‘LET IT HAP­PEN’

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MUSIC - By Mark Jor­dan Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

“I don’t know if I could de­scribe (Pus­cifer) if I wanted to. I’m in the mid­dle of it,” says Keenan of the group am­bi­tious mix. ‘We’re just mak­ing mu­sic, com­ing up with var­i­ous artis­tic pieces. Its just an artis­tic process across the board.”

For Keenan, whose “Mr. Show” ap­pear­ance was the first in a long string of com­edy and act­ing gigs that also in­cludes the films “Bikini Ban­dits” and “Crank: High Volt­age,” it took al­most a dozen years for Pus­cifer to evolve from a lark to an ac­tual band. Af­ter con­tribut­ing tracks to the sound­tracks of films such as “Saw II” and “Un­der­world: Evo­lu­tion,” the group prop­erly de­buted in 2007 and from the get-go proved hard to cat­e­go­rize, throw­ing el­e­ments of in­dus­trial metal, alt rock, psy­chobilly, cabaret, even gospel into its mix. In­deed, in an early in­ter­view the front­man called Pus­cifer “my catchall, stream of con­scious­ness, any­thing goes, etc. project,” a quote that has be­come an ethos over the group’s three full-length al­bums, four remix al­bums, two live al­bums, and three EPS, an out­put that ranks Pus­cifer as the most pro­lific among Keenan’s many projects.

Part of the eclec­ti­cism of Pus­cifer lies in the re­volv­ing door of col­lab­o­ra­tors Keenan has em­ployed over the years, a ros­ter that in­cludes ac­tress/singer Milla Jovovich, vi­o­lin­ist/song­writer Lisa Ger­mano, and Primus drum­mer Tim Alexander, among many oth­ers. For many years, Keenan seemed Pus­cifer’s only con­stant, lead­ing many to la­bel the group a glo­ri­fied solo project. But the man him­self says that the key to the band’s third full-length stu­dio al­bum “Money Shot,” re­leased in Oc­to­ber, is a grow­ing group dy­namic among a tight knit group he has as­sem­bled in re­cent years, in­clud­ing pro­ducer Mat Mitchell and Bri­tish vo­cal­ist Carina Round, who share most of the song­writ­ing cred­its on “Money Shot” with Keenan.

“We had a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tions on the last cou­ple of records, but this one def­i­nitely there’s some ob­vi­ous stuff,” says Keenan, point­ing most ob­vi­ously to the lay­ered har­mony vo­cals that are the call­ing card of the record.

Ap­pro­pri­ately, Round joins Keenan on the cur­rent tour, which also in­cludes Mitchell on guitar, drum­mer Jeff Friedl, key­boardist Masha Zar­garan, and ex-min­istry bassist Paul Barker. (And Keenan, as de­picted in the 2010 documentary “Blood Into Wine,” is very hands-on with his win­ery op­er­a­tion, Pus­cifer tours tend to be based around the grape-grow­ing cal­en­dar.) Be­yond the per­son­nel, Keenan is mum on de­tails about the show, go­ing so far to en­force a-no-photos pol­icy in con­certs and re­quest­ing a so­cial me­dia black­out from fans.

The few de­tails that have leaked out in re­views, how­ever, point to an ex­pect­edly, col­or­fully the­atri­cal pro­duc­tion. Where past Pus­cifer tours have re­volved around a cabaret or trailer park theme, the “Money Shot” tour riffs on the im­agery of wrestling, with a lucha li­bre act, Luchafer, open­ing most shows and the band it­self play­ing in a wrestling ring.

“Ex­pect the un­ex­pected. Just come with an open mind and strap in for the ride,” says Keenan, re­fus­ing to elab­o­rate on what at­ten­dees of its cur­rent tour can ex­pect to see on stage. “I think its best to just kind of let it hap­pen. Some of my fa­vorite films are ones that I had no idea what they were. I just walk in, sit down, and let it hap­pen. I guess just trust. Trust us. Take a chance.”

PHOTOS COUR­TESY OF THE BAND

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