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Maynard James Keenan Says ‘Proof Is in the Bottle’

Maynard James Keenan — vocalist of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer — remains an enigma to some metal fans. But one thing is for sure: When Keenan does something, he immerses himself fully in the process, whether it’s making music or a fine wine.

Keenan owns Merkin Vineyards and a winery in Arizona, which isn’t exactly a hotbed of winemaking. But Keenan was up for the task of bringing the winemaking process to an unforgiving geographical region. And he did it with his trademark dark humor.

To those not in the know, a ‘merkin’ is a pubic wig, which are often sold to cancer patients who’ve lost their pubic hair from chemotherapy. Robert Schimmel does a brilliant comedy routine about merkins. While merkins and wine don’t have much an obvious association, it’s a bit of humor on Keenan’s part.

“Like any other art I have indulged myself in, a lot of what I do on every project has to do with self-discovery and finding things out on my own or your own, and it’s good to discover these things on your own,” Keenan told Noisecreep.

Whether he’s talking about someone realizing what a merkin is — or discovering their ability to do something creative and new — is anyone’s guess! But as for why he chose to make and sell wine, Keenan said, “I’m kind of an obsessive person, and when I discover something that I find intriguing, I want to know more about it in general. Winemaking, and tasting a nice glass of wine, has me thinking, ‘A person made this. Surely I can, too.’ I pursued and learned it, and got my hands dirty.”

He also named a Cauvernet Sauvignon after his late mother, Judith, and has a tasting room in Jerome, Ariz. where there are “tastings, glass pours, produce and various jams and jellies from our orchards. It’s all local, organic and sustainable, and some is heirloom.”

Keenan isn’t relying on promoting his vino to his fan base in order to make his vineyard and winery explode onto mainstream consciousness. “We can do that all day long, but that won’t help sustain it,” he said. “The proof is in the bottle, and that is sustaining it so far. People taste it and realize that we’re serious about this, and this is a real venture that is helping our town and valley.” A documentary dubbed ‘Blood Into Wine’ — which chronicles Keenan and his business partner’s wine endeavor in the ghost town that is Jerome — is in the works. Clearly, when Keenan does something, he goes all out. “Would you expect anything else from me?” he asked. No, we wouldn’t!

The documentary is centered on the vineyard and bringing the wine industry to Arizona, but it is a rare peak into Keenan’s life as well. He addresses everything from Tool to Puscifer to the loss of Judith, whom the A Perfect Circle song was named after and who factored into Tool’s ’10,000 Days,’ which was written at the time she was bed-ridden. The doc is due for limited theatrical release in spring of 2010.

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