Maynard James Keenan Told Guitarist How To Sing


A lot of hats are worn by Maynard James Keenan. He’s a very busy person. Besides the wine business, Maynard, of course, has tons of hands in the pot when it comes down to music. Not only has Maynard been a mainstay in the band, Tool, but he’s, of course, found success in A Perfect Circle as well which still boasts a very strong cult following to this day.

A Perfect Circle were a great middle ground for those who weren’t exactly with the length of Tool’s songs or the themes of such, but still wanted to have a taste and look into the imagination of Maynard James Keenan. This is exactly where the band had struck gold. Not only did they gather a following fairly quickly, but they were able to pump out records with ease and quickness as opposed to the slower pace of Tool due to the length of songs and how intricate each note really could be.

Maynard James Keenan meshed with Bill Howerdel

This is where Maynard James Keenan and A Perfect Circle guitarist, Billy Howerdel truly meshed. They were both on a path to getting to where they wanted to be. The respect from Billy Howerdel to Maynard was very strong, and because of that, Maynard paid Billy a favor by giving him some guidance on his vocals.

Taking a page out of his own book, Maynard James Keenan pointed Billy Howerdel in the direction of more-so using his speaking voice rather than trying to belt out lyrics through his vocal chords. At first, this was a bit odd to Billy and surely felt like a knock, but this truly helped him to find his way as a vocalist rather than just as a guitarist.

In a recent interview (special thanks to Ultimate Guitar for the transcription) Billy said it was hard to accept defeat as not being an A1 vocalist, but says that he found his voice in not finding his voice.

Maynard James Keenan said to use speaking voice

Billy: “And Maynard -I hesitate even telling this because I guess I’m good at talking about things and accepting defeat – but Maynard’s suggestion to me, and this was 2006, maybe, is just using your speaking voice…

He continues: “I think that whoever hears that you have to kind of go ‘Okay,’ but that doesn’t mean just make a spoken record…I kind of just took that, and ran with it this time. And your voice is your voice, but if you’re trying to do a character, you might be chasing something else. Now, I like acting too, I get it, what it is to go and do a character, and just bring your own thing to that character. But this time, I don’t feel like I’m doing a character, this is just where it naturally falls.”

Billy closes: “And hence, again, why it makes sense to use my name. The mechanics of singing, let’s say, I worked to make sure that I’m singing in the register that was the right register for me singing the song, not that I wanted to impress you that I’m hitting a B flat in whatever octave.”