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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Pulse! Towers Music Monthly

Date: April, 2001

Transcribed by
Derek Wohlfahrt (

  page: 54
 title: Demons are real
author: Ken Micallef

A visit to Tool's studio(sorry, no cameras) reveals some of the 
inspiration behind the band's ominous music

     You can tell a lot about someone by visiting their home and 
place of business, right?  If you had stopped by Jeffrey Dahmer's 
cramped apartment in the early '90s you might have noticed something 
oozing from the fridge.  Or John Wayne Gacy: Beneath his clown 
costumes, construction contracts and floorboards you'd have whiffed 
the pungency of decomposing flesh.  And so it goes with rock bands.  
Visit Abbey Road Studios--you'll see where the Beatles once walked.  
Travel to New York's CBGBs, where the Ramones reigned.  Enter the 
disheveled Hollywood studio lair of progressive metalheads Tool and 
you'll discover all manner of occult regalia and maybe even a whining 
demon or two.
     Greeted at the studio door by Tool's drummer and resident 
occultist Danny Carey, you're led down a darkly lighted passage, then 
into the studio and a lounge with couches and a massive sound 
system.  A huge geometric grid covers the ceiling, which is also 
decorated with gargoyles and skulls.  Two 100-year-old swords once 
used by Carey's father in Masonic rites adorn a wall, with more 
geometric patterns, a mace, an occult library with umpteen first-
edition Aleister Crowley books, a bronze Szukalski sculpture, framed 
photos of Aphex Twin and ELP's Carl Palmer, and an unusual Jacob's 
Ladder, a sci-fi contraption from a 50's Frankenstein movie.  Over in 
the studio, in addition to a wall of guitars and amps, an 
enormous "Enochian magic board" inscribed with the names of various 
angels and used to channel spirits is lodged behind Carey's drums.  
The lounge is strewn with more dissimilar objects--talking drums, a 
zebra-skin recliner, ancient masonry fragments.  The place is a maze 
of secrets.  But can these secrets be revealed to just any visitor?
     "It is fine to be open about some things," responds 
Carey.  "Other stuff should be sheilded from the eyes of the 
profane."  He laughs.  "I was raised with that element from my 
father, so I've always looked farther than what people were telling 
me.  It is mainly just research for myself.  It takes stamina; 
sometimes you have to face things you don't want to face.  But that 
courage is always rewarded, I have found."
     Courage and strength are what the members of Tool--Carey, singer 
Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin 
Chancellor--needed to complete Lateralus (Volcano Entertainment), the 
band's most monstrously powerful and progressive album, in stores May 
15.  Spending two years in a drawn-out court battle with its former 
record label has only strengthened the band's resolve.  Lateralus is 
the year's most densely idea-packed and overwhelming album, a 
pounding epic of six-minute-plus songs infused with ritual themes, 
tribal drum solos, sweltering guitars, extended improvisations over 
taut odd-metered rythms and howling, tortured vocals that bellow 
occult messages, all shrouded in the otherworldly aura of some 
demonic sacrament.  That's right, another Tool album.  But beyond 
1996's Aenima, Lateralus is far more circuitous, engrossing and 
apocalyptic, like the bastard child of Starless and Bible Black-era 
King Crimson and Black Sabbath.
     Aenima was then.  Britney, N*Sync and Eminem are now.  Will 
Lateralus' heady fare be welcomed in today's dumbed-down market?
     "There is a worry that everyone's attention span has just got 
too short," responds Carey, whose calm demeanor recalls Jimmy 
Stewart.  "There is a large percentage of people who are 
disgustipated at the state of the music industry for whom Lateralus 
will be a breath of fresh air.  I would like to say that this will 
break down all the barriers and start a whole new revolution in music 
and show where the influence for a lot of the music of the last few 
years came from.  But then Trent Reznor's last album was the best 
thing he has ever done, and it was the lowest-selling.  So it is 
scary.  But we are a band believing the same thing and are completely 
convicted to it.  We can make a bigger wave of consciousness than you 
will by yourself.  There are four beings here pushing as hard as they 
can trying to get the point across.  There are compromises that 
happen that make the songs so strong in the end.  They can go to a 
larger total that the four parts would indicate."
     Lateralus' song titles, such as "Faaip De Oaid" (The Voice of 
God), "Mantra," "Parabola" and "Ticks and Leeches," reflect the 
band's immersion into the occult, no to mention an unhealthy 
obsession with human disorders and primitive cures.  But like atoms 
