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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: MeanStreet

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
Jack Frost (chaoseight@yahoo.com)


  page: 26
 title: 
author: J.R. Griffin
	"This album will definitely put attention spans to a test," 
says Tool drummer Danny Carey. "People have been victimized by the 
media over the last couple of years, 'cause things keep getting 
shorter and shorter. But as far as records that I grew up listening 
to, this is no big difference. I like albums like Yes, Jethro Tull and 
Todd Rundgren in which one song would take up a whole side of an 
album. Those would be, like, 30 minute songs. Those are the kind of 
records that I always wanted to make. And with Lateralus, we're 
getting closer to that."
	With 13 tracks totaling nearly 79 minutes, one of the world's 
most intriguing, fascinating and powerful art-rock band's third 
full-length album, Lateralus, was quite an undertaking to create. But 
it's also a hefty project for fans to digest.
	Our first impression based on one listen at Tool's management 
company (which, in the Napsterized world, was the only way we were 
allowed to hear the album) show's (sic) the band as fierce, 
unconventional and remarkably massive as always. The songs - which are 
more like movements - have odd musical measure from guitarist Adam 
Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor, Eastern percussion and vibes 
sneaking in and frontman Maynard James Keenan's distinct and 
pitch-perfect powerhouse vocals leading a majority of the charge.
	There's more discriminating pacing and texture within the 
hypnotic arrangements which inevitably explode into a fury of rage, 
screams and precise aggression. Most tracks clock in at over five 
minutes with short segue ways (sic) between. Three tracks in 
particular - "Disposition," "Reflection" and "Triad" - were originally 
one song (totaling over 20 minutes) but have been broken into three 
tracks. And the album's first single, "Schism," comes with a rumbling 
bassline that will instantly satisfy hungry Tool fans who have been 
waiting nearly five long years for a new release.
	"I think we got a lot more emotional depth translated into the 
music and lyrics this time," says Carey. "I think the listener will 
see it, too. And that's what it's all about: Hearing something new and 
discovering an emotion that you didn't know you had before."
	When the band finally got around to producing and recording 
(more on that in a sec) they has so much to say, they ultimately found 
themselves restricted by technology.
	"It was a scary thing. We had more little bits and pieces that 
we wanted to put in between the songs, but when we went to mastering 
we had to leave out a lot of those. The manufacturer would only 
guarantee us up to 79 minutes," said Carey. "So our record is 78 
minutes and 58 seconds long. We thought we'd give them 2 seconds of 
breathing room."

	Last slated for release on April 17, 2001 - Keenan's birthday 
- the album's new release date of May 15 was the final, and smallest, 
setback in years of troubles, delays and hold-ups for the disc. The 
guys spent a majority of the last three years involved in a $25 
million lawsuit with their former label, Freeworld Entertainment 
(previously known as Volcano Entertainment and Zoo Entertainment) and 
a $5 million-plus legal tangle with their now-former manager. Court 
dates were continually pushed back as the guys were faced with no 
place to house the new Tool recordings. The band eventually came out 
on top with the label lawsuit, taking in an out-of-court settlement. 
(Future releases will come out on yet another new imprint known as 
Volcano II.) Needless to say, they also have new management.
	For a band that likes to take its time anyway between releases 
(besides their debut EP in 1992 and a live box set called Salival in 
2000, Lateralus will be Tool's third full-length disc in nearly ten 
years), the legal troubles slowed the creative side of Tool down to 
almost a standstill. But even in the worst of times, they always found 
that the core of Tool was a solid unit.
	"We had to make sure our internal communication was crystal 
clear, just to keep the band together during these trials and 
tribulations," says Carey. "We were fighting with record companies and 
going through lawsuits. And we knew that as soon as there was any 
point of breakdown between us, then everything would just crumble.
	"It got to the point of panic a few times when we just had to 
lock ourselves in a room just with each other and hash it out. There 
was a point where everybody was crying and hugging and laughing, you 
know, all at the same time."
	And did it ever get so bad that breaking up the band would 
have been an option?
	"It's hard to say," says Carey, "It got hairy a few times. 
There was some pretty intense moments. When I think about it now: No, 
I don't think we would've broken up. But you never know how far things 
can explode. If we wouldn't have been able to express ourselves to 
each other and keep the lines of communication open, we would have 
definitely broken up."
	During Tool's musical downtime, various members kept 
themselves busy with other undetakings. Among other projects, Adam 
Jones (responsible for a majority of Tool's artwork over the years) 
created the album cover for Chancellor's former band, Peach. Carey 
continued his drumming with Pigmy Love Circus. But most noticeable and 
publicized was Keenan's involvement in A Perfect Circle. Formed with 
Keenan's old roommate, Billy Howerdel, the band explored the more, 
shall we say, sensitive side of Keenan's vocal range. While hard and 
unyielding passion scored most of the songs, Keenan searched out more 
melody and restraint with APC. While his time with another band only 
furthered the rumors of a Tool breakup, Keenans' newly-honed talents 
benefited the Lateralus recordings. (And for you APC fans out there, 
their official website says there is a second album in the works.)
	"Working with others obviously broadens your pallet of ideas 
and musical possibilities," says Carey. "When you play with other 
people, you're going to expand in different ways, that's for sure. 
Then you play with other people you may get to the point of 
frustration with them. And that's when coming back to something like 
Tool is very refreshing because you've come back with a new 
perspective on it."
	"I know Maynard is really singing great right now. I think a 
lot of that has to do with his research with A Perfect Circle," 
continues Carey. "We all keep trying to evolve and grow in one way or 
another. And as long as we can do that and be true to each other; when 
the four of us get in that room and let the chemistry go where it will 
take us, we'll be fine."

