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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Oor

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
Martijn (martijn@blub.net)


  page: 28
 title: Vrijheid & Expressie
author: Mark van Schaick
(Note: speed translation. Butchering of the English language ahead!)

They were well on their way of becoming the ultimate cultband, but
from may 15th Tool will be back among the living. Then Lateralus, the
long awaited new studio album, will hit the stores and the world tour,
which will stop by a few weeks later in Pinkpop, will start.

What is the thing with that band that's been out of the picture for
almost 4 years and in that time has only gathered more respect? The
first 3 albums, Opiate, Undertow and AEnime, have been selling in
numbers only a few rockgroups from the 90s can compare too. The
reputation of the seldom shown videoclips has reached almost mythical
status, just like the concerts of the AEnima tour are carved into the
memories of everybody who was lucky enough to experience them.
Because that's another thing: the world hasn't exactly been
overexposed to Tool since 1998. No single hits, of course, and fewer
and fewer concerts.
Because of business problems the band has kept itself far away from
doing interviews the last few years. In the feverish atmosphere that
was created by the announcement that a new Tool-album would be
released in the spring of 2001 the luxurious filler Salival, a box
with live-recordings and left-overs and the band's videoclips, sold
hundreds thousands of copies in the VS only in its first week.

What's the reason behind this? Why is the new Tool so highly
anticipated? The answer lies mainly in the music and bit with the
people who make that music. Tool's music is challenging. It is today's
sound, but in the meantime resembles nothing. Heavy, but not blunt.
The structure of the songs is like you would expect from a symfoband.
They are long pieces, with lots of dynamics and unpredictable turns.
That are played excellently to boot. The vocals are melodic and
Maynard stays in his lyrics far away from the themes which heavy
rockbands, including the entire nu-metal movement, use. Tool does not
pre-cook anything, does not cater to existing sentiments. Tool
encourages thinking, with music, lyrics, artwork, videoclips 
and the live show. And yes, that way you reach people too.

Wednesday April 18th, 7 p.m.. Dusk falls on Hollywood. In Tool's
rehearsal room, usually called the Loft, blacklight is burning and its
quiet, except for the chirping of the houscricket. Danny Carey and
Justin Chancellor, Tool's drummer and bass player, are tired. Tired of
having to sit behind a table, the entire day, the umpteenth day.
Together with singer Maynard James Keenan and guitarist Adam Jones
they had to listen and talk in an overly luxurious laywer's office in
Beverly Hills from 10 til 5. The group sits there, with their laywer,
a few days a week opposite of former manager Ted Gardner, with his
lawyer. Those laywers are of the type ligitator, the real pittbulls.
At stake is, of course, money. Did or didn't Gardner act behind the
back of the band? To make that clear a large part of the period of
cooperation has to be reconstructed. Then this happened, then he did
that, no that's not the way it happened, first there was that letter,
no that letter was written later, etc. Each person is heard and the
piles of paper grow and grow and hopefully a financial settlement 
will be reached. If not, then the entire story stars over again, but
then in court - welcome to the exciting world of rock 'n' roll.
And all this while Tool should be doing completely different things.
Like rehearsing for the upcoming tour. In less than a month the entire
circus will hit the road for the first time in three years. First up
are four shows in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and New York. Next up is
the European leg, in which support will be done by Cortizone, Justin's
sister's boy-friend's band, nonetheless.
Still it seems like Tool finally has got its act together. With the 
production of Salival, last year, the band was still forced to do
everything by themselves, but since a couple of weeks there's been a
new manager, former tourmanager Pete Riedling. And the release date of
the new album, Lateralus, has only been moved once (because of, what
else, problem with the record company) and the video for the track
Schism is almost finished; with is 6:43 minutes it'll probably be
another MTV favourite.
Being the artistic director Adam is the only band member still working
night and day on that clip. After almost three weeks of filming he is
editing together with his right hand man Kevin Willis. Again it is a
combination of real life footage and the stop motion techniques known
from previous Tool videos. The pictures of the shoot already look very
impressing, but unfortunately just like with the music Tool does not
want to give anything out of their hands until the release date.
Controlfreaks? Maybe, but experience has made them wise. Two weeks
before the release nothing of Lateralus is circulating on the
internet.

