Maynard James Keenan Reveals Why He Takes Deaths Like Chris Cornell ‘Pretty Seriously’

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In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Tool and A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan was asked about referencing recently deceased celebrities on A Perfect Circle’s new song “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.”

The song references the deaths of Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher and David Bowie. Many celebrities have died in the last couple of years especially in rock music, with Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, and Tom Petty dying in 2017.

“I think it was a big curveball for a lot of people to have that concentration of celebrities, people that are iconic, exit. I’m sure it’s happened in prior generations – all of a sudden, an exodus – but the immediacy of social media made it more impactful with more of a rapid fire to be able to see that list every day of people that you were familiar with over the years passing. And at the age of 53, you start to take it pretty seriously.”

He was then asked if he has taken any of these deaths particularly hard personally.

“Not necessarily hard. I mean, that’s life. It is temporary. It’s always been something that I’ve embraced. But you only have so much time, do stuff with it. When all those people are leaving, I guess it’s a good opportunity to remind people of that: Pay attention.”

Keenan discussed the deaths of Chris Cornell, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman in a recent Revolver video.

“Understand that you are on your fucking own, you are alone, do what makes you feel like you’re successful, or at least setting up the next level of okay, I’ve reached that understanding, now let’s go to the next level. Big fan of Chris Cornell, when was the last time, did you think about Chris Cornell this week? I didn’t. I loved the guy. Alan Rickman, David Bowie, there’s a bunch of posts on Facebook, and then you go about your way.

That’s what’s going to happen to you by the way, people are going to be upset that you’re gone, and then they’re going to move the fuck on with their lives. So be happy with what your decisions are, you are on your own, you don’t owe anybody anything. But if you’re doing your job and you’re doing it accurately enough and you’re expressing from the heart, from the core, from your experiences and intuition, it’s going to resonate with other people.

They’re going to get something out of it, their day might go better because of your true honest approach to what you’re doing. You’re going to help other people, you’re going to help yourself, you’re going to help your family. But just understand at the end of the day, nobody owes you as an artist any kind of accolades. You don’t owe them anything, they don’t owe you anything. You’re just doing.”

  • Stone Gossardish

    Thoughts of a journeyman about a couple legends may matter to some. Not so much to me.

    Maynard is a nice rock singer that’s never really found “it” yet. He’s a top end journeyman whereas Cornell is a guy firmly on the top shelf.

    • makingconnections

      I always like your responses to what musicians have to say about life, music and death.
      Do you think Chris Cornell knew what a fine musician and artist he was and that his music would be so timeless? I think there are many people that still are stunned by his death….maybe the internet makes it different…

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      • Stone Gossardish

        His death is still so stunning on just a professional level. He was entering the peak of his career. He had solo work, Soundgarden, Audioslave set to return, and maybe the most exciting project of them all, Temple. Temple of the Dog was setup for a big time 2018. So it’s still so vexing.

        My guess is that Cornell finally saw where he fit in the grand scheme. He had a tough run of years there in the early 2000s when he had a substance problem, but he came out of it more clear, at least for a good while, and reflective.

        My guess is that he did know a lot of his work would be timeless and he left clues as to what he thought was some of his best, like Slaves, Seasons, and many others. He did seem a bit uncomfortable with Black Hole Sun, for example, but he managed it quite well. I believe he had came to accept that he was a “grunge legend” for lack of a better term and would be celebrated for as long as his voice carried on, which should’ve been for another 10 years or so.

        • makingconnections

          Thanks. Vexing is the word, but still so good to know that he most likely knew of how his music impacted us.

        • makingconnections

          I’d like to say that my intuition says that it was Chris Cornell’s personal life that sent him over the edge and we skirt around that fact so much of the time. We’re thought to be inappropriate to suggest such a thing; however, it doesn’t have to be a deep criticism of his wife to suggest that.
          My husband is very successful but I know that he can’t go off and do anything well if he thinks our connection isn’t right….and sometimes it isn’t. Marriage is difficult in my opinion. I think we put such high expectations on what “love” is supposed to do for us as individuals and as a couple. We never want to worry our children and the pressure can be huge. The quarrels can be quite dramatic.

    • Tox Ravenblood

      Respectfully disagree

      • Stone Gossardish

        That’s a reasonable take. I would bow in respect like the founding fathers did but no one would see it but my dog.