fusing in a nuclear reactor, the members of Tool knock up against 
each other in deverse ways to achieve their voodoo-laden heavy-metal 
magic.  Keenan and Carey rule the occult sphere, while guitarist 
Jones guides the video and art direction of the band and bassist 
Chancellor plies healthy living with prog-rock observance.
     "It is like a marriage," notes Carey.  "It is all about the 
communication.  That is why the music will get stronger and 
stronger.  As long as we communicate, the music will get more and 
more depth, emotionally and intellectually."
     And like a good marriage, or perhaps like a broken one, weird 
things happen when Tool gets together and jams in front of the 
massive Enochian magic board.  Call it channeling the spirits, 
calling down the demons or just getting loose in the third dimension 
with Masonic swords and the Book of Thoth--Tool knows how to make 
things happen.
     "More and more often I have found that as we go on, the deeper 
our communication is with each other, the more often things just 
happen."  Carey, an avid basketball player, bends down to rub his 
sore ankle.  "The title track of this album was originally 
called '987'.  It was a bass riff that Justin had; it is a bar of 
nine, a bar of eight and a bar of seven.  We started talking about 
this, and Maynard said it had kind of a spiral type feel, and we 
realized that 987 is the twelfth step of the Fibonacci sequence, 
which is a mathematical sequence that spirals, like conk shells and 
sunflowers, are all made of that formula.  The song seemed to take on 
a higher power betweeen us.  It was just a matter of communication.  
Those are the magical points; sometimes that is enough to build a 
whole song around."
     A child of the occult in that Carey's father was a full-fledged 
Mason who sometimes performed the esoteric rites in his presence, the 
drummer readily acknowledges its pull on his psyche.  One look at 
Carey's bio at shows that Danny "peformed a ritual 
utilizing his knowledge of the unicursal hexagram to generate a 
pattern of movement in space relating to [Buckminster] Fuller's 
vector equilibrium model.  [He then] summoned a daemon he has 
contained within 'the Lodge' that had been delivering short parables 
similar to passages within the Book of Lies."  Is this info culled 
from some ancient mystery school?  Pure satanic evil?  Or just 
organic knowledge lost to this so-called modern age?
     "It's all definitely a source of my inspiration," says 
Carey.  "It comes from researching, trying to find out about 
information that has been hidden for different reasons by religious 
factions.  Most of it is done unjustly.  There could be valuable 
things that might clue people into the answers they are looking for, 
but they are hidden for senseless reasons.  It is still a curse of 
today in the world of psychadelics.  LSD could be like the telescope 
Galileo invented.  But the government made it illegal to do research 
with it.  Music and art and cencorship do not go together.  I 
disagree with censorship over anything.  Do you notice that there is 
never a war on coffee or television; it's always a war on drugs?"
     The final track on Lateralus is one of its most visceral and 
horror-inducing.  As tormented beings, animals, something, seem to 
squirm and fry, a lone man rants about aliens and intruders while 
Carey pummels his drums with ferocious intent.  It sounds like a case 
of ghosts in the machines, but Carey insists it's just another day on 
the job with Tool.
     "That tune came about when I was recording really late one night 
and one of my old reverb units went haywire.  It sounded like a 
transmission from beyond comning through, and I heard it reach its 
path to blowing up so I hit the record button on the DAT machine.  
You hear it going down the tubes.  It had a composition form to it.  
So I pushed it to limit, developed it and made it as anxiety-laden 
and horrifying as possible."
     But that begs the question.  Surrounded by skulls, metaphysical 
symbols, occult books and even an earthly demon that Carey admits to 
having summoned, is Tool's Hollywood studio a breeding ground, a 
possible passageway into a world of fallen angels and grief-stricken 
     "Oh, I don't know if they are ghosts."  Carey delights in 
testing the waters and teasing the skeptical(or is that 
profane?).  "But they, or something, shows up sometime in the most 
unexpected places.  There is a sound in here that I hear all the 
time.  The singer in Zaum[Carey's side project] used to call it 'The 
Dog, Molly Scared.'  It sounds like a whining dog.  If you are in 
here for a day you will hear it.  It has been here since I moved in.  
Everyone who has been here has heard it.  And when the gear is 
malfunctioning and going nuts, you swear there is some demon haunting 
you or torturing you."

Posted to t.d.n: 03/29/01 23:54:33