Maynard James Keenan’s other, other band; Puscifer is equally enthralling and preposterous. Bassist Mat McJunkins talks to HEAVY prior to their first ever tour dates of Australia.
“’How are you going’- I forgot that’s the way to say hello [In Australia].” Mat McJunkins rolls the words over his tongue in an almost contemplative fashion. It may seem like an innocuous response, but it sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. On the surface he seems relaxed and laid back, but fail to pay attention and he’ll go straight over your head.
When asked what fans should expect from Puscifer’s new EP ‘Donkey Punch the Night’, coming out in February, his answer is both quick and cheeky. “Go online and do a search for ‘Donkey Punch’. Let your imagination run wild.”
The EP itself contains two original tracks, two covers and a remix version of each track. Of the covers, McJunkins says they’re something that the band has wanted to do for some time. “The Bohemian Rhapsody [cover] I know has been kicking around for a little bit and that was approached [as] a straight up cover, you know, tackling the original basically note for note. Which as you know, is a little bit of a challenge going into that song. There are a few melodramatic upper bits with that, so it was really fun to do, especially when you get to say words like Scaramouche. And then ‘Balls to the Wall’ (originally by Accept), that one has been Puscifyed if you will. That one definitely sounds a little further away from the original for sure, but I think in the end it’s been done justice.”
Puscifer is a musically free entity. Less a band, more of a multi-media project. As such, the roster of musicians that contribute to each release can get quite large. “Basically it’s like a rodeo; somebody grabs a rope whenever they need one of us in the studio. There’s basically a collection of people who play between A Perfect Circle, Ashes Divide, Puscifer and Carina Round and her live band. It’s a very incestuous thing going on. It’s not completely from out of the blue for somebody from one of those projects to get a call to come out and play on a friend’s thing or come work on something. I think we’re all very fortunate to have friends who play well together. No pun intended. I think it’s just a matter of knowing what you want to do with a song, and the direction and the sound you’re going for and calling the right people to continue the sound of the song.” He explains. “Puscifer has no kind of set sound, it doesn’t have to be the same thing, the same set up or the same sound every time. So every time there’s a new direction or a new idea, it just kind of depends on who can help get that idea flushed out to its end goal.”
To coincide with A Perfect Circle’s appearances at Soundwave, Puscifer has been brought along for a three date run of Australian theatres. “As you know, [both bands] share a few members and we’re doing some shows in South America, we’ll do those shows shortly after [the Australian dates] and both bands are playing on that bill. It just made sense to have everybody travel together and Puscifer’s never been to Australia before, so I think it’ll be a great way to get everybody down there and test the waters so to speak.”
McJunkins asserts that the atmosphere inherit in a theatre better suits the experience of a Puscifer show than playing open air venues like Soundwave. “I think there’s a higher level of intimacy at a theatre, there’s more of an air of people going to a show that they’ll hopefully pay more attention to than just your regular rock show.” He explains. “ Not to sound pretentious but there is kind of an emphasis on not having it be your typical show, not what you’d normally expect to get from a ‘rock band’, which Puscifer certainly is not. So I think, take your hints from the songs, listen to the songs, listen to the lyrics, the album title, things like that and try to let your mind paint a picture of what that would be like live.”
McJunkins is keen to play with Puscifer on Aussie shores for the first time, and hints that they may have a surprise in store for fans. “We’re really looking forward to seeing some different faces, a different continent and getting to share a new experience, a totally new thing for Puscifer. It’s really exciting and it feels fresh, of course there’s a new EP coming out, so maybe we’ll play some things from that live for people.”
- Friday 22 February: Brisbane, The Tivoli – 18+ Tickets here.
- Tuesday 26 February: Sydney, Enmore Theatre – Lic A/A here.
- Thursday 28 February: Melbourne, Palais Theatre – All Ages here.
Photo by Tim Cadiente