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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Metal Hammer

Date: June, 2001

Transcribed by
Axel Cline (don't have one I'm afraid)


  page: 14
 title: Freak Scene
author: Tommy Udo
The story so far…
Tool came bursting out of the West, contemporaries of Soundgarden, 
Nirvana, Shirley Temple Pilots et al, forging a new take on rock and 
roll, a Hegelian synthesis of metal and punk (a smart-ass way of 
saying that they fused together two styles that -- until that point --
 had seemed like polar opposites), releasing first the sheet-metal-
tearing riff-fest that was 'Undertow' and then their 1996 
masterpiece 'Ænima', an altogether more complicated and adventurous 
record. Grammy Awards, big sales in the real world and massive 
stadium tours followed and Tool were unique in having an 
uncompromising and 'difficult' sound yet the ability to appeal to a 
mass audience. Absolutely smashing, and all that.  Then things 
started to go sour; the band were sued by their label Zoo after they 
allegedly started shopping around for a  deal elsewhere; Tool counter-
sued claiming that the label had not exercised their option to renew 
the contract and that the band were therefore free to go elsewhere. 
Lawyers did a lot of talking and a stalemate ensued. 
The band were on the road touring in the immediate period 
after 'Aenima' was released and in truth it isn't that unusual for a 
band to take a few years to make a follow up album (hey there Axl 
Rose!). But with the release of A Perfect Circle's debut 'Mer De 
Noms' -- featuring Maynard James Keenan and his amazing wig on 
vocals -- in 1999 and the phenomenal success that the band enjoyed, 
people started to ask questions about the future of Tool. The impasse 
between band and label -- coupled with last year's sacking of manager 
Ted Gardner -- meant that it was hard to get any kind of clue as to 
what was going on. In interviews, Keenan maintained that Tool were 
still together and that a new album would be forthcoming, though he 
also hinted that all was not necessarily sweetness and light in the 
camp. 
"We are definitely competitive people, so whether those guys will 
admit it or not, they definitely feel competitive," said Keenan, 
shortly before embarking on a ride that would see APC supporting Nine 
Inch Nails, eventually selling out their own headliners and snaffling 
a platinum album that appealed more to the nu-generation mosh-brats 
who were normally to be found at Marilyn Manson, Korn and Slipknot 
shows. Tool, meanwhile, went into the studio to start work on what 
would eventually become 'Lateralus', sending material to Maynard on 
the road and maybe secretly praying that he would actually come back.
Things fell into place when Zoo was bought over, changed its name to 
Volcano and instead of going to court with Tool ended up signing a 
three album deal with them. Earlier this year, 'Salival' a DVD/video 
and rarities package arrived with definite news that a Tool studio 
album was hot on its heels. Now read on…

Despite what you may have heard and what Maynard may have said, there 
was a definite feeling in the Tool camp that A Perfect Circle's 
success was serious shit. Although APC were a very different band 
from Tool, a lot of fans went to see them and bought the album for 
that little bit of Tool that's in there. But 'Mer De Noms' was a more 
unashamedly commercial album; it was the younger brothers and sisters 
of the Tool  fans who were getting into APC and frankly they saw 
bands like Tool as part of prehistory. 
"I think we were all frustrated with everything that was going on," 
admits Danny. "Maynard was always going to do these songs with his 
roommate and that was fine. But eventually we were just hoping that 
he was going to come back."
Tool's last show together was at the Coachella Festival in 1999 and 
the last recorded evidence was on ' Divorced', a song on The Melvins' 
album 'The Crybaby' which featured all four members, though not all 
together. The rest of Tool weren't exactly inactive, however; Danny 
was drumming with Pigface, guitarist Adam joined Melvins drummer King 
Buzzo (who also appears on the live version of Zeppelin's 'No 
Quarter' included on 'Salival') in an experimental band called 
Noiseland Arcade (named after Bart's favourite hangout in 'The 
Simpsons'). But was there a time that they thought that it was all 
over for Tool?
"Oh yeah, but that was at a time when we really weren't communicating 
with each other," says Danny. "Once we sat down together and actually 
started talking about things and telling each other about what we 
were feeling about what was going on, it was fine."
Danny later goes on to say that at their best, Tool have occasional 
bouts of telepathy with each other when they're playing, something 
that's rare in most bands. One of the tracks o the new album 'Schism' 
seems to sum up what was ahppening before they got together again: " 
I know the pieces fit cuz I watched them tumble down/No fault, none 
to blame it doesn't mean I don't desire to point the finger, blame 
the other, watch the temple topple over/To bring the pieces back 
together, rediscover communication." 
Tool is a democracy: "All Indians and no chiefs" as it said on 
the 'Opiate' t-shirt. All of them contribute to songs. All have a  
say in how the band is run. All bring in ideas. Although Justin 
replaced original bass player Paul D'Amour just before 'Aenima', tt 
would be hard to imagine Tool surviving without Maynard. Not many 
bands/artists can sustain parallel careers; George Clinton with 
Parliament/Funkadelic, Ozzy with the reformed Sabbath/solo career and 
Mark Lanegan with his own solo carerer and Screaming Trees (until 
they split, obviously) spring to mind, but it IS possible. Like 'the 
seven year itch' in a marriage, it was a make or break time for the 
band and thankfully they decided to make it work. For the sake of the 
kids…

