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A TOOL-Related Article

Publication: RIP

Date: August 1993

Transcribed by "JAMES QUIRK" (

Tool by Daina Darzin
reprinted without permission by Jaymz Quirk

Life is hard when you don't want to sell out.  The BMG/Zoo Records 
lot was full, so Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan had to park his 
shambles of a car on the street, and now there's a ticket on the 
windshield, flapping in the breeze.  No matter.  Mynard just shrugs 
and adds it to the debris already piled in the ancient Subaru, 
grumbling something about registering the car in someone else's name 
in order to dodge this citation and all the other's he received - 
just another scam inspired by having no cash - and we're off to a 
particularly grimy section of Hollywood, where Tool, one of L.A.'s 
brightest sonic hopes, has a practice room.

Actually, drummer Darey carey also lives there.  It's kind of a 
demented cross bewteen a garage and a loft.  The front room houses 
Danny's motorcycle, drum equipment and a sign that says, "Don't Talk. 
 Talk Means Trouble."

"My tribute to the Cold War," Danny deadpans.  The main room boasts a 
semi-inflated, giant pterodactyl hanging from the ceiling, a phalanx 
of basketball trophies and a foosball machine.  On one wall is a 
Keith-Haring-gone-wrong mural of this blue, um, person.

"It's Gumbo," explains Danny.  "The interterrestrial.  Sometimes I 
wake up and come down and look at it and think, 'Yeah, it's going to 
be one of those Gumbo days.'  It sets the mood."

Completing the door, Danny points out the sheetrock wall of the 
bathroom.  He did it himself.

"It's a dangerous neighborhood, and everyone knows it," he says about 
his thouroughly unglamorous end of Hollywood Boulevard.  "But no one 
much messes with you.  Mostly it's bums, who are harmless, just 
alkies who go to the liqour store for 39 cent schnapps."

"And the Mohawk triple sec, also 39 cents," adds bassist Paul 

It's a neighborhood tailor-made for Tool, four vehemently 
individualistic guys who live in terror of being swallowed up by the 
rock and rock machine.  "We don't want it to get overblown," says 
Maynard.  "We just want to keep doind what we're doing - to make 
songs that feel right and that are somewhat of a catharsis, not to 
get to a point where there's an expectation for us to deliver one 
certain thing.  If we wanted to put out a polka album next, it should 
be okay."

The hype and insanity of the Seattle scene helped them, they admit.  
"That was the reason we got signed so quick," says Danny.  But though 
their rough-hewn, ferociously dissonant sound is faintly reminiscent 
of grungemania, the Tool-ers have mostly contempt for that scene.

"A lot of the guys, their attitude in whatever the hell they were 
doing on the Sunset Strip here, that same kind of bandwagon thing, 
they packed up and moved to Seattle.  It's no longer long hair and 
spandex; it's flannel and Doc Martens - but it's the same old 
idiots," explains guitarist Adam Jones, who joins the conversation 
after finishing an extended phone call.

"Adam, we just decided to start without you.  You're not that 
important anyway," quips Paul.

"I'm just hanging on their coattails," grins Adam.

"It's not even alternative anymore," Danny says, back on the subject 
of Seattle.  "Look at bands like Pearl Jam.  That's not alternative.  
Their songs are just as poppy as anyone else's.  They just got lumped 
in with that crowd.  Any hardcore punk band is a lot more alternative 
to me."

"Or Killing Joke," Paul adds.  "We never said we were a grunge band.  
We're just a bunch of guys who listen to Judas Priest and Yes and Tom 
Waits and Minor Threat.  We got together, and we just play what we 

Their method for recording Undertow, their first full-length album 
for Zoo?  "Complete chaos," says Adam.  "We just thrash around, and 
in the end it comes together."

"I just come in and do the drumbeats," grins Danny.  "I don't know 
what these guys do."

"Actually," quips Paul, "there's not a thing on the record that's not 
a sample."

"If there is a thread that runs through the record, it's L.A.," says 
Maynard.  "It's not something you can pin down, it's just a mood - 
whatever you feel, whatever you get out of looking at it."

Tool got together almost be accident - or through fate, depending on 
your point of view.

"I never planned to come to L.A.  I was exiled from my home state," 
Paul claims.  Said state was Washington, but not the ultra-cool 
Seattle area.  We're talking East Washington - Spokane, to be exact.  
"The setting for America's Most wanted," Paul quips, adding sincerely 
(yeah, right), "I loved it there.  It's beautiful country - the 
mountains and the ocean and the trailer parks and motorcycle gangs 
and TV dinners."  A film tech at the time, Paul headed south in hopes 
of landing a gig on this summer's super-extravaganza, Jurassic Park.  
"My roomate was working with (special-effects wizard) Stam Winston," 
he recalls.  But the flick got delayed, and Paul wound up taking 
production and art-department work on commericals and videos - 
"Jacking of the director, whatever it took."