	Infrequently recorded over the last year-and-a-half, Lateralus 
has been relatively finished since February of this year. And while 
the band has done an efficient job of keeping fans informed with 
continual postings and informative chats on their official website, 
they wanted to ensure that Lateralus would be delivered to the fans as 
a complete package. So, to protect the music against any early 
bootleggers, the guys made a pact: No one except band members would 
get a copy of the disc until absolutely necessary.
	"I've been playing it for everyone, we just don't give out any 
copies," says Carey. "It's not so much like a greedy, 
keep-it-to-yourself-type thing. It's just that the video's not done 
and the artwork just now got finished. So when we release it, we want 
to release it as a unit and as our vision. We just want to present it 
in the proper way that does justice to the art. And the only way we 
knew that we could do that is just by sitting on it. Up until very 
recently, Justin, Adam, Maynard and myself were the only people who 
had a copy of the record.
	"Once you let it out, it just started spreading. I know all of 
my friends who I've played it for are pissed because I can't give them 
a copy. I just can't do it. We made an agreement in the band and I 
just can't break that."
	Of course, a couple of well-placed smokescreens never hurt, 
either. Late last year, when the band released Salival, they noticed 
something very interesting. Instantly upon its release, people were 
selling bootlegged material online and registering domain names of 
song titles and just about anything related to the album. Sadly, most 
weren't done out of respect for the band, but for profit. And it 
pissed off the band.
	So, in January of this year, Tool announced that its new album 
would be called Systema Encephale and would include songs such as 
"Encephatalis," "Mummery," "Coeliacus" and "Pain Canal." Music 
publications instantly picked up on the announcement, looking for any 
good news about an upcoming Tool disc. The information was complete 
bullshit.
	"After the release of Salival, people were selling bootlegged 
merchandise - like really shitty-looking designs with lame artwork. 
And they were pawning it off as if it were the real Salival website, 
like we were responsible for that," says Carey. "So, this time we 
wanted to throw something out there just so they'd waste their money 
on domain names and T-shirts that had no meaning. And you know what? 
It worked. Domain names and titles were registered. We just wanted to 
pull a little trick on them - and somebody was stupid enough to do it 
again."
	For Tool, one of the band's best defense (sic) against people 
just looking to burn a quick CD or bootleggers slapping together fake 
merchandise is the quality of the art that comes along with an 
official disc. Alex Fray (sic) - the first outside artist used for a 
Tool album cover - crafted a multi-layered piece that's much like the 
psychedelic spin on the breakdown of the human anatomy one might find 
in an encyclopedia or a health book. The artwork relates to the 
stripping of surface-level communications and delving into deeper 
levels of understanding - all with (sic) relates to the underlying 
themes of Lateralus.
	"The artwork on this one is definitely something that you just 
can't print out on a printer," says Carey. "It's going to be something 
that's interesting to hold in your hand." But more importantly, his 
artwork symbolizes what the band stands for.
	"Alex's art comes about as a frustration of other means of 
communication," says Carey. "So he's trying to present solutions at a 
higher order of language that can only be approached with your heart. 
You can't decipher these things with your mind. That's what give a 
rise (sic) to the greatest art, I think. He's expressing something 
that's beyond words. I feel that's what we're trying to do musically."
Whoa, now he's getting deep. Maybe all of those comparisons which tag 
the progressive Tool as the hard-rock Radiohead aren't so far off 
after all.
	"I don't know. I kinda like those guys," says Carey. "I've 
heard some of their songs. I haven't really listened to that much of 
their music, but I guess it's cool. At least what I've heard, I like."

	It's been a long wait - but worth it. With their albums slowly 
rising in popularity and far (sic) being one of the most respected 
bands in the hard rock world (the 1992 debut EP, Opiate sold 800,000; 
1993's Undertow moved approximately 2 million; and approximately 2.4 
million copies 1996's (sic) Aenima flew off the shelves) the band 
still thinks of themselves as relatively underground and on the verge 
of success. This time for Tool has already been compared to when 
Metallica released their 1991 self-titled "Black" album that propelled 
them to an entirely new level of popularity and brought in a wider 
audience. Only time will tell. And the plans are already in motion - 
by the time you read this, the video for "Schism" should already be 
out, the guys will have done some small promo shows in the states with 
a massive US tour scheduled to begin in August. Still, fans want to 
know: When will your next one be ready?
	"Right before we went into the studio to record, we were 
looking at this sheet that we had on the rehearsal space wall and 
there were probably ten songs that we started developing that didn't 
mae it onto this record. And they're not that far away," says Carey. 
"We all breathed a big sigh of relief and just kind of went, 'Wow, 
this is encouraging, we might be able to put out another record in two 
years."
	It's never that easy when it comes to Tool, though. There are 
always bigger projects to undertake and a new standard to set.
	"But we're also thinking that maybe the next thing will be 
something like TheWall-type project with a movie and a longer record 
that'll serve as a soundtrack. That's what I'd like to see anyway, if 
things go as planned," says Carey. "That's a pretty major undertaking, 
so it might take four years or something. But if we did just another 
record, then it definitely won't take another four years - and that's 
something I can guarantee."


Posted to t.d.n: 05/11/01 14:35:32