the tool page

toolshed.down.net

watch the weather change

ARTICLES

select a year

The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Circus

Date: August, 1997

Transcribed by
Joe Mulligan (mulligan@mail.globalserve.net)


  page: 41
 title: Never wanted to be Rock Starts but they Are
author: Edward Fruchtman

    Underneath a fog of hypnotic three-tone, fat bass line and a 
midtempo drumbeat, Maynard James Keenan whines through a distant yet 
rapturous megaphone effect on the album's lead-off track and first 
single from Tool's Aenima. "Something has to change/undenialbe 
dilemma/ boredom's not a burden/ anyone should bear" he sings in 
"Stinkfist".

    As that message barely penetrates the listener, Adam Jones 
ventures a ferocious guitar assault on the song's blinding hook while 
Keenan hollers his statement home for the chours. "I need more/ 
nothing seems to satisfy/ I don't want it/ I just need it." Within the 
fisrt minute-and-a-half of Aenima, the band has already mapped out 
their master plan of the 78-minute album.

    "It's all about change and evolution individually as well as 
universally. It's all about unity," the 32-year-old father said, 
pointing out hhow the world could improve if people cosider the entire 
picture rather than its components. He targets the destruction of, all 
other places. Los Angeles as a future turning point because the 
"miscommunication" in that city causes tension. "here in this f**king 
hole we call L.A./ the only way to fix it is to flushh it  all 
away...learn to swim," the vocalist cries out.

    Tool's adamant belief in change spills into the Aenima tunes. With 
the brilliant dynamics in "Eulogy", like the marathon finale "Third 
Eye" and "Push*t" form Aenima, each tune alternately flows into 
sections of disturbing heaviness and unsettling quietness. Even at 
songs' end, there's no peacefulness or resolution - a possible Tool 
statement on our society.

    Applying the album's theme to the status of the band, Tool 
realizes how important the whole band surpasses the sum of its parts - 
Keenan, Jones, drummer Danny Carey, and newly-recruited bassist Jusin 
Chancellor. "I think it's important to have a global concept together 
but I find it important to have our own individual ideas as to what we 
should, or shouldn't be doing as a band," Carey told Circus Magazine. 
This philosophy has benefitted them for the long run, wiht Aenima 
debuting a #2 on the Billborads last October and their co-headling 
stint onthe Main Stage at Lollapalooza 97.

    If there's anything last on Tool's mind, it's maintaining their 
recent breakthrough success. Both albums (Aenima and 1993's Undertow) 
have already exceeded a million in sales and their first release, 
1992's EP Opiate was certified gold Status in the U.S. Also, Tool, who 
have toured with Rage Against the Machine and Rollins Band, 
Participated in Lollapalooza '93 perfoming on the second stage, but 
where later promoted to the Main Stage later that Summer because of 
their increasing popularity.

    According to Jones, Tool have never wanted to be rock stars - or 
to make music a full-time occupation. "When we started th band we all 
had our own jobs," said Jones, an ex-Hollywood special-effects 
designer. "we did this as a side project, we never intended to get 
signed. It was all about the music, music that inspires and music that 
creates thought."

    Formed in April 1991, all four original members of Tool migrated 
to Los Angeles from various parts of the country. Adam Jones was 
raised in a conservative Christian community in Libertyville, Illinois 
and moved to the City of Angels to work as a sculptor and special 
effects designer (among his credits are Terminator 2, Predator 3 and 
Jurassic Park). He met Keenan (who's migrated from all over the 
country) and D'Amour, who just moved from Spokane, Washington, through 
mutual friends.

    A former music student for three years at University of Missouri, 
Carey lived downstairs form Keenan and hooked up with D'Amour through 
former high school buddy, guitarist Tom Morello from Rage Against The 
Machine. Incidentally, Carey was the only Tool member who played music 
full-time before their conception, drumming with local country bands 
Pygmy Love Circus and Green Jelly (Known for their infamous novelty 
hit "Three Little Pigs"?) By New Year's Eve 1991, they signed up to 
Zoo Entertainment and recorded a private gig, from which two song 
ended up on opiate("Cold And Ugly", "Jerk-off"). 

    The quartet led the mid-90's Los Angeles scene with their art- 
metal/industrial inflected sound and on-stage graphic presentations. 
Through his experience in filmmaking. Jones became obsessed with 
methods of film trickery, including stop-motion camera techniques - a 
skill he exercised in the "Sober" and "Prison Sex" claymation videos. 
Their arty videos, most of which were directed by Jones - transcend 
the many "breakthrough" clip rotated regularly on MTV's electronica- 
orientated "Amp" seris. They gain full controll over thealbums' 
artwork, creating Aenima's deluxe 3D "Multi-Image" packaging.

