TOOL Frontman Sounds Off On Illegal Downloading, Music Industry And Digital Distribution
Maynard James Keenan (TOOL, A PERFECT CIRCLE, PUSCIFER) recently gave a lengthy interview to Jason P. Woodbury of Phoenix New Times. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
On his upcoming autobiography:
Maynard: “I think there are a lot of misconceptions with some people that, all of a sudden, I was born when my first band came out. I actually had a life before that, and there were a lot of accomplishments. [The book] will kind of chronicle why it is I got to where I am, and why I got to where you knew about me.”
On illegal music downloading:
Maynard: “There’s a disconnect between people not buying music and not understanding why [bands] go away. There are people who are like monkeys in a cage just hitting the coke button. They don’t really get that for [musicians and artists] to do these things, they have to fund them. They have to have something to pay the rent.”
On the future of the music industry:
Maynard: “It’s going to have to default back to people who are willing to do more work for less money, basically. You have to kind of do it out of love, and doing it by living within your means and getting to an end of what you want to do, other than worrying about 401(k)s and insurance and all that crap that comes with being paid by someone else [so] you [can] coast.”
“The illusion is gone. There’s no longer blank checkbooks. I remember playing a show ages ago, where HELMET got offered a [record deal worth a] million dollars. Oh, my God! A million dollars. Of course, all that did was make every other band with ego throw its dicks on the table and say, ‘Well, I want a million five.’ ‘Well, I want two million; I’m more popular.’ There was never any rhyme or reason to what those numbers ended up translating to at the end of the day.
“If you go back and track what somebody actually paid for something, it’s not nearly as dialed-in as, say, a video-game corporation saying, ‘No, we’re going to sell exactly this many units of this game.’ It was never that calculated. The people running [the business] weren’t qualified to run it.”
On embracing digital distribution:
Maynard: “I don’t know, I feel like I’m kind of torn. There’s two sides of my brain fighting with each other. There’s something about connecting with that physical piece of property, and also things you don’t know about.
“When you download the song, there’s nothing. Sometimes it comes with a booklet, sometimes it comes with an image, but usually it doesn’t. It’s just this disconnected thing that you can’t touch and feel and experience. [There are] other nuances to the songs.
Some images and artwork that are totally connected and related to the song you’re hearing, and you make the connection by seeing that image, and it completes the joke or completes the thought; that’s a little disconnected. However, as an independent project — no funding, no record label, no underwriters, nothing — the whole digital route is a lot more sustainable. You’re not wasting a lot of paper or plastic products, except for the manufacturing of computers, which apparently go out of date every week. Thank you very much, Apple. But you’re able to get that music out there and have a direct connection to who you’re selling it to — and actually fund your project.
“We have our own thing figured out. I think that’s how the pieces are going to settle into place. It’s going to default back to people who want to do this and are willing to do this. Once people find their own way and find their own audience, they might kind of peek their head up over the crowd long enough to see that there’s an entire movement happening, and we did it individually.
“It’s critical mass; it all disseminates in a way that you go, ‘Oh, this is the new thing now.’ People just did it naturally, and people just did it in their own ways, in their lines and their mediums and surroundings. They’ll all step back and realize they’ve all come to the same place.”
Read the entire interview from Phoenix New Times.