Tool frontman and winemaker Maynard James Keenan discusses Puscifer

Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/

Tickets for the new Puscifer show debuting with two performances Valentine’s Day weekend at the Palms sold out so quickly that now a third show has been added.

However, eccentric Tool singer Maynard James Keenan, who is producing the show, admits that even he can’t describe what it will be or tell who will be in it -- except that he promises chaos on a grand scale! One thing is certain, though: Puscifer will reflect his bizarre humor and his extraordinary music sense. He calls it rock cabaret, and the show will include freakish performance artists.

You get an idea of Maynard’s breadth of talent when you realize that the Perfect Circle rocker, who rarely gives interviews, also is an established winemaker in Phoenix of all places. His winery, Caduceus, has won raves for its product. Click HERE for our recent Vegas DeLuxe coverage of his wine launch.

Leach Blog Photo

Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan.

I admit that I’m no rock ’n’ roll aficionado anymore, but my ABC News radio producer Al Mancini knows every aspect of it, so who better to chat with the reclusive rocker about the unusual endeavor. Maynard expects many musicians and acts to drive in from Los Angeles and San Francisco to perform at The Pearl Concert Theater shows, but he won’t even know whom until they show up!

“It will be a revolving door of artists in a cornucopia of chaos,” he promises,” but I don’t know what it will all be except exploring creative energy and performance -- mainly music but also sketch comedy. We simply don’t know how to describe it, so we’re leaving it open-ended.”

Here’s what Maynard told Al, so now you can figure it all out for yourselves because I remain totally lost:

“Trying to tell you what the show will be would be like explaining what a fart smells like. It is going to be about embracing the chaos. We have a rough idea; we are going to try to pull that together beforehand. The general thrust of this is based on previous settings, you hone in on what works and you discard the things that do not work. It is a long process of bringing it down to one polished piece. It has room to breathe, but for the most part, it is a polished piece, then you present it, it is that way pretty much forever.

“With this, there are no finished pieces. There are just seeds. There is no original version of a track, just versions of an idea. We bring in different musicians, we are going to explore, bring in performance around it. Going back to my Tantrum days, with Laura Milligan in the comedy-circuit, sketch-comedy stuff with a little bit of music, we are going to flip that and do music with a little bit of comedy. That is in theory, but that may not work out. We don’t know whom we will be working with. It depends on who is available. As it goes on, when different people are available at different times, we will go with them.

Leach Blog Photo

Maynard James Keenan.

“In theory, Gil and Ronnie Sharom, a band called Stolen Babies, Johnny Polanski, a guitar player that could play an empty water bottle, Trey Gunn and Matt Stiletto, Tim Alexander. They all may or may not. This is going to be an ongoing thing. If it sounds Frank Zappa, it is a work in progress and art with no end product in mind. We are going to make it cohesive, but the next day will be different. We will approach the songs differently, the comedy will be different. We have a lot of friends that have penciled their names in: Sponge Bob, Laura Milligan, Bob Odenkirk and Dave Cross. They have done Tool shows. Basically everyone is going yes, if I am available.

“We’re doing it in Vegas because everything is here, we have the production. We have sound and lights, video feed, the room is good size, and we can scale it down. It has everything here. To take this on the road would be impossible. We would like to keep it here with more shows, but then other promoters will get an idea of what we do. It all depends on when Cher retires as to how regularly we can do it. This has become a full-time project, and I need to focus on the initial shows. But then we can do it whenever, and it becomes the fun in between other projects.”

Maynard said that fans have been asking for a new record from Tool and A Perfect Circle, but “nothing is going on presently.” “When we know what we are doing with a new record, everyone else will know at the same time,” he told Al.

His passion today is the wine. “The wine world is changing, and people who come out to see us in Arizona are impressed. People don’t expect anything good to come from Arizona because they think it is all desert. We’re changing that, too.”


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