Maynard James Keenan (Puscifer, Tool, A Perfect Circle) on The Importance of Keeping It Local
I read an older interview where you discuss the state of the music industry. It seems you've increasingly taken things into your own hands, business wise. You've got your winery, your store in Jerome, and a store in Tucson, as well?
No, I don't know where that came from. No, I have nothing in Tucson.
I've heard that from multiple people; I hadn't read anything about it.
I've heard it a million times, too. I have nothing in Tucson [laughs]. There's the Puscifer Store is Jerome; the Caduceus Cellars Tasting Room is in Jerome; and soon I'll have a Merkin Orchards Market, a brick oven pizza tasting room in Cornville.
With all that, you're very busy beyond music, but you've integrated the music into it. You put Conditions of My Parole out yourself.
That's a hard thing for people to wrap their heads around. They've heard of larger acts saying "Oh, we're independent." Well, no, not really, because they might not have a label, but they definitely have a staff that's basically a label. They have all the same pieces in place, and then they go through a major distributor to make sure their records get out into the stores.
We don't even have that. We're going through - no label, no funding, no underwriting, no sponsors. We got through a independent distribution called Junketboy, which deals with local record stores, the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, [and gets the record to] places like Amoeba, and all the places around Phoenix where you can still get vinyl. Hot Topic won't even take Junketboy's calls to distribute records - that's how independent it is.
We're definitely on our own. So, it's funny to see when we're actually doing well. We don't get a lot of support out there. Radio doesn't really support us because they get money in whatever way, from record labels, some kind of support from labels. They don't really want to help us, because they don't stand to benefit. Every step along the way, all the pieces that might support us don't, because they don't really stand to benefit. We're really truly on our own. So any success we enjoy, we've truly earned it.
What influenced your decision to move that way? Other than the creative benefits?
Well, I guess the short answer would be "local first." Keep it local, keep it small, just do it yourself, live within your means. Don't try to take over the world with it, do what you do. Figure out what the word "sustainable" truly means, and I don't mean as it appears on the bottom of your menu. Truly sustainable. Survival. How do you live within your means and make this work so everyone benefits? Because you're not having to sell your short for a penny because you made too many shirts.
That's the first reason why we would go our own way, but also because the vision. If you have an idea to do something, [it gets more difficult] the more you have all these other people in the middle of it. The vision starts with the band. And we've proven now with social networking that we can present this to people without anybody polluting the image, polluting the vision, polluting the message, polluting the art, and just be very patient with who discovers it. We're in no hurry, because it's sustainable. We don't have to immediately sell a million records to pay the bills because of all the marketing costs that were attached, and all the wasted money. We can actually take our time and find our own audience, and make sure that we focus on the most important part: we have a story to tell, and we're telling it properly without any kind of pollution.
I feel like there's an Arizona stamp on this record. More than any of your records, you have feel it in the lyrics, in the sounds.
As you know, this is an Arizona project. Its inception was in '95, when I was living in L.A. [but] when I turned on the engine to really get it going was in Jerome.