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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Aggro Active (radio trade magazine)

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
Adam Tool (

  page: 30
author: Greg Sorrels
Aggro Active #19
May 11, 2001 

Transcribed by Adam Tool (Yes, that is my real name)

	Since their debut with Undertow in 1993, Tool has become 
known as perhaps the most mysterious, enigmatic and faceless big-time 
rock band on planet Earth. In a recent article vocalist Maynard James 
Keenan related a story in which he and guitarist Adam Jones were 
leaving a local L.A. theater when kids approached him after he had 
walked to his car. The kids were excited about having seen him 
talking to the guitarist from ToolÖbut didnít even realize that they 
were talking to its front man. In addition, Toolís reluctance to give 
interviews (at least in the past) has also played into the ďmysteryĒ 
band persona, but perhaps now the various members of Tool are coming 
out from the shadows to cast a bit of light on themselves and their 
	Itís been five years since Aenima was released, but 
fortunately Tool fans were treated to the very successful ďhand-in-
handĒ project of Maynardís, A Perfect Circle, which he compared to 
The Cure and went to say was ďmore ethereal and accessibleĒ than 
Tool. Early word on Toolís latest creation, Lateralus, is that every 
song is at least six minutes in length and, according to Maynard, 
itís their most personal album to date. Maynard called in from his 
bunker in Los Angeles to fill us in on the new album, his stint in 
the armed forces and thoughts on secret societies. 
AGGRO ACTIVE: Basically itís been five years since Aenima came out 
and much of that time was spent in legal wrangles with your label, as 
well as touring and writing. But then you went ahead with A Perfect 
Circle. Did that create any kind of tension or conflict within Tool?

MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN: Only the kind of tension that would arise 
between brothers whoíve agreed to go to a movie and one of them 
decides not to until a later showing. Weíre all brothers, so itís 
kind of like, ďHey Iím gonna do this thing for a little while.Ē And 
they go, ďOkay, well it takes us a long time to write a record 
anyway, so itís no big deal.Ē They were working as if I was there 
anyway. So I didnít put a skip in our step at all, really.

AA: Do you think that what little tension it did create perhaps added 
to the record?

MJK: Well yeah, what little tension there was from that. All the 
tension that we experienced was more just label struggles and that 
kind of thing. I would say that was more of a contributor. Itís 
weird, but youíre in this situation where youíre basically married. 
You didnít really plan on it; you just wanted to make music and get 
laid, you know? And here you are stuck with these guys for several 
years. There just comes a time where you have to take a step back and 
go, ďOkay, who are we again and why did we get together?Ē It takes a 
moment of reflection and then youíre back at it, rediscovering who 
each other are and remembering what youíre doing this for. I think 
thatís the crucial mistake of most of our peers; they didnít do that. 
They didnít step back and think of it as a brotherly thing. They 
stepped back and were probably listening to the babble of retarded 
yes men saying stuff like, ďYou should go out on your own, man; 
theyíre holding you back.Ē So, I think a lot of our peers have fallen 
victim to that process and didnít actually remember what it was that 
got them where they were.

AA: The name of the new album is Lateralus. What does that title mean 
to you and how do you come up with your album titles?

MJK: Itís all just general sweeps of color, so to speak. Most of the 
titles have pieces of the content in them from the entire song. They 
might not necessarily be complete words in themselves, but when you 
put it with everything else, it makes something when you break it all 
down. Just splices, you know? Lateralus itself is actually a muscle 
and although the title does have something to do with the muscle, 
itís more about lateral thinking and how the only way to really 
evolve as an artist--or as a human, I think--is to start trying to 
think outside of the lines and push your boundaries. Kind of take 
yourself where you havenít been and put yourself in different shoes; 
all of those cliches.

AA: I was reading something that Fred Durst saidÖ

MJK: Why would you do that?

AA: (laughing) He said, ďTool is probably the best band on the 
planet. Thereís something wrong with those guys-theyíre too good.Ē

MJK: Sounds like something a fuckiní stoned kid at a fuckiní monster 
truck rally would say. Letís talk about somebody else. 

