Publication: Rock Sound
Date: May, 2002
page: 36 title: Tool Kicking against the pricks author: Robyn Doreian Maynard James Keenan is adept at side-stepping personal questions, but once the conversation turns to politics, psychology, spirituality, art and music, he is more than happy to share his experience, as Rock Sound discovers. Maynard James Keenan is an intensely private person. While the Tool frontman is known for being outspoken about issues such as cencorship and got banned from American radio for his anti-Bush sentiments, he clams up when the subject matter is of a more personal nature. Questions designed to glean details about the vocalist's living arrangements are met with the steadfast response,"I am not going into that. That is my personal life," as the conversation comes to a screeching halt. What does however open his cerebral clam is Keenan's passion for art, music, spirituality and psychology. When the conversation shifts to religon, the government and the horror of compromised integrety, he is positively verbose. As an artist, Keenan views it as his responsebility to speak out against the forces that seek to oppress him. When Tool formed in 1991, the art-rockers defined their ideals as, "developing conciousness and figuring out our place in this world as consious beings". Eleven years later, Keenan continues to spread the word about both. RS: During Tool's live show, you tell the audience "art saves lives". Under what circumstance did it save yours? MJK: As a child, some things happen 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- or you could channel your damage int a different way and become a sculptor instead. Art provided me with a creative outlet. RS: How did your interest in Jungian psychology come about? MJK: It was during my psychology class at art school that the instructor got us all to read The Hero With A Thousant Faces by Joseph Campbell. In that book he relates the myth of the hero to religions around the world. Having been brought up a Southern Baptist and having rejected that fairytale, I was very interested in finding out that a lot of these stories had connections to other stories from other cultures around the world. It made it bigger for me to understand. With the work of Carl Jung, my interest is in terms of human development, both globally and individually. RS:Has your interest in psychology extended to undertaking therapy yourself? MJK: The therapy I have undertaken is to dive into a room with three other very strong-willed individuals and see where we can meet in the middle. In that situation we can see how well we can listen to each other. RS: Under what circumstances do you think you have made the greatest discoveries about yourself? MJK: In the process of letting go of preconcieved notions. RS: What areas of spirituality have you delved into to explore your own conciousness? MJK: All of it. Take all of them, as there is truth in every religion. You just have to weed out the middleman principle, the profit portion, and just get to the crux of it. RS:Have you come to any conclusions as to why we are here? MJK: No, but I think we are here to create a New World Order. George Bush is an extremely evil person and what he is doing is bringing us down. He is making it very difficult 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 tey were travelling back in the 1950's. We are living in McCartyism, the Third Reich and people don't realise it. Look at the events of September 11 and notice who profited from that. The person who profited by that was the President of the United States who was not elected by the people but 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 because 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. Thy are not even considering the possibility that their government could be lying to them. It is absolutely nauseating. RS:How Did Tool get Banned from American radio? MJK: We were on tour in America when the events of September 11 took place and I talked about global healing, and immediately a bunch of thugs in the front row starded chanting, 'USA", I said that they should hang on to that for a second until we figure out what we did wrong, and then we got banned. 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 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 temple 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. RS: How do you think your religious upbringing has impacted on who you are today? MJK: The religious upbringing that most peolpe go through and its association with Western religion is all based on lies. At some point you either wake up and realise they are lies or you continue in a fog, and I realised 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 others or yourself for the greater good. You are trying to become a more concious being through your actions and by understanding what motivates you. Religion 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% of your income to some child-molesting fuckhead, ask for money, or worse - trick you into giving up your civil rights over some story book. RS: Why do you think people still subscribe to it? MJK: I am still trying to figure thet out. RS: In line with concepts of Jungian-psychology, what do you think it means to be human in 2002? MJK: long pauseÖ 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. RS: Therein lies a great opportunity. MJK: 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 is the last time you had three CDs come across your desk in a month that really impressed you? Now it's like one every six months. RS: In what ways do you feel you are being undermined? MJK: Basically because of money and power. I know very creative people who are considering putting their process on the back burner so that they can make some money with some horrible, horrible band with no artistic integrity. What they donít realise is that as soon as they do that, that band will use their name to undermine anything they could possibly do in the future with any credibility. They are completely selling out their credibility for the money. It happens at so many levels here that people pretty muchaccept it as the process and it has completely underminded everything. RS: But what do you do when you are a struggling artist? MJK: Figure a way. Realise that you donít need your DVD player. Laughs. Start from the basics of what it is going to take you to survive. You need a roof over your head, food and clothes. Just start there. Everything else should go into your art. I was sleeping on adam Jones, guitaristís floor when we started this band. RS: The formative years of Tool have always been portrayed as all four members having solid careers, bereft of any financial struggle. MJK: That was kind of the case, but when the band started, Adam had a decent job, but he didnít have a decent job as he was focused on his art. He was trying to pay to go to special effects school and playing his guitar on the side. When the band started in Los Angeles, yeah, he had a decent job, but he struggled to get to that moment when it all worked out. Danny Carey moved out here from Kansas City and lived in a barn so that he could play drums. He finally got a job running around town doing something, but it took him years to get it and year to get to that point, and I was working like a slave on video sets. RS: Are the costumes you wear on stage ,wigs, Speedo bathers, being seates in a wheelchair, purely for the benefit of the audience or do they transform you into someone different every night? MJK: There is a story back in the day when Michael Keaton was contemplating playing Batman and wondering how he was going to do it. He was sitting with Jack Nicholsonwho said, ďsometimes you have to let the costume do the acting for youí. That is kind of where Iím at with that. RS: Is it something you plan in advance? MJK: Not really. The ideas come from the music and you do it either and it either works or it doesnít, in wich case you abandon it and go to the next thing. RS: Have any of them not worked? MJK: Oh plenty. I donít want to bring them up, but there is photo evidence. RS: How does it feel wearing prosthetic breasts? MJK: Who says they are fake? Laughs RS: What boundaries did you set for yourself regarding your involvement with a perfect circle in relation to your commitments to Tool? MJK: I donít set boundaries. People canít get it through their heads heads that a perfect circle is not a side-project. It is 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. We are writing at present and there should be another album out next year. RS: What is happening with the tapeworm project you were working on with Trent Reznor? MJK: Until you have actually heard a song, it didnít happen. I have written it off. It is not going to come out it never happened. RS: You made your acting debut in the internet-only-release film Bikini Bandits Go To Hell, where you starred as Satan. Is acting something you are keen to pursue? MJK: It wasnít really an acting project, it was just a bunch of friends coming together and messing around. I think all musicians get interested in acting and all actors get interested in music. Bad idea. RS: When will there be a new Tool album? MJK: In a couple of yearsí time. RS: Toolís live shows are a unique sensory experience. What do you think it is that sets them apart from other live acts? MJK: 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 as there is heart. There is intent. What they see moves them, it would have to. Going to see Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails or Rage Against the Machine, there is heart. It breathes. You have to be affected by that.
Posted to t.d.n: 02/08/04 06:36:52