An interesting interview came across my desk this morning, refreshingly nothing to do with A Perfect Circle’s new album. Christophe from Salival.fr recently interviewA Perfect Union of Contrary Things author Sarah Jensen, and asked her a bunch of questions about the process used to write the bio.
Here’s a sneak peek:
What was your approach here?
Maynard and I agreed early on that this wouldn’t be a typical rock-star biography. It wouldn’t be a book about Tool or a tell-all, but the story of Maynard’s journey. It hopefully would show that everyone’s life is a journey, and that the outcomes depend on the choices they make.
Did you meet Maynard for the content, phone him?
Maynard and I live on opposite sides of the country, so every Sunday we got on the phone, and he told me another chapter of his life. During the week, I worked on turning it into a story. He reviewed everything I wrote, and had final approval over it all.
Were there things more difficult to discuss with him, as there are some sensitive events depicted?
Maynard and I trust each other. That trust meant we could be open and honest with each other. We didn’t shy away from talking about sensitive areas, because it was all done to make the best book we could. Like he says: “If you’re going to do something, you do it. (…) You do it for the art.”
Last week my copy of Maynard James Keenan’s biography – A Perfect Union of Contrary Things arrived from the US, and over the last few days I’ve read through it, and composed a few thoughts in a review of sorts. If you haven’t read the book, below contains a few minor spoilers of sorts, but nothing that should ruin your enjoyment of it.
The first half of the book covers Maynard’s life pre-Tool. It goes through his upbringing with his mother in Ohio, then father in Scottville, time in the military, Boston and eventually LA. It talks about his various pre-Tool bands such as texA.N.S., C.A.D. and adventures with Green Jelly. I found this section interesting and insightful, and painted a great picture of how Maynard evolved into the man he is today.
Moving onto Tool, it covers the beginnings of the band quite well, recounting stories with Tom Morello (and how he considered Maynard for the singing role in Rage Against The Machine) and the coming together of the band with Danny and Adam. It tells anecdotes of the first few Tool shows, as well as their dealings with record labels during the signing process. We also get some good insight into his work on the comedy scene including the famous Cuntry Boner performance with Laura Milligan with Adam joining in.
We get to hear the story of Maynard’s move to Arizona, as well as the tale behind his time and self discovery with some local Native Americans. It gives us a good feel for Maynard’s connection, not just with the land but with nature in general – it’s a theme that has been with him throughout his life.
From then on though the book becomes a bit of a blur – Lateralus and 10,000 Days don’t get much more than a couple of paragraphs each, same with A Perfect Circle post-Mer De Noms. Even Puscifer gets squeezed into a single chapter.
Hi wine making exploits get good coverage, but there is no mention of Blood Into Wine and some of the topics (and personalities) contained within. We don’t really get much insight into delays in Tool albums except that Maynard doesn’t write his lyrics until the music is done (which differs quite a bit from the Opiate and Undertow it would appear).
Overall I was both pleased and disappointed with the book. The first half I found quite interesting – surprisingly so since it really doesn’t cover much of what we Tool fans would expect. It is well written, and paints a great picture of Maynard’s upbringing, and as well for me insight into the difference between growing up in the USA vs Australia.
This was tempered with what I felt was a somewhat disappointing second half. Maynard’s “rockstar” career I felt was overly abbreviated, and was left craving more detail into almost everything. Touring really isn’t discussed in any depth, nor is recording. It wasn’t like he pushed one agenda over the other either – his recent work with Puscifer and wine making doesn’t get a whole lot more page space than his other projects. I feel like there is more to be told and would come as no surprise if there were to be some kind of Tool biography, or even an MJK book that focuses on his music career – I (and I expect many here) would read this.
Negatives aside, I come away from the book feeling like I know much more about Maynard the person – and I expect this was probably the goal behind this story being told. It’ll sound corny to some of you, but I do feel inspired by some of the words Maynard has had to say, and some of the philosophies behind how he works. This book won’t change your life, but may challenge you to reconsider how you consider some aspects of life.
A Perfect Union of ContraryThings is an authorised biography written by Sarah Jensen with Maynard offering frequent insights into her writing. You can grab a copy from Amazon!
Interviews are starting to appear online in support of the new Maynard James Keenan authorised biography A Perfect Union of Contrary Things. For your consideration today are an interesting interview with Rolling Stone magazine, and a Podcast.
In Rolling Stone, Maynard answers a range of questions which I suspect broadly preview the content of the book. The key point I take from this is that we shouldn’t be expecting it to be a Tool biography:
This book you just put out is very adamantly not a Tool book. Tool is a part of it, but in some ways, there’s probably more Puscifer or the winemaking or even the sort of pre-musical life. Was that a calculated thing?
There’s so much stuff out there about Tool, and there’s so many things about me with Tool out there right now it would just be redundant. And some of the more behind-the-scenes things that go on with the band, it should be a volume that’s done by all four of those people, not just me. So, a lot of the things are saved for that next incarnation. Even though this is a biography, I feel like it’s more of, like we talked about, a map – just a map of certain decisions and how they were arrived at, if nothing else for an inspiration for me, to chronicle where I’ve been, to know where I’m going, and also for an observer to look at it and see how it applies to their life.
