Tool’s Maynard James Keenan’s Military Service

maynard james keenan in the army

Maynard James Keenan Served In the Army Before Tool

Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the time Maynard James Keenan of Tool and A Perfect Circle was in the Army and almost made it into West Point! Check it out below!

With it being Remembrance Day this week in Canada and veterans day for our friends south of the border I wanted to take a look at a rockstar who not only served in the military but used that experience to shape his career. Today let’s look at Tool’s Maynyard James Keenan’s time in the service. 


Prior to fronting the hugely successful band Tool and A perfect Circle, frontman Maynard James Kennan spent some time in the US Army. He talked about his time in the military in greater length in 2016 after he co-authored a book titled A Perfect Union of Contrary Things. During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine to promote the book he revealed the rationale behind him joining the army claiming


  1. He needed the money. The singer wanted to use the GI Bill which helps veterans pay for their post-secondary schooling. Keenan had a desire to attend arts school and thought that enlisting in the military would’ve helped pay for that. 

The other reason he joined was because as he said in his book and i quote “Bill Murray’s character in Stripes played a part in my decision to join the Army,” he says, straight-facedly. “It just felt right to do at the time, and I excelled.”


And he was correct, he did excel. 


Keenan would tell Revolver Magazine that he enlisted in the service in 1982 after graduating from high school. He did his basic training in Oklahoma, and was initially stationed in North Kansas.He served as a military forward observer which directs mortar and artillery fire onto enemy positions. According to Revolver He also went to military preparatory school in New Jersey from 1983 to 1984 and finished his term in Texas. The singer would tell the publication “At basic training, I received the distinguished graduate award for my battery, overall,” “I got a big trophy and got to shake the colonel’s hand. And then for advanced training, same thing.”

Following hin finishing his advanced training he was offered a chance to attend West Point which is a 4 year military school that has produced some of the best and brightest military minds. But for the future singer, something didn’t seem right. He would tell Revolver

“In that moment, when you’re staring at this thing going, OK, is this what I want to do? Is there something else? I had an overwhelming feeling that this wasn’t what I was supposed to do, “I’m pretty in touch with my intuition, and in that moment, I had to listen to it and decline the appointment.”

The singer would spend a total of 3 years in the service. 

But like a lot of people including myself and I’m sure a lot of you have asked yourself this as well. How would life be different if you would have made one different decision or chosen a different path in life, the singer is no different saying in the same interview:

“Recently, I reached out to an old classmate of mine from preparatory school just prior to West Point,” he says. “I wanted to see where he’s at. He’s basically in charge of Afghanistan. He’s a colonel now. And it makes me kind of wonder where I would have been had I taken a different path. Because if I had accepted my appointment and made it through the next four years, my career was set.

While he may have declined a longer career in the military, his service shaped his view of life as he would tell Rolling Stone

I feel like from an artist perspective there is that warrior’s perspective and I feel like that’s in each one of us. And if you can embrace it in some way and understand … even in terms of martial arts, when you step into that ring, on that mat, you have to kind of embrace that warrior side of you. You’re competing against yourself more than you’re actually competing against your opponent across from you.

That’s not to say his opinions on the military hasn’t drawn criticism from some people. Back in 2016 he appeared on the cover of ballistics magazine holding a Tool inscribed rifle. The gun was given to the frontman by a soldier named Nick McGarry on behalf of one of his friends Satff Seargent Robert J Miller who died at the age of 24 in Afghanistan after being ambushed. Miller for his bravery would receive the medal of honor. Miller was a huge Tool fan and would crank 10,000 days at his outpost during his service.  To honor the fallen soldier Keenan had Miller’s name engraved on the rifle and he would tell ballistics magazine

“It seemed strange having a monogrammed rifle for me to commemorate Miller’s sacrifice,” “I just wrote some poems. It made more sense for it to have his information so every time we used it we would think of him, not me.”

The singer was criticized by some who claimed he was supporting the military industrial complex by appearing on the magazine cover and he would publicly speak out in 2016 during a tool show as you can see here.

But not everything is so black and white in Keenan’s world as he would be asked by Rolling Stone whether he recommends people enlist in the military. He would reveal

Um … yeah, that’s a tough one. Because when I joined the military, I was pretty convinced that all of that crap was over. I believed we kind of found some kind of groove as far as world peace. We didn’t really have any major conflicts – Grenada and a few things when I was in. Yeah, we were going through a lot of growing pains as a nation. I don’t know that I would recommend going into active service right now. It might be good for some people. Yeah, that’s a tough one, because the parts that I’m looking for, that discipline, that connection, was being absolutely vulnerable and having your life in the hands of your teammates, your friends, your colleagues. The growth that occurs in those spaces where you’re just broken down and then being built back up – there’s a lot to be said for those kind of things.

Then on memorial day weekend in 2017 during a Tool live show in Boston the frontman called out snowflakes and brought up the police and military saying the following


As artists, we interpret and report, that’s our job. We are merchants of emotion. We have the privilege to do that because of active and former law enforcement and military defending our right to do so.

Those of you who are law enforcement and military, your job is to defend our right to act like whining, entitled snowflake , myself being one. Snowflakes, your job is to respect them fingdoing that for you. Divided we fall. Don’t believe the hype dumb-dumbs, we’re all in this together.