Maynard James Keenan wants to make it perfectly clear that his latest project isn't a grab for any sort of brass ring.
"People will say to me, 'You should get back to doing Tool and A Perfect Circle, but I know you're probably just going for the money with Puscifer,'" says the enigmatic Tool/APC front man. "And I'm like, 'Dude, really?' If I was going for the money, I wouldn't be doing Puscifer, believe me. This is 14-hour days. We're on a budget. It's been pretty brutal."
Speaking by phone from Las Vegas, Keenan is discussing the launch of his elaborately staged tour in support of Puscifer, the side project built upon his love of watching music and comedy intersect.
Maynard James Keenan
8 p.m. Friday, November 27, at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 713-227-3974 or www.livenation.com.
"I guess it just comes down to what you're exposed to as a kid watching late-night television," he says. "[I grew up watching] everything from Monty Python and Benny Hill to Sonny & Cher to Hee Haw. It was always very interesting to me to mix comedy and music. If you go back and watch those old Hee Haw shows, they're hilarious, but they always had solid musicians playing. And of course, there's Saturday Night Live.
"I've always had an interest in figuring out how to put those elements together," he continues. "But it wasn't until now that I could financially afford it. Ten years ago, this would have cost a million bucks, but now with digital technology, if you have ideas, you have no excuse not to express them."
Those ideas manifest themselves in schizoid, kaleidoscopic fashion in Puscifer's wildly imaginative sets, designed and dressed with an eye for the obscene and ornate. Channeling one part Dr. Strangelove and one part Cabaret, Puscifer's stage show is partially improv-driven comedy and wholly inspired by Keenan's obvious affection for fusing World War II-era ambience and sultry, electronica-imbued, operatic rock. The live band consists of plenty of notable names, including Primus drummer Tim Alexander and PJ Harvey-channeling British singer Carina Round.
Puscifer's 2007 record "V" Is for Vagina has been remixed twice: once under the title "V" Is for Viagra and more recently as "C" Is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference Here), available as a digitally downloadable six-track EP. Distinguished by more electronic and pop elements than Tool's mammoth metal masterpieces, Puscifer's music sounds like that of a man stretching his id to the breaking point, but with a reasonable sense of humor and humility still firmly in place.
Keenan appeared periodically on David Cross's sketch-comedy cult hit, Mr. Show, where the Puscifer moniker first showed up as the name of a fictitious band, and where Keenan met comedian Laura Milligan and her husband Mike King — the eventual founders of Flea Circus Films and the team behind much of the darkly comic visual and video backdrops in Puscifer's shows.
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents raided long-running Houston dance club and after-hours party palace Rich's (2401 San Jacinto) November 14 and shut down the club due to nonpayment of taxes. According to the TABC's Web site, Rich's liquor license, which was scheduled to expire Nov. 29, has also been suspended. The Houston Press left a message with Rich's owner that was not returned, but Rich's called the incident "paperwork issues" on its Facebook page. The club was back open, liquor license restored, by the following Thursday.
Sound Exchange, 1836 Richmond, 713-666-5555
1. War Master, Chapel of the Apocalypse (cassette)
2. King Khan & BBQ Show, Invisible Girl (LP/CD)
3. Chocolate Crucifix, Reign in Chocolate 7"
4. Hypocrisy, A Taste of Extreme Divinity
5. Group Doueh, Treeg Salaam
6. Nile, Those Whom the Gods Detest
7. Ryan Trevor, Introducing... (LP)
8. Marduk, Wormwood
9. Nurse With Wound, Space Music
10. Broadcast & the Focus Group, Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (LP/CD)
Blues In Hi-Fi
KTRU (91.7 FM), 9-11 p.m. Wednesdays
Selections from Clint Broussard's November 11 playlist
1. Hound Dog Taylor, "Sittin' Here Alone"
2. Johnny Adams, "I Want to Do Everything for You"
3. Percy Sledge, "Take Time to Know Her"
4. Marvin Gaye, "Soldier's Plea"
5. Otis Rush, "All Your Love"
6. The Monitors, "Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)"
7. Freddie King, "You Know You Love Me
(But You Never Tell Me So)"
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8. Lazy Lester, "Sugar Coated Love"
9. Barbara Lynn, "It's Never Too Late"
10. Albert Collins, "Let's Get It Together"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)