When Maynard James Keenan Almost Joined Rage Against The Machine

Some artists get multiple options right off the bat, while others are given only one chance and do their best to make it work. Maynard James Keenan has made a name for himself as the frontman of Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. He could’ve also been a part of Rage Against the Machine, but the singer ultimately chose to pursue a different path.

After the formation of Tool in the early ’90s, the band released an EP called ‘Opiate.’ They toured with Fishbone and Rage Against the Machine to support the EP. This was where the seeds were planted for Keenan and the RATM members to bloom. The growing friendship had the potential to evolve into something more if Keenan agreed to the idea.

The initial thought of recruiting Maynard to what is now known as RATM came from Tom Morello, who was in the process of forming the band after his original band, Lock Up, separated. Morello was in search of band members, and Keenan immediately became one of the top contenders after they had the chance to rehearse together.

MJK shared in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2016, “We actually were in a rehearsal space – this is after Morello’s former band Lock Up was dead, and he was trying figuring out where he was going to go next, and so yeah, it was right around the same time all those things were happening.”

However, Keenan ultimately chose to go in a different direction as he didn’t believe they were on the same page. Maynard recalled, “I was looking for almost a Puscifer approach to music at that point. They were looking for a more serious approach, so I think that was pretty much immediate.”

Although the rehearsal was quite good, the vocalist and the guitarist disagreed on a very key issue; their approach to the band’s music. While Maynard James Keenan was in search of an alternative and progressive sound, Tom Morello wanted his band to have a much more serious approach to making music and performing.

It’s not to say that Keenan was not serious about his career, but he and Morello didn’t see eye to eye, so he decided to pass on the offer. Fortunately, Morello was so impressed with Zack de la Rocha’s freestyle rapping and swagger that he asked him instead.

The frontman, who rarely collaborates with other acts, made an exception for the fans who wanted to hear what he could have brought to RATM and their sound. Maynard James Keenan collaborated on a track named ‘Know Your Enemy’ with Rage Against the Machine, which was first released in November 1992.

The track became a fan favorite and remained the only collaboration between Keenan and RATM. Even though the musicians continued to be friends, they didn’t have the desire to embark on a new project together. Although they didn’t work on anything else together, the track has given fans a taste of what RATM could have been like if Keenan were to be their frontman.