For Lateralus' artwork Tool has asked artist Alex Grey to unleash his
vision on the sound and the ideas of the band. A glimpse of the
special result is watchable on the band's website. The production of
the CD booklet however has become so complicated that the factory
cannot have produced more than 1.5 million copies before may 15th.
Still this only considered a minor problem. 
After years of negotiating about a new record company and the
accompying problems and after that the waiting for A Perfect Circle,
the slightly out of hand in-between project of Maynard and his buddy
Billy Howerdel (sold more than a million copies in the US alone) Tool
anno 2001 is happy, glad and self-assured again.
"We'll start rehearsing the last weekend of April. Check how many of
the new songs we can still play," Danny smiles. Since the recordings,
last fall, the group hasn't played together. But Lateralus will be
well represented in the live set although Danny stresses not
everything is playable live. For the first time Tool did not worry
whether the songs would be reproducable live or not. "we've always
been careful with overdubs and adding different instruments, but we
let go of that this time. Adam has layers lots of guitar parts and
Maynard experimented with harmonies for the first time. Adam and me 
added some atmpshere with the sythesizer." Outside of that Ticks &
Leeches will be a hard nut to crack, because of the way Maynard sings
it. "He couldn't talk for a day after we recorded his vocals,"
according to Danny. "There's never been a song in which he screamed
like this. But maybe we should think of another solution for that
live, that's another possibility.""I'll sing it. We just have to do
that song," Justin says with a smile. He's longing for the stage even
more than the others, for the most intense experience you can have as
a band: "I want to perform at the Brixton Academy where I went to see
bands myself that often and then I'll put all my friends on the guest
list!"
Imagine this: you move from London to California to play with your
favourite band. You do one tour and subsequently end up in a business
poke game in which music comes in the last place and in which even the
future of the band is at stake. "The frustration that I was here and
did not do what I wanted to do or what I imagined we would be doing.
That shit with the laywers and stuff, that's much more a part of
American culture than of European. The good thing about all shit has
been that I've learned that Tool takes very good care of itself."
Justin just bought a house in Topanga Canyon, just outside of the
city. Does he feel at home there yet? "Certainly. It quiet out there, 
the surroundings are wonderful and just like the in the rest of LA I
am one of the many strangers in a strange land. And if it doesn't work
out there' there's always the Loft. That's the safe haven."

The Loft. For eight years Danny lived there, having nothing better.
Situated behind a row of shops in Hollywood and dating back to the 30s
of last century the small building was once part of the stables of
spectacle director Cecil B. DeMille. Nowadays it is being hired by
Tool and it permanently accesible for rehearsals, meetings and
recordings. There is an up-to-date Pro-Tools setup on which for
example the new album of A Pigmy Love Circus was recorded, the
unregulated bunch of which Danny has been a member longer than of
Tool.
The decorations completely reflects the interests of the band and
those of Danny in particular. The toilet walls are filled with Danny's
gold and platine records (all Tool albums and Green Jello's Cereal
Killer, also played by him). Then there are mediaeval and occult
objects that set the atmosphere - gargoyles for Carcassone, southern
France, two swords Danny's father used during masonry rituals, a
chestpiece of the actor Stuart Holmes, made by Stanislav Szukalski
(the favourite artist of certainly Maynard, Adam and Danny), etc. Bar,
stereo, tv, a small library; the Loft is, in brief, a boy's dream.
Still under construction are the set pieces that will end up with Tool 
on stage. The one for behind the drum kit is finished. A big circle
with occult markings and mottos round an interpretation of a symbol
from the kaballa. A few more are being planned.
"Look, this is the sign of the Black Sun Society", Dany says and he
shows an illustration from a book. "That was the research team Hitler
founded to see how the occult could be used to the advantage of the
Nazis. Ufo research, Egyptian symbolism, that kind of stuff."
Interesting, but somewhat sensitive maybe, such a symbol on the stage?
"Yes, we'll probably get in trouble with some people in Europe. *If*
we use the thing."
Danny's been interested in the occult for all his life. "It's probably 
because my father was a mason, just like my grandfather. Add to that
that I grew up in Kansas and in the midwest you just have to rebel
against the tv-evangelists. They overfeed you with it and I just
wasn't interested in what organized religion had to offer. I wanted to
search for myself."
However serious Danny and the rest of Tool (next to him Maynard is
most familiar with this kind of material) treat the work of people
like Aleister Crowely, Kenneth Grant and John Dee, within Tool
everything is relativized, including the occult and even the own
image. Go deeply into Tool's ideas and after a while only one remains:
nothing is true and not even that. Take the newsletter as it appears
on toolband.com each month. In there Blair MacKenzie, a good friend of
the band, treats in an inimitable way all more or less Tool-related
theme's. He sometimes strays so far that hundreds of readers beg for
info on the group, goddammit. It is a typical quality of fans to want
to know everything about their favourites. But who is open to Blair's 
stories, or rather the message behind the those stories, understands
it is irrelevant to know whether Maynar's chocolate cookies are really
as good as Tori Amos claims they are...

