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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Hit Parader

Date: August, 1994

Transcribed by
Jen (reel@drizzle.com)


  page: 80
 title: Tool - Strange Days
author: Pat Mitchell

There's definitely not a shortage of bands out there searching for a 
record deal.  The things some musicians would do to get signed boggle 
the mind.  Better yet, the things they would do just to get the ear of 
a few of the A&R big whigs go beyond mortal comprehension.  Then there 
are those bands that don't even give any of it a second thought.  
Enter Tool - a Los Angeles based band that has blazed a trail to 
success with their EP Opiate and debut album Undertow.  Tool had only 
been playing together for a little over six months when they made a 
home at Zoo Entertainment.  
"We really didn't care about the record companies at all.  Getting 
signed was not why we started playing," Tool drummer Danny Carey 
admitted in a matter of fact tone.  "I mean you can only imagine how 
strange it was for us when these record companies started making 
offers.  There are a million bands out there banging their heads 
against the wall.  They all want to get signed and we really didn't 
care."
A record deal does not equate the end of the journey for success.  
However, it usually moves a once non-profit outfit to a more 
comfortable career status.  How could any band honestly say that they 
did not care about getting signed?
"We all had our own lives.  I was working with Green Jello and that 
was in full swing.  Adam was doing his special effects stuff with 
movies.  We didn't need a record company to allow us to continue doing 
what we do.  Tool was not the center of our lives.  Of course now the 
band is paying our bills so our focus has shifted to it. Now music can 
provide our security."
"The attitude we had allowed us to make better choices.  We did not 
play the bidding game that some record companies wanted to play with 
us. It took a while after the initial interest for us to sign with 
Zoo.  They were the first label to show interest in us.  There is this 
thing in L.A. that once a label thinks you're good, they all think 
you're good.  They all want a piece of the action and are afraid they 
might be missing something.  We took our time to make sure we had 
complete control from art work and videos to advertising and content 
of music.  It worked to our advantage not to be star struck and greedy 
because we did get that complete control."
Tool certainly has a hands-on mentality about their career.  They want 
to do as much as they possibly can without outside assistance.  The 
band did the artwork for Opiate and Undertow.  Adam Jones (guitar) and 
Paul D'Amour (bass) have experience in film and art.  Danny can insert 
his encounters in the music business.  And vocalist Maynard James 
Keenan's life experiences should more than equal the technical 
seasoning of his band mates. 
"All of our experience has come in handy," Keenan said.  "For example, 
Adam's film work is prevalent in our videos.  We did the album art 
work ourselves. We are happy we can take care of it all instead of 
farming it out to some production company like most bands."
"It means more to the music and it relates more to the music," Carey 
added.  "The connection is tighter between our videos and our songs.  
It is a sad thing, but if your video gets played on MTV three times, 
more people see it than will probably see the album cover or hear the 
entire album.  Videos are very important.  MTV did more for selling 
our album than nothing else.  We reached a lot of people initially 
through radio and word of mouth.  But MTV is free to so many people 
everty time it's on.  So we wanted to be represented right."
Even more important than video to Tool is their live show.  In the 
beginning, the band was stuck with incompatible bands because people 
didn't know how to categorize them.  Things began to look up when they 
got the opening slot for Henry Rollins.  Last summer, they got the 
chance to play the mother of all alternative tours, Lollapalooza.  The 
traveling concert circus apparently left a lot to be desired, but it 
had its good moments.  Most of the band compared playing its main 
stage to a natural high.  But we are talking about Tool, remember.  
These guys enjoyed their month of playing the less coveted smaller 
stage.  
"On our first tour we were put with some bad bands," Carey explained. 
"We did this show with the ex-Guns N' Roses drummer's band.  I can't 
remember their name.  We ended up with a bunch of people with big hair 
watching us with their mouths open.  Some of our shows we had five 
people.  Every band needs to go through that.  Hey, we needed the 
rehearsal time.  We were not that good back then.  We played the songs 
well, but we were pretty green.
"Henry Rollins was great for us.  He was like this seasoned pro.  He 
showed us the ropes and took us under his wing.  It helped us make it 
through Lollapalooza.  The frustrating part about that tour was being 
put in that environment.  It's more satisfying for me to play a club 
with 1000 people than a big thing like that. That is why we enjoyed 
the second stage more. It was more sincere."
Sincerity seems to be the key word in music these days.  There is no 
doubt that a new breed of music has taken over the rock world.  The 
popularity of the alternative hard rock sound is comforting to many 
people.  Of course, there are many bands who made financial gains due 
to this change in style, but the issue goes far beyond money for some 
people.  
"Thank God music changed," Carey exclaimed.  "We just went through 
some dark years in hard rock.  I was losing faith in humanity.  I 
could never understand how such theatrical stuff could have done 
anything for anyone.  It never meant much to me and it never inspired 
me to play.  We play music we feel.  If those guys feel what they 
play, I really feel sorry for them.  There's always going to be lame 
music and it's made for the lowest denominator of people.  Music is 
meant to bring people's level of consciousness up, not to drag it down 
to the masses."
"Listeners have to get something out of music," Keenan added.  "They 
have to learn from it or relate to it.  We keep our music open to 
interpretation so people can enjoy it their way.  One of our goals was 
to have our music available and acceptable on different levels."
Another goal shared by the band is to remain true to themselves.  The 
music has to also be something they can relate to and learn from.  
Rest asssured that when Tool feels they are not being edified by their 
music, they will disband.  With this in mind, they make no major 
predictions for the future.
"There is a chemistry in the room when the four of us get together and 
jam," Carey said.  "It's hard to describe.  The hardest part about 
putting a band together is to find three, four or five people with a 
similar vision.  The chemistry has to be right so you can reach that 
higher ground.  In some bands, it happens all the time.  In other 
bands, it never happens.  It can't be forced and we were lucky to find 
each other.  Five years from now who knows if we will be Tool?  I 
think we have a couple of good albums left in us.  It's hard to judge 
beyond that.  We will know when it is time to move on.  The band 
wasn't always the center of our lives and it won't always be the 
center of our lives."

Posted to t.d.n: 08/28/98 18:15:08