Date: October 1994
Transcribed by Arsenio Santos (firstname.lastname@example.org)
title: Toe to Toe with Maynard and Hank: Brains, Brawn and Bands refereed by Janiss Garza (Note: I only included the cheese-intro out of respect for precision and maintaining some sense of context. 'Nuff said.) "Uh-oh, I don't think you want to go down there," a friend warned upon hearing I was going to Henry Rollins' home/office to interview him and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan. "Why not?" I asked. "You might grow hair on your chest." It's nigh impossible to get any manlier than Henry Rollins. The man is a powerhouse no matter what he does, be it laying down vocal tracks for the Rollins Band's forceful new album, Weight, performing his spoken word pieces, writing books or creating a record company. But Henry's met his match in intensity when it comes to Maynard. One icy look from Maynard will stop you as quickly as a punch in the face. The guy's shrewd, too. Listen to Opiate or Undertow and it's clear that he and his bandmates see right through pretense and sham with a frightening x-ray vision -- and show it up for the joke it really is. It's no wonder that Henry and Maynard forged a friendship a couple years back when the Rollins Band and Tool toured together. In this RIP exclusive, we rounded up Henry and Maynard for a nice, friendly chat. Can you say "ARRGGGGHHHH"? I knew you could. RIP: So you and Maynard met when Rollins and Tool first toured together? Henry Rollins: [To Maynard] I met you at the Whiskey, I think. You were sending me tapes of Tool, and I was digging that, and then we played the Whiskey and you were at the gig and we were introduced formally. Then we started touring together. It was really great. We did a bunch of shows all over America together, and it was excellent. Maynard Keenan: We had a good time. HR: And it was cool with Tool, just because the first night they played with us, they were good. Not great. But like, really good. But the like ten shows later, you're like "Wow!" A lot of the bands you go out on tour with, they don't improve when they go on tour. They just kind of go out there and do it. And you saw Tool every night getting better, which to me is a real turn on. And by the time we got to L.A., their shit was just, like, forget it! It's nice to see a band aggressively going for musical excellence and really delivering. It was a great double bill, Tool and Rollins Band. MK: (quickly) Everything that he said was true. HR: See, bands like us don't have gimmicks going, we don't have the androgynous, boy/girl singer guy, you know what I mean? And we don't have the immense stage show. Bands like us survive on the music, `cause we're nothing to look at, you know what I mean? RIP: But at the same time, both you guys are really incredibly visual frontmen. MK: Yeah, but without the music, you're watching idiots dancing around like puppets, you know. We're just kind of sick of being lied to pretty much -- if you go out as a kid and you buy all this flash, you know, you realize you just spent ten bucks on a record that sucks. RIP: [To Maynard] You must have first seen Henry perform during his Black Flag days. MK: Yeah -- I was in Texas. I think I saw Flag at that place in Austin, and then -- HR: It was like, in `86 -- MK: Well, I ended up in `86, at Burton Hall, Grand Rapids, Michigan. I saw Black Flag play there. It was a pretty intense revelation. So many things that happened that day for the first time, being, like, a young punk rocker -- I noticed that there's like a guy playing bass, you know, actually playing a bass, not just hitting along with the kick drum, you know. And I had all these friends with tattoos -- just like, drawings on their face of, you know, their mom and stuff, and then I saw that big sun tat and I was like, "Oh, that makes sense." It looked like it's a piece of work on his body that fit. All these different things fell in place that day. So it's kind of cool that eventually I could go ahead and tour with Henry. Oddly enough, I didn't realize it, but Sim [Cain, drummer] and Andrew [Weiss, bass] were in the band that was in between -- HR: They were called Gone. It was Greg Ginn's instrumental band, and our drummer, Sim, was in that band, and a guy who was in the Rollins band for years, Andrew [Weiss], they were the bass player and drummer. MK: It was so amazing to see all these bands playing to practically no one. It was a great, overwhelming show and none of them backed down. There were like 50 people there and each band gave 100%. It was an eye-opening experience. I mean, the only show I'd seen before that was probably of any, like, magnitude, was like, ah, Rick Springfield. It was really pathetic. RIP: Oh man, I can't even picture you even thinking of going to Rick Springfield. MK: It wasn't my idea. I was roped. HR: Well, a lot of times in the Midwest, man, Rick Springfield was better than being at home for the night. That's why a lot of those mediocre bands get over. David Lee Roth, you know, was really smart. He made it a huge event. You had those tickets ten months in advance. You couldn't wait for that guy to bring Van Halen to town. RIP: Yeah, I remember going to see Van Halen -- what was it? It was like in 1979, 1980 -- HR: I saw that tour. I saw them opening for