        • Tox Ravenblood

          To say Chris was top shelf and Maynard being a mere journeyman is a bit ridiculous considering they both have similar accomplishments and have been on scene for equal time. They both have great voices and wrote a lot of songs that changed people’s lives.
          I wouldn’t want to exclude either of them from the great influential musician list.
          I will say, the last time I saw Chris perform, he didn’t seem to hide the notion that he wasn’t into the performance and didn’t want to be there. His vocals we’re flat and slow, never opened up and gave us the energy we’ve come to expect from him.
          It doesn’t take away from his legacy, but it was hard to witness.

          • Stone Gossardish

            I understand your take. To me their accomplishments are not similar., therefore I think Cornell is another level above. That’s the difference I see.
            But if you see them on the same level in terms of rock singers, that would make sense. I didn’t really consider impact on people’s lives in my evaluation, but I’m just one.

            The last time I saw Soundgarden was a few weeks before while I was passing through Atlanta. The show was extremely loud and his voice was great for his age. It sounded great during the Temple shows, and in some of the other work he did as well.

          • Tox Ravenblood

            What accomplishments did Chris make that causes him to stand above others?

          • Stone Gossardish

            He was the first major voice of what became a pretty major rock movement in Seattle as SG was the first signed to a major. He fronted 3 bands that worked at a hall of fame level, though two of them don’t have the catalog to belong there, and he had a successful solo career.
            Now, he had a very dark period where he went off the rails entirely, but he bounced back from that quite well and his work was going one direction at the end. He would’ve had a very big three years or so, at least.

            At pretty much all times in his career he was held to be one of the best pure voices in rock or hard rock music. I’d say that’s the short version.

            I’m not anti Tool or anti Maynard, but I just don’t see the work being in the same neighborhood. That doesn’t mean it can’t be to many people, I played a lot of hockey with guys a long time ago now that lived Tool, but I don’t see it as being of the same level just like I don’t see 30 Second of Crap on the same level as STP or the Train singer as being on the same level as Weiland.

          • Tox Ravenblood

            You’re basing the last half of that on what you believe could have been had he not chosen to take his own life instead.
            Truth is, he obviously never bounced back from that dark period.
            Yes, he was an amazing force to be reckoned with in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but by your own admission, went off the rails for many years before making a failed attempt at a comeback.

            But you say someone who never lost focus, worked with nearly twice the number of bands, and is still making accomplishments in and outside of the musical arena is a journeyman compared to someone who fell out of love with the music and ultimately committed suicide in front of our eyes with the downward spiral he displayed.
            I could draw more parallels between him and the likes of Cobain, Staley, and Morrison than Maynard.

            Who do you suppose would be a better role model for your children if you had/have any?

            A successful business man, or an addict with a strong voice?

          • Stone Gossardish

            That’s a lot of stuff that’s pretty far beyond what you asked about. I wouldn’t speculate about a role model for children much beyond the world of rock, outside purely some people’s work, is probably not the place for that, at least for me.

            I think Cornell’s work late speaks for itself. The Temple shows, the solid comeback Soundgarden album. The solo acoustic shows, soundtrack, etc. I just don’t see those two artists as on the same level, and it’s okay to disagree.

            I see Maynard as more of a journeyman who dabbles in rock but has other interests and passions he seems more into. I don’t think he’s made his best work yet and I don’t know if that’s going to happen. He’s not known as the easiest guy to get along with or work, and it’s not (to me) like he’s produced anything out of this world to justify being a diva.

            That’s my analysis of it. A journeyman isn’t a horrible tag to hang on someone. I didn’t mean that as a major slap. I just see the two as existing on separate levels. I love the discussion though.

          • Tox Ravenblood

            How does someone who doesn’t seek the lime light and remains an extremely private person qualify as a diva?

          • Jeannine Catron

            The difference between these two is that one suffered from mental illness. Chris lost his battle.That’s it.

          • Tox Ravenblood

            I’m not sure that I’m the one you need to convince of that.
            I’m not claiming one was greater than the other

          • Stone Gossardish

            I don’t know that they would. A diva to me is more of a pain in the ass to work with than anything, and one with a distorted sense of their worth. Making people wait on them, not showing up on time, acting like they’re not able to read or do anything.

            And of course there’s the thing about needing the Tea, like Mariah Carey did on New Year’s eve last year or the year before. That was a diva play.

          • Tox Ravenblood

            What’s Mariah and tea have to do with Maynard?

