Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan made headlines over the weekend while sporting a cross-dressing look while onstage at the Welcome to Rockville festival, a move viewed by many as a statement against Florida’s anti-drag legislation. But according to the singer, the decision to don prosthetic breasts and exaggerated lipstick while performing was an artistic one rather than a political statement.
While speaking with The Messenger, Keenen explained, “I’ve been cross-dressing since long before these clickbait-junkie dupes were out of diapers. It’s pretty crazy the technology and the prosthetics nowadays, how they’ve come along, and I just was considering bringing the look back. And that’s really all there is to it. I’m not a political fella — had nothing to do with Florida.”
For those who’ve followed Keenan throughout his multi-band career, it has been commonplace for the singer to don multiple outfits and disguises as part of the live presentation.
The vocalist then added, “It’s amazing to me how every single thing you say or do is twisted and conformed into some fundamentalist far-right or far-left agenda.”
As the conversation had turned to the drag show legislation, Keenan did weigh in on the topic, explaining, “I think limiting people’s access to anything is absurd. Good parenting allows you to teach your kids how to be reasonable and reason and puzzle things out and decide for themselves what the fuck they wanna see or not wanna see.”
As for whether or not he might face repercussions for his attire at the Welcome to Rockville festival, Keenan said he hadn’t received any sort of summons. “Nobody’s enforcing it,” Keenan claimed. “They just do that and they throw it out there to shore up their base for an election year.”
Digging deeper into the topic, the frontman told The Messenger that the limitations on drag shows could be viewed as a larger wave of anti-LGBTQ-sentiment. “This is not new. I remember listening to my aunt tell me about all the shit that went on with her elders with human rights and the days of Martin Luther King Jr. That’s not that long ago. That was yesterday to me. So this violence is not going away… It’s still here,” said Keenan. “It’s not like these laws are going to lead to some kind of new violence. The violence never left.”
When asked if he viewed himself as having membership in the drag community, he responded, “I guess so, yeah. On occasion, I am a drag queen; I’ve been a drag queen. I’m casual, so the hardcore people are going to dismiss me as being a tourist. Let’s be honest, I’m 59. So last night’s performance looked more like Brienne of Tarth on her worst day.”
He went on to add that he does feel a kinship with the drag community, commenting, “People that want to express themselves in whatever fucking way they want to express themselves, as long as they’re not physically directly hurting someone? Yeah, go for it. I’m all for ya. If there’s any takeaway, it’s be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.”
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Tool will next appear at the Sonic Temple Festival in Columbus, Ohio on May 25 before taking some time off from touring. However, look for the band to return to the concert stage with a trio of fall festival dates. Get your tickets for their currently scheduled shows here.