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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Juice

Date: June, 1997

Transcribed by
Caz (orangecaz@cornerpub.com)


  page: 29?
 title: 
author: Murray Engleheart

I don't know EVERYTHING, but I do know that Adam is not new. And 
Justin is newer than Adam. Anyway ...





Hanging with Tool to find the spiritual underbelly, the court of the 
Crimson King and a very loud noise in the gum trees. Interview by 
Murray Engleheart

Just as, five years ago, Helmet opened up the New York underground 
like no one since Sonic Youth, Tool have re-injected a fresh level of 
intellect ñ music and otherwise ñ into hard rock. In the process they 
have become one of the most sought-after bands on the planet. Whatís 
more, Tool have done it using largely English and Euro input such 
as ë70s art-rockers King Crimson, Black Sabbath and Amon Duul. The 
rehearsal space for this sound is to be found at drummer Danny 
Careyís house ñ but thereís no problems with the neighbours.
ìItís more of an industrial area,î says Carey. ìThere are store 
fronts and things like that around it that are all closed most of the 
time, and since weíre off the beaten path and around behind no one 
really pays much attention. Itís a good situation.î
Tool was formed back in 1988, when guitarist Adam Jones persuaded 
singer Maynard James Keenan to quit his job at Salanís Pizza and make 
music. A card carrying member of the KISS army, Keenan used to play 
in a band with Henry Rollins called Crystal Pistol before Hank teamed 
with Black Flag. Exactly who did what is unclear, but according to 
Jones, Timmy from Rage Against The Machineís was also part of the 
action.
Nine years later Tool are legends ñ cyberspace gossip even had it 
that the band were somehow involved in the Heavenís Gate cult 
suicides in San Diego. To be fair though, Keenan, who did a 
particularly savage job on a lobster at Doyleís Restaurant at 
Sydneyís Watsonís Bay, may have looked like a member of some weird 
religious cult to his fellow diners that night.
But, as his Equinox rave about the true meaning of Easter from the 
standpoint of some eastern religions and philosophies demonstrated, 
Tool take their spiritual cues from anything but the unwitting. Take 
the time they played at a Scientology Centre in LA as an example. 
They rented the space for a gig only to find that the owners of the 
premises hung around and handed out literature to those who rolled up 
for the show. The band made their views on the situation quite clear 
from the stage.
ìItís a beautiful place,î Keenan explains, ìa glass building with 
this beautiful garden. I guess psychotic people tend to gather money 
and put it into beautiful gardens and the beautiful gardens tend to 
draw in unsuspecting victims and then they brainwash them and take 
all their money.î

