Maynard James Keenan, enigmatic frontman for Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer, has been quietly putting together the musical pieces for his next endeavor: Puscifer’s new album Conditions of My Parole.
Spin sat down with the reclusive singer and winemaker to discuss the new release from his Puscifer project, which is slater for an October 18 release. Keenan's currently walking down memory lane during a Summer tour with A Perfect Circle, but this fall he'll return focus to Puscifer. "We're still mixing, but it's mostly finished," Maynard tells Spin. "Musically, it's like Twin Peaks in the desert."
The album is being recorded in Northern Arizona, where Maynard lives and owns & oversees vineyards for his Caduceus Wines brand. The man's so damn enamored with wine these days that he set up a recording studio in the wine cellar.
"It's different writing music in the outback compared to writing music on Hollywood Boulevard," he says of the high desert location. "The Verde Valley has so much diversity. You've got stories of ghosts and aliens, plus republicans, democrats, conservatives, liberals, vineyards, ranches, horses. It's hostile territory: You've got scorpions, black widows, brown recluse, javelina, rattlesnakes… and hippies."
For the album, Puscifer members Keenan, Mat Mitchell and Josh Eustis welcome newcomers including Jeff Friedl and Matt McJunkins from Ashes Divide and the latest incarnation of APC, as well as L.A. songwriter Juliette Commagere, Bat for Lashes drummer Sarah Jones and, perhaps most excitingly, Jon Theodore, the former beatmaster for Mars Volta. "He's got some serious chops," says Maynard. "Working with different people opens up a whole new set of questions and puzzles and solutions."
Maynard says the group "put in the right work, put in the hard work, but we didn't beat ourselves up. This album is us focusing, getting inspired, and then going out for a hike or going out to dinner, then getting back to work on it again."
Later in the interview, Maynard relates his two passions in poetic fashion: "[recording music] is very much like winemaking. Pieces are developing individually, then you bring them together and they either fit together or they don't. Eventually when you bring it all together, it integrates, then you spend a little bit of time working on it, and then you release it."
After the October release of Conditions of My Parole, Puscifer will hit the road for a two-month tour. The variety show fans witnessed in previous touring jaunts can be expected, but with "a lot of changes and new approaches. We'll be doing a lot of filming and posting more videos online, too."
As for new music from his other projects, after their Summer tour, A Perfect Circle "might put out a track or two," Keenan says. "The energy is good, so there's always the potential for a future." And as for Tool…
"We're writing," he says.