Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Maynard Keenan


By request, I have decided to publish my story on Maynard Keenan in my blog. For more information on Caduceus wine, go to their website at Caduceus Cellars. I spoke to Maynard a few days ago, he said he does have a variety of wines finished for resale now.

Maynard Keenan: Wine and Music are All Parallel
By PAMELA RAVENWOOD


It’s morning at the local coffee shop, not to early mind you, people here may be early risers but they’re not up to facing the public until at least 9 a.m. It’s while enjoying a double cappuccino, dry, when Maynard James Keenan enters and joins me. He comes here often, that is because he lives nearby and we share the same Northern Arizona community. Today, he is toting a half size bottle of wine, one he proudly calls his own.

“It’s my first,” he says. “I’m starting off with a teaser bottle. I call it Caduceus Primer Paso.” It’s rare when a person like Maynard has a first, I think – recalling the plethora of beautiful women I’ve seen him with. Who could blame them? The guy is talented, witty, handsome and mysterious. But when he’s not bashing Bush, grabbing #2 on music billboards or donning a variety of wigs during his performances with bands Tool and A Perfect Circle, he is working on his Arizona vineyards, Merkin East and Merkin South. And now he’s bottling his own wine! It is at Merkin Vineyards (Merkin being a pubic wig worn by prostitutes after shaving their genitalia for lice), as well as surrounding vineyards, that he carefully maintains his 6,000 vines.

Maynard, or Harry Merkin as he is known in our parts, orders breakfast and we talk. I want to know what makes a guy like himself, a guy who has dominated the rock industry, has music recently featured in Warner Brother’s Constantine and who has just finished a role in the independent film Sleeping Dogs Lie, have a desire to bottle his own wine?

“Most of my peers dread the travel that comes with our ‘job’,” he says. “To me, it’s a rare opportunity for new experiences in the form of cuisine, architecture, and local folklore. I make an attempt to absorb as much of the local magic as possible within the short amount of time I may have in each place. It’s not always the easiest task when you’re low on energy and constantly moving. However, one of the little pieces of local magic that always happens to find its way into our plane, train, or auto, regardless of time or focus, is wine. I’ve had the chance to witness a little piece of alchemy from nearly every part of the world and it occurred to me that many of these pockets of culture resemble our own little corner of the southwest.”

I think to myself, is this the same Maynard Keenan that smeared his body with white paint and blueberry yogurt on stage.

His expression is unchanging as he speaks. It’s an enigmatic stoicism that he’s known for, even in interviews with the pros like Jay Leno. I pick up the bottle and run my fingers over its raised lettering. It is very sensual. What did I expect?

Maynard sips his coffee and tells more of his story, how he got into the business of owning vineyards.

“All it took was a few books, an expert’s visit from U.C. Davis and a few conversations with some local grape growers and I was hooked. My vines won’t have any fruit on them until the late summer/fall of 2007. In the meantime, this will afford me the opportunity to familiarize myself over the next few years with the wine making process while the vines reach maturity.”

Maynard was born to a Southern Baptist family in Ravenna, Ohio. I wonder if the lack of liquor in his house augmented his infatuation with wine. The same mystic substance that is so alluring that Christ himself even partook of it and was known for conjuring up a jug or two in a moment’s notice.

In Maynard’s current home, here in Arizona, there is a wine cellar specifically built to host his 2,000 plus bottles. Even with all the tasting and sampling he has done, he humbly considers himself a novice when it comes to the numinous drink.

“I’m working on refining my taste and smell when it comes to wine, it takes time.”

Maynard’s first real affair with wine began in 1995 when working with equally complex songwriter and entertainer Tori Amos on album Boys For Pele, performing Muhammad My Friend. Amos served up a bottle of Silver Oak Napa Valley 1992. One sip and it was appetence and craving from there – for the wine that is.

When Maynard speaks of his own wine and vines, a similar passion with a hint of fervency seems to emphasize his comments.

“The love and care that goes into the growing of our grapes and the making of our wine will be apparent even to the uninitiated. At Merkin East and Merkin South, the elevation, sun exposure, average temperature and soil content alone will yield a diverse juice.”

But you won’t see or taste this diversity quite yet. Wanting to take his concoction for a test drive while his vineyards are maturing into wine-readiness, Maynard sourced his grapes from select vineyards around Paso Robles and Pope Valley, California as well as southern Arizona.

