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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: MASSIVE!

Date: June, 1997

Transcribed by
Rudiger (gurdensky@hotmail.com)


  page: 24
 title: Tool & the Equinox Festival
author: Murray Engleheart

Still wallowing on(?) the success of their second album, "AENIMA", 
Tool visited Australia to play just a handful of shows. Massive! went 
along to see them in Sydney and recalls the days when Maynard James 
Keenan and the band used to talk to people!

    "Work this fucking record in this territory or I'm going to send 
you a big, steaming shit for your desk." That, goes the story, was 
Tool's Maynard James Keenan's attempt at winning friends and 
influencing record company people during the band's visit for 1995's 
Alternative Nation festival when the "Undertow" album was thir sonic 
beacon. Judging by the excitement surrounding the band's new 
album,"AEnima", and their return visit earlier this year, someone took 
the little guy at his word. Not that music as powerful and empowering 
as Tool actually requires any hard sell.
    The effect of their music recalls an old television documentary 
that attempted to prove that the body's nervous system  is altered in 
some, no doubt debilitating, way by loud music. The guinea pig in the 
experiment was given a pair of headphones with Alice Cooper's "Billion 
Dollar Rabies" album - granted, not the most extreme of choices -
blasting through them. The results were what every rock junkie already 
knew and what the researchers were horrified to prove: music of a 
particular intensity and volume does have some physical effect on the 
body. In fact it must. That's the whole idea. It isn't called rock and 
thus implying motion, for nothing. Tool are carrying the torch these 
days for the incision free process.
    "The magnets and electricity that goes through all that stuff 
definitely alters the energy field around your body," vocalist Maynard 
James Keenan says. "Just like children are dying of weird cancers that 
have their schools set up next to major power lines. That's documented 
stuff."
    At the Equinox Festival in Sydney over Easter the band put that 
body altering process into practice physically. Various members of the 
outfit had been curiously wandering around the backstage area all 
afternoon and indulging in the odd bit of lighthearted screwing 
around. Like the tiny Keenan sparring with the band's towering drummer
Danny Carey. Come showtime though they became Alien Gods of thunder.
Guitarist Adam Jones had his bare chest and face painted blue, bassist
Justin Chancellor was in a similar camouflage of brown and Keenan had 
his body daubed both blue and white. 
    "It's just about making the show as much one visual experience as 
possible," says the paint free Carey. "It just makes the lights and 
the whole energy thing blend into one a lot better. I think having 
three or four individuals standing on stage kind of pulls it away from 
that. That's the reason we do it.
    "We're just making the thing fit together where people are hit by 
the impact of an entire show. I think it just makes the whole thing a 
little more cohesive."
    The body chemistry surgery process began with Jones. "let me go 
out and try out my gear," he said to a technician before the band 
emerged from the wings of the stage. and for the next few minutes the 
axeman conducted a private soundcheck for the 15,000 strong crowd who 
had been chanting for the band. They thought it was just the opening 
part of the show. And in a way it was. Jones slammed out monstrous 
slabs of ampage before seguing seamlessly into "Crawl Away".For the 
next 45 minutes Tool were a heavy-as-all-fuck metallic form stripped 
bare of special effects, by the numbers riffing and blah, blah, blah.
It's smart, hard music and almost "progressive" in it's approach like 
veteran English virtuoso heavy weights King Crimson. And it's the 
sound of full-brain function - you can almost smell the smouldering 
nerve endings - with dazzling technical abilities which sweep away 
the early broad comparisons to Soundgarden(Whafuck?) and more 
precisely the Rollins Band(Hmm). Keenan who took a few opening flash 
snaps of the masses at times uses special mics to get that untuned 
transistor radio effect on his voice. After a while the heat of the 
lights and the sweat from his Troll-on-crack gyrations smear the 
divider of blue and white on his back. An old set list tapped up at 
the side of the stage lists the band's metallic hellster epic "Third 
Eye" which they often use to bludgeon a disrespectful audience in to 
submission as "Turd Eye". Either way it did'nt get a showing at this 
gig.
    "We go out on stage and the crowd is always different," says 
Jones. "So if the crowd is lame we're still the same, if the crowd's 
great, really getting into the band we're still the same. We just go 
out there and play really hard. You're almost blind to the audience 
you're so wrapped up in the music. It's like you're jumping hurdles, 
you're not thinking about the crowd watching, you're thinking about 
getting over the next hurdle and getting to the finish line. You know 
what I mean? It's theraputic. i don't want to be like an idiot and 
say, oh yeah, it's our therapy. But you just get out, you become 
blind. a lot of people go, 'Maynard does'nt blink' and that's why he 
doesn't blink because he's just in his own world while he's singing. 
It's like this big white sheet goes over your face and your 
adrenalin's going so hard to play as good as you can. There's nothing 
like playing through a P.A. either, all those seventies' bands were 
going 'I am the God of Thunder!' because they get in these venues 
where  you play through a huge P.A. and it's awesome man. Nothing 
better to thin out your blood."
    Save for Keenan's rave about the true meaning of Easter from the 
standpoint of some Eastern religions and his "invitation" To attend 
the band's show at the Hordern Pavillion several days later-at which 
he delivered such classic deadpan pisstakes as "Sydney(cheers)My 
stepfather's name is Sidney"- there is no stage talk. There's nothing 
to detract from the colossus of sound. After the title cut from the 
"AEnima" album(What title cut?) the band walk off and head straight 
back to their dressing unit. An encore isn't considered for a second.
A cleaned up Chancellor-he of the horned hair- reappeared during  
Midnight Oil's set. He positioned himself at the back of the stage 
with a six-pack of beers and a bottle of scotch. A security guard 
asked him to move on for some reason and he gathered his alcohol 
collection protectively as if it were the last batch ever to be 
brewed. He wanted no assistance carrying the load.
    "We wanted something very powerful," says Jones. "But very open 
and simple and just create a reaction. Most stuff is just so thrown at 
you and fed and keeps you intrigued the entire time and i think that 
element of not giving you enough but still being really powerful has 
that same kind of effect. It keeps you wanting more. You know what I'm 
saying?"
    Absolutely!   
  
  

Posted to t.d.n: 04/12/98 02:17:29