Maynard James Keenan: “Religion is basically a marketing plan”

(Image credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns)

Maynard James Keenan is one of music's great enigmas. In 2015, the Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer frontman opened up with his thoughts on art, religion, jiu-jitsu and his relationship with his bandmates.

“I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. I never even thought about it. It was always there in the back of my head. We had those forms in school, just stupid forms you had to fill out where they asked you all sorts of things. For example, what you want to be when you grow up. There were a lot of choices to make and I always picked artist. I never once picked doctor, lawyer, fireman or something like that. It was always artist.”

“Religion is basically a marketing plan. They’re going to pass a plate in front of you, trick you into giving 10 per cent of your income to some child-molesting fuckhead, or trick you into giving up your civil rights over some storybook.”

“I started Puscifer when you couldn’t really see Puscifer through to the end because of the nature of the industry and the economy. This thing started in the mid-1990s, and you couldn’t make a video; you couldn’t do animation then for less than half a million dollars. You just didn’t have the technology; you didn’t have the computer programs to just kinda do the stuff at home. I mean, if you wanted to make a video, you had to hire a director of photography and you needed a craft services table and all that stuff. Now you can do it all on your iPhone. So there was an interim when I had to wait for the industry and for technology to catch up so I could do what I wanted to do with this project.”

“People were bitching at me while I was in the hospital [recovering from hip surgery in 2015] to get back on the road. I was like, ‘Fucker, I’m in the hospital because of the road, so go fuck yourself and get some perspective. I’ve done more in a week than most have done in a lifetime’.”

“When I joined the military I believed we’d found some kind of groove as far as world peace. We didn’t really have any major conflicts. We were going through a lot of growing pains as a nation. I don’t know that I would recommend active service right now. What I embraced is that warrior’s mindset. You’re competing against yourself and understanding that you have to be able to get into that mindset in certain situations. At the end of the day, you’re competing against yourself.”

“Tool are not just bandmates – bandmates don’t necessarily stick with each other – we’re family. You can move through friends and walk away from them if they try your patience, but with family, you’re with these people and you have no choice. You’re with these people, and you really have to force yourself to work things out.”

“Bill Hicks’ ideas really resonated with us. We were resonating similar concepts. Unity is the philosophical centre. Evolution. Change. Internally and externally. Individually and globally. That’s pretty much the gist of his comedy no matter what he was talking about – music, porno, smoking. Whatever it was, it came back to the idea of unity and evolution. Evolving ideas.”

“Jiu-jitsu is about finding your boundaries. It’s a humbling experience, because there’s always somebody who’s much better than you are. If you can get your head around that and accept that and really just be concerned about yourself, learn about your boundaries, learn about your place in the world, then you can exceed and move forward with whatever limitations you have.”

Originally published in 2015

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