Tool’s Frontman Maynard James Keenan’s New Biography & Wise Words Shared in SF

On Monday night, revered singer, winemaker and restaurateur, Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer) made a stop through San Francisco at the prestigious Herbst Theater on a book tour to promote his recently released memoirs, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, co-written by Sarah Jensen.

Moderated by Laura Milligan, aka Hildy Berger, Billy Dee’s (Maynard) sidekick in Puscifer’s film What Is…Puscifer, the two distinguished a playful chemistry as they reminisced their first encounter, on a sketch comedy show called Tantrum, hosted by Milligan. Milligan’s show not only featured Maynard but up-and-coming comedians and musicians like Tenacious D, David Cross, Ben Stiller, Andy Dick (God, rest his soul) and Will Ferrell to name a few. Both found success as entertainers, as Maynard went on to become a huge rock star while Milligan acted alongside David Cross in Mr. Show and starred in Tenacious D’s, The Pick of Destiny.

Milligan introduced Maynard with high praise, referring to him as “a human vortex…a man who gets more things done in an hour than most do in their entire lives.” This was a different setting for Maynard, who looked more like a college professor in comparison to the last time he was in San Francisco, rocking a sold-out show with Tool at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Admittedly, Maynard felt vulnerable. “This is lots of exposure, which is very uncomfortable,” Maynard said, although he seemed surprisingly comfortable in this setting, leading off with an honest assessment of the past year; “2016 has been a complete and absolute asshole.” A statement many could agree with. He followed by some of the pitfalls leading up to such a disastrous year credited to the likes of Creed, the Kardashians and of course, Donald Trump.

Maynard refused to let politics consume the show, or himself. “I’m an Irish-Italian stubborn prick and I wanna stick around to see how this thing unfolds,” he said with bravado. Multiple times he eluded to the fact that this election could inevitably bring people closer, and that people will need to fight for those who are immediately affected, but also touched on how his wine making endeavors helped him through tough times, speaking about being grounded to the earth, planting the vines himself and pursuing a passion that translates to a simpler life, and with all that encompassing his life, he concluded, “it really doesn’t matter who’s fucking president.” He also offered a bit of food for thought, prophesizing a theory that humans might not be around for much longer, and that once you get that thought in your head, things become a lot easier to accept.

The reading really showcased Maynard’s personality, an undoubtedly highly intelligent and motivated man whose obsession with geometry and numbers once inspired him to walk from Massachusetts to Arizona. A man who received lucid visions and reoccurring dreams that depicted the site of his future home and vineyard in Jerome, Arizona, an old copper mining town 5,000 feet high in the mountains. A man who envisioned a city in ruin that was sure to be Los Angeles, “I knew it was definitely Los Angeles getting its ass kicked.”


In 1987, a youthful and cynical Maynard documented a manifesto called Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty (also the name of one of his first bands) that predicted some frighteningly relevant material. Maynard read it aloud, backed by a soundtrack of Adam Jones like guitar riffs and a screen projecting electrical currents and activity.

In five years, we will discover a cure for AIDS merely because it began to seriously effect heterosexuals one year previous.

In ten years, there will be no more cold winters.

In ten years, heat from unfiltered ultraviolet sun rays will result in drought and frenzy. Drought and frenzy will result in mass starvation and race riots.

In twelve years…safe shelter, food, extra ammo for the rifle, surviving a raid or making a profitable raid, and just plain surviving will be considered true success.

In 15 years, fewer and fewer will be successful because of lesser and lesser food for which to be successful.

And in 20 years, when the ice caps have melted, Mother Nature will have another go at it…and hopefully, as time progresses in this new world, there will be no need for another bloodline of misplaced youth.

While Maynard touched on some serious and sensitive subjects, he didn’t come across as pretentious or stoic—instead, carrying himself with a confidence that didn’t take himself too seriously. The title of his book is almost a perfect description for himself—a perfect union of a contrary individual. He describing the sequence of discovering the town in his dream, Jerome, and told the story of how Tim Alexander drove him there. “Two bald guys in a convertible, like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, without the bats. But this was the dream. This was the place. I switched my tags, my license plates. I even bought a gun,” the crowd laughed. “Just kidding, I bought two!” The crowd erupted at his slight backhanded jab to the conservative politics of Arizona. His cleverness and earnestness really enabled Maynard to enlighten the crowd. He had their full attention and honest respect.

The night concluded with a Q&A from select audience members. With mostly lighthearted questions, the first person asked Maynard if he ever dealt with self-doubt. His response was priceless. “Every fucking day. People that don’t, can’t get out of their own way. That’s Donald Trump. That’s Axel Rose.” Next, a man who was introduced as Sucram (Marcus spelled backwards) asked about raising children, as Maynard has a two-year-old that has “quite the fucking will.” His reply was “positive reinforcements…I wouldn’t raise them to be an artist. Most artists I know had fucked up childhoods, unless you want to start beating your child now.”

With every response came a cynicism layered with humor and pure genius. He is a man who doesn’t speak without thinking, who is passionate about every endeavor he pursues, whether it’s music, wine making or restauranteering. Raised by a hard-willed Italian mother and father who was a professor, he clearly manifested their teachings. “I look at it like I’m teaching people how to fish,” he said about his ventures, “and when people come back to me with fish, I feel like I’ve succeeded.”

book-coverRead the book for yourself. Available now.


Written by Anthony Presti

Anthony Presti lives and breathes music. He not only writes about some of his favorite musicians around the globe but also plays as a singer/songwriter. With an eclectic taste in music, his favorite live act is The Devil Makes Three while the band he's seen the most are the Deftones. Presti is always a passionate bay area sports fan, avidly following the Giants, Warriors and 49ers.