AA: Thereís moreÖ

MJK: Itís like getting an endorsement from the woman who serves jello 
in the fuckiní high school food line. It doesnít mean anything. 
Just Ďcause she won the lottery doesnít mean you have to listen to 
what she says.

AA: He also said, ďThey know something the rest of the world doesnít 

MJK: Thatís not true, either. We donít know anything that canít be 
learned. If we had some secret weíd certainly be fuckiní millionaires 
by now-and weíre not.

AA: You guys arenít millionaires?

MJK: No. By no stretch of the imagination are we millionaires. Iíve 
never had a million dollars in my bank account, ever. Letís clear 
that one up right away. Itís just not the case.

AA: I didnít realize that right after high school you joined the 
Army. What was that experience like?

MJK: It was definitely a challenge, to put myself in a situation that 
wasnít really what I had in mind for my life. It was more of a whim; 
I didnít really know what I wanted to do after high school. I figured 
it would be easy to go to art school and get a student loan and do 
that trip, but I figured I would challenge myself a little bit and 
experience something that I would probably never have the balls--or 
the ignorance--to try again. So I just did something that I couldnít 
talk myself out of. 

AA: And what exactly did you do while you were in?

MJK: I started off as a surveyor, just kind of doing transit survey. 
My job made sure tanks could pull into a position and know where they 
were in reference to who they were blowing up.

AA: Being into art and then jumping into the Army just seems so 
bizarre to me.

MJK: Well, think of it in broader strokes. Think of it in terms of 
metaphor. Iím kind of the translator between what happens in our 
rehearsal space with the music and the listener. Iím the translator. 
So in a way, here I am translating one position to another. These 
people come into a position and theyíre gonna try to get a thought, 
or a bomb, across to somebody else. There has to be some kind of 
middle man to figure out where you are in reference to where youíre 
going-in essence, a translator.

AA: What are some of the various themes youíre exploring on this 

MJK: Definitely the majority of the record is about re-communication, 
about understanding where you are in reference to where youíve been 
and where youíre going. Itís the process of letting go of old baggage 
and the evaluation of your place. If youíre into astrology or any of 
that kind of stuff, thereís a process called the Saturn Return--your 
30-year cycle. Itís something like a mid-life crisis, where you step 
back and reevaluate.

AA: This is on a personal level or band level?

MJK: I think we all have, you know? The Saturn ReturnóIím not that 
fluent in astrology or hocus pocusóbut itís a 28-30 year cycle where 
when youíre born Saturn is in one position and it takes approximately 
29 years to come all the way back around. It just so happens that it 
coincides with the majority of peopleís reevaluation of their lives. 
Itís kind of a traumatic time, because youíre trying to figure out 
who you are and what the hell youíve been doing for 30 years, and 
recognizing patterns. Like, ďWhy do I keep ending up with these same 
people in my life?Ēóthat kind of stuff. Also, for the most part most 
of your favorite records are the first three records of a bandís 
career. So, here we are on our fourth record. Do we evolve past where 
we came from and make it better, or do we fall under the same pattern 
that all of our peers have and make the disappointing fourth record?

AA: Thatís interesting. Iíve never heard someone say any thing about 
the first three records of a bandís career.

MJK: Think about it.

AA: Is that something that you came up with?

MJK: No. I didnít come up with it. Look at it, itís just generally 
true. The first three Devo records, the first three Psychedelic Furs 
records, in general. The only bands that transcended that process 
have been bands like Led Zeppelin or The Beatles or the Stones.

AA: Does that worry you guys at all?

MJK: Oh sure. Itís our career. Especially in light of everything else 
thatís happening with our evolution; with the Internet and Napster 
and all that, itís a scary prospect. Even if we do make a good 
record, perhaps in a year itíll be irrelevant. People will just be 
able to download it in its entirety.

AA: Speaking of the Internet and Napster, whatís your feelings?

MJK: Once again, it goes back to the element of communication. Nobody 
is communicating to these kids who are taking music off of Napster. 
The implications and the repercussions of their actions on the artistÖ
they just donít know. Itís not that theyíre doing it vindictively, 
they just donít understand. They donít understand how little a band 
makes on a record. In average case scenarios, a band makes about a 
dollar a recordóand thatís after theyíve paid back everything that 
they spent making the record and doing the video and promotions and 
tour support and all that. Itís quite overwhelming. 

