Maynard James Keenan and his band Puscifer are getting ready to unveil their second concert livestream of the pandemic, this time playing their 2015 album, Money $hot, in its entirety. The performance comes after Keenan twice battled COVID-19, but as he tells us in a new interview, he is no longer experiencing the lingering effects of the virus.
Puscifer recently announced the the new livestream “Billy D and the Hall of Feathered Serpents featuring Money $hot by Puscifer”, a prequel to their October livestream, where they performed their 2020 album, Existential Reckoning, in full. The new concert is set at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles, and will premiere on April 17th (Maynard’s 57th birthday) at 5:00 p.m. ET, remaining on-demand for 72 hours.
In February, Maynard revealed he had experienced a second bout with COVID in November, months after first contracting coronavirus in early 2020 while on tour with Tool in Australia and New Zealand. The singer, who still had lung damage and coughing fits several months after his first COVID experience, said the second bout was even worse, to the point where he had trouble breathing.
Heavy Consequence checked in with Keenan for a few minutes to talk about the livestream, but first we wanted to get an update on his health. When we asked Maynard how he was feeling and if he still had any lingering effects from the COVID bouts, he briefly answered, “Not that I’m aware of,” while adding, “Everything’s grand.”
With Keenan feeling healthy, Puscifer are gearing up for the Money $hot livestream. The band teased the virtual concert with an intriguing trailer featuring recurring Puscifer character Billy D, prompting us to ask Maynard to set the stage for the upcoming show. He told us, very mysteriously: “The answer we usually give when people say, ‘What is Puscifer?’ is: ‘What is Puscifer is what Puscifer is,’ and then they ask, ‘What’s in the briefcase?,’ and we say, ‘Puscifer.'” Got it?
A little more directly, Maynard divulged, “With this process of filming, it really gives us a lot of flexibility to do things that we were unable to do live [on the original Money $hot tour] — great setups and some continuity to the show, with the wrestlers, with Billy D, with some obscure storylines. It was already a great fun show and we were very proud of it. And now to have it in a setting like the Mayan Theater just takes it up a notch. That place is creepy and crazy and beautiful.”
Having already filmed the Existential Reckoning livestream, Keenan knows what goes into producing these virtual concerts. “A lot of it is preparation,” he said. “We have to rehearse the crap out of those songs, so that they’re really dialed in and you have an idea of how to perform them live. Of course, with Money $hot, we had a chance to tour that album a lot, so those songs kind of evolved over time on the road. With Existential Reckoning, those were brand-new songs, and we were just trying to match the album as much as we can.”
He added, “When it comes to shooting them, we shoot several [song performances] in a row just to nail down a solid live take so that we don’t have to edit anything in. That’s basically the goal, to get a solid live recording start to finish without having to chop.”
While some touring is opening up, the U.S. is still very much in the midst of a pandemic, forcing bands to come up with alternate plans for the time being. “First of all, we have to figure out how to kind of tour virtually or for real in this current reality,” explained Keenan. “For now, I’ve got a bunch of bandmates that are off the road. [Fellow core Puscifer members] Carina [Round] and Mat [Mitchell] sure could use the incomes. We have to figure out what to do. And I think our solution is very well suited for a band like Puscifer, in the form of a concert film, like ‘Money $hot, Billy D and the Hall of Feathered Serpents.'”
Could that mean that more Puscifer albums will receive the virtual-concert treatment? According to Keenan, that’s a very real possibility: “I think that’s kind of on our menu. I mean, why not?”
Keenan once collaborated with Rage Against the Machine on the song “Know Your Enemy”, and the latter’s Tim Commerford recently said that Rage would never play reduced capacity shows or drive-in gigs. To that, Maynard remarked, “That seems like it’s less feasible for a larger band, but maybe smaller bands that are already kind of club bands, I think they could probably pull it off — slightly larger venues with the same size audience. In a lot of ways for the larger bands, it feels weird. When you’re putting on a big, huge show, you kind of need those people in that room.”
Overall, Keenan is optimistic about a return to normal for the concert industry. “I’m always hopeful. I’m just kind of a pessimist, so it balances out, but yeah, I think it’s always going to sort itself out eventually.”
That said, Tool were scheduled to play the 2020 edition of Bonnaroo, but were not on the recently announced 2021 lineup. As of now, neither Tool nor Puscifer have any live dates lined up.
In addition to prepping for the Puscifer livestream, Maynard just unveiled a short film called An Easter Story that focuses on his ducks. “It just seems like there’s a lot of negativity floating about, and I think we just needed a little boost of light,” Keenan explained of his inspiration behind the mini-movie.
Early bird tickets (starting at $19.99) for the Money $hot livestream and packages featuring exclusive merchandise are available via Puscifer’s live website. See the trailer and poster below.