If Puscifer's live show doesn't fit in the construct of a traditional rock show - and trust me, it doesn't - that's by design. "How many times can you go see a band that just stands up there facing you regurgitating their album?" said singer Maynard James Keenan.
If Puscifer's live show doesn't fit in the construct of a traditional rock show - and trust me, it doesn't - that's by design.
"How many times can you go see a band that just stands up there facing you regurgitating their album?" said singer Maynard James Keenan. "It's just kind of boring. I mean, if Led Zeppelin did it, I suppose I would endure that."
Puscifer's live show is not kind of boring. It's a blend of absurdist theater, video segues and live performance of the sometimes dark, sometimes lovely, sometimes whimsical electro-tinged rock that Keenan has been making under the Puscifer moniker for the past decade, most recently on 2015's excellent (and excellently titled) Money Shot.
"I feel like taking people outside of their normal comfort zones gives people a different experience. It's not for everybody. But it's definitely growing," said Keenan. "And there's something to be said for that, especially in this day and age when people just have no respect for what goes on in the process of writing and recording and selling music."
Keenan, of course, is intimate with that process, as he's also the frontman for A Perfect Circle and Tool. Some tongue-in-cheek negative comments about certain segments of the latter's fanbase made for some internet fodder late last year. "There's a difference between clickbait and twisted words taken out of context, and what was actually said," Keenan noted.
In fairness, there definitely is a segment of Tool fans who could use a dose of Puscifer's humor, as seen in the inspirations Keenan cited for the band's live show. "Generally speaking, 'Monty Python,' 'Kids in the Hall,' those are big inspirations for us, [both] for content and the quirky nature of the approach."
The sketch-comedy gene runs deep through Puscifer. The name came from a rotating volley of fake band names Keenan used while performing in a '90s Los Angeles variety show called "Tantrum." This is also how Puscifer was introduced - if only in name - to the nation in a sketch on HBO's seminal "Mr. Show." "David Cross was involved in 'Tantrum' as well," Keenan recalled. "So when they asked me to be a part of the Ronnie Dobbs tribute, I said, couldn't we just do it as Puscifer?"
Keenan is famously (at least to music journalists) a puzzling figure, content to throw out his artistic output and leave it to the audience to decipher - or not. "It's hard to know whether I prefer to be enigmatic," he said. "It could just be that I'm Irish."
Puscifer also touches on themes that run throughout Keenan's catalogue, notions of personal evolution amid whatever the future holds for us as collective. "I think the hardest part for the human race to really grasp in light of all the changes that are occurring [is] whether we're we're part of it or we're just along for the ride," Keenan said. "We might not be included in the next phase. We might just be like the dinosaurs."
If Keenan's outlook sounds bleak, it's not. "You just have to let go of that paralyzing fear of not being included in that process," he said. "All we know, all we're sure of, is today. So just be hopeful about today. Be kind to each other today."