‘It’s about the art of creating this sensory experience’

I’ve returned to my critical listening of Tool albums — mostly just Aenima and Lateralus. They’re incredible works of art, and I’m glad that I stepped away from them for a few years there. Immersing myself once again in the lyrical depth and instrumental intensity of a song like “H.” is such a richly rewarding experience.

And so I’ve had this tab open for a while, this conversation between Tool singer Maynard James Keenan and Joe Rogan. It’s a great talk, and part of it centers around Keenan’s world-building philosophy — both in Tool and as a winemaker in northern Arizona. Rogan’s a masterful interview (much like Marc Maron, who also interviewed Keenan), and the two clearly jibe over shared interests and friendship.

(Skip the Conor McGregor nonsense in the beginning.)

More than 60 people were thrown out of a concert put on by Keenan’s other band, A Perfect Circle, last week, because they violated the band’s strict no-photo policy. The whole point is to keep phones in pockets (or cars) and out of sight. The whole point, you see, is immersion.

“I embrace the storytelling,” Keenan tells Rogan. “I embrace that whole tradition of oral storytelling.” Around 1:07 in the interview, Keenan impresses the need to tune in fully to one’s surroundings,

“It’s a tradition of being able to understand the details and being able to explain and expand on the details from your recollection of what you saw,” he says, pivoting to his opposition to fans using phones or cameras at shows. “But if you have no skills of absorbing what you saw, if you rely on this thing to capture those stories for you — first of all, nothing you’re gonna get at a show is gonna represent what you just saw or what you were there for. I guess as a postcard, I suppose, it works. But stay present. Stay with these people to be there for this thing. That’s far more important. And, as a courtesy, maybe the person behind you would like to be this person, and now your shit’s in their way.”

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