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Maynard James Keenan

Tool’s Maynard James Keenan Discusses Helping Deftones Out With Writer’s Block During “White Pony” Sessions


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Revolver have newly digitally published their cover story on the 20th anniversary of Deftones‘ platinum-certified 2000 album “White Pony“. The lengthy piece finds the band, producer Terry Date and more discussing how the album came to be. “White Pony” of course features one of the band’s most notable guest performers: Tool, etc. frontman Maynad James Keenan.

His acclaimed guest appearance on the track “Passenger” made it an instant standout, but it wasn’t the original role that was envisioned for him with the album. According to the aforementioned piece, Keenan and Deftones frontman Chino Moreno had struck up a friendship and Keenan had been originally been attending the writing sessions for “White Pony“, giving advice on the arrangements, song structures and more to help with writer’s block.

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Moreno told Revolver of Keenan‘s originally intended role, “We had this idea that he was going to executive-produce.” Drummer Abe Cunningham further stated, “It wasn’t really clarified, but he was down to help us work on the record.”

According to the band, in addition to creative insight and suggestions, Keenan would show up with champagne and Tibetan singing bowls. Keenan himself weighed in on his involvement:

“I was told the guys were having a bit of writer’s block or some turmoil within the band. Who knows? They certainly weren’t going to discuss that with me, an almost total stranger.”

“[They were] very strong-willed gents. Dare I say stubborn. …Up to that point, they seemed to have been able to navigate through their differences in ideas and approaches. Great first efforts. The evidence is all there.

I felt like they just needed a bit of new perspective. I had them each switch instruments, play on the bowls, take one loop and try some improvisation. The look on their faces was priceless. I might as well have been wearing hippie beads and bunny ears. I could just feel Stephen thinking, ‘What kind of acid-trip crap is this?'”

Keenan would eventually recede from the sessions until later returning to finish off “Passenger“—a song he had helped Moreno vocally visualize during early sessions for the album. He commented of why he decided to step back:

“I stuck around long enough for them to start itching to not have me around. Eventually, it was time for me to let them be. The result of my interruption was for them to unconsciously remember or feel what connected them in the first place. By the time I saw them again, they had opened their own creative floodgates.”

Terry Date, who produced the album along with several other key releases from the band’s catalog, said of Keenan‘s involvement, “I think he and Chino‘s brains work very much the same. Maynard likes to do his vocals after the music is recorded, and Chino‘s the same way.” Looking back on the album now, Keenan succinctly stated, “Great album. One of their best.”

In addition to featuring the band on the cover of their summer 2020 issue, Revolver are also offering up exclusive editions of the band’s forthcoming “White Pony” 20th anniversary edition, which sports a bonus remix album dubbed “Black Stallion“. That set will arrive on December 11th. You can find pre-orders for Revolver‘s edition here. The band’s own pre-orders for the set can be found here.

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