Maynard James Keenan just dropped the first new song, "Apocalyptical," from his theatrical music collective Puscifer since 2015, and he gave the first interview on the project's resurrection to Zane Lowe on "New Music Daily" on Apple Music. The episode is set to air in full on Friday, May 8th, at 9:00 a.m. PT at Apple.co/nmdb1, but a video clip is available now for viewing below.
In the interview, the Tool and A Perfect Circle frontman breaks down the creative process behind the song, which is the lead single off the group's as-yet-untitled new album, due in the fall. "I can kind of give you a little bit of just a structural ... and this is kind of with all projects, especially with Puscifer, though, because we're very organized and Mat [Mitchell, Puscifer guitarist and co-producer] is very goal oriented, is very emotional and very artistic and he gets in his head space and he goes down the rabbit holes in great ways, but he also can come up for a breath of fresh air and we can go, 'OK, we have all these ideas," Keenan explains. "You've been going crazy with all these amazing things in this folder. I'm going to go through the folder, I'm going to look for some things in there. We're going to start messing around and then we're going to set a goal.' If I come up with a certain number of these things, if I come up with 60 percent or 70 percent of what we would use for an album, if I can come up with that by this date, then we start the clock ticking.
"Because you know, if you're going to release a thing nowadays, I like to do vinyl, there's a fixed amount of time. You've got to rewind from how long it takes to actually deliver a master, get some test pressings back, confirm those things, put them into production and then have them in the hands of record stores like Stinkweeds and Phoenix. They want to have that vinyl in their hand. So you have to start thinking in terms of that clock. And most artists do not like that at all. They feel like they're being oppressed."
He continues, "But if you just put your feet to the fire on this particular end, you don't want to force creativity, but part of it, I argue that you do. Then you need to pull your head out of your ass, quit being a wimp about it and just force yourself to just ... You have a goal today. Write one line and one melody. Solve this puzzle today. One piece of this puzzle. Make yourself do it. If you don't do it, forgive yourself.
"Try it again tomorrow or try it again a week from now, but don't let yourself off the hook. Force it. And then all of a sudden you'll find when you get past this, it's almost like a crest, you can see the entire valley. 'Oh shit here it is.' and it all unfolds. And that's what happened with 'Apocalyptical,' this track that we're releasing. I was like, 'No, I'm going to get this thing.' Because I had been working on another track before. I couldn't crack it and I did it. I did the due diligence. I was forcing myself to try to nail it, couldn't get it, put it aside. I was going to take a break and then jump right into this one. Cracked it. Mat was out here for harvest and we tracked it on my wife's birthday.
"That was the initial scratch vocal, and by September first or second, the lyrics were written and the initial tracks are tracked and I believe some of those initial tracks are still in the song, so I didn't have to go back and re-track them. That's the discipline side of being an artist, that's hard for artists to kind of get to.
"I'm an artist. I need my space," he concludes. "You need a spanking."