Two days later. Look for photo's at Tool's management. Maynard first
lived in this building, next to the Loft, but now the singer only has
a big room filled with fitness equipment. Not long ago he moved to a
beautiful house in the Hollywood hills, a bit up the mountain from
where RATM's Tom Morello lives. (That's very common. Adam lives in
Studio City round the corner of the Melvin's Dale Crover and sees Joni
Mitchell regulary visit his neighbours across the street. Danny lives
close to Chad Smith of the Chili Peppers. Members of Skinny Puppy,
Nine Inch Nails, Rollins Band, if they don't look out they trip over
them. And then we're just talking musicians. From Danny's house you
look straight to Brad Pitt's, two streets away, although he isn't 
seen around often. So, the conglomerate LA is a bit like a village:
everybody knows everybody, although not in the usual sense of the
word.)
Manager Pete has heard that morning that Dynamo Open Air has been
cancelled. He knows what's going on in Europe, he's from England
himself and just was there with two bandmembers for promotion, but
still he's watching the other tour locations. Rock am Ring? That's on
a circuit. But Roskilde, wasn't that a meadow too?
A day later Maynard has his own view on the crisis: "Fucking hippies
licking cowfeet. If those Europeans have to lick animals they should
take toads. Then at least they have a change of getting high." It is
half past eleven, saturday morning, and we're having breakfast in
Maynard's favourite hangout, a small diner in the Silverlake district.
Danny choses a Devil's Mess and leaves Maynard's Special.
Unfortunately the cook has not interpreted his recipe 100% correct,
the singer explains. Of course not. Is it surprising 
you'll become a control freak being a member of Tool?

Maynard has traveled the world extensively last year. The tour is an 
excellent opportunity to fill his wine cellar in his pied-a-terre in
Arizona. He does that this way: at each concert he wants three bottles
of wine in the dressing room to test them, so that he can decide what
to buy at the end of the tour.An idea he got during the A Perfect
Circle world tour.
"Now we have an invitation to play Beijing. APC was one of the first
rock bands released there and now the CD is platina. That's only
600,000 copies sold, not as many as you'd think of such a country. But
still: it is that it is Tool's turn now, otherwise I gladly would have
used the opportunity. Of course I can wait until I have day off, say
I'll go lunching and then secretly drive to the airport. 'Hey Maynard,
where are you going with your wig?'"
Does the - today just bald - singer put on a different wig for Tool
then for APC deliberately?
"Yes and no. It is another interaction, but they're both inspiring.
That was also the best thing about APC: the contrast with Tool. Other
people in the band, other record company, other laywers... Another
world. The consequence is I do twice as much as the other, but that's
ok. There's also this aspect: most Tool fans like A Perfect Circle.
The other way round is not that self-evident. There are people who
don't know Tool at all yet, because our former record company drop the
ball in their country. In their case APC opens the door for Tool.
Personally I think you can best buy both tastes to find out which one
you like best.
The worst thing about APC was the Tool-question. It was humiliating
that each time I did promotion for A Perfect Circle I had to talk
about Tool. That was the reason I stopped doing interviews after a
while. I hope Billy finds something to do by himself. He shouldn't be
waiting until I'm finished before he starts doing something again. APC
has come so far now he can make the covers of magazines by himself. He
doesn't need that for me anymore."