    The group pride themselves in being one of the few metal or 
industrial bands not to "play any lame fashion games." "We've always 
been able to put art first," Carey said, adding that they've drawn 
from many sources for their songs, including their reading of 
metaphysics, mythology, Hinduism and ritual magic.

    Tool consider themselves as steadfast, determined artist who only 
play ball - as long as the ball's in their court. "We try to keep our 
egos out of our music as much as possible and just let thing happen," 
Carey told one paper. "We're just lucky that we met each other and 
have someone [we] can share ideas with and just let things flow."

    In fact, if you're looking for any spokesperson of the group, your 
search will be in vain. Each of the members have eqaul weight over all 
decisions, and their relationship is more or less the same when 
composing their tunes. Carey told Modern Drummer that their songs are 
developed after hours of jamming on an idea presented by one member, 
and could be a rigorous process. "It's real organic and it all pretty 
much happens right here, just from going nuts in this room. " Carey 
said. "There are very few parts, if any, that are written outside 
rehearsal."

    Their resistance to interviews and media coverage is also part of 
their anti-rock star persona. All four participated in encounters with 
journalists, but at least at half of them, especially Keenan, are too 
timid to discuss their personal lives (Carey is the most outspoken). 
Though he write all the lyrics and is considered the group 
spokesperson, Keenan's the least enthusiastic to describe the 
inspiration for his tune and the motivation behind his theories. Much 
of Keenan's words are semi-autobiograpicial and arise from turning 
points in his life. An only child in a Baptist family in Akron, Ohio, 
he was translocated throughout his childhood, living in no fewer than 
six states. He admitted around the release of the "Prison Sex" video 
that he was a victim of child abuse, addressing the issue in the song 
and clip. Later, Keenan was educated at prep school and served in the 
Army for over three years.

   The band encourages their audience to interprect their tunes the 
way they wish, leaving a lot to the imagination. Lyrics are not 
printed in the album booklets and have only been recently been posted 
on the Internet. The individual band members don't even show up in 
their unusual videos. Though they admit they don't care about their 
audiences' perception to their music, the fans obviously touch a 
sensitive spot in Keenan.

    In the rolling headbanger "Hooker with a Penis," he directs his 
anger at the typical alternative fan with body piercings and 501s 
jeans who accuse the band of selling out after Opiate. "I've got some 
advice for you/ little buddy/ before you point the  finger/ you should 
know that/ I'm the man."

    As integral as the concept in on Aenima, gradual evolution in the 
buzz phrase for Tool's sound. The half-hour long Opiate EP is the most 
derivative of their influences, stemming from boogie/bluesy rock 
reminiscent of Aerosmith to early Metallica speed metal passages on 
"Sweat" and "Part of Me". The expanding experimentalism on Undertow 
was forshadowed by the EP's ambitious title track, but has a life of 
it's own. Tunes like "Intolerance" and "Bottom" elaborate on Keenan's 
themes of self- hatred, loss of identity and drowning, while "Swamp 
Song" and "Crawl Away" resemble the earlier compact tracks filled with 
brooding Black Sabbath riffs and Carey's insistent tribal-tinged 
rhythms.

    With Aenima, the tighter four-minute songs are de-emphasized, in 
favor of epic existentialist rockers. Co-produced by King 
Crimson/Peter Gabriel whiz Dave Bottril, the record delivers the 
multiple punch of an alt-metal/prog rock trip - from the 
flawlessly-shifting time-signatures of "Fourty-Six & 2" and the 
overamplified guitar lines of "H" to the lightweight segues of circus 
organs and digital sratches ("Itermission" and "Ions," respectively).

    Written during two years in the south of France but taped in a 
couple of week, Aenima is the by-product of their evolving sound and 
an uneasy transitional period marked by the departure of founding 
bassist Paul D'Amour. The Bassist, who left to spend more time with 
his side progect Lusk, contributed to the writing of five Aenima 
tunes. The replacing bassist, Justin Chanxcellor, who's come from 
London and formerly of Peach (which toured with Tool on an European 
Tour), completed the gap in time for the Aenima recording session.

    Ironically, it is the new guy who best understands the group's 
chemistry, after peering in from the outside scine his introduction to 
the band through a demo tape. "I've never come across or been a part 
of a collection of souls so diverse in character and beleif that 
possess the ability to mutually accommodate those differences and 
evolve them into positive creativity," Chancellor said. 

Posted to t.d.n: 07/12/97 21:39:37