Maynard James Keenan says new Puscifer album “Very Close” to release, gives thoughts on pandemic

Posted by on May 22, 2020



Puscifer is getting close to releasing a brand new album. Frontman Maynard James Keenan announced the news earlier this month along with the release of a brand new single, “Apocalyptical.”

In an interview with Revolver magazine published Wednesday (20), Keenan discussed the album and single in more depth, as well as his thoughts on the current pandemic.

Initially expected to be released some time in 2021, the album’s timeline was fast-forwarded as Keenan’s other band, Tool, had to cancel their tour plans. Such led to more time to work on music for Puscifer. Said Keenan,

“Whenever we start getting on a roll with music with Mat or any of the projects, I always like to look ahead and plan so I’m not over-promising. I’d rather over-deliver than over-promise. That’s always the better path. So we were penciling in 2021 because we’d be wrapping up with Tool and be able to get to work, but then things started getting strange. Once there’s no touring, there’s no reason to not release the music sooner, so we’re pounding away at trying to get things done. It’s not done now, but it’s very close and we’re planning for a fall release.”

When asked about “Apocalyptical” and it’s eerily current connotations, it was noted that the song was written before the pandemic was even a thing. Said Keenan, 

“Yeah, Mat has been having a lot of fun with some old-school keyboards and tech, so we had a bunch of stuff that we’ve been working on for the latter half of ’19. Once we hit a certain threshold, like, maybe vocals, words and music at 75 percent on a lot of things, then we just have to do a little bit of a push so we can definitely get it done by X date and out into the world by X date. So that all pretty much came together around harvest last year, and we’ve been pushing hard to get the rest of it done this spring.”

Keenan says that the song is instead more about faith than anything else:

“I don’t wanna get all religious on you, but I grew up in a Southern Baptist household and the whole accept-the-savior-and-go-to-heaven thing never really made sense to me. If you look at most religious practices that have a root in that kind of thinking, it makes more sense that it’s about paying attention to what’s around you — the signs and the changes and the shifting — and maybe you’ll end up being the guy standing there having survived just because you paid attention. I’m boiling it down to base thought process here, but maybe some of that stuff had nothing to do with a guy that you stick into your body or eat parts of to then be able to go to some fictitious place and tell him how cool he is forever.”

Asked if some of the themes from “Apocalyptical” feature heavily elsewhere in the album, Keenan said, 

“Yeah, there’s a lot of bouncing back and forth with a lot of those themes. But again, that’s just paying attention to the times and what’s happening. You’re acting or reacting to what you see in front of you. And then of course, how does that relate to what we’ve seen before and what do we think that has in store for us going forward? But a lot of it is really being driven by these sounds that Mat is coming up with. There’s a lot of cool stuff happening.”

Keenan’s views on the pandemic were also discussed. Prior to talking about the album, interviewer J. Bennett asked him what he thought about the politicalization of the pandemic. Said Keenan,

“People can’t help themselves. In conversations online, in social media — there’ll be someone on Twitter just making a statement, like, “You know what? We’re gonna make it through this. And if you don’t think so, fuck you!” That’s how everybody starts conversations now — you start with the fight, rather than, “Hey, what can we do to help each others?” We claim to be better human beings than we used to be several thousand years ago — let’s prove it. Let’s take the high road not just to be right, but to actually be better people and help each other. I don’t know. Those are romantic words, but when it comes down to it, it’s like, “Fuck you — I want that toilet paper!”

He continued,

“The biggest curve ball in all of that is that there’s a significant portion of the population who doesn’t believe there’s anything — or if there is, it’s not enough to be reacting to. And again, you’ve spent the last decade liking and not liking feeds, so the only thing you’re gonna see in your world is what you believe. If you’re one of the people who think this is a problem, that’s all you’re gonna see. If you’re one of the people who thinks there isn’t a problem, that’s all you’re gonna see. It’s so difficult to sort through facts or even partial truths so you can make an intelligent decision based on knowledge and science rather than gut and mob mentality. So I really couldn’t tell you. We might find out in December that this is all a global hoax, but I can’t imagine … I mean, if you’ve ever had a task force put together for a focus group to do something … or try to even manage 12 people … have you ever done that?”

Keenan, who lives on a compound in Arizona where he grows his own food, says that he has been prepared for something like this to happen, though not intentionally. Asked if he had anticipated this kind of disaster, he said, 

“Kind of, but that makes me sound like a prepper. Really I just lived in Michigan and we had gardens. You always had the impending blizzard or snow coming that’s gonna lock you in your house for a while, so that’s something I’ve done with my family for my whole life — with the understanding that sometimes you get locked in your home for a solid week because of snow. I’ve always had that mentality, so to come out to a place like this [Arizona], where there’s a lot more space, you can expand that idea and it just made sense. So it’s not a paranoid, fear-based prepper kind of thing. It’s more like, “Why would I rely on the grocery store for onions and carrots and lettuce?” It doesn’t make any sense. You can plant it right there.

An official  release date for the as-yet-untitled album has not been revealed yet, though it is expected in the fall. The video for ‘Apocalyptical’ can be seen here.

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