Maynard James Keenan and Mat Mitchell have used the chaos of 2020 to their full advantage, getting to work on a new Puscifer album, Existential Reckoning, and filming a special concert from the Arizona desert. In this exclusive interview, Keenan and Mitchell talk about the concepts of UFOs and existential crisis in their new record, along with tips on how to survive the hellscape of 2020.

Though the topic of UFOs has been ever more present in the American news feed, the extraterrestrial themes of Puscifer’s new album were put into motion years ago. However, Maynard still prefers the coverage of UFOs to the typical 24-hour news cycle.

“I feel like even the original Star Trek episodes — as clunky as they were — they’re far more informative and have far more moral structure than we see in the news feed,” Keenan says. “I keep thinking about getting in my car, driving to a pet store, picking out an aquarium, buying some fish, all the cute silly things that go in the aquarium, bringing it home, setting it up, feeding the fish, getting it going, being a nice place, and then waking up in the morning and immediately taking my iPhone and throwing it in the aquarium so I don’t have to see the news cycle. Then I just play with the fish.”

In the midst of the year-long existential crisis we’ve chosen at call 2020, both Keenan and Mitchell have used their life experience to combat the negative effects of this year. “Without getting too political, there’s a lot of money to be made in keeping people interested in the news or keeping people interested in social media. It seems like the stories that keep people interested are stories that make people not feel good,” Mitchell says. “It’s not as easy to make that small tweak to make things better, because it is bigger than you … Getting out of it, putting the phone in the fish tank, turning off the news cycle, doing things that are significant to you closer to home and making the changes that make your life better.”

“We’re fairly insignificant,” Keenan adds about managing an existential crisis. “You’re not in control. Mother Nature is in control. When we’re harvesting fruit, when the grapes are coming in, we can only direct that so much. We are absolutely at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to receiving that fruit and stepping up to do our part. In that respect, that probably helps if you have access to that, you have a little firmer grip on what’s happening. You’ve seen the tragedies, you’ve seen the hail come and wipe out your entire crop, then next year you have a crop.”

Both Keenan and Mitchell are ultimately optimistic about the big picture, taking comfort in letting go of whatever the final outcome of our existence may be. “Things go in cycles. It’s all gonna work out,” Maynard says. “The part that most of us can’t grip is that this beautiful blue marble might do some correcting of its own and it might not include us, as it has in the past with dinosaurs and the like. If you let go of things possibly not working out, you’ll be in a much better space … Fall into a roll, understand how to support the people around you and stop making it about you, you fucking moron.”

Listen to our full interview with Maynard Keenan and Mat Mitchell below and click here to grab a copy of Existential Reckoning. Puscifer’s special live-stream concert will be released Oct. 30 and you can enter to win tickets to the show here.

Maynard Keenan + Mat Mitchell: UFOs, Puscifer + How to Survive 2020

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