Publication: Hit Parader
Date: July, 2001
page: 70 title: Tool: Ear Candy author: "Our goal remains to touch our audience on a deep, psychological level." It takes a powerful, secure band to continually play with fire and not get singed by the flames. Quite obviously, Tool is just such a band. In their case, the "fire" of which we speak deals with the inordinate amount of time this bizarre member of the metal community has taken between each and every one of tehir album releases. It's now been more than four years since the band's last album, Aenima, graced teh rock world-the same amount of time that separated that disc from its predecessor, Undertow. While during that period the band's members have remained in the public eye to varying degrees (most notably vocalist Maynard James Keenan who recently fronted A Perfect Circle on their maiden voyage through the rock world), it has been a long,long time since the contemporary music masses have been allowed to come face-to-face with Tool. Sure other successful bands have taken nearly half a decade between releases- the likes of Rage Against The Machine and '80's mainstays Def Leppard spring instantly to mind- but as often as not sucha recording schedule has left those bands in a state of almost toatl disarray. That is obviously not a problem for Keenan, Danny Carey, Adam Jones and Justin Chancellor. While it is true that an entire generation of hard rock fans have grown to maturity since this unusual act last graced us with new music, as proven by the immediate success of their latest studio offering, Lateralus, the almost mysticals appeal of their hgighly individualistic approach remains as compelling as ever. Indeed, it almost seems that during their time away from the spotlight, the aura that has always surrounded Tool has grown even stronger. Today, the band finds itself wallowing in abundance of riches, with their long time followers still chomping at the bit, ready to devour the group's latest musical product, while a new generation of fans seem able and willing to turn their attentions Tool's way. "We've always attempted to reach our audience ina different way than a lot of other bands," Carey said. "Our goal remains to touch them on a deeper psychological and subconscious level. It's almost too easy to get them to stand up and respond to what you do ona basic level- but we want something more than that. We want to touch their soul." Tool's soul-searching approach has certainly served them well. Infact, of all the bands that sprung to life in the convoluted, often confusing rock and roll scene of the 1990's, Tool may well rank as the most unusual. With their penchant for creating the most haunting, probing and deeply disturbing odes that human ears have ever experienced- and then compounding that aural experience by producing videos that only serve to heighten the creative tension their music puts forth- this Los Angles-based quartet has won universal acclaim for both their bold artistic spirit and their off-the-wall rock sensibilities. Now with the release of their latest disc, this distinctive unit seems primed to take their netherwordly musical approach to an even more prestigious and influential level. "We're not doing this to become famous," Keenan said. "We're doing this because it's what we do. It's a natural extension of who we are and what we are. If people find that a little different or mysterious, then I guess that's good." Clearly one would be hard pressed to name a major band that has ever been more cloaked in mystery and intrigue than Tool. From their earliest days in 1992, following the release of their debut disc, Opiate, the band began perfecting their unique formula for success; create some of the most thought-provoking, experimental and downright distressing music in the world, dress it in an array of superficially "metallic" trappings, and then release it on an unsuspecting scence. At first, the band's approach was met with reactions ranging from confusion to outright disgust. Abut slowly and surely, as they relentlessly toured the North American continent, Tool began the difficuld task of winning over the uninitiated. By the time their second disc, the aforementioned Undertow, hit the streets in the spring of 1993, the ground-swell of support the group had been cultivating began to evolve into a seething swarm of fanatics, all of whom were addicted to Tool's dark musical stylings. "Our music has to inspire us and make us think- and it has to inspire everyone who hears it. It must make them think too," Jones said. "If it doesn't do that, then what was the point of making it in the first place?" Indeed Tool's music did serve to inspire, while raising the thought quotient of all who encountered it. Through such ground- breaking songs as Prison Sex and Sober, Tool managed to bring and entirely new sound and style to the rock front line, proving in the process that there were truly to be no artistic bounds geared to constrict the creative intent of any band. Their videos further fueled their fame, with their unique stop-motion animation approach winning awards both for its creativity and its content. But dispite their success, which was furthered by the platinum status of 1997's Aenima, and despite their many industry awards, there were those within the music community who did little to hide their outright hatred for Tool, believing the band's approach was too dark and dreary for public consumption. But for every individual who was turned off by the group's style, there were more who loved the band for their brazen unpredicability and overt boldness, rallying to their cause like buzzards to a dead carcass. It seemed the stranger, more bizarre and more grotesque Tool became, the more both their fame and infamy seemed to grow. It was uniquely contemporary rock and roll formula- disgust your audience to the point where they demanded more! "Every aspect of what we do, wheather it be each song, each video or each album cover, is tortured over by each of us," Jones said. "Nothing comes easy for this band." Certainly with the arrival of Lateralus, any lingering suspicion that Tool may now be softening their harsh artistic stance has been quickly discarded. This is an album that takes all the concepts presented on the group's previous efforts and makes them look positively commercial in comparison. Few albums in recent rock history have been so unwaveringly intense, so continually perverse and so unfalteringly focused on the mission-at-hand. This is a band that clearly enjoys existing in the dark, dank musical hole, and according to Keenan, no amount of fame, fortune and attention is going to lure Tool out of their dungeon of creative passion. "Once you release an album you're a product," the singer said. "That's a fact of life. You can deny it to yourself, but deep down you know it's true. I heard fans say we sold out when the last albums became successful. I had to agree with them. We are a product. But we're also true to what we believe."
Posted to t.d.n: 05/27/01 19:34:14