While Marc Maron usually interviews fellow comedians or writers on his WTF podcast, he’ll also interview musicians, with Thom Yorke, Nick Cave, and Iggy Pop among those he’s had by his garage. His current podcast features Tool/Puscifer/A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan. The near 90-minute interview is insightful, with the generally reclusive Keenan talking about his upbringing, joining bands and becoming a winemaker in more detail than he usually does.
Eagle-eyed Mr. Show fans probably remember Keenan from the “Ronnie Dobbs” skit as the vocalist of a band called Puscifer in the skit. That skit predates his current solo project of the same name, and Keenan says that he integrated himself into the Los Angeles comedy community in the mid-’90s, introduced by his roommate.
He took me over to Luna Park, and that’s where I got involved with Laura Milligan. She has “Tantrum” at the Diamond Club in Hollywood, and sometimes Tenacious D would close her show, and sometimes I would close her show as her fictitious boyfriend who was supposed to close the show, but never did. He’s coming down, and he’s kind of a metal dude, in the wake of the end of Sunset Strip thing, so her boyfriend was kind of a hair band metal douche, but he’s always trying to reinvent himself. This week, he’s in a Dead or Alive kind of band, and the next week he’s like “I’m grunge.” Now we’re punk rock. That’s really how the original version of Puscifer came about, basically a core guy trying to be all these different people.
Also, most Tool fans recognize the connection between comedian Bill Hicks and the band’s second full-length, Aenima. In addition to being immortalized in the album’s artwork, Hicks is sampled on the album’s 15-minute epic, “Third Eye,” quoted on the album’s title track (Arizona Bay was the name of a Hicks album), and eulogized in “Eulogy.” Unfortunately, just as he was starting to reach mainstream acceptance, Hicks died at the age of 32 from pancreatic cancer in 1994. On the podcast, Keenan mentions that before Hicks had died, the two struck up a friendship at Lollapalooza 1993, and they were discussing plans to tour together.
We were going to put together a tour. It was still when the band was young and still kind of up and coming, way before Aenima, we were still at that level where we could probably pull something like that off… We were trying to figure out what we were going to do. We were trying to figure out how we would work it in to where it would somehow be accepted in that forum. Even then, it was hard for us to be accepted. We would play somewhere and we’d have these moshing skinheads dudes saying ‘play faster,’ and we’d be like “listen slower.” I don’t know, this is what we’re doing. You came here to see us, I’m not sure why I’m supposed to give you what you want… Bill and I discussed this. It was early enough on in our career that we think we could at least weed out the people that didn’t want to see that, somehow resonate on that level.
Unfortunately, Hicks passed before that tour came to be. Keenan said he had a dream that served as a premonition that Hicks wasn’t doing well, which was confirmed by his manager. For the rest of the interview, in which he talks about the expectations that Tool fans have of him, his disguising himself onstage, and much more, head over to Maron’s site and listen for yourself.