Will be interesting to see if a Tool biography ever eventuates.
The second interview is a podcast with Kevin Eikenberry from The Remarkable Leaders series. It’s an interesting and thoughtful interview where Maynard talks about the creative process, and how he has refound his love for music.
There’s a bunch more dates for Maynard James Keenan‘s book tour in November. It’s not the kind of thing that happens very often, so I reckon you should check it out!
Several new dates have been added to Maynard’s A Perfect Union of Contrary Things including Portland, Seattle and San Francisco as well as second readings in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Tickets for all newly announced readings are on-sale this Friday, Aug. 5, with all but San Francisco on-sale at 10 am eastern (San Francisco on-sale is 12 noon pacific):
November 9 Nashville, TN City Winery SOLD OUT
November 11 New York, NY The New York Society for Ethical Culture
November 12 Washington, DC Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (7 pm reading) SOLD OUT
November 12 Washington, DC Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (10:30 pm reading)
November 14 Toronto, ON Convocation Hall (U of Toronto)
November 16 Chicago, IL Thalia Hall (7 pm reading) SOLD OUT
November 16 Chicago, IL Thalia Hall (10:30 pm reading)
November 18 Portland, OR Aladdin Theater
November 19 Seattle, WA Kane Auditorium
November 21 San Francisco, CA Herbst Theatre
A Perfect Union of Contrary Things comes out on November 8th
Maynard James Keenan will be heading out on a brief Book Tour in November to celebrate the release of his authorised biography A Perfect Union of Contrary Things. Confirmed so far are dates in Nashville and Chicago with more to come:
Wednesday November 9 Nashville City Winery
Tuesday November 15 Thalia Hall, Chicago
On the night Maynard will read from and discuss the biography and will take part in a live Q&A session. Get your where is the new Tool album? questions/complaints ready!
Tickets for these two shows go on sale this Friday. Ticket includes a copy of the book!
In case you’d forgotten, the book comes out on November 8th via Backbeat Books and will feature a foreword by Tool buddy Alex Grey.
More info on A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, including a trailer!
It is the time of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, a day celebrated across cultures and across millennia as a time of new beginnings. Maynard James Keenan describes the solstice as “a story, a metaphor for stepping into the light. All stories are true, whether or not they’re factual. They have power, and tapping into them puts us in a headspace that anything is possible.” Here, at long last, is a first look at Maynard’s own story: “A Perfect Union of Contrary Things.”
“A Perfect Union of Contrary Things” is the authorized biography of musician and vintner Maynard James Keenan. Author Sarah Jensen’s 30-year friendship with Keenan gives her unique insight into his history and career trajectory. The book traces Keenan’s journey from his Midwest childhood to his years in the Army to his time in art school, from his stint at a Boston pet shop to his place in the international spotlight and his influence on contemporary music and regional winemaking. A comprehensive portrayal of a versatile and dedicated artist, “A Perfect Union of Contrary Things” pays homage to the people and places that shaped the man and his art.
Until now, Maynard’s fans have had access to only an abridged version of his story. “A Perfect Union of Contrary Things” presents the outtakes, the scenes of disappointment and triumph, and the events that led him to take one step after the next, to change direction, to explore sometimes surprising opportunities. Included are sidebars in his own words, often humorous anecdotes that illuminate the narrative, as well as commentary by his family members, friends, instructors, and industry colleagues. The book also features a foreword by Alex Grey, an American visionary artist and longtime friend of Keenan. Accompanying the text are photos of Keenan from childhood to the present.
Maynard’s story is a metaphor for the reader’s own evolution and an encouragement to follow one’s dreams, hold fast to individual integrity, and work ceaselessly to fulfill our creative potential.
xZ1mM3r pointed out to me on the forum this morning that the new Maynard James Keenan biography A Perfect Union of Contrary Things by Sarah Jensen is up for pre-order on Amazon, due November 8th. You can pre-order a copy here!
From the blurb:
Here is the authorized biography of the one and only Maynard James Keenan. The book traces Keenan’s journey from his Midwest childhood to his years in the Army to his time in art school, from his stint at a Boston pet shop to his place in the international spotlight and his influence on contemporary music and regional winemaking. A comprehensive portrayal of a versatile and dedicated artist, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things pays homage to the people and places that shaped the man and his art. Until now, Maynard’s fans have had access to only an abridged version of his story. A Perfect Union of Contrary Things presents the outtakes, the scenes of disappointment and triumph, and the events that led him to take one step after the next, to change direction, to explore sometimes surprising opportunities. Included are sidebars in his own words, often humorous anecdotes that illuminate the narrative, as well as commentary by his family members, friends, instructors, and industry colleagues. The book also features a foreword by Alex Grey, an American visionary artist and longtime friend of Keenan, who has designed Tool’s album and stage art. Accompanying the text are photos of Keenan from childhood to the present, as well as reproductions of his early drawings and writings. Maynard’s story is a metaphor for the reader’s own evolution and an encouragement to follow one’s dreams, hold fast to individual integrity, and work ceaselessly to fulfill our creative potential.