Monday, March 8, 2010

Maynard James Keenan: The Rocker Who Makes Wine

Hey, I'm just like rockin' wild man Maynard James Keenan! We both make wine:
Maynard James Keenan, one of rock's most enigmatic personalities, is having the time of his life these days not only as leader of the hydra-headed project Puscifer but also as a winemaker. Gone, at least in public, is the angst-ridden man we saw fronting the megasuccessful Tool and A Perfect Circle, bands that redefined heavy alternative rock.

A bawdy group with a rotating cast, the musical part of Puscifer resumed its multimedia U.S. tour in Atlanta on Tuesday. The winemaking Mr. Keenan appears in "Blood into Wine," a documentary that had its Feb. 19 premiere in Scottsdale, Ariz., about two hours south of this former mining center and ghost town that's home to his Caduceus Cellars and Merkin vineyards as well as his handsome wine-tasting room and his Puscifer store, which sells distinctive clothing and other branded materials. Mr. Keenan has lived here since 1995, when he fled Los Angeles in search of tranquility.

Okay, maybe Keenan's not using wine kits and plastic food buckets and stashing 'em behind the shower curtain in the bathroom while they ferment but, hey, we're both winemakers.

Once again, it cracks me up to find out cutting edge rockers like Keenan turn out to be a lot more ordinary than you'd think. So ordinary, it's radical:
As "Blood into Wine" makes clear, the 45-year-old Mr. Keenan isn't a musical celebrity who lent his name to a product. He gets down into the soil to plant and destem vines and pick grapes. He's learned oenology with painstaking deliberation. When I visited him here on the cold and rainy day following the film premiere, he drove me over to his vineyards and explained in detail his passion for winemaking and the potential for Arizona's Verde Valley to be an important source of American wines. The last time I saw him on stage with Tool, he wore a Mohawk and skimpy shorts, growling as he stalked the stage and clung to the shadows, and I expected to meet an intense man grappling with the complex issues he raises in some of his songs. Instead, I found a convivial host, a quick wit and a savvy businessman who lives a life of his own choosing.

A great profile. Read the whole thing.

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