Before Maynard went of tour with A Perfect Circle, the rough sketches
for Lateralus already had been finished. During the tour some demos
were send back and forth, so the songs could be finished quickly in
september when he returned.
"More than in the past I put my ego aside in creating my parts. Almost
like it is usual in jazz, I wanted to leave space for the beautiful
things the others do. That also meant extreme personal finely detailed
themes were not used and I had to limit myself to the essence of what
I wanted to say.
The multi-voice singing I used for the first time in APC. I liked it,
so I wanted to expand that in Tool. Singing with myself has a
mantra-like effect on me. It works like meditation. That that won't be
possible live is only a good thing. I've heard a lot that Tool is live
better than on the record the last years. Now people won't be able to
make that comparison anymore. They will be two separate thing from now
on, because we cannot reproduce most songs of Lateralus live. And they
can hassle me all they want about Ticks & Leeches, I won't do it live.
Three weeks it cost me. I couldn't sing a high note.

There is a difference between Lateralus and AEnima in the way that the 
binding factor in the songs this time the combination of us four is.
Never before the musical cooperation has been so direct and so solid.
Of course we fought about some things; that's logical if you feel
connected like brothers. 
But within the band there is something like a personal relation and a
musical relation. And it's the latter we cherished. Think of this: all
our contemporaries have died. Nine Inch Nails still exists, but their
last record hasn't done too well. Smashing Pumpkings? Split up. Rage
Against The Machine? Split up. Soundgarden? Split up. Alice In Chains?
Split up. Primus? Non-active. And Nirvana has a headless singer. And
that is why we wanted to cherish that musical relationship. The
business, everything around it, I'll take it as it comes.
The time in-between Lateralus and AEnima is as long as it takes for a
student to go through highschool. Which get us to the question: do we
still have an audience? Did the people who followed us at the time of
AEnima not switch to other things? A lot has happened in the meantime.
The musical landscape has changed. The influence of groups like
Massive Attack and Portishead is also detectable in the US. What
started as a very interesting musical development is embraced again by
the big masses. I myself listen to different things then 4 years ago.
At the time of AEnima I was totally into the Young Gods... I heard
they have a new album out. Does Danny have it? Hey Danny, can I borrow 
it? They you'll get it... back some time."
Now we're talking electronic music anyway: Orbital used Tool's Sober
for one of the songs on their new album The Altogether. Has Maynard
heard that track already?
"Yes. I didn't feel anything about it. You have to let go of that sort
of thing at a certain moment. What's the use of me pissing on it, I
can go on forever. I mean, you and me both know Fred Durst is a moron.
But do I have to say that? Do you have to write that down? Does it
matter? Tool once had the ideal, or at least the idea, that by
offering good music to our public we good grow together. Presumably
that is aiming too high."

Is that the case? If Lateralus becomes succesful, there's still hope.
Because this record is more than previous ones drenched in freedom and
expression. 
Made without links with whatever genre, without thinking about single
choice, airplay or other transitory things. Almost 79 minutes of music
in thirteen tracks. Music to goes deep, wide and far. Tool may have
played little the last two years, the men have audibly grown as
musicians. Only in the case of closer Faaip de Oiad slapstick hits; in
impressive form, it has to be said.
It is the only song on the record that was recorded almost completely
in the Loft. The rest was recorded with producer and technician David
Bottrill in the nearby Cello Studios and the Hook last november and
december, the same places AEnima was recorded, although the first
studio was still called Ocean Way back then. "We asked David to mix
the Salival live recordings. He did this at the time we were working
on new songs and learning them, so he knew what he was up too. David
is that good that he has no problem at all to record our sound."
Sometimes it seems Bottrill is the only one on one line with the band.
Even though Tool is Volcano's most important band, the cooperation is
still not hassle free. It took for example so time before Volcano
promised black on white Lateralus would we released everywhere at the
same time (and that is why the release was postponed). And when
engineer Vince de Franco comes to collect the 24 harddisks on which
Lateralus has been recorded to copy them one last time and bring them
to the safe afterwards again Tool's carefullnes shows. It is checked
very carefully if none other than the endmixes leave the building.
Later, when Danny is laying back relaxed he philosophizes about the
future: "If this record is doing well, hopefully we finally can start
thinking about a film. I know Adam would love to do that. Something
like The Wall of Live At Pompeii by Pink Floyd or The Song Remains The
Same by Led Zeppelin. Wouldn't that be great, a real Tool film that
stays on the late night showings for years?"

Posted to t.d.n: 05/07/01 03:41:06