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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Revolver Magazine

Date: July, 2002

Transcribed by
Curtis Van Horn (terran1086@juno.com)


  page: 75
 title: A Beautiful Mind
author: Robyn Doreian

Intro: In a Rare Interview, Tool and a Perfect Circle frontman 
Maynard James Keenan shares his dark thoughts on 
organized religion, the new world order, and Speedo bathing 
suits.

             Maynard James Keenan is an intensely private 
person. The Tool frontman will speak freely on issues such as 
censorship and President George 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 force 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 (printed in italics) a 
parttime 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 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 explore different sides of his 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 
the framework of either Tool or 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 Nickleback? 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 
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 
the transform you into someone different every night?

Keenan: It's said that when Michael 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 at 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 show, 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 you damage in a different way 
and become a sculptor instead. Art provided me with a 
creative outset.

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 with 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 other for the greater good. 
You are trying to become a more conscious being through 
your actions and by understanding what motivates you. 
Religion, on the other hand, is basically a marketing plan. 
There is a middleman involved, and somewhere along the 
line someone is going to ask for your credit card number. 
They are going to pass a plate in front of you, trick you into 
giving 10 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 os spirituality have you delved into 
to explore your own creative consciousness?

Keenan: All of them, as there is truth in every religion. You 
just have to weed out the 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 World War II. 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 the President of the United States-
--the same one 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 considering 
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 song "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 all 
tumble down/no fault, none 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 back 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 bring 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 the last 
time you had three CDs come across your desk in a month 
that really impressed you?

Revolver: What's undermining you?

Keenan: Money and power. I know very creative people who 
are considering putting their process on the back burner so 
that they can make money with horrible, horrible band, one 
with no artistic integrity. What they don't realize is that as 
soon as they do that, that band will use their name to 
undermine anything credible they could possibly 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 process, and it has completely 
undermined everything.

Revolver: But what do you do if you are a struggling artist?

Keenan: Figure a way. Realize that you don't need your DVD 
player. [laughs] Start from the basics of what it will take for 
you 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: 05/19/02 00:25:00