Maynard James Keenan Discusses Donkey Punch the Night

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Jamie Peachey
See more photos in this exclusive Phoenix New Times slideshow.
Right now, there's a Tool fan angrily venting about the lack of a new Tool album in some dark corner of the Internet. Right now, Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan is most likely working on something other than a new Tool album.

As detailed in this week's Phoenix New Times cover story, Keenan is a very busy guy. In addition to his winemaking in Arizona's Verde Valley, where he oversees Caduceus Cellars, Merkin Vineyards, and Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Keenan is prepping for a joint tour featuring two of his bands, Puscifer and A Perfect Circle. On Tuesday, February 19, Puscifer is scheduled to release a new EP, Donkey Punch the Night, with new songs, remixes, and covers of Accept's "Balls to the Wall" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." He's working on an autobiography, and oh yeah, he just recently wrapped up a four-month stint as a pop culture/wine/music columnist for Up on the Sun.

Keenan pressed pause one busy morning to discuss his recent projects with Up on the Sun, touching on the survivalist instinct that drives his work ethic, Donkey Punch the Night, and Puscifer's origins on the David Cross and Bob Odenkirk's program Mr. Show.

See also:

-Nobody's Tool: Maynard James Keenan Would Rather Talk About His Other Bands
-Maynard James Keenan Is Nobody's Tool [Slideshow]
-Maynard James Keenan's Column Archives at New Times
-Maynard James Keenan (Puscifer, Tool, A Perfect Circle) on The Importance of Keeping It Local

8507323.87jp.jpg
Jamie Peachey
See more photos in this exclusive Phoenix New Times slideshow.
Up on the Sun: You recently completed a column for Up on the Sun. How much do you write for yourself? Do you keep a journal, or were you not accustomed to writing out your thoughts in that fashion?

Maynard James Keenan: No, they're all inside.

Have you considered doing more long-form writing?

I am working on a semi-autobiography.

Are you looking to focus on everything you've done with that book -- art, movies, wine, music?

It's an autobiography, so it will focus on me. I think there are a lot of misconceptions with some people that, all of a sudden, I was born when my first band came out. I actually had a life before that, and there were a lot of accomplishments. [The book] will kind of chronicle why it is I got to where I am, and why I got to where you knew about me.

You started in multimedia art, which you've continued to do with Puscifer, but you were involved in the art scene for years before people knew you through music, correct?

Yeah, I went to art school in Michigan, and was also doing a lot of performance stuff when I moved to Los Angeles, [working] the comedy circuit, more sketch comedy, along with music. I was very involved in the arts [before that]; I moved to Boston and -- eh, [it's like] saying you were in the film industry if you worked at Blockbuster Video -- but, I worked at a frame shop in Boston that had a lot of museum pieces come through. [There were pieces being framed for] gallery showings. It was full-on installation pieces, so I got to see a lot of cool stuff.

Was there always a musical component to your sketch comedy?

Yeah. Puscifer and Tenacious D [performed] on Mr. Show.

Puscifer's forthcoming EP, Donkey Punch the Night is very interesting. You guys do an incredibly faithful rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and a very divergent take on Accept's "Balls to the Wall." You've done covers before [A Perfect Circle's eMOTIVe featured a re-imagined and rearranged selection of cover songs]. Was the impetus to do this record just a desire to work with these songs?

In a way, yeah. But also, the general approach to [Puscifer] has always been to do a couple songs at a time and put them out. Traditionally, back in the mid-1900s, a vinyl single would go to a radio station. You'd buy somebody's sheet music and record a song in a studio and take it to radio stations and sell the single. [You would] sell that song. Then you'd have a B-side on it, and beyond that, if you had a couple more songs and you were feeling kind of froggy, you would do an extended play, an EP, which would not only be the single and B-side, but maybe a couple other tracks on there.

That's were [the term] LP came from. That's the long play. "Woah, you have all these songs on one piece of vinyl? That's a long play." You have four or five songs per side with an LP. But the single format was the format of the day, and I kind of like the idea of getting back to that a little bit, where you just focus on two thoughts, or one thought, and release that thought.

It feels like the industry is shifting back to that. Conditions of My Parole was obviously a long play but...

That was us on a roll. We were going to do a couple songs, and all of the sudden it became something completely different.

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4 comments
TKGr
TKGr

The 1200 to Cold War push for romantic love is essentially a selfish philosophy.  It is good for dumb people and powerless people.  But their kids won't be as power or useful/intelligent as they could be.  Grunge goes too far in the soldier direction.  The world changes and individuals change.  All Cobain really needed was to find a flavour of ice cream he liked more than heroin.  Maybe heroin ice cream.

TKGr
TKGr

The 1200 to Cold War push for romantic love is essentially a selfish philosophy.  It is good for dumb people and powerless people.  But their kids won't be as power or useful/intelligent as they could be.  Grunge goes too far in the soldier direction.  The world changes and individuals change.  All Cobain really needed was to find a flavour of ice cream he liked more than heroin.  Maybe heroin ice cream.

Days Go By is good but a little too much sounding like a Foo song.  Same problem with One more Astonaut and AofE Untitled, copying Cherub Rock.  I wonder if the better computers and networks gets, the less original good music will sound?  A crappy U2 song before Breathe used a unique sample or instrument, that I think is the same thing a new Linkin Park single used.  Maybe technology will be the solution.  Wonder which genre Marley would've crossed over to...

TKGr
TKGr

I've been waiting for the new album so long I've switched over to Dream Rock.  SP, Clones, maybe Rosemary counts, Mobile is maybe my favourite cdn band now.  But the 2nd Soundgarden single is sweetly progressive.  What grunge is missing is the aspect of redemption.  You can look forward to a happy event such as a friendship and it might really happen.

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