Date: May, 2001
Jack Frost (email@example.com)
Jack Frost (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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