Ted Nugent. Whew! They put Nugent to bed that night, bro. It was awesome. MK: I saw Ted play a little while ago. It was him and Tired Skynard. We were in Nashville, we got the night off. And Danny [Carey, Tool drummer] was having the best time because it was like 20,000 rednecks with stars and bars, all drunk as shit, you know, real small teeth and eyes real close together. HR: Two thumbs in each hand. MK: No thumbs at all, actually. There would be like two dudes duking it out and Danny's getting in there with the people that were watching, taking pictures. I'm waiting for the film to come back, all these rednecks all going, "Hit 'im! He's drunker'n you!" HR: It's amazing how regressive some of those shows get. MK: Oh God, it was out of control. I mean, we saw that show and we thought, "I hope this isn't the same element that's gonna come to our show." Well, basically it was their kids. This guy brought us a dead animal on a stick. A big railroad tie, with a skinned snake nailed to it -- "Here!" "Oh cool, a dead animal on a stick! I've got one of these at home, I'll just put it on the other side." So when we played, like right before the encore, there's this little dead silence before Danny clicks into the song, and out of the crowd, you hear, "What about that snake, boy?" I just dropped the mike and shook my head, and Adam [Jones, Tool guitarist] is fucking up the lead `cause he's like, "How bizarre!" RIP: What'd you guys do with that dead snake? MK: Danny, idiot that he is, just hung it inside the truck, and of course he forgot it, so now it's probably somewhere on its way through Texas, probably with, like, Soundgarden's gear or something. (Henry's cat saunters in.) RIP: Oh, a kitty. What's his name? HR: Kato. He was given to me by my management. They kind of just dumped him on my lap and said, "Merry Christmas and happy birthday combined." he was like this big (makes a kitten-size measurement), and I was going, "Vet Bills. Cat pans. Hair. I don't want you!" and I put him on the floor. And like a day later, I'm, oh, petting him and like two weeks later, "Oh, awww --" MK: Like wandering around going, "Oh I bought him some booties!" HR: Yeah, now I've got cat toys all over the place, pictures of him everywhere. I've got pictures of him in my backpack and I'm somewhere and I'll like pull out the picture of the cat. "What are you looking at?" "The cat." People come up, and all these girls go, "Awww --" MK: Like hearing my grandmother, talk to her dog that way -- "Ooo -- puppy!" and I said I'd never do that, ever! And now I have two dogs and I talk like an imbecile! I wander around, "Ooo! You want food!" I've turned into a fucking moron. (The phone rings and Henry answers it for a quick chat before returning to the interview.) HR: That's the woman who A.D.'d The Chase [a movie Henry acted in]. We nicknamed her Ramba. She's like this awesome woman, and we're good buddies. That was a fun movie. I just finished another one in Canada, with me and Keanu Reeves and Dolph Lundgren and Ice-T and Udo Kier and Dina Meyer. That was Johnny Mnemonic; it's a William Gibson script, 40 million dollar budget, so the sets are like cities. RIP: What's the plot? What do you play in it? HR: Basically, Keanu Reeves is a messenger. He's downloaded most of his childhood to allow more hard drive space in his brain. And what you do is you upload him with information from your company that's really secrete, `cause if you try and modem it across the airwaves, other companies are gonna grab your info, so they've gotta go with a human messenger. And this time he gets uploaded with way more gigabytes of information than his RAM or whatever can handle and it starts seeping. And what he's got is basically, um, the cure for nerve attenuation syndrome which, loosely veiled, is AIDS. So all these major corporations find out and they're trying to cut his head off to download him so they can have the cure and sell it. So there's all these people trying to kill Keanu. I'm the good guy, and I've got to convince him that I'm not one of those trying to cut his head off. MK: Oh, so in this one, you really had to act! (laughs) HR: It was fun, man. It took me a couple of days to get killed by Dolph Lundgren. I want to do more film stuff. I gave the director a Tool CD. I said "Here's the boys for your new soundtrack, man." MK: I haven't got any calls. HR: Ah, he's still in editing. We're gonna be on the soundtrack, so I'm gonna keep bugging him, `cause I want you guys to be on it. If you saw the look of the movie -- you'd see why. You guys could write something that would really rock the mood of the movie. And also if you get on the soundtrack record, hey man, like we're on The Crow, you know, that's nice. 1.8 million sales so far. (Drolly) I'm gonna buy that trailer I've always wanted. MK: (Equally droll) The big one? With the -- HR: Yeah. The one I've been showing you in the magazines. MK: Does it come with that plot of cement out front where I can ride my Big Wheel around in a circle? HR: Yeah, you got it. Yeah, it's over in El Monte. MK: Can we check out Chino? HR: Chino's nice. Bakersfield -- these are great places to slash your wrists and go, "I'm lucky. I'm lucky the blade was sharp." (Seriously) I get letters from kids there and they're so bummed out. "My dad's a