Fresh off the release of "Apocalyptical," the timely new song and video from his music-and-performance-art collective Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan talked to host Zane Lowe for Apple Music's "At Home With" series. He discussed being home on his vineyard in Arizona, the return of Puscifer, how he prepares for live shows, soundtracking wine-making and, of course, the current state of the world as we all try to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that has spread chaos around the world.
The conversation will air in full today (May 18th) at 10 a.m. PST at apple.co/zane, but you can view video of the chat and read select quotes below, and check out Keenan's "At Home With" playlist on Apple Music.
"I feel like this is the beginning," Keenan says, speaking of the pandemic. "Things shifting, climate change, adjustments, readjustments, realignments. We're probably going to see a lot more of these things, because right when you get in that group, you think you've got it all figured out, there's something that will come out of left field that takes you out at the knees. And why wouldn't it be microscopic? You've heard people talk about ice caps melting and it releasing crazy things that we haven't seen in millennia. This could be training for that. So, get used to it, figure out what you're going to do. I started planning for this 25 years ago by ... planting orchards, planting vines, doing greenhouses, understanding how to reconnect. So, we have a lot of employees out here. We have over 100 people between all the tasting rooms, the vineyards, all the production, all the stuff we have going on out here, orchards, gardens. And we've had to lay off quite a few because a lot of that is retail interaction based, but luckily we have things growing. So, we're able to provide little baskets, basically a picnic basket, every week for all 115 of our people. Just something that's one less stop at the grocery store.
"Yeah. And I think a lot of people in our valley here get that and they're starting to talk to each other. Hopefully, it doesn't go down the dark path, tribalism and weirdness, but I don't think it will. I think people are way cooler when it comes to these things. They're way cooler with each other than you would think. I think we'll be all right."
Speaking of the "Apocalyptical" music video and the role of art in our current moment, Keenan said, "You got to maintain some of that maniac, dad jokes, the sense of humor in all this that's going on with all this isolation and people are afraid. They don't know if they're going to have a job. They don't. If their friends are going to get infected. There's just so much lack of facts. There's no, we don't have information to make decisions based on information. We're just, especially in the States, it's just politicized an awful mess with no facts. Just give me the, what are the facts? What do we know? What do we not know?Stop trying to get elected over it. Whoever, the bipartisan thing is just so sickening right now. We just don't need it.
"In the middle of all that you'd have to remember, I might have a bunch of things to say about one party or the other or whatever. It's really irrelevant right now. What we need is to drop back and remember, what did you bring to the table? Help your friends, help your neighbors, help your family to just be present through all of this. Don't check out through all this. Be present in it. My role, I'm an entertainer. I have to remember that. I'm not ... I'm nothing more than an artist and an entertainer.
"This is a strange time that none of us have lived through. If you already live your life as like I do, which is whatever you've done, whatever you're doing, you can do it better, if you just pay more attention. You can always do better. Just take that perspective on this thing and we'll get through this if you just take that attitude. You're not right. No, one's right. Just assume that you're either wrong or partially wrong or could do it better or could be more compassionate. Just take that path and we can get through this.
"Like I said, what I do is we try to entertain. We've got some fun songs that we had a lot of fun making, way before all this stuff went down and the video was in the middle of it all. There's a nice meeting of what we wrote back in August colliding with what's actually happening right now with the visuals. It was a nice marriage."