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|For The Fans, By The Fans. Look Beyond The Mainstream.
Matt McJunkins discusses being in different bands, transferring studio sound
into a live concert, his childhood music interests, meeting Maynard and more
The admirable endeavor of balancing roles in different bands has become customary
for many musicians. Bassist Matt McJunkins is one such musician, currently part of
McJunkins recently completed touring with A Perfect Circle this summer and is
currently on a winter tour with Puscifer. Early 2011, McJunkins also toured as
30 Seconds To Mars’ bassist. Between all of this, he continues to work alongside
Billy Howerdel (Ashes Divide) as well as being part of another developing project.
“It’s different, very different,” McJunkins said. “They’re different because of who’s
involved, there’s different people involved.”
Despite taking on the seemingly laborious duty of being in separate successful
bands, McJunkins was relaxed when we spoke on the phone—as if two people
were sitting on recliners across from each other having an informal chat.
In 2008, McJunkins joined Ashes Divide as touring bassist and the band released
its debut, Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright the same year. Ashes Divide was the final
result of a series of solo projects by guitarist/songwriter/vocalist/producer
“Billy has a way of working on things for Ashes that’s a little bit different. He likes
to kind of work on things and get a solid backbone of a song or a solid idea before
he approaches anyone else with it,” McJunkins said. “I think he tries to get
comfortable with the song himself before letting anyone else hear it. He’ll come
and demo the songs with the band and kind of see what they feel like in a live
setting and go from there.”
As for new Ashes Divide material, McJunkins said: “Things are in the works. Right
now we are talking about possibly going out sometime, but nothing’s finalized yet, so
we’re just trying to figure it out and the right time to do stuff.”
After a 2008 tour with Ashes Divide, McJunkins joined Maynard James Keenan’s
(Tool) side project Puscifer as a touring member in 2009 and he recently contributed
to Puscifer's Oct. 18 release, Conditions Of My Parole.
“When I got involved in the process of working on this new record, there were some
songs that were pretty far along and sort of written as far as the basic structure of the
song,” McJunkins said. “And then there were other ones that were literally just a loop
of the same thing over and over or maybe a couple of different parts. So there was a
lot more piecing together and softening things out and writing parts that needed to be
done for that. That was just a different kind of approach, hearing things earlier on in
the beam as opposed to Ashes.”
Having worked with both Keenan and Howerdel in their separate projects, there was
an established connection for McJunkins to join their joint project, A Perfect Circle.
McJunkins became A Perfect Circle's touring bassist when the band reunited in 2010.
“APC is kind of a marriage of those two things, you don’t really hear it until it’s a little
bit more closer to being finished. Everyone just has different approaches and different
ways of working on things,” McJunkins said. “Especially with Puscifer being more of a
collaborative. Maynard has a lot of people he likes to work with for that, whereas APC
is more just focused with Billy and Maynard and Ashes is more just Billy.”
According to an interview with Howerdel on Billboard.com, APC won’t release an
entire album just yet, but they plan to release recorded songs in chunks as they
become more developed.
When it comes to transforming studio recordings into live performances in all three
bands, McJunkins gives credit to Howerdel for helping him.
“He’s [Howerdel] really great at recreating those guitar sounds that he put down on
the record because he knows more specifically than anybody what he played and
what idea he had in mind,” McJunkins said. “Same thing for the bass tones with
APC and with Ashes, I have a lot of help from him. If I was just listening to the
record and I had to guess what’s going on, it would be a lot more time consuming.
But, having someone like him behind the wheel in regards to getting sounds, it
makes things a lot easier.”
McJunkins recalls meeting Keenan for the first time in an unconventional manner at
Club Spaceland on Silverlake Blvd. in California.
“Ashes was doing a show in the fall of 2008 and it was a small show. We had a
bunch of friends come out. Towards the end of the set somebody bought us a bunch
of Jager shots,” McJunkins said. “And when you’re up on stage and someone buys
you shots, you’re like, ‘I guess I’m gonna do that now!’ It just seems like something
you have to do when you’re up there. So after the show, Maynard was there and I met
him on the way out and he said something like, ‘we already met, you know...those
Jager shots? Yeah, you’re welcome.’ Or something like that and then he took off.”
While growing up in Palm Springs, Calif. McJunkins said he was surrounded by 80s
hair rock, with bands like Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Guns and Roses, thanks to
his two older brothers.
“Listen to like ‘Welcome To The Jungle,’ at 5-years-old, you don’t know what the hell
they’re talking about and you probably shouldn’t,” McJunkins said. “I was able to kind
of sneak around listening to that stuff.”
McJunkins said he eventually learned to play drums so he could jam with his
brothers, and he started getting into progressive bands like Rush and Primus
as well as the early metal of Metallica.
“I guess that was the stuff I was listening to at that time. I thought playing bass could
be cool, even though it’s not cool,” he said.
Being a long time A Perfect Circle fan, McJunkins said it’s difficult to think of any other
dream band he’d like to tour with.
“Honestly, I’m kind of doing it now, playing in these bands,” he said. “I’ve been a huge
APC fan for a long time and getting to play with all three of these bands basically at
the same time is insane for me. Outside of that, I would love to play with David Bowie,
that would be the all time dream gig.”
Other than currently touring with Puscifer, working with A Perfect Circle and working
on new Ashes Divide material, McJunkins said he and drummer Jeff Friedl (Ashes
Divide, Puscifer) are working on a project.
“He and I have started a thing, but it’s extremely in the beginning stages right now,
just getting to the point of demoing songs,” McJunkins said. “It won’t really be a
band or anything like that, at least not yet. It’ll just be sort of a writing thing and we'll
see what happens.”
In support of Puscifer’s latest album Conditions Of My Parole and current single “Man
Overboard,” the band is currently on tour through early December. See tour dates.
Song clip: "Momma Sed" ("V" is for Vagina)
New A Perfect Circle material
Song clip: "Momma Sed" from ("V" is for Vagina)
Transferring studio recordings to live concerts
Song clip: "Man Overboard" (Conditions of My Parole)
Being a multi-instrumentalist
Song clip: "Man Overboard" (Conditions of My Parole)
Childhood music interests
Song clip: "Oceans" (Conditions of My Parole)
Interests in collaborating with more bands
Song clip: "Drunk With Power" ("V" is for Vagina)
Drinking Maynard's "caduceus" wine
Song clip: "Tiny Monsters" (Conditions of My Parole)
New material and plans
Song clip: "Horizons" (Conditions of My Parole)
*All song clips by Puscifer
|Matt McJunkins: Interview Audio Clips
|Maynard James Keenan performing as part of A Perfect Circle at Rock On The Range 2011. Keenan is also the
front man for Tool and Puscifer. Photo By David Heasley, Cover Photography.