drunk, my brother's in jail, my mom is high and I'm 18 and I don't know what to do." I get like ten of those a day. There's so much rape, molestation, like uncles, you know, and all that. There's so much of that and parents being high and kids getting beaten up, threatened with weapons at school and stuff. There's so much of it that comes to me. I'm like one guy. You get so much mail like that, you've got to wonder if it's not happening like in every household. I've been getting letters like this every week for like a decade. I mean, unbelievable horror stories. You know, America's a really brutal place. Anybody in an intense band gets that kind of mail, and gets that kind of immediate, very visceral, almost psychotic response from certain people. I mean, with Black Flag, we got letters that were written in menstrual blood, all kinds of stuff. RIP: Yeah, it's not the sort of thing where a 14-year-old girl's gonna go, "Oh I think you're so cute. What's your favorite color? When's your birthday so I can send you a present?" HR: That's the mail Anthony Kiedis gets. MK: Actually, you know, I wrote Anthony Kiedis that letter! RIP: Did he write back? MK: (Mock disappointment) No! I don't understand. HR: Here, I'll show you something that'll blow your mind. (He leaves the room momentarily) MK: (Speculating) It's a -- kidney! (Henry returns with a big cardboard box filled with letters) HR: That's from one girl. I just stopped opening them. They're just all the same psychotic babble. RIP: Well, Maynard, have you been getting anything like this? MK: I got a couple, like, from France. There's one that kept sending me paintings, and somehow, I met her over in France. We didn't even do anything, even go out, and all of a sudden, I was, I don't know, her lover or something. I had my address tag on my bag, and so she got my address and I kept getting these letters at my house -- not the P.O. Box, my house -- every other day or so for a while. Then she stopped. She sent a final letter saying, "You're an insensitive bastard!" (Laughs) I think you're an oversensitive freak. RIP: So Henry, tell us about the bear at the recording studio when you made Weight. HR: Oh, we were way up in the woods, and so there's bears up there, which made walking around at night really kind of weird. It's like your up in the mountains, it's cold, it's clear, it smells great, but you don't want to bump into a black bear. You don't want to surprise an animal like that, because if they take a dislike to you, they'll kill you. Apparently there was a bear feasting on the garbage while Chris was overdubbing, so he'd just check out the bear and then play some guitar. We were up in that cabin for about five weeks. It was cool. Got a lot of work done up there. There were no distractions and the studio was set up in a way where we could see each other. We didn't have to use headphones. We used monitors on the ground, just like a gig. So we just cut it loose. It was cool, it's definitely the way to fly. You'll see a lot more bands recording in houses from now on. Every band who's gone in the studio'll tell you it's not the place to record. It's just not the vibe. It's like, "Wow, now we have to take our music into a doctor's office." It's all clean, there's other bands in the hallway. It's not your place. And this place -- instead of going in the van to the studio, like going to work, you went down the hall. Eat breakfast, kick back for a while, go for a walk, go down the hall, and rock out all day. RIP: That's a great way to work. HR: Yeah, well, this is how I have mine [motions around his home office] -- all this is mine. And next door is my book and video company. My office is right there, and I sleep right over there. So I just get up in the morning and there it is. I usually get woken up by the fax coming in, some Eurofax coming in around five. RIP: Do you ever relax? I mean, you seem like somebody that has so much going on that you never -- HR: No, I'm too fucked up to relax -- I'm a workaholic and I get nervous when I'm not doing stuff, and also I've got so much on my plate right now, as far as stuff I've gotta do, that if I relax, I'm blowing a deadline somewhere. I say I'll be clear of this work around mid-`95. Right now I'm realizing like three different record labels, a video company and they're up, they're jogging and they're about to start running, so I gotta be on it. Also I've got a major book coming out in the fall. That keeps my plate kind of full. I get reading and stuff like that done on airplanes where there's no choice, and you've already worked on that Powerbook for four hours and you're bored. I used to read a lot more, but back in the older days, all I had to do was be the singer in the band. Now I'm... I've got a lot more titles I've got to answer to, so I don't do much relaxing. I enjoy sleep. I go `til I'm exhausted. I work until like one eye starts shutting and then it's okay, time to go. That's what I did last night. I worked until I just couldn't even think straight and then I staggered to bed, woke up at like -- When the fax came in from Europe. Yeah, I was in the shower by about 7:45 this morning. And I'll be working -- actually, I've got some company coming over tonight, so I might not be working. Ah! So you will relax! (Smiling) I don't know....