            You brought up the diva thing, if you can’t explain, just say so

          • Stone Gossardish

            Top of my head diva reference was her. And there was a thing I saw about her being like where’s my tea? As opposed to asking afterwards where the tea was. Just a top of the head diva reset.

          • Tox Ravenblood

            I didn’t ask what a diva was, I’m asking why you think maynard is one.

            But Mariah is cool too I guess

          • Stone Gossardish

            His attitude towards his fans at time, media, and where he placed the music relative to other stuff he’s been involved in. He’s come off as a bit of a diva for a long time, a part-time rock guy, and a guy more interested in himself than anything else. Again, I’m a fan. I’m not going to rip him, and I liked his wine when I had some a number of years ago. But I think he’s been a bit of a diva along the way. It takes nothing away from his work. That is what it is.

          • Tox Ravenblood

            He values privacy and wants be left alone… That’s the opposite of diva.
            Just saying.

            Three touring bands is part time?
            Or the fact that he’s got talent in other areas makes him somehow less serious about music?

            Your logic is hard to follow.
            You said he’s hard to work with, yet you don’t know anyone who’s actually worked with him.
            Claim he’s a diva by “acting a bit like one” without much to back it up.

            Just because Chris couldn’t do anything else with his life to the point he decided to swing from the coat rack, doesn’t make him a folk hero.
            Sorry, it just doesn’t

          • Stone Gossardish

            I don’t disagree with you on the folk hero take. I hope that’s not happening. It shouldn’t. Cornell was a great rock musician. He did fine work. On Maynard we can disagree for now. If my view changes I will let you know. I’d like to see it.

          • Tox Ravenblood

            Maynard isn’t a great rock musician who continues to do fine work?

  • Olga Stewart

    I think I read a part of this particular article before.

    Anyhow, I know that I still think of Michael Hutchence (who I adored) now and then.

    So I know that he made a great impact on my life with both his voice and songs.

  • KREePyKiDD

    Nice unfinished article “You’re just doing” ??? That’s how you end an article with MJK?

  • Maryam

    I don’t understand the part where he said I’m a big fan and loved the guy, but you don’t even think of him after he has passed away. I think of all of my family members and friends who have passed away. I lost my mother when I was 18 and still think/miss her everyday. I’m a big fan of a lot of musicians that have passed away. Just sends weird and a little rude to say something like that. How can you not think it someone that has passed. I never will get over the loss of life. I have to live and go on but I will never forget and will think about all of the people that aren’t on this Earth anymore.

    • thabestevah

      In no way do i believe that u think of musicians that died every single day of your life. Nor do i think you think of anyone who died literally every single day of your life unless you have nothing going on in your life at all.

      What he said was poignant and accurate. Cornell was amazing and i think if him when i listen to his music. I don’t think if him when I’m spending time with my family or writing or working or masturbating.

      I miss my grandmother and when something reminds me of her i think of her. However, i don’t have time to think of my grandmother constantly. I have things to do, a life to live and a family to take care of. Those things are far more important than a person who already lived their life.

      • Maryam

        Your just as rude as Maynard! You don’t know me so I could give two fucks what you believe or not about me and what I think and feel. I said I think of my mother everyday so how about you learn how to read! I never said that I think about musicians that have died everyday! I am 36 years old and had to watch my mother suffer for years from heart disease that eventually took her life. I was 18 when she passed away, then a decade later I was diagnosed with the same heart condition she had. It’s called Pulmonary Hypertension and there is no cure. I have to take 13 medications just to live and when those don’t work anymore I would need a heart and/or heart and lung transplant. I’m married with 2 children, I have a life and have lived a hard life. You have no idea what I’ve been through. Good for you that you don’t think of Chris when you’re masturbating because neither do I!

        • thabestevah

          Wasn’t trying to be rude, i was being realistic about reality. You may be the odd case because you have the same condition that killed your mother to remind u on a daily basis. However, without that reminder you would probably have plenty of days that go by where you live like a normal person and don’t think of dead people.

          I’m glad your mother meant so much to you but most people have a life to live and can’t spend it thinking of those who already lived their life no matter how important that person may have been to them. You unfortunately have a constant reminder as you battle with the same condition that took her life. Most people don’t have that, so everything Maynard says still remains factual outside of a few extrordinary cases here or there. Of course people think of dead people they miss a lot when things remind them of their lost loved ones, but literally everyday isn’t something that happens in most cases for a normal person.

