Prepare to cringe at this Maynard James Keenan interview years before he was famous

Maynard James Keenan interviewed in 1987
(Image credit: YouTube)

Every rock star has served time in fledgling bands before striking out on the path to greatness. James Hetfield was in Leather Charm. Dave Mustaine was in Panic. And before he'd even invented metal,  Tony Iommi honed his chops in The Rockin’ Chevrolets.

Before moving to Los Angeles and forming Tool, Maynard James Keenan plied his trade with Michigan quintet Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty in the mid 80s. The band only lasted for a year, and didn’t hint at much in terms of future potential. The songs were, by and large, run-of-the-mill industrial post-punk, although one of them would have a far-reaching legacy; Burn About Out would have its main melody plucked and slowed down to create the verses of Tool’s biggest hit, Sober. A good chunk of the lyrics were reappropriated, as well.

In April 1987, C.A.D. made their television debut. The quintet nabbed half an hour on Michigan’s public access TV, and good God, is the footage awkward. Maynard, to his credit, is in pristine form vocally. Melodic, yet fierce, he already has the pipes that would help propel Tool into the stratosphere.

His bold look – a loose vest, black leggings and gladiator-style sandals – tragically never caught on beyond this show, but this amateur clip shows a brief glimpse of the Tool singer’s captivating stage presence.

At the end of the broadcast, Maynard endures a brief, toe-curling interview.

Today, he’s a famously cagey interviewee, rarely doing press and far from keen to overshare when he does. This two-minute chat might be why. His interviewer opens by asking him his name – never a good move – and then doubles down by having him name every other person in his band like a walking Wikipedia page.

And, somehow, it gets worse. She asks him the kind of shows they normally play. “Hall shows, generally,” he flatly replies, before adding: “We’ve got our first bar gig at the Intersection [a Grand Rapids music venue] this next weekend.”

“How did that go over?” she asks, clearly not listening. But, to his credit, he takes it in his stride, smiling awkwardly as he repeats himself. The torrent of usual questions follows: Where’s the band name from? Do you get tired playing live? And so on and so on.

These were the most of humble beginnings for the soon-to-be Tool leader, but at least he already had the vocal chops necessary to be a breakout star. 

Watch the interview below, and try to not gnaw your own fist off:

Matt Mills

Louder’s resident Cult Of Luna obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.