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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Circus

Date: March, 1997

Transcribed by
Jon (jonguitar@hotmail.com)


  page: 42
 title: Tool's Three Ring Circus Side Show
author: Mitch Joel

	From first impression, Toolís ultimate agenda on their third 
release AEnima is to exasperate its listeners with its blunt 
perspective of the world.  ìI sure could use a vacation from this 
bullshit three-ring circus side-show,î laments singer Maynard James 
Keenan on the title-track.
	Yet they shock audiences in a more cerebral, yet equally 
provocative way: through the mind.  In a lengthy, scientific essay in 
the liner notes of AEnima Tool describes physiological effects on 
oneís body while itís anaesthetized.  The solution of how to awaken 
parts of the mind ìwe might normally never useî is offered at its 
conclusion.  ìBeliefs allow the mind to stop functioning.  A non 
functioning mind is clinically dead.  Believe in nothing...,î the 
essay dramatically ends.
	Toolís interest in the subconscious is as integral to the groupís 
image as their dark, metal-industrial grooves.  The quartetís 
perception of the outside world definitely reflects inner workings.  
ìOur main goal when weíre together is to write music in a forum where 
we can involve our subconscious as well as our conscious,î says 
drummer Danny Carey.  ìTo make that happen, we use every tool 
available to us, be it signals,... fragrances or whatever modern 
technology can supply...î
	Their psychological idealogy is predominant all over the AEnima 
CD.  There are few other albums that grab you by the private parts, 
whack your brain around and keep you trembling in utter mystery.  The 
post-metal mayhem that these Los Angeles maniacs have compiled shed a 
darker light on comedy, while trembling with pulsing beats and utter 
violent outbursts.  All in the dayís work.
	AEnima retains a tribal vibe that adds to the albumís undying 
ferocity.  Aside from their wild beats, many of the tracks are 
separated by interludes of ambient effects.  ìProducer David Bottrill 
(who has worked with experimental artists like Peter Gabriel and King 
Crimson) was good,î says Carey in the San Diego Union-Tribune.  ìIíve 
always listened to African music myself.  Although the drums on the 
album are not exactly African, they are derivative of them to some 
extent.î
	Careyís skills have been honed by years of experience, as well as 
a range of influences.  He played in his first school band in Kansas 
at age 10 before getting his first drum kit three years later.  As a 
teenager, he had his heart set out for rock by listening to Led 
Zeppelin records in his brotherís collection.  He played as a session 
musician for Green Jello and Pygmy Love Circus after moving to Los 
Angeles in 1986.
	AEnimaís not exactly the kind of stuff youíll see Dr. Seuss 
writing about either.  Having first jammed in 1991, Tool (rounded out 
by vocalist Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones and new bassist Justin 
Chancellor-who replaced Paul DíAmour in 1995) has already seen 
platinum success with their first full-length, 1993ís Undertow.  Their 
first batch of songs (the highly acclaimed ë92 EP, Opiate) made 
serious headway, knocking conventional hard music for a turn.
	Their intense sound and Keenanís expressive vocal deliveries carry 
off well in the concert medium.  As the three musicians occupy 
themselves with building up their trademark wall of noise, Keenan is 
the maddening visual equivalent of their thunder.  Clad only in biker 
shorts on the ìAEnimaî tour, 32 year-old Keenan writhes about the 
rainbow lit stage as if the notes conduct his every move.  He has even 
been compared to an ìarthritic puppetî and a ìrobot made of rubberî in 
one of the Dallas papers.
	Keenanís in-concert passion might be motivated by some of the 
angry songs from their catalog.  Tunes like ìPrison Sexî are semi-
autobiographical and confront themes that have at least contributed to 
his make-up.  As an only child to a Baptist family in Ohio, Keenan 
spent much of his childhood being sent from one place to another.  His 
mother died when he was only 11 and his early days were ìtraumatic,î 
he told one magazine.
	Despite Keenanís troubled childhood, he had a heavy hand in Toolís 
uniqueness.  Their diversity and artistic heaviness are rarely 
channeled through one form of art.  They gain complete control over 
everything from album artwork to having hands-on video experience.
	ìIt was very important for us, from day one, to make Tool 
everything we wanted to see and hear out of a band,î says drummer 
Danny Carey ìWhen we started, everything was about image in Los 
Angeles and we did everything we could to destroy that.  We made 
videos that didnít show us, or any living creature for that matter.  I 
think itís important to get the idea across, the details, when it 
comes to art, is what the listener makes of it.  Thatís the most 
important part.î
	Misquotes and wrong perceptions trouble Carey.  ìThey make Tool 
seem like weíre all about the horrors of life.  While there certainly 
is a disturbing side to what we do, itís just one aspect of it, not 
the entire story.î
	ìI donít think anybody can have that kind of rage all the time,î 
he laughs.  ìWhile we appreciate the publicity, I think anybody who 
really understands Tool knows that we can be very tongue in cheek.î
	Tool shows a lighter side in the hysterically-titled ìHooker with 
a Penisî (with the future immortal line ìBefore you point your finger 
at me little buddy, you should know that Iím the man...so you can 
point your f***ing finger up your ass.î)  But on a darker side of the 
moon, ìMessage to Harry Manbackî is based on an answering machine 
message by a foreigner wishing an American dead, though it is dressed 
by a gorgeous piano accompaniment.
	Many critics and some fans are not very responsive to their unique 
brand of humor.  One issue of contention is a black-and-white hologram 
of the band relaxing on a plush white couch in AEnimaís booklet.  The 
problem?  A nude figure appears to be indulging in an auto-sex act.
	ìItís actually a girl we know who performs yoga and gymnastics,î 
assures Carey.  ìEverybody thinks that itís the band sitting on a 
couch, watching another guy...itís not so planned out.  We just took a 
bunch of images or ideas that intrigued us and set up photos or 
artwork to correlate the idea.  Itís a step into the art world, other 
kinds of art.î
	Their ìart worldî is also transposed onto the video screen, where 
their still-life work made quite the stir and the first single/video 
from AEnima, ìStinkfist,î has followed the suit.  The dark, Dr. 
Moreau-esque vibe of manís futile search for self is designed around 
modern effects and a blistering story board that makes ìApocalypse 
Nowî seem like a walk through Central Park...by day.
	ìWe took a lot of heat for that video...the song for that matter,î 
says Carey.  ìOn MTV they call the song ëTrack #1í because they feel 
the word ëStinkfistí is too much for the general public.  ëWatch out, 
everybodyís going to start running around shoving their fist into 
other peopleís assesí!î he laughs.
	While their Tarantino-type humor may be beyond many, namely anyone 
who takes Marilyn Manson seriously, Tool have actually manipulated and 
designed quite the theatrical backdrop for what has become a very 
serious career.
	ìRealistically, this was never meant to be so serious,î Carey 
recalls the early days.  ìI think any band that gets the inherent 
desire to make it big, never will.  You have to make music because you 
must make music.  Itís a passion, like anything else.  If you want to 
make money, music probably shouldnít be your first vocational choice,î 
he laughs.
	ìWhen, or if, it does happen, then you have to make it work for 
you.  At the end of the day you have to be happy with your life.  The 
music of Tool is very important and different to each and every member 
of the band.  I think itís important to have a global concept together 
but I find it important to have our own individual ideas as to what we 
should be doing, or should not be doing as a band.î


Posted to t.d.n: 05/26/97 19:26:03