          • Maryam

            If you weren’t trying to be rude then you wouldn’t have written what you did. Most of what you wrote to me the first time was rude.

          • thabestevah

            My apologies, obviously your situation is quite unusual. I wrote my first post in a hurry, while at work, without much thought. My bad man, have a good day and good luck with everything you have going on.

          • Maryam

            Thank you for your apology. I also hope you have a good day and thank you, I wish there was a cure for me. Honestly for me it’s hard to not think of death, I’m lucky to be alive and wake up each day. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for medicines I would have been gone a long time ago and leave two kids without their mother. Take care!

          • Tox Ravenblood

            Seriously, you shouldn’t be taking this so personally

    • Son Of A Nam Vet Mike

      Well said, me too!

    • Tox Ravenblood

      They’re not family members, so that’s not a valid comparison.
      Like when Bowie or Lemmy died, we were remorseful for a few weeks, but their lives aren’t something we think about on a regular basis anymore.
      Sure, when we hear their music, we remember… But celebrity deaths are fleeting, just like careers.
      Eventually, we all die and get forgotten about.

  • Son Of A Nam Vet Mike

    Maynards got his own opinion and that’s fine, hes a breed all to different musicaly, and im sure personally compared to Chris Cornell, if the tables where turned & it was Chris speaking of the death of Maynard Keenan, Chris would have been a little more sensitive & loving regardless if he knew Maynard well or not, Chris had all loving bones…

    • Tox Ravenblood

      The speculation runs deep

      • Trovoid

        I wouldn’t call it speculation. These are from observations about Chris when he was alive. We saw the way he spoke of other people and how he responded when those around him did die.

      • Son Of A Nam Vet Mike

        Exactly, well said…

    • Trovoid

      Yeah. The way Maynard talks about other people’s deaths comes across as insensitive. He almost seems annoyed by people grieving. Just because he didn’t think of Chris all week doesn’t mean nobody else did.. Chris would’ve never said anything like this.

      Maynard acts like everyone other than him is stupid and he tries to “enlighten” us with all of these hard truths or whatever he thinks they are.

      *Before anyone claims I am a biased Soundgarden fanboy, I actually enjoy some of Maynard’s music. I’m just calling him for what he is; not a very kind person. He seems like he’s always trying to prove something. You can like someone’s art and think they’re a bit of a prick.

      (See: Billy Corgan; Vincent Gallo)

  • Dan Rowley

    Everything is temporary. The body you inhabit you are just renting! If you keep it neat & clean & orderly, appliances in good working order, it will give returns years on end. If you take care of it, or don’t actually, the manager is going to be knocking on your door with a pink slip asking you to vacate the premises forthwith. No refund of your security deposit (or maybe 1st mos. rent, or both in some cases) as that money will go, in this case to put yer worthless butt in the ground, incenerator or whatever! NO ONE is expecting yer abode to be perfect sans some nicks n’ dings but to have a modicum of appreciation for what brung to the dance! That’s inside & outside. One same as the other! Dig??

  • Ashley Leach

    Maynard’s view is a thread of many in this tangled web of temporal suffering. I respect his voice as it does belong and serves vital purpose in the context of man’s struggling heart and mind as a whole. A much needed perspective to see as many invaluable angles of reality, which we may never sense or have lost sense of. It is not pleasant/easy factoring the origin or implications of one coming to such a view on life, but if an absolute truth is to be established, a reality where life’s worth is above a YOLO price tag, we must factor in and appropriately search for reason and purpose in ALL views individuals come to conclude as reality. To dismiss a voice, however abrasive to our own, without proper context, analysis and application steers the mind down the road of hypocrisy and limits the pursuit of truth to merely superficial levels. We are ‘alone’ in the willful initiative deciding how far we choose to pursue an objective truth our hearts and minds innately long for, among passionate ‘chaos’ that at first glance negates any essence of an absolute. If we we are foundationally chaos, why adapt this “flavor” of conscious order? I can accept with the madness and expression of doubt in my own worldview, which we’re all bound to face, once/if we truely confront the hell that passes everyday in our existence. But I am not confident enough yet, knowing my cognitive limits and not being able to see suffering from all perspectives, to throw a genius, redemptive “inverse” to such hell out the window. The calculations are brutal and cumbersome but love and grace are neither shallow nor cheap. We’re all at different stages in this journey, we all have perspectives of great value. Seek, respect and treasure that value, he scope is broader than the physical us.