ìYouíre not going to take any photos are you?î asks Toolís stage 
manager in a friendly but firm tone in the tunnel leading onto the 
stage at Sydneyís Equinox Festival. ìYouíre fine so long as you donít 
take any photos.î Iím positioned deep in the mystique zone of a band 
that zealously works at keeping the media at armís length ñ one major 
American magazine had to content itself with an ìinterviewî with one 
of the characters from one of the bandís videos. Candid backstage 
snaps are clearly out of the question.
Half an hour earlier Keenan, new guitarist Adam Jones and the bandís 
only Englishman, relatively new bassist Justin Chancellor (who 
triumphed over comers from Kyuss and Filter for the position), had 
put the finishing touches to their tribal body paint ñ Jones in blue, 
Chancellor in brown and Keenan in a split of blue and white. 
Meanwhile, the unpainted Carey sat on some stage scaffolding warming 
his wrist reflexes on a practice pad that balanced on his leg. He 
looked as much like a student as the tutor his dazzling style behind 
the kit suggests he is.
ìI stole from a lot of people,î the easy going Carey, who is said to 
have an extensive collection of Third Reich paraphernalia, says of 
his technique. ìJohn Bonham was my early big influence. When I first 
got my drum kit I started learning Zeppelin songs. Later there were 
the guys that played in Yes, Alan White and Bill Bruford. I liked 
them a lot. And a lot of the jazz fusion guys too, like Lenny White. 
Lately Iíve been listening to a guy named Steve Jansen a lot. He has 
such a nice real relaxed feel. He used to play in a band called Japan.
For the most part there was a little of that flare and flourish 
discernable at Equinox, though Carey was in fine form. From the 
opener, ìCrawl Away,î through ìStinkfist,î ìPrison Sexî ñ the video 
for which is said to be used by psychotherapists in patient 
treatment ñ and the Aenima albumís title cut, Tool played heavy-
handed, metallic, psychedelic music that might approximate what a 
massively amped up Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd would sound like had 
they tripped on into the ë90s. Certainly there were parallels with 
the Butthole Surfers, who played earlier. It was a new heavy metal 
hard enough to explain the bandís presence at Hollandís extreme hard 
music extravaganza, The Dynamo Festival, in May, but with enough 
twists to easily qualify for major billing status on their second 
Lollapalooza.
Keenanís vocal pipes were alternately insect-like and then like some 
fearsome force of nature which Tricky has said he regrets not having 
in his possession, while Jonesís cyberspace Hammer-of-the-Gods guitar 
catapults fell in and out of the glacial blues therapy sound like 
drop down menus. ìI think we got that from watching the Rollins 
Band,î the affable Jones says of the bandís blues crush. ìThey play 
some of those rhythm and blues songs just so slow that theyíre just 
awesome. Theyíre almost evil ñ not in a bad way, just groove Black 
Sabbath power chord slow.î
ìI would relate us more to Soundgarden or Robert Fripp/King Crimson 
sort of stuff than I would the Rollins Band, though thereís 
definitely a lot of similar things going on,î adds Keenan.
What wasnít going on at the Equinox show was the seemingly kinetic 
screen used at the bandís own shows on the tour. Nonetheless the 
playersí Stone Age stagewear in an area framed by gum trees was 
surreal enough, a fact probably not wasted on Jones, the bandís 
resident filmmaker, animator and video director. ìWe were going to 
get a banner for Lollapalooza but we decided not to,î the guitarist 
explains. ìGet this, it blew my mind. We went to a porno shop in Las 
Vegas and I found this fat blow-up doll ñ if you want to have sex 
with the fattest blow-up doll possible you go to this porno shop. I 
was just blown away by this, so we bought four of them and we used to 
inflate them and have them hovering over us during the shows in 
different positions and wearing different things. Now Iím pretty 
kinky about what I like in sex, but youíd have to be pretty desperate 
to make it with a fake fat chick.î
Tool are no strangers to playing out-of-the-way, under-the-counter 
places, though theyíre not always made as welcome as they could 
be. ìLike playing in Christiana,î Jones elaborates. ìItís a little 
island near Copenhagen, a kind of a commune, an anarchist settlement. 
It used to be an old naval base or army base or something and it was 
abandoned, so some guys kicked the door in. Itís a wonderful little 
place.
ìInitially the government were going to kick all the hippies out of 
there but they decided rather than get the public sentiment against 
them theyíd just let it be a social experiment and see how it worked, 
figuring that it would all fall apart. But it backfired. The hippies 
set up their own system of anarchist Government, they made their own 
money and eventually they paid the state for their plumbing and 
electricity and water. It worked and it really bums out the 
Government, so theyíre constantly trying to make the hippies look 
like evil arseholes. They send in riot police almost every night to 
taunt the locals with tear gas. They hit us with three or four 
canisters and had our bus driver crawling out of his compartment 
throwing up.î
Tool have long been known for bucking the systems theyíre confronted 
with. When they knocked back an offer to put their 11 minute version 
of Led Zepís ìNo Quarterî on the soundtrack to Howard Sternís Private 
Parts movie, the New York DJ went ballistic, allegedly calling the 
band ìfag music.î The band also played to the beat of their inner 
drum at an anti-vivisection show at the Los Angeles Palladium a few 
years back in a performance that saw the birth of the Undertow 
albumís epic ìDisgustipated.î
ìWe were asked to do an anti-vivisection show and weíre not anti-
vivisection,î Jones says. ìIf using an animal will help solve AIDS or 
any other disease that kills people, then go for it. Anyway, it was 
supposed to be an acoustic show and lots of different bands like 
Alice In Chains, Rage Against The Machine and Porno For Pyros played. 
We got out and Maynard just sang, ëThis is necessaryí while us and 
the Rollins Band smashed 30 guitars and played these tribal beats and 
Maynard shot off a shotgun. We just felt like doing a studio version 
of it. Weíd never even rehearsed it before. We just got up and went 
for it. No one really got it, you know what I mean? It was anti-anti-
vivisection. When we did it live it went for 20 minutes. It seemed 
like two. It was really fun. We have it on videotape.î
The shotgun Keenan fired belonged to Carey, and of course only 
discharged blanks. The singer couldnít understand all the fuss about 
his use of the firearm.
ìIt was music,î he explains. ìIt was an acoustic show, and that was 
one of the instruments. Nobody gives Blixa [Bargeld] any shit for 
taking a chainsaw to a Chevy with sparks flying everywhere when 
Einsturzende Neubauten plays. Itís the same thing.î
At the other end of the scale, last year Keenan recorded and 
performed with Tori Amos, singing ìMuhammad My Friend.î Amos 
introduced him thus: ìWhen I canít sleep I call Maynard and he sings 
lullabies.î
ìShe was doing a fundraiser or something,î Carey says, ìand they kind 
of hit it off. Theyíre both trying to accomplish the same thing 
through their music, and they have a few things in common. She just 
invited him over to help her out and he was more than glad to.î
Whether Keenan was actually in operatic voice is not is of little 
consequence. Neil Young once said something to effect that itís wrong 
to expect perfection from a rock & roll band because theyíre just 
human beings. Jones tends to agree, though he felt there was a place 
for perfection in the Tool machine. ìWeíre perfectionists as far as 
that takes us, but weíre not into every little detail in our 
performance. Itís got a punk rock side. Itís sloppy and I like that. 
I donít think the music itself should be perfection, but the mood of 
what you create should be. Itís about what you play, not how you play 
it.î
So is it possible for an audience to understand whatís being thought 
and felt on stage?
ìNo, I donít think so,î Keenan considers. ìThereís too much going on 
for them to really concentrate. If theyíre in the front really trying 
to soak it in theyíre getting kicked in the head by some idiot who 
thinks itís a football game. I think itís more about absorbing that 
energy live and then taking it back and listening to the record to 
really put the two instances together to get a feeling of where weíre 
coming from.î
And is it true you donít blink while all this is going on?
ìI blink, but sometimes just I forget.î


Posted to t.d.n: 12/27/00 06:39:44