In the meantime Adam had come to L.A. from Libertyville, Illinois 
(also the ex-home of Tome Morello, Tool's bud from Rage Against the 
Machine, and Maureen Herman of Babes in Toyland).  "When I first 
moved here," Adam says, "I lived down on Normandie (a street hit hard 
by the L.A. riots), and you'd hear gunfire every night.  I was trying 
to get into school, get a job, thinking, 'L.A. sucks.'  My motorcycle 
was hit twice while it was parked.  All this bad stuff was 

Tool was formed when Adam, an accomplished artist who was also 
working for the film biz, hooked up with his work buddy, Paul, and 
Maynard, whose downstairs neighbor at the time was Danny, a veteran 
of bands such as Green Jelly and Pygmy Love Circus.

"I don't think we had an original vision," says Danny.  "Now, we have 
an idea."

"Never to work a 9-to-5 job again," Paul pipes in [at least this time 
he didn't fucking "quip", man that's getting on my nerves....].

During their incredibly brief stint as an unsigned band, Tool played 
underground clubs such as Raji's and the Sunset Strip scene terrifies 
and disgusts them to this day:  it seems a promotion dude from their 
label wants to take them to the metal hangout the Rainbow, and 
they're wracking their brains, trying to figure out how to get out of 
it.  I got food poisoning there once, I tell them.

Paul smiles.  "That's it!" he says.  "I'll tell them I got food 
poisoning there."

Seattle hysteria being what it is, Tool only played a couple of gigs 
before the major-label offers came rolling in.  The band made a deal 
with Zoo, one of the first companies that asked, thus avoiding the 
stress and flagrant displays of human greed of a bidding war.

We were such a young band when we did our record deal," says Danny.  
"We just put the songs we had together (on their well-received 1992 
EP, Opiate) and did a little tour."

"The songs were ready to be recorded, so we did it," explains 
Maynard.  "We weren't ready for a full album.  We wanted to let 
people know we were out there, because we knew we had a lot more 
songs in the works."

"Plus, you're never sure what a major label is going to do with an 
album," says Paul.  "Whether they're going to exploit every possible 
aspect and throw you out there and try to make you this big, hyped 
thing.  So you kind of cripple them by giving them an EP they can't 
work with.  That way you take it nice and slow and make a natural 
progression, rather than letting them do what they do best, which is 
interfere.  Our label's cool, but there's a couple of poeple who 
aren't very creative, and they try to stereotype us because they 
don't get us."

"like trying to put us on a Guns N' Roses tour," says Danny.  "They 
just don't get where we're coming from."

"We're not really metal," Maynard insists.  "We play hard, but 
putting us in front of Def Leppard... It's a different audience.  
They don't want to see us.  And there are a lot of people who'd want 
to see us who wouldn't go to that show because we're with Def 

Their #1 choice in opening gigs is the Rollins Band, with whom they 
toured in support of Opiate.  (The hard man himself provides guest 
vocals on "Bottom" off Undertow.)

"We learned a lot from being around those guys," says Danny.  
"They're such seasoned players.  We saw how to deal with crew people, 
how to get where you're going and do what you have to do, how to fit 
things into your schedule.  The worst part was the little punk 
rockers who'd complain that we didn't play fast enough, but that 
didn't happen very often.  Maynard would just tell them to listen 

The one big tour that appeals to Tool is Lollapalooza, and, at press 
time, they were cheduled to headline the new, expanded show on the 
second stage.  A fine gig, I mention, to buzz up on smart drinks and 
contribute to the political cause of your choice.

"And take acid and lose your wallet and scalp backstage passes," 
laughes Adam.

"I got 60 bucks for one of mine," says Maynard, and he's serious.

"We were broke," adds Danny.  None of them had day jobs for quite 
some time.

"This is a full-time job," Danny continues.  "A lot of people think 
that because you're in a band you just play music and sleep late and 
do a lot of drugs, and it's not like that.  We had a lot of control 
over how our record was done."

It's that control that's the important part, because the money 
certainly isn't.

"I'd like to get my car fized," says Adam when asked of his future 

"I got six bucks to my name," announces Maynard.

"I got ten," says paul, "and Danny spent his last money on that milk 
over there."

"So I can eat Rice Krispies," says Danny.

And now they're off.  Adam's going to supervise the claymation for 
their first video, working with the same guy who did the "Three 
Little Pigs" clip for their labelmates Green Jelly.  Lights are 
turned off, and Tool, down-to-earth-dudes who know what they want, 
get into their crappy cars and go onto the next thing.


Well, I'm working an eight hour shift here today so I figured I'd do 
something to pass the time.  Hope everyone enjoys.
Baaabaaa get shorn.

kabir/akhtar | kabir@t.d.n