Sketch Comedy Helped Maynard James Keenan Pursue Puscifer’s Absurd Humor
Maynard James Keenan was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio programming with a lot of stuff in the Puscifer world to discuss, including how his love of sketch comedy influences the group's absurdist sense of humor.
Puscifer wrapped up another theatrical tour, still out in support of their 2020 album Existential Reckoning, which will also help propel the new Existential Reckoning: Rewired album. It's a reimagined take on the record with members of Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and more all putting their twist on the songs.
Additionally, Puscifer have served up the V Is For Versatile and Parole Violator concert films, which are also available as an audio-only option.
It's not surprising in the least that Keenan has so many different projects in motion at once as he regularly balances so many things in and outside of music, but this much from just one area of concentration is indeed quite a lot.
Read the full interview below.
V Is for Versatile and Parole Violator are more than just concert films, they're theatrical productions. Maynard, why is thespianism so effective to enhance the impact of music?
I don't know. I think it's it's an all-encompassing — it's not just audio. All your senses are firing when you see a live show and so actually capturing that on film effectively and editing it effectively can kind of take the experience to another level. Puscifer are very suited for it.
Secret agents searching for alien activity is the theme of the current Puscifer stage show. What are the allegorical messages of that performance?
It's an incredible show that just wrapped up. Our last U.S. date for now was in Prescott, Arizona and it was wonderful show. There's eye candy everywhere and audio candy as well. We recorded that one, so in the future we'll probably see another concert film of the entire tour that we just did.
Puscifer, "Horizons" from Parole Violator Film
Existential Reckoning: Rewired is a remix of the album released two years ago. Once an album is finished and released, what compels you to reimagine it?
It's just all about perspective. Some people, when they hear a song, they latch onto a particular part of it. When you have as many creative people in our world that cross paths and people you've worked with and people we just meet, it's interesting to see their reinterpretation of something you did and latched onto and reimagine it.
Unlike Tool or A Perfect Circle, Puscifer readily trades in the more absurd. Why is it healthy for a creative personality to have different artistic barometers?
I'm not sure that I measure it like that. I think it's just something that I gravitated to early on, having been involved in high school production, and then later living in L.A. being exposed to a lot of the comedians doing both standup and sketch comedy. Being a big fan of sketch comedy myself, it's just something that I pursued.
I'm also a musician, so seeing those things dovetailing in together, it seems like a natural fit for me. Also working with the other bands and working with the winery, there's crossover in some places and some not.
Music can be thought-provoking and it could be escapism. As an artist, what's your role and maybe responsibility in socially unsettled times, such as now?
We're storytellers. That's our job — observe, interpret, and report. And that's what we do. If it's through a sense of humor or through very serious subject matter, or a combination of both the comedy and the tragedy, that's kind of our job.
For bands starting out today, how different is it? What do you say to people who come up to you and go, "I'm in a band and I'm trying to make it. What is your advice?"
Well, I'm 58 and wouldn't have a clue. Whatever the climate is nowadays and whatever the venues are, whatever the outlets are of what people are responding to, I couldn't tell you.
I guess the best advice would just be tell your story as accurately and in as individual of a way as you can.
Thanks to Maynard James Keenan for the interview. For more on 'Parole Violator,' 'V Is For Versatile' and 'Existential Reckoning: Rewired' and to purchase and/or pre-orders, head here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.