Tool’s Maynard James Keenan on New Album, Lyrical Themes, “Joker” Stage Outfit

Photo: Eric Catarina/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In a recent interview with Revolver, Tool’s mysterious frontman Maynard James Keenan opens up about the new record Fear Inoculum and various other aspects of the band’s return to the fold. “Patience. Trust your process,” he muses when referring to the balance the group achieved on this, their first record since 2006.

While Keenan’s lyrics are often at the forefront of the fanbase’s collective adoration, the singer insists they aren’t as important to the finished product as some may assume. “You have to serve the thing in front of you and work with it — energetically, mathematically, emotionally,” he explains of his writing process. While he refuses to elaborate on specific lyrics so as not to ruin the listener’s interpretation (as well as his own bandmates’), he generalizes that a theme explored in the new material involves “wisdom through age, through experience.”

He also discusses briefly how social media’s emergence since the band’s last record has affected the way they operate, using the metaphor of a hammer to explain that it’s a tool like any other and can be used to create or destroy, depending on the intention of the wielder. While social media to Keenan represents a collective unconscious, he jokes that it is slightly disappointing that the experience tends to gravitate toward “selfies and Coachella.”

As for that wild new stage get-up, Keenan claims it’s a bit inspired by “the absurdity of the early London punk movement,” calling the fashion of that time “equal parts intense and artistic and rebellious, but also kind of comical.” With a huge mohawk, plaid pants and smeared makeup smile, he also admits there’s “a bit of Joker” behind the outfit.

Check out the band’s new album Fear Inoculum when it’s unleashed on August 30th.