ABC Music News

Maynard James Keenan flexes his comedy muscles with Puscifer characters & backstory

M_puscifer_101320-1
Credit: Travis Shinn

Puscifer‘s new album, Existential Reckoning, not only gives us a batch of fresh tunes from one of Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan‘s many bands, but it also continues the band’s ever-evolving, character-rich mythology.

For Existential Reckoning, the backstory involves a possible alien abduction, which is tasked to a trio of special agents — played by Keenan, co-vocalist Carina Round and guitarist Mat Mitchell — to solve.

“I think the stories are inspired by what’s happening musically,” Mitchell tells ABC Audio. “Our involvement would be how the music is influencing…whatever’s happening in [Keenan’s] creative head at the time. But the characters and the character development and that stuff is all him.”

The backstory often veers on the goofy side — one of the characters Keenan plays, for example, is named “Dick Merkin” — which Mitchell feels balances the more serious nature of the music.

“We get to be very serious about elements, but then be super playful and silly with other elements,” Mitchell explains. “It is kind of an ‘anything goes’ environment. It’s refreshing, I guess, for us to be able to do that and not take ourselves too seriously on every aspect of what we’re doing.”

For Keenan in particular — who’s something of an enigmatic personality, at least publicly — creating the Puscifer mythology allows him to express his love for comedy. In fact, the name “Puscifer” comes from when Keenan guested on the ’90s sketch series, Mr. Show.

“Part of his background is in comedy,” Mitchell says of Keenan. “I think he likes to flex those muscles, and this is a good opportunity for him to do that.” 

Existential Reckoning is out now.

By Josh Johnson
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.