Publication: Aggro Active (radio trade magazine)
Date: May, 2001
Adam Tool (email@example.com)
Adam Tool (firstname.lastname@example.org)
page: 30 title: 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 music. 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 know.Ē 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 album? 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 done? 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 that. 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 interest? 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 it. 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 that? 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