The label he has chosen for his wines is fittingly - Caduceus, meaning the magic staff of Hermes (the god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel and theft) a staff that serves as a symbol of heralds and commerce, temporality, renewal and vitality. It’s no surprise Maynard uses the symbol of heralds as he has been a sort of messenger himself lately through his band A Perfect Circle and album eMOTIVe. Included on the album are covers from the days of protest songs, times when people cared about the world around them – as Maynard would say. “People are allowing this administration to manipulate their decisions without actually getting involved in those decisions. The song Passive on the album is very much about apathy. I think a lot of the problems in this country have to do with people willingly staying asleep.”

While Maynard attributes more esotericism to his band Tool, he feels A Perfect Circle is more about human relationships. Sharing. Consuming.

Back to the wine. Maynard says the creation of music and the creation of wine are paths that are parallel; the differences are in the medium alone. As far as sharing or distributing the wine, Maynard said he is currently seeking ways to navigate the chaos, fear and misunderstandings that surround the process and the exclusivity of working with one local winery. He is looking for a better way to move forward in making his drink more global.

As for now, if you are seeking a taste of the goods, a trip down into the desert to Page Springs Cellars may be in order. Primer Paso will be released on Thanksgiving of 2005 while Nagual del Sensei and Nagual del la Naga will follow in 2006.

45 comments:

ted said...

Excellent article, I realize now how low key Maynard really it makes me truly appreciate his art even more. I am actually working on getting some of Maynard's wine for my brother on his wedding. Tell him I said "good luck" with the wine and his up-coming tour / album sales as well. Thank you. Keep up your own good work and enjoy Jerome, sounds magical.
-ted

ted said...

Excellent article, I realize now how low key Maynard really it makes me truly appreciate his art even more. I am actually working on getting some of Maynard's wine for my brother on his wedding. Tell him I said "good luck" with the wine and his up-coming tour / album sales as well. Thank you. Keep up your own good work and enjoy Jerome, sounds magical.
-ted

ted said...

oops, didn't mean to do that twice, sorry :(

Inkvine said...

My wife and I have visited Jerome for the past few years. we find the small city comforting and spritual. driving down Mingus mountian is bitter sweet for us, Jerome is our home away from home.

Miguel Dávila said...

Hello, i'm from Venezuela. It's a very nice article. It's funny how people manage to live their lives and within that process helps unconsiously a lot people everywhere. Someday i'll have to visit Jerome and go to that bar to see Maynard and say hi...Best regards to all

email: migueldavila@hotmail.com

Sinurgy said...

Nice article, thanks for sharing. I live in the Phoenix area and for some reason still have not made it to Jerome. I recently went to Bisbee and fell in love with the place and one thing I kept hearing when I mentioned it to people was "Bisbee is cool, have you been to Jerome?" I guess it's time I make it a point to visit.

Anonymous said...

Lucky you to get to sit with the every so unfamous, yet famous MJK.
I've been a big TOOL fan and APC fan forever. Good to hear he's making wine now, it's the one natural opiate humans can enjoy and grow from. I live right outside of New Orleans, and dealing with Katrina has been a pain in the you know what. However, it's a growing experience and all life deals with some kind of tragedy. Hopefully, his vines can grow rythmic and beautiful like the music he has been part of in his life. Lovely article, hope to make it out there one day. If you get a chance to run into Maynard once again let him know that the music he has written (along with his bandmates) have kepted me going, growing, and wanting more out of life. Thanks for your time and website. May the maker of all bless you.
Thanks,
Mitch W.
Jwiseca@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

dRY lEAVES DIE get it???

Anonymous said...

maybe, but why?

Anonymous said...

tell harry people will wake up sooner or later but for now sell your wine for gold & sit back & laugh.

Anonymous said...

Whats maynard's sign.

Anonymous said...

tell maynard it is him who helped me lose jesus.and then to find him again as he truly should be a family man. thanx.

Anonymous said...

I live nearby Jerome. during 2005-2006 winter flood oak creek received a heavy amount of water that yeilded a ton of property damage. In case you dont know, this is the creek that goes through Page Springs and cornville. Hence this is where some of his vinyards are.Just after the flood I had looked at some acreage on the creek. the property was right across from Maynards vinyards. The flood looked like it had destroyed most of his crops. Glad to see that he is still there. Anyways, Maynard if you read this, I was sorry for your loss it looked like the creek got everthing. Thanks for good tunes and wine...

