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Prog rock legend, burgeoning wine magnet, and merchandising genius Maynard James Keenan is practically an adopted son of Arizona.
Touring with one of his side projects, Puscifer, Keenan returns to Phoenix Thursday and Friday for two shows at Orpheum Theatre.
Best known as the enigmatic lead singer of the multi-platinum rock bands Tool and A Perfect Circle, Keenan has built a reputation as one of the most influential music minds of the last 20 years.
Keenan’s rock journey began in 1991 when Tool caught its first big break, scoring a spot touring with Fishbone and Rage Against the Machine in support of its debut album Opiate. However, it was the band’s 1993 album Undertow and the song “Sober” that launched Keenan and Co. into the buzz bin stratosphere, leading to an appearance on MTV’s “Beavis and Butt-head” and a chance to tour with the popular alternagrunge music festival Lollapalooza.
Tool’s 1996 release, Aenima ,went double-platinum and won a Grammy Award in 1998 for Best Metal Performance. Being hailed as a rock visionary who was helping to redefine heavy metal, Keenan was able to parlay his success with Tool into the formation of the quasi-supergroup A Perfect Circle, w hich toured in 1999 before releasing the acclaimed Mer de Noms in 2000, Thirteenth Step in 2003 and 2004’s collection of covers called eMOTIVe .
In 2003, Keenan joined forces with former Nine Inch Nails musician Danny Lohner to form the improvisational hardcore band Puscifer, a groove-oriented, stream-of-consciousness group which Keenan hoped would inspire people. “It’s the space where my Id, Ego and Anima all come together to exchange cookie recipes,” Keenan said of Puscifer, which first appeared as a fictional band fronted by Keenan in a cameo on the HBO sketch comedy series “Mr. Show.” Released in 2007, Puscifer’s debut album “V” was created aboard a bus and in hotel rooms while Keenan toured with Tool and A Perfect Circle. The success of “V” and the tour that followed led to the launch of the Puscifer store in Jerome, a small space above a tattoo parlor where band merchandise, locally roasted coffee, art, and collectables are sold.
Keenan’s connection to Arizona is strong. Tool and A Perfect Circle have long had a cult-like following in Phoenix and Tucson and Keenan’s bands play multiple dates in each city with every tour. Additionally, Keenan has grown roots in Jerome, where he lives, owns a produce market, Merkin Vineyards, and Caduceus Cellars. He is also a partner of Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, an 80-acre site in the unincorporated settlement of Sulfur Springs, Ariz., dedicated to producing affordable wines for and by Arizona.
Keenan and Puscifer will no doubt receive a hometown reception at Orpheum Theatre.