There's a large measure of paranoia surrounding 'Lateralus'. 
Interviewers are being vetted by the band. The record company are 
denying that artwork and a tracklisting which has cropped up on an 
unofficial band site is genuine; it later transpires that it actually 
is the packaging of 'Lateralus'.  There are no advance listening 
copies; instead the record company have set up a playback at a West 
London studio to which assorted UK and European journos are invited. 
This is due in no small part to the fact that 'Vacant', a track that 
is part of Maynard James Keenan's Tapeworm project (see sidebar) was 
previewed live last year before a select audience and ended up on 
Napster less than an hour after the band had left the stage. Keenan 
was furious.
"The music is not yours to give away," he told fans during a webchat 
on the A Perfect Circle site.
"The ones who get hurt by MP3s are not so much companies or the 
business, but the artists, people who are trying to write songs," he 
elucidated. 
Recent releases by Korn, Eminem and Limp Bizkit have cropped up on 
file swapping sites like Napster and imitators like Gnutella and 
Audiogalaxy weeks and sometimes months before they were officially 
released. Band and management are determined that this will not 
happen with the new Tool album.
"It's just really that we create our albums as a whole," drummer 
Danny Carey says. "We think very carefully about everything. The 
artwork on the packaging and the videos are all an integral part of 
the album. We want to control the way that our music is presented to 
people. It's not so much that we oppose things like Napster but it 
takes control over the creative process away from what we do."
"Once it's actually released we're not really too upset," says bass 
player Justin Chancellor. "After that I suppose it all goes to spread 
the word…"
Weirdly, there have actually been 'fake' Tool tracks doing the rounds 
on Napster; japesters that they are, Tool have allowed fake 
tracklistings to circulate. Some band somewhere saw this as an 
opportunity to punt their own music, giving their own tracks titles 
from the phoney album.

'Lateralus' itself clocks in at a weighty eighty nine minutes; the 
tracks average out at around six minutes, kicking off with the 
pulverising 'The Grudge' and splashing down with the mighty triptych 
of 'Disposition', 'Reflection' and 'Triad' (actually, there's one of 
those zany 'secret' tracks after a few minutes but that doesn't 
really count). 'Schism', which is to be the first single from the 
album, is as close as it ever comes to a radio friendly tune.
"We've always had record companies and management who tell us that 
the way to do things is to tone the music down, make it more radio 
friendly," says Danny when we meet up the day after the 
playback. "But I think of bands like Led Zeppelin who never went down 
that road yet were still immensely popular."
That's not to say that 'Lateralus' is some unlistenable overlong 
piece of experimental shit; very far from it. It's an angry 
record; 'Ticks And Leeches' sounds like an attack on the world, on 
the press, on Napster, on anyone with expectations about Tool: "Hope 
this is what you wanted/Hope this is what you had in mind/Cuz this is 
what you're getting/I hope you're choking. I hope you choke on this." 
But it's also far from monolithic; 'Reflection' is a soaring epic, 
repetetitive and hypnotic, almost mantra-like. The lyrics, 
particularly 'The Grudge', are also rich in occult symbolism (the 
title of the secret track, 'Faaip De Oiad' is supposedly means 'Voice 
Of God' in Enochian, the language of the Angelic Orders discovered by 
Queen Elizabeth I's court astrologer and spymaster Dr John Dee). From 
the cover art by psychedelic mystic painter Alex Gray 
onward, 'Lateralus' is Tool's most mind expanding -- yea, even 
visionary -- album to date. And the title? 
"Another made up word," says Justin.
Ladies and gentlemen, the missing link between 'Master Of Puppets' 
and 'Dark Side Of The Moon'.