Anonymous said...

if only you retards knew the real maynard and not the pretentious "enigmatic" character he pawns. Maybe if you got to witness him backstage fucking young girls for laughs, or hear his disgusting sexual comments you'd think twice about looking up to this sick fuck.

Anonymous said...

Good post. I had the chance to know him during his High School days at MCC. If you see him again, tell him his pal "Snide" from West MI says "Hey".

Anonymous said...

King James how are you? So you've decided to master the art of wine making. Careful now, it may become an obsession not just a passion. It's an art and a life changing experience as well. Question? have you ever smelled a piece of acacia wood covered with dry blood? I know it sounds spiritualy sedating, but it smells like the finest wine.mmmm! And the taste is enough to make you search the world over and over for many lifetimes.... You know me well jim. Maybe someday I'll be able to meet you.

Anonymous said...

under an electron microscope when compared together, wine and blood coagulate at the same rate out side the body. They also change from the color purple to red when exposed to O2.

Houston Z said...

Hey man, just wanted to say nice article. I've heard alot about Maynards new endeavors but I couldn't find anything specific about it, appreciate it. Now I really want to buy a couple of bottles. Where does he stand on religion? Anyway, Looking forward to Tool's arrival here. Keep up the good work man. You show a real passion for interviewing.

Houston Z said...

And if I may, to the anonymous guy who said he was a sick ****, were you there? If so, why didn't you stop it? Or better yet, be real with yourself. Even IF he did, you wouldn't? Ever heard of Metallica, Tommy Lee, ect... list goes on. Sry, K thx

Anonymous said...

Good to see Mr. Keenan has found another way to express himself, his words are and have always been inspiring. I look forward to obtaining a bottle of this. Wonderful article, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I am a HUGE Maynard fan ever since hearing Tool's music on the radio way back in highschool. I just went to Tool's concert last Tuesday, Aug 22nd in Vancouver, BC and WHAT A CONCERT!!!! I am so thrilled to hear that Maynard is interested in wine. I love drinking wine and will have to track some down for my own consumption! I would love to meet Maynard too, if you talk to him again let him know how profound and impression he's left on me in every mood and way of life. His voice is truly amazing, the most unique and I love it through and through!! Good job on the article, thanks for the post and Goodluck to Maynard on his future endevours!! Laura from Vancouver, BC :D

sr...floyd said...

thank you for deciding to post this interview per one's request. i, as of recently, have happened upon my own vineyard experience, with this being my first, and i must say that the atmosphere was one of complete peace and serenity. i could have spent hours there, it was so beautiful. at this time in my life, it truly was what i needed. i can only hope that one day i can partake of mjk's own pride and joy also, the pictures on caduceus.org are so inviting, so peaceful, and filled with love. i want to see all of this myself. again, thank you for this blog, and i look forward to seeing future interviews.

Alex said...

Will the 2006 six release be around Thanksgiving too?

Jessica said...

Does anyone know if Maynards wine will reach Australia? Ahh it would be great to see it here. I can't wait till Tool tours Australia at the end of this year but as for the wine... well if someone could tell me if it's possible to get it in Aus then i'd appreciate it. Thanks -ciao

Blake Foster said...

I went to the online store and apparently someone else already drank all of the goods! When will a new batch be ready?

Anonymous said...

Can you tell Maynard to make his next album a little more upbeat? The last two were a tad downtrodden. Oh and can you write an article explaining what that last album was about? I don't get it thanks.

Anonymous said...

Maynard is what you would call a consumer and not as rich as he makes out to be. I hope he turns into a alcoholic and dies of gout from eating to much rich food and drink. He is a scumbag that likes to pick multiple girls up and fuck them in the ASS!! Dirty fucker. I hope he gets Golden staph, you mess with shit, you get sick.
His wine bottle design is foul, and the only people that will buy his wine will be his fans from his stupid bands, and they are all just a bunch of wankers. He is not low key, fact is, he is not that famous, and no one recognises him in the street.

Arizona John said...

John en Tucson here..

to the sheep who left the negative comment at 11:30 PM down below: go back to sleep.. your insight/intellect serves nothing for the mind or society and you make no difference to anyone if you were breathing or not.
the wine: patiently waiting and looking foward to tasting it! AZ's heat is enough to put any plans on hold especially those that are calibrated for perfection. Good Luck on your new path of artistry Merkin!
MAYNAARD!: thanks for the show in tucson 5/6/07, truely a visual and audio diplay of the mind and soul while my body was in constant motion, we love you and your band's art.

