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Starpulse Q&A: Maynard James Keenan: N for New Album

November 6th, 2007 10:00pm EST
Maynard James KeenanAs the front man of Tool and A Perfect Circle, Maynard James Keenan has become one of the most successful and recognizable vocalists to grace the stage. Now, amidst the final weeks of his tour in promotion of 2006's 10,000 Days, Maynard releases V for Vagina, the first full length-effort from his Puscifer side-project. Starpulse caught up with the enigmatic musician to discuss the origins of his latest endeavour and his time in LA's alternative comedy scene.

What was the genesis of this project?
It's been a series of random events that's been going on since the mid 90's, mostly coming out of comedy shows that we were happening around L.A. with some friends of mine, including some of the early works that went into Mr. Show. Puscifer was basically the catchall name for all these other little side bands that would come to close the show. We had a band called Wicked Scepter, Umlaut, and all these little things and some nights, we would close a show and sometimes Tenacious D would close.

When did you write most of these songs?
Some pieces have been around forever but most of this record started in more recent years.

What were your own comedic ventures like?
They were just more musical in nature, although I did play side parts in some of the pieces. You had to sit in the venues during performances, and some of the rooms had themes. For example, one night, the theme of the show was that the club was being taken over by a theme restaurant called "Dr. O'Cutty's" so while people are up there trying to do their sketches, there's all these blenders whirring on the back counter and the waiters and waitresses were walking around in white medical gear with mirrors on their heads and clipboards.

Did you also perform stand up or was it just sketch?
No, just sketch stuff.

You're actually selling a few comedy albums on the website store, why is that?
You have to have a full cart to be counted as a store, so they're just they're to fill up the cart.

Among those albums are several by comedian Neil Hamburger, whose opened for many musicians. Did you ever think of having Neil open for you in the past?
I've actually done stuff with Neil before. And Tenacious D actually did open for Tool at one point. Neil Hamburger would probably be involved in playing in the band rather than opening up for us. But I couldn't say how since we haven't done anything yet.

When did you have the time to record this album?
On the road. I just budgeted my time so that I could do it on days off during my down time.

And you collaborate with quite a few artists on this. How do you decide who to collaborate with?
Depends on who's in town. We have lots of friends everywhere so when you're rolling in to Boston you call around to see who's in town or if you have some particular thing in mind that you need done you can just find someone who plays the particular instrument that you need.

Do you find that there's a lot of crossover between comedy fans and fans of your work?
This is the first time that that element has been as obvious as it is. I've had it in the past and fans tended to overlook it, but we'll see.

Interview by Ben Kharakh
Starpulse.com contributing writer