Keenan Plays Agent, Pitchman For A Perfect Circle

Maynard James Keenan is used to being all things to all people.

As frontman for the free-thinking art metal outfit Tool, Keenan has become a singer, a shaman, a pundit, a prophet, a human oddity, and more to that band's legion of devotees. However, by stepping into the role of frontman for A Perfect Circle, Keenan now finds himself taking on even more ancillary tasks.

After his longtime friendship with guitarist/composer Billy Howerdel yielded some haunting musical fruit and the duo had fleshed out a full band (with drummer Josh Freese, bassist Paz Lenchantin, and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen), Keenan stepped into the role of watchdog in the band's dealings with record labels.

"I've been through it, so when terms come up, I understand them," Keenan explained to MTV News recently. True, few have "been through it" the way that Keenan has. A lengthy legal battle between Tool and its record label kept that band in

dry dock (hence the four years that have passed since Tool's last album), but it also earned Keenan a master's degree in negotiation.

"Rather than taking a crash course in learning ProTools, I left that up to Billy, and rather than him taking a crash course in legalese, I took the reigns on that, because I had just been through it, so I know what too look for. I know what to say no to," [RealAudio] Keenan said. "A label doesn't like to give up certain things. They claim that nobody gives that up. 'Oh, nobody does that.' Um, I just got it, so you have to give it to me too." [RealAudio]

That savvy helped the band land a sweet deal with Virgin Records, though Tool's Volcano Records had the option to match any outside offers for Keenan's project, prompting Virgin to sweeten the deal even further. Virgin has termed the May 23 release

of A Perfect

Circle's "Mer De Noms" a "global priority" and sunk significant funds into the band's first video, "Judith," and its director, "Fight Club" auteur David Fincher. "I think they have a wonderful team worldwide, so I think it's going to be a very good situation for us," Keenan said of Virgin.

Having fulfilled his duties as A Perfect Circle's in-house music biz guardian, Keenan now finds himself in an even more unnatural position, that of pitchman. It's safe to say that Keenan, a media-shy enigma with Tool, has done more press in the last four weeks than in the last four years.

"It's getting a little exhausting," Keenan said of the press grind. "You can really understand how some of the older musicians who have been through this over and over and over again... you can start to get a really clear idea of why they're so self-absorbed and why they're so self-centered."

"You just talk about yourself all day long," drummer Josh Freese added.

And such has been the

itinerary for the band in recent weeks. While Keenan's previous TV appearances were limited to some brief cameos on the all-too short-lived HBO comedy series "Mr. Show With Bob And David," A Perfect Circle has already been profiled in an MTV News piece, and next the band will visit the set of "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" on Tuesday, May 16.

Performances are one thing, but for the reserved and deeply intelligent Keenan, the drudgery of a seemingly endless string of conversations that are about, essentially, nothing are starting to take a toll.

"You honestly start to think that when you walk into a room, people want to ask you questions about you, because that's all you see for months and months at a time every time you do a record," Keenan said. "It's all about you, and so it gets to be a little bit too much, unless you really catch yourself and go, 'Man, the world just isn't like that.'

"I go home to visit family, and I pop into this interview-speak... I've got

to go, 'Man, this is not what they want to hear.' You've got to catch yourself and back up a few steps and realize that not everything is an interview, and the whole world doesn't care about what color this was or what note you played on that. Who cares? It's so irrelevant in the big picture."

However, Keenan will continue to soldier on through the press gauntlet, dedicated to spreading the word on A Perfect Circle. Of course, the band is delivering its message directly on stage every night as well as the supporting act for Nine Inch Nails' U.S. tour. Here's where to catch them:

  • 5/12 - Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post
  • 5/13 - Raleigh, NC @ Alltel Pavilion @ Walnut Creek
  • 5/14 - Charlotte, NC @ Blockbuster Pavilion
  • 5/17 - Miami, FL @ Miami Arena
  • 5/18 - Lakeland, FL @ Lakeland Center
  • 5/20 - Atlanta, GA @ Lakewood Amphitheatre
  • 5/22 - Houston, TX @ Compaq Center
  • 5/23 - Dallas, TX @ Starplex Amphitheatre
  • 5/25 - New Orleans, LA @ New

    Orleans Arena

  • 5/27 - Maryland Heights, MO @ Riverport Amphitheatre
  • 5/28 - Kansas City, MO @ Kemper Arena
  • 5/30 - Omaha, NE @ Omaha Civic Auditorium
  • 6/2 - Las Vegas, NV @ Thomas & Mack Center
  • 6/4 - Phoenix, AZ @ Arizona Mem. Coliseum
  • 6/6 - Anaheim, CA @ Arrowhead Pond
  • 6/7 - San Francisco, CA @ Cow Palace
  • 6/9 - George, WA @ The Gorge
  • 6/10 - Portland, OR @ Rose Garden Arena
  • 6/12 - Spokane, WA @ Spokane Arena
  • 6/13 - Vancouver, BC @ General Motors Place
  • 6/15 - Nampa, ID @ Idaho Center
  • 6/17 - West Valley, UT @ E Center
  • 6/18 - Denver, CO @ TBA