Arizona john said...

the sheep above i meant (11:30 PM) remain anonymous, you have no identity. good day.

Anonymous said...

John you have no idea. You are the sheep, i am sure you think his lyrics are written for you!! LOL

I am aloud my opinion hence the freedom of speech, you Arizona dwelling backwards redneck.

Maynard is a bad tempered old bastard and all he cares about is hocking his wares on the internet from his "new" record label to selling wines. He always goes on about how he hates attention from CRAZED fans, well all he is doing is milking it. DID I HIT A NERVE??
And have you seen that thing he calls a "friend" that works on the farm...The FUG asian chick...what a ugly mother fucker, has she heard of over plucking your eyebrows. She should go smoke another cone!!! And GUNS are not cool!!!! They kill people. Maynard should join Charlton heston...stupid redneck fucks.

Gary long neck said...

Oh and 10,000 days sucks.

The only good thing about the album is the artwork.

BUT good artwork does not make a good CD.

RETIRE.

And the last APC albums sucked too.
And the puscifer tracks are just as stupid too.

ZOOLOO said...

Maynard rules, guns rule, APC rules.

Rosta said...

To the anonymous writer bashing Maynard:

What makes his art so unique is that it has the ability to reach as diverse of a fan base as I have ever seen. This is because it is intelligent music, intelligent lyrics. I find that his fans are ones with deep minds, capable of understanding where Maynard is coming from. For those such as you, that resort to silly profanity and stereotypes, simply do not understand the music because they are not smart enough. Sorry about the lack of brain power.
As for Maynard: I probably would not agree with many of his actions or political ideology. What I admire is his passion for doing the research and coming up with an educated opinion. Moreover, his ability to express in such a unique, thought provoking art. I am glad he is a fellow Arizonian and wish I could sit down for coffee and ask some questions. Thanks for the article!

matthew said...

to "Anonymous" thats exactly who you are. youre inability to relate or connect to reality is nothing short of disgusting. i can only imgaine your every day life and those who you so coldly step on for your own selfish needs. you are so empty that you hunt somebody like Maynard on the internet threw blogs to spread your fire. you embody everything that is wrong with society today and maynard speaks to you in a lot of his music its sad that you are to lost to hear him. this man has a unique ability to connect to the human race a level of consciousness that you dont understand. has it really gotten to the point a man cant even grow grapes these days w/o being judged?

megstype said...

of course tori amos is responsible..we both know it was a girl back in bethlehem.they both rock!

Anonymous said...

The crazy thing people...Mr. Anonymous Probably is Mr. Maynard himself posting such negative comments about himself...to throw you all...because he can...No doubt is he sitting in Jerome all snugged up in his cave of sorts above or below the town at the high top of the edge of the "Hill of Ghosts" staring at the blazing Red Rocks a glowing and just thinking...you Fucks...

Anonymous said...

You keep deep throating everything given you may end up with cancer but i am not sure if maynard is selling it, yet.

Anonymous said...

Stop by some time my door is always open.
5532 MISSION LN

http://mapserver.co.yavapai.az.us/parcelinfo/map.asp?task=apnSearch&apn=103-34-546

MarkOfTheBeast said...

heh

im really fucking cscared said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bill Eyer said...

Arizona wine really? Interesting article thanks for the write-up..cheers!

Anonymous said...

I came all the way from northern canada just to climb that mountain to that beautiful mountain town Jerome just to purchase a few bottles of wine. I was dissapointed that I didnt get around to meet maynard. Get a bottle signing in or anything, but in the least to say i did a trip down here just to purchase his wines and a few t-shirts shows not only dedication to him but to wine as well

xpicassox said...

Nice article. "Banging Bush." Funny! Can i use that one? I just recently saw Blood Into wine, which i love, wanted to get more info and found your piece searching google. Good job. Thanks, Daniel in NYC

Donna said...

Great article. It's great how you get to speak with the famous and brilliant James Keenan so often. I would love the opportunity to even say hello to such an open minded and brilliant Individual. I think I might have met him once in Jerome with a group from school, but I didn't think much of it seeing as though he introduced himself as James and not Maynard. Stage names work like a charm eh? Anyways I love the article I like how everything flows through you'r writing.

copper head said...

This article was about the local wine production and the people of the town. I appreciate that, but i don't appreciate how fans think they know what Maynard would think or say.weird