Loder: The album title, Thirteenth Step (of his another band A Perfect Circle), seems to be a reference to the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step rehab program.
“Many of the songs are sung from the perspectives of recovery…”
Keenan: I don’t think the album is specifically for people who are going through recovery, although that metaphor is absolutely present. Many of the songs are sung from the perspectives of recovery: from the perspective of a person who is in denial about a loved one, and from the drug perspective itself — the perspective of a person who is starting to realize that there is an issue, and of a person who is ready to deal with it.
This was a very difficult task for me, because I don’t know what [drug addiction] is like. I drew on the experiences of friends who have gone through recovery, and friends who will never go through recovery. Layne Staley, for example, who was an old friend.
Loder: You must have seen that coming with him, right?
Keenan: Yeah, absolutely. But there was nothing you could do, and it’s very difficult to understand. Being a friend to someone like Layne, it really kind of does your head in. I don’t understand it, but I do want to help other people who are on that borderline, who might hear [a song] and go, “You know what, I think I want to try to live.”
Maynard James Keenan
‘Not yet a legend, Not yet dead’ interview.