I can still remember the day in 1992 when my brother called me from college and said, "Go out and buy the album Opiate by a band called Tool. Holy shit! It's some of the best stuff I've heard in a long time!" I found it at a local record store, popped it in the CD player and have been a fan ever since. Singer Maynard James Keenan not only has one of the most unique and powerful voices in rock, but the band itself offers a mountain's worth of talent in its music.
The band has also notoriously avoided the press. They rarely do interviews, don't offer any review tickets to the media and you won't see live photos taken either. For the band, it's all about the music. For fans, it's also about the words. Keenan always offers an interesting outlook on the world around him -- through the lyrics and through quotes in rare interviews, comments at concerts and other media. Here's a sampling of some of the "genius" that is Maynard James Keenan:
All you know about me is what I've sold you, dumb fuck. I sold out long before you ever heard my name. I sold my soul to make a record, dip shit, and you bought one. All you read and wear or see and hear on TV Is a product Begging for your fatass dirty dollar So ... Shut up and buy my new record send more money Fuck you, buddy. -- "Hooker with a Penis"
During a concert in Greenville, S.C., two years ago, Keenan asked how many people were from the Greenville area, followed by, "I have a step-father that lives around here. If you see him, would you kick his ass for me?"
Fuck L. Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones. Fuck all those gun-toting Hip gangster wannabes. Learn to swim. Fuck retro anything. Fuck your tattoos. Fuck all you junkies and fuck your short memory. -- "Aenema," in which Keenan hopes California falls into the ocean and suggests people "learn to swim" in the meantime.
At Bonnaroo in 2007, where Tool was a headliner, Keenan walked out on stage with a simple, sarcastic, "I smell patchouli!" He then taunted the crowd of roughly 70,000 campers with, "I had a shower earlier. Felt great. Even used soap, hair conditioner. Jealous?"
People tell me what to say, what to think, and what to play. I say... 'Go fuck yourself, you piece of shit. Why don't you go kill yourself?' Just kidding. -- "Hush"
Keenan owns a vineyard in Arizona that's called "Merkin Vineyards." Merkin is the name for a "pubic wig." Look it up.
Jesus Christ, why don't you come save my life. Open my eyes and blind me with your light and your lies. -- "Opiate"
During the song "The Grudge," Keenan holds a screaming note for roughly 25 seconds. During live performances, he has sometimes prefaced long, screaming notes by saying, "Hey smokers, try this ..."
I had a friend once he took some acid, now he thinks he's a fire engine. It's OK until he pisses on your lighter. -- "The Gaping Lotus Experience"
Aside from Tool and the side projects A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, Keenan has appeared on albums by Green Jelly and Rage Against the Machine. A bit of a search and you can find an mp3 of him singing a cover of Led Zepplin's "Kashmir" backed by Jane's Addiction.
"I think the Grammys are nothing more than some gigantic promotional machine for the music industry. They cater to a low intellect and they feed the masses. They don't honor the arts or the artist for what he created. It's the music business celebrating itself." -- from a 2002 interview with NY Rock when asked about his opinion of Tool winning its Grammy for Best Recording Package.
A Tool fansite lists favorite quotes by the singer during live performances. Among them:
"Throw your hands in the air and wave 'em around like you just don't give a fuck."
"Is it raining yet? (Crowd cheers) That is unfortunate. We heard it was going to rain. But hey, let's turn those frowns upside down; you can all pretend we are having deviant sex and I'm pissing in your mouths."
"Good evening, Edmonton." (Crowd cheers) "Calgary says hi." (Crowd boos) "What, did they fuck your girlfriend or something?"
"I have a question for ya. Do you like what you hear so far?" (Crowd cheers) "Would you like us to come back?" (Crowd cheers) "Do you like the sound of my pretty voice?" (Crowd cheers) "Then can you put your fucking cigarettes out so I can come back and sing for you? Two hours. Thats all we ask. Two hours out of every fucking five years. Put your fucking cigarettes out so I can keep my voice ... fuckheads."
"We'd love to stick around, but we have hotel porn to get back to ... Priorities ... you know..."
You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never ever choose to be, Oh so many ways for me to show you how your savior has abandoned you. Fuck your god, your lord, your christ. He did this. Took all you had and left you this way still you pray. Never stray, never taste of the fruit, never thought to question why. -- "Judith" (by A Perfect Circle)
Keenan's most recent solo project goes by the name of Puscifer. It's pronounced, "Pussy fur."
Who are you to wave your finger? So full of it. Eyeballs deep in muddy waters Fuckin' hypocrite. Liar, lawyer, mirror, show me. What's the difference? -- The Pot
All of this may best be summarized by Keenan's final words of the night at that 2007 Bonnaroo concert -- "Thank you for putting up with our cynical attitudes."