, you could channel your damage in a different way and become a sculptor instead. Art provided me with an outlet. Revolver: How do you think your religious upbringing as a Southern Baptist has impacted who you are today? Keenan: The religious upbringing that most people go through, and its association wtih Western religion, is all based on lies. At some point you either wake up and realize they are lies or you continue in a fog. I realized i had been lied to and wanted to know the truth. There is a big difference between religion and spirituality. If you are walking a spiritual path, it is because you are trying to help yourself or others for the greater good. You are trying to become a more conscious being through your actions and by understanding what motivates you. Relition, on the other hand, is basically a marketing plan. There is a middleman involved, and somewhere along the line someone is going to ask you for your credit card number. They are going to pass a plate in front of you, trick you into giving ten percent of your income to some child-molesting fuckhead, or worse, trick you into giving up your civil rights over some storybook. Revolver: Why do you think people still subscribe to it? Keenan: I am still trying to figure that out. Revolver: So what areas of spirituality have you delved into to explore your own creative consciousness? Keenan: All of them, as there is truth in every religion. You just ahve to week out teh middleman principle, the profit portion, and get to the crux of it. Revolver: Have you come to any conclusions as to why we are here? Keenan: I think we are here to create a new world order. George W. Bush is an extremely evil person, and what he is doing is going to bring us down. He is going to make it very difficult for me to travel around the world because I am an American, and people will look at me in exactly the same way they used to look at the GErmans when they were traveling in the Fifties, right after WWII. We are living in McCarthyism, the Third Reich, and people don't realize it. Look at the events of September 11. The person who profited from that was teh President of the United States -- the same man who was not elected by the people but instead by a fault in the electoral system. His public opinion was at an all-time low, so he benefited from it. His family's oil, war and weapons interests all benefited. And everyone was so scared that they willingly gave up their civil rights, so that if anyone discovers how evil this guy is, they can't do anything about it. It really amazes me that the American people are just blindly letting this go on. They are not even considereing the possibility that their government could be lying to them. It is absolutely nauseating. Revolver: It seems that communication is even more important today. Keenan: The son "Schism" is very significant for me. It came out a month before September 11, and the second verse says, "I know the pieces fit cuz i watched them tumble down/ no fault, no one to blame, it doesn't mean i don't desire to point the finger/blame the other/watch the temple topple over/to bring the pieces bac together, rediscover communication." When Tool was on the brink of breaking up, it was our ability to communicate with each other that saved us. Revolver: What do you think it means to be human in 2002? Keenan: [long pause] It feels like we are on the brink of something here. It almost feels like we are going to have to figure out our connection to each other or we are not going to survive as a race. Revolver: Therein lies a great opportunity. Keenan: A great opportunity for liars, thieves, and murderers like our government. This so-called new world order has been very effective in undermining the creative process to the point where it is run by actors and businessmen with marketing plans. It is no longer about music. I mean, when was teh last time you ahd three CDs come across your desk in a month that really impressed you? Revolver: What's undermining you? Keenan: Mony and power. I know very creative people who are considering putting their process on the back burner so that they can make money with some horrible, horrible band, one with no artistic integrity. What they don't realize is that as soon as they do that, the band will use thier name to undermine anything credible they could possible do in the future. They are completely selling out their credibility for the money. It happens at so many levels here that people pretty much accept it as the precess, and it has completely undermined everything. Revolver: But what do you do if you're a struggling artist? Keenan: Figure a way. Realize that you don't need your DVD player [laughs] Start from the basics of what you need to survive. You need a roof over your head, food, and clothes. Just start there. Everything else should go into your art.
Posted to t.d.n: 04/27/03 22:45:27