5 Albums That Shaped Maynard James Keenan’s Tool And A Perfect Circle

Since the ’90s, Maynard James Keenan has been an influential force in rock and metal scenes, with his presence in bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. Much of the distinctive voice he brought to these groups can be traced back to inspiration drawn from five different albums: the pieces of his musical puzzle, which the musician revealed in a 2018 interview with BBC 1 Radio’s ‘Music Ruined My Life.’

1. Joni Mitchell – ‘Blue’

Keenan’s aunt convinced him to give this album a shot when he was at a young age, and he was immediately drawn to the songs crafted by Mitchell during her intense relationship with James Taylor. Seeing a female artist achieve success through the struggle of being in a male-dominated field, the young musician liked this example of ‘going against the grain,’ as he put it. So, ‘Blue,’ which was rated as the third greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone in 2020, found its way to his list of influences.

2. Black Sabbath – ‘Black Sabbath’

A fond memory of the vocalist’s childhood was the day his grandmother introduced him to Black Sabbath‘s self-titled debut album. As a weekly tradition, young Maynard would settle down to watch his favorite monster movies. On one such day, his grandmother handed him this record, which swiftly became the soundtrack to his cinematic ventures. The album’s unique sound captivated him, leading to screenings with Black Sabbath playing in the background.

3. Low – ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’

Fast forward a few years, and we find Keenan resonating with the calm and collected demeanor of Low‘s 2001 slowcore album, ‘Things We Lost In The Fire.’ According to his statements, he admired how the band embraced the challenge of restraint and patience, elements he felt were in sync with his reserved nature. This alignment of musical philosophy struck a chord with him and inspired him in his musical projects.

4. Devo – ‘Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!’

The sound of Devo‘s debut album, produced between 1977 and 1978 by Brian Eno, deeply influenced the musician. The band’s interpretation of classic rock melodies and its blatant attempt to shatter conventional approaches to rock music inspired him to explore beyond his comfort zone. This album acted as a springboard, nudging the vocalist towards a different understanding of music, as revealed during his interview.

5. Pink Floyd – ‘Animals’

While he mentioned Pink Floyd‘s 1977 album during his BBC 1 interview, Keenan refrained from providing a detailed context. However, in a 2022 interview with San Antonio Current, he disclosed his initial hesitation toward the band and the record. This changed dramatically when he listened to ‘Animals’ as a child in the right frame of mind and directed his way toward rock music, an experience he characterized as life-altering. 

Carrying The Influence With His Music


In the narrative of Keenan’s musical journey, these five albums stand out as influential milestones. Each of them contributed distinct elements to his musical style, shaping not just his own musical direction but also leaving marks on the bands he has been part of.