Publication: Pulse! Towers Music Monthly
Date: April, 2001
Derek Wohlfahrt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Derek Wohlfahrt (email@example.com)
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 Toolband.com 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 ghosts? "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