Received wisdom once held that the first wave of metal -- Sabbath, 
Blue Cheer, Deep Purple et al -- was a reaction against the mind 
expanding music of fey hippy bands like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead 
and The Jefferson Airplane. In 1967, it was all Paisley pattern 
khaftans, white magick, Eastern mysticism and the kids wanted to drop 
LSD and go tripping off to Middle Earth with Donovan on the Dansette 
and strawberry joss sticks burning in the ashtray. But in 1972 what 
they wanted was to wash down so many qualuudes with cheap wine that 
all they were actually aware of was Geezer Butler's bass thumping 
them in the chest as they dribbled puke down their great coats. 
Psychedelia was when all the A-Level kids started expanding their 
minds on acid, who wanted to explore the cosmic highways to a Soft 
Machine tune and maybe to see a world in a grain of sand, heaven in a 
wild flower etc etc. Metal was sniffily dismissed as the music of the 
thickies and brickies who didn't so much want to expand their 
consciousness as blot out what there was of it with sheer bloody 
volume.
To call Tool a psychedelic band is not to accuse them of some sort of 
half-baked Oasis-style exhumation of a long dead style; nothing that 
Tool have done over the past eight years or so sounds remotely like 
the leavings of Doctor Strangely Strange or The Incredible String 
Band. And while many groups are starting to re-explore the explosion 
of demented and deranged sounds from roughly 1966 until 1971 -- most 
notably stoner crews like Nebula, Spirit Caravan, Sea Of Green et al -
-  they do tend to skim the surface, attracted to that fuzz/wah wah 
guitar sound or the vivid back-in-the-mix vocals where all the 
needles are in the red and the reverb is up to full. Tool's take on 
psychedelia is more profound; they go straight to the soul of the 
acid rock experience. 
"It's not something that we consciously did," says Danny. "It's a 
continuation of what we've done up until now. We go into the studio 
and we all bring along things which may or may not end up in the 
songs."
Nevertheless, there's a definite quality about the album that 
suggests a familiarity with mind altering chemicals which begs the 
question; when did you last drop acid, man?
"Oh well about a year and a half ago," says Danny, a tad guardedly. 
Was it a good trip?
"Yes, it was," he says. "I mean, I'm not for one minute suggesting 
that people should go out and do drugs. It's not so much what you 
take as the circumstances you do it in and what it is that you bring 
back with you. I mean, if you just go off on your own and freak out 
you maybe don't have anything to bring back. I think it's unfortunate 
that these drugs are lumped along with the really destructive ones 
that are tearing the inner cities apart. These drugs have a  shamanic 
use. Also nobody gets rich off of them. You don't get people who 
become millionaires as psiliocybin runners, you don't get mescaline 
dealers shooting people."
The late Bill Hicks -- a mate of Tools, as it happens -- used to say 
that psychedelics were placed here by God to accelerate human 
evolution. Years of booze, cocaine and heroin use has taken a big 
toll on rock and roll; not so much in lives but certainly in IQ 
points. It has produced some sort of de-evolution, an irrationally 
angry celebrity neanderthal who can't quite communicate properly. 
Maybe, as 'Lateralus' proves, it wouldn't be such a bad thing if rock 
and roll started to walk upright again.
Check back soon for the next installment.


Posted to t.d.n: 06/03/01 01:52:24

  page: 60
 title: Lateralus review
author: Johnny Paracelsus
TOOL
Lateralus
(Volcano)

At an hour and 20 minutes, Lateralus' is a pretty vast chunk of music 
to digest and with tracks averaging around eight minutes, merging 
into one another, it's an album that you can't really dip in and out 
of. Sit down, boys and girls, because you've got to be there for the 
whole trip…
Like its predecessor 'Aenima', production is by David Bottrill who 
has previously worked with prog rock maestros King Crimson (who will 
support Tool on their US dates) and there's more continuity 
between 'Lateralus' and 'Aeima' than between 'Aenima' and 
debut 'Undertow'. Opening with 'The Grudge', a slow-burning 
percussion driven track that stops and starts and winds its way 
through several tempos in a way that sounds improvised, like a 
telepathic jam session. You can almost hear the calls 
of "MUUUUMMMMYYYY!!!!" from those who came to the band through the 
more unashamedly commercial A Perfect Circle. Aside from the 
single 'Schism', a dark and gothic near-ballad with a gorgeous bass 
riff and stacatto guitar chords that stick in your head like a 
harpoon, there aren't any tracks that concede to the lowest-common-
denominator demands of stupid-pop TV and ignorance-glorification 
radio. 
From the hallucinogenic trance-like 'Reflection' to the bitter and 
scathing 'Ticks And Leeches', from the uneasy comedy of hidden 
track ' Faaip De Oiad' to the monolithic heaviness 
of 'Parabola', 'Lateralus' is a big territory to explore and defies 
any attempts to glibly sum it all up.
Tool have delivered an album that is epic in scope, vast in 
conception and uncompromising in its execution; it's proper serious 
heavyweight  rock on a par with Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti', 
Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' or Metallica's 'Master Of Puppetts' and it 
towers above a sea of faceless marketing-led dumbed-down whingeing Nu-
Oedipal brats like Godzilla above a cardboard Tokyo.

(8)


Posted to t.d.n: 06/03/01 01:54:39