"I love fairy tales."
- Maynard on Christianity
Firstly, there's a lot of disinformation spread about Tool, mostly perpetuated by band members themselves. So everything anyone says about tool should always be taken with a huge grain of salt.
Maynard is the lead vocalist in the band Tool (which has been referred to as “metal’s Radiohead”), and depending on who you are talking to, a genius, a prophet, an alien. I think he is just a brilliant man, but he is contrary to a fault. He is self-deprecating, yet he revels in (and cultivates) his own “self”. He has been known to hate humans in general (who doesn't?), because of their invariable ignorance, yet his lyrics are laced with messages of unity, communication, and the collective unconscious. An artist since childhood, he has an angel’s voice and he believes that you can't separate yourself from what you create. He has x-ray eyes and a practically anonymous face, a testament to the band’s insistence upon keeping their own privacy, and marketing the band’s ideas as opposed to it’s image. He's a volatile and complex character; one of those introspective and difficult rock star types who are "allergic to eye contact". He speaks in a cold, calculated, measured tone, and seems completely sober and impassive but then he has this completely humorous side. During the eighties, he even ventured into comedy, performing in after-hours bars. He was once asked who he preferred being interviewed by, cynical rock critics who try and make things difficult for him, or awe-struck fans who stutter and drop their notes. He answered, "Um... To be honest, it's just difficult talking about music. Frank Zappa used to say that talking about music is like dancing about architecture... it doesn't make sense." He is intimidating and clearly bored in interviews, because to him, his work is already done, through his music. He makes life really hard for the interviewers actually, I remember listening to Triple J, an Australia radio show, and Maynard was discussing his Top 5 albums. I felt incredibly sorry for the poor radio guy who went to all ends to cultivate a fluid conversation only to have Maynard answer with, “right”, or “not really”. Snippet:
Interviewer: Is music the most important thing in your life?
Interviewer: So if music isn't the most important thing in Maynard's life, what is do you think?
Interviewer: Fair enough. (Tries to laugh it off.) (Looks like an idiot).
Maynard really likes being absorbed by the whole picture. He prefers films to sitcoms, books to poetry. This might explain his decision to become involved in another band, which has become sort of an alter ego for Tool. The band is called A Perfect Circle, and I have noticed that in interviews for this band he is more than obliging, and quite personable. When I discussed this with one of my friends he claimed it was just an elaborate joke, a kind of inside chuckle at the way A Perfect Circle is his “pop” band. And I guess, it is. It’s the yin for Tool’s “yang”. Where Tool is male, mathematical, logical, aggressive, cerebral, A Perfect Circle is more feminine, romantic, personal, communicative, more about relationships. (Perhaps the fact that Tool's latest album, Lateralus, is more personal this time around, means that we are seeing some state of balance). Incidentally, one of the songs on the APC album Mer de Noms is a pretty straightforward love song for his fiancé, Jennifer Brena Ferguson, who he sometimes refers to as his 'reflection'. Maynard, usually shaved bald, wears a long wig and eyeliner when fitting in to his A Perfect Circle persona.
Tori Amos, a close friend of Maynard’s, says when asked what he is like on a day to day basis, “I think he probably wakes up wondering if he's going to wig or not wig.” She says Maynard’s emails make you giggle, and that she thinks is this truly beautiful guy, who has “a deep spiritual currency”. Tori and Maynard both grew up with intense religious backgrounds and she says they both have a real fascination with comparative religions. They apparently spend a lot of time talking about them, and particularly this one book, the Hidden Lineage of Jesus, and how we've all been very manipulated through the ages about the information that's been withheld, hidden. Tori thinks that if they had the time they’d both be students somewhere.
Maynard says he sees Tool as a very small part of his life, it just happens to take up the most of it. “My main focus is our relationships with each other and dealing with life and the shit it throws at us. At the moment, I'm thinking about how wanna build a wine cellar in my house, and I've wanted to do it for a while. So while I'm out here, I'm just daydreaming about my wine cellar."
He is fascinated by sacred geometry and the invisible, the unknown, and believes deeply in the axiom, “Think for yourself”. One of my friends caught one of Tool’s concerts in Sydney and apparently he made the audience chant over and over, “I will question authority”. And then, “I will not do what others tell me to do”.. it took the audience a while to realise he was messing with them and when they finally got it, and stopped chanting, he said, “Fuckers”, and launched into the next song. (Actually, I forget exactly what he made them chant but it was something along those lines). He believes in pushing boundaries and facing “the shadow” spoken of by Carl Jung. When he joined the army in 1982 he says it was "the most illogical thing I could possibly do..so I did it."
He is somewhat of a technology buff these days apparently, marveling over current gizmos. “I think the internet is definitely a metaphor for the collective unconscious. There's the old master saying that if you meditate long enough with focus, you can tap into the collective unconscious. Well, what the fuck do you think people are doing every day when they sit in front of the computer? Pretty soon, we're gonna get to the point technologically where you're not gonna even the external apparatus to do that. Eventually, quantum physics will develop some kind of orientation where you'll just be sitting there talking to your friends on the East Coast with nothing - just with your focus."