AA: Kids look at it like theyíre screwing the labels and not 
necessarily the artists.

MJK: And it ends up making the band do shit that the label tells them 
because theyíre broke. You get desperate and you start doing silly 
shit like TRL.

AA: So we wonít see you on TRL this year?

MJK: God, I hope not.

AA: Would you say this is the most personal album that you guys have 

MJK: I would say itís definitely more of an internal dynamic, where 
weíve actually turned the focus in. Iím sure that youíre aware of the 
old process where if you really hate something about someone, or 
something really bugs you about somebody, generally itís something 
that you donít like about yourself. Thatís kind of the way this 
recordís been written, through a process of finger-pointing and then, 
at the end of the day, turning it back around on ourselves.

AA: Your guitarist, Adam (Jones), described making this album as a 
healing process. Would you say the same thing? 

MJK: Oh, absolutely. Like I said before, four brothers rediscovering 
what their roles are in each otherís lives. I think the best thing 
that could have happened in the big picture was A Perfect Circle, 
just because it gave us some time apart from each other to reevaluate 

AA: I read a feature that described your studio as containing all 
kinds of gargoyles and swords and Aleister Crowley books.

MJK: Danny (Carey) collects quite a bit of Crowley stuff and his 
father was a Mason, so he has some artifacts from his years of being 
a Mason. I donít know about the gargoyles.

AA: Has he told you much about the Masonic Order?

MJK: Well, Iíve read quite extensively about it myself. I didnít 
realize his father was a Mason when I was getting into it, but weíd 
already been in a band for several years when he said, ďOh yeah, my 
dadís a Mason.Ē

AA: Has he told you a lot more from his point of view?

MJK: Thatís the whole part of the Masonic Lodge, theyíre not gonna 
tell you anything. You have to do all of your own research. Theyíre 
not gonna tell you anything; even the highest-ups in most of the 
Masonic Lodges donít know the truth, and the ones higher than that 
arenít telling.

AA: What have you learned from your research?

MJK: Everybody who has some kind of hidden truth tends to kill babies 
over it. Thatís what it all comes down toóitís all religious 
fanaticism in some way.

AA: Speaking of secret societies, some would say that Tool is a 
mysterious organization.

MJK: Yeah, I guess so. It depends on the day.

AA: Are you guys believers in the occult or is it more of just an 

MJK: Itís kind of hard to answer that in a simple small article. If 
youíve ever taken Tai-Chi or Chi-Gong with an actual master, you are 
putting yourself into these body positions. I have a friend who was 
taking Chi-Gong for years and he would strike these poses every day 
with his sensei in their dojo. Then one day he got into one of the 
positions and he apparently did the position perfectly correctlyóhe 
could feel the energy completely flowing through his body, like he 
was a battery. H e just kind of felt this change. And his sensei, 
from across the room, turned, looked at him and nodded. And that was 
So, perhaps all this occult stuff is exactly that. Itís years of 
practice, seeing a particular process to reach a particular result 
that, in the scheme of things, youíre really not supposed to tell 
somebody about. Youíre just supposed to experience it. Itís all about 
your own experience. So if you sit there in these strange positions, 
or you look through the ďBook Of The DeadĒ and you practice this 
stuff, maybe thereís an experience that you have alone that thereís 
no way you could ever really describe it to anyoneóso why bother? 
Itís not really a secret, itís just impossible to translate.

AA: So can music be compared to the occult?

MJK: Well, weíve said in the past that music is a higher form of 
language, so if we struggle in some way to be pure about our process 
and get out of the way and let truth come through in some way, 
hopefully weíll reach that same experience with our music. Does that 
make sense?

AA: Do you feel like youíre achieving that or have already achieved 

MJK: I donít know. I hope our music is helping achieve that 
experience: Youíre inspired to go do something else, or just inspired 
to live your life, feeling the nuances of the unexplainable.

Posted to t.d.n: 05/23/01 09:36:30