I am an “B+” grade Tool fan, I like A Perfect Circle, and I have a passing interest in Puscifer (peet: which has since grown into a true like for the band). My interest in Tool has way more to do with the musicianship than the weirdness, although that does add to it. I’m not even sure I own Tool’s first CD (peet: I do now).
I was very lucky to have been able to stand in the front row of a Tool performance when they were doing a series of small venue warmup shows before their last big tour (10,000 Days circa 2006). Here in Dallas it was at a very cool, tiny venue at SMU and where my interest and like of the band jumped. My position was so close to the band that I was never more than 20 feet from any of the members. The treat of watching the band made me realize that in reality the most interesting person in the band isn’t Maynard, but the other three guys. Those three are just insane on their instruments and I have only a passing idea what it takes to play music. Obviously this is something well known to any good fan of the band, but it was new to me.
Maynard on the other hand is odd because he appears to not really want to be there. Hell, he all but hides behind the drum riser. After my experience with him this week I can say that the rumors that he can treat people coldly are very true. But where my frustration lies is, or rather my confusion, is it simply an act? And why do I care enough to be confused?!??
I was very concerned about his appearance on the show. There is a littered history of failed interviews with the guy and radio people just sitting there uncomfortably while he responds to clique questions with one-word answers. But L&T aren’t normal radio guys and that’s why he sat in on their show for what has to be a record 45 minutes. I really think he liked them because they didn’t press him on the music stuff and because they were just themselves and so not impressed with his place in the rock star totem pole.
I met him in the lobby and was immediately blown away that if I hadn’t been told it was “Mr. Maynard” awaiting me, I would have likely walked right past him. He was wearing the hoodie/blue jeans outfit that you could come across in any Best Buy. He was reserved, but polite. He shook my hand and followed my lead (things were a bit screwy because his wine partner had bailed and he had shown earlier than expected).
The interview was almost exclusively about wine. The only reference to the music was his totally passive agreement for us to air “The Mission”.
During the interview whenever a caller started up with the “you’re my hero/ the best/”the #1 guy in my life” compliments, it was very obvious that he was put out by all of it. He responded to them not with “thank you”, but with sarcasm and eye rolling.
During the breaks, and while the song was playing, he was talkative, engaging and comfortable. Yes, it was mostly about wine, food and the combinations of both. There was some of Lex explaining that he had recently become a fan of Tool because the band’s beginning came during Lex’s self described “cocaine days” and that he didn’t listen because at the time he didn’t need that darkness in his life.
Maynard loved that. He actually laughed.
So after the interview he took some pictures and seemed very disinterested. We waited in my office for his car and he told me that he thought the “Asian chick” (Lisa, as seen in then aforementioned pic to the left) that was in one of the fan pics was hot and that he was single. I told him I was going to tell her just to make her day.
On the way down, I finally asked about music and he nicely told me that Puscifer was the only new stuff and the other stuff was so much pressure and that was it. Nothing else. As we walked out we were having a totally normal conversation when I spotted a 20-something standing by the awaiting car with a load of Tool stuff that filled up both arms.
This is where the transformation took place. Maynard the regular dude was gone and “Maynard from Tool” appeared.
Maynard made no attempt to avoid, in fact, he actually turned and walked towards the kid. In an almost begging voice came from the fan, “Please, just one thing”, and Maynard walked past him, without looking, and simply said in a calm voice, “No”.
I tried to explain, as a second fan rounded the corner, “Look, if he signs for you he will have to for everyone”, and the kid responded with, “But it’s only two of us!”
Maynard, stopped as he was getting in the SUV, and said, “I know, and its kinda creepy”, shut the door and like that, he was gone.
The kid looked crushed and I am convinced he went home and put a bullet in his head while listening to “Prison Sex”, sitting naked on his collection of Tool crap.
Now, I have heard a ton of “Maynard is a huge cock-ass-douche-hole-bag” stories over the years, but in under an hour this was the first witness of it.
This, along with the accompanying story of his amazing ability to conjure up the cell number of the previously aforementioned hot “Asian Chick”, taking her to dinner that night, and subsequent very odd text exchange that ended with him digitally asking her to come to the hotel to watch some pay-per-view (which she declined), has totally scrambled my brainpan.
(if you go to the version of this on my blog at lexandterry.com – there you can download the audio of her telling of her Maynard story)
What I now have is a relatively cool personal interaction, a frighteningly cold blow off of what was obviously a hard core fan and a funnily awkward exchange with a hot chick that ended in failure.
I have to admit I feel silly spending all this time unlocking this odd equation. I don’t really know why I care.
I am confronted with deciding if the “dick” thing is an act, or the result of something else.
What I have decided, at least for now, is that he just flat out hates the “hero worship”. My limited understanding about Tool’s music is that its a lot about false idols, hypocrisy and themes that I think he feels discourages people from labeling anyone as a “God”. So when his fans do that to him, I think he feels they aren’t paying attention and it makes him nuts. So, his response is to be a dickhead to those people in hopes that maybe it gets them to stop “worshiping” him. Yes, he is never gregarious with anyone, but I do think he is kinda of shy guy in general, but the uber fans with their arm loads of stuff for him to sign turns him into a douche bag.
Now, that doesn’t account for the stories of him being awful to people other than uber fans and my only explanation is that he has developed this persona and fosters it because he thinks that is what people have come to expect.
I do think Maynard wants everyone to just be themselves around him, not hassle him about the music and talk about things that interest him – hence why he got along with Lex & Terry so very well.
So, was I disappointed in my visit with Maynard? Did it ruin the band for me?
No, on both points. Hell, I was rocking out to “The Pot” at my desk after the show today, and between talking and writing about him I certainly have spent an embarrassing amount of time – on Maynard.
Maybe that is the point.