He is clearly the frontman of Tool, or so it would seem, but Maynard is very modest about his importance upon the collective that is Tool, saying, “In some cases when you get a record and it deals with the subject matter that we deal with, people ignore the music and go straight to the lyrics, and that puts more focus on me and I'm only one-fourth of this project. If that.” He says that the music is what carries all the emotion and that his words just kind of define where the emotion is coming from. Maynard also says he is more of a “reactive artist” than a creative one:
“It's more in my nature to work under parameters. I do really well when you give me parameters. I take what's there and I work with it. Even with Tool I hardly ever came up with the original core structure, it always ended up being. I'm just kind of reacting to what we're doing in the room. Very rarely do I bring in the original riff and start from there.”
Maynard’s Top 5 albums, as previously mentioned, are (or were on April 17, 1997): Hejira by Joni Mitchell, (one song in particular is Black Crow), two simultaneous albums, Holy Money and Greed by The Swans, (one song in particular, Coward), One More Red Nightmare by King Crimson, Passion by Peter Gabriel, which is the soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ, and lastly Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti. Specifically, the song Kashmir, “which, if you haven't heard it, I think you'll see why, and if you have you know what I'm talking about. I don't really need to say much about it.” (Maynard is cryptic. He likes people to go and find answers themselves, to experience things for themselves, rather than being told). Maynard has also more recently been listening to a lot of Massive Attack, his old Cocteau Twins records, PJ Harvey, and the new Radiohead album (Kid A). He also has no idea why Nine Inch Nails’ album The Fragile didn’t do better. He says, “I think if anyone's going for a long drive, they should take that record. In the end, I think that's going to be their big undiscovered record.”
Other projects Maynard has been involved with:
- Maynard has recorded a song with a fake band called Titannica, due to appear in the upcoming film "Run, Ronnie, Run." The song, called "Ass Kickin' Fat Kid," features Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and ex-Hole/Motley Crue drummer Samantha Maloney, and is now said to not be appearing on the soundtrack.
- He has recorded a song currently known as "Vacant" with members of Nine Inch Nails, due in late 2001 as part of the "Tapeworm" project.
- Maynard sings a song called "Calling Dr. Love" on the Kiss tribute album "Kiss My Ass", along with bassist Billy Gould (Faith No More), guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Brad Wilk (both of Rage Against The Machine). They are collectively known as Shandi's Addiction.
- He sings the "I've got no patience now / so sick of complacence now... " part in Rage Against the Machine's "Know Your Enemy."
- He sings the "not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin" part on Green Jelly's "3 Little Pigs." (Green Jelly as in originally Green Jello as in Jello Loft where the live tracks from "Opiate" were recorded).
- He appears on the first Love Jones album, "Here's to the Losers", as well. He comes in during track 4 and sings for about 45 seconds.
- On January 23, 1997, Maynard appeared onstage with Tori Amos, as she played a benefit show for her charity organization, RAINN. Together, they performed her song "Muhammad My Friend", which is available on her home video "Tori Amos Live in New York."
- He has done cameo vocals at numerous live performances, including a Rage Against the Machine show.
- He sings a little on a song by Tim "Herb" Alexander/Mike Bordin on the album "Flyin' Traps," which features drummers. He's listed under a pseudonym of Gaylord C.
- He has also appeared on a public access show called "Colin's Sleazy Friends."
- He appears on the Deftones' song "Passenger" off their album "White Pony."
- A long long time ago, he was in a band called C.A.D. The Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty did record an album called "Fingernails", but no recordings are for sale.
- Also a long time ago, he was part of a project called TexA.N.S.
Maynard ventured into acting and imitated Charles Manson on the Ben Stiller show. A few critics claimed that his portrait of Charles Manson was so intense and too real to not be upsetting. Director Steve Grasse also managed to snap Maynard up to play Satan in the full-length film realisation of his popular Bikini Bandit short series. In Bikini Bandits Go To Hell, the Bikini Bandits themselves meet their demise, only to go to Hell where Maynard’s Satan character gives them a choice of either going to Jerusalem to perform "some act" on the Virgin Mary or stay and be forced to watch Corey Feldman (who plays himself) dance forever. Maynard is a longtime fan of the series and first contacted Grasse hoping he would direct a video A Perfect Circle. "Satan plays a major role in the film," Grasse adds, "and Maynard is a really good actor. He's a natural. If he wants to be an actor, he could be huge."
Last words of wisdom: When asked during a NZ tour how to stop Auckland from becoming “one great big festering neon
distraction” he answered, "Just remember, art saves lives.”
information comes from many, many interviews and articles; most can be found at toolshed.down.net.