Publication: RIP Magazine
Date: November 1995
Transcribed by Erik K. (Mudfly) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
title: Instruments of Inspiration author: Katherine Turman Things you might not now about Tool: The band enjoys watching Caddyshack on the road. Drummer Danny Carey is 6'-5" and played with Carole King and Pigmy Love Circus. The first concert that singer Maynard James Keenan attended was Rick Springfield. Bassist Paul D'Amour plays guitar in Kings of Oblivion [this as we now know is Replicants], a cover band that included members of Failure- they do songs by everyone from Missing Persons to T-Rex, and have a disc out on Zoo. Illinois-bred guitarist Adam Jones has allegedly read the book A Joyful Guide to Lachrymology more than once. Other things you might actually want to know about Tool: Tool have a sense of humor- and are working on a new record slated for a march '96 release on Zoo. In the meantime, to satiate your Tool thirst, listen to Opiate and Undertow, and read the following words of wit and wisdom. RIP: People seem to have a misguided impression about Tool and how serious you are. Danny Carey: I think people always thought we were a lot more serious than we really are, but still, we're just guys playing music and we have a good time, and that's what it comes down to. And that's why the band's lasted so long; everyone has a good sense of humor, and we spend all our time on the road watching comedians and horrible movies that we find funny. It's not like it's a constant debate about philosophy or metaphysics. RIP: I know you [Maynard and Paul] aren't too fond of doing interviews, but do you ever learn anything from them? Maynard James Keenan: It's a prying thing, and I think for the most part we're kind of private people and that's why things come off like they do when we do the art that we do- we're private, individual people. Also, I think the interviewers end up asking similar questions and they end up getting into a rut with really defining where we're coming from, and I really don't want to define where we're coming from. I'd rather keep it different so that we have the freedom to move about within our artistic forum. Paul D'Amour: Yeah. And you really feel like you're truly explaining yourself to the fullest extent. And now we have to deal with how you're going to interpret what we're saying. And you're going to write it... But other than that, we love... MJK: That's why we don't like it, because it ends up restricting rather than nurturing. RIP: Your lyrics aren't printed on the records, and sometimes they seem rather obtuse... MJK: Here's an example. I got this questionnaire once, one of those ones from "strongly disagree" all the way to "strongly agree". This was the question: "When you get married, are you going to do it in a Catholic church or a Christian church?" How do I answer that? Already there's a point of departure that has nothing to do with where I'm coming from. If the lyrics already have a point of departure that's unfamiliar to a person in the Midwest or South Central [Los Angeles], that's going to cause them to go, "Wait a minute, where's this guy coming from? I never thought like that." DC: All the lyrics are meant to be for each individual to interpret; that's the reason we leave a lot of the subject matter wide open. That's one of the whole points to the band; that way, people can be drawn into it and get something out of it, let their own mind work a little bit. Lyrics were always a secondary thing for me too- like most of my records I listen to, I didn't know what half the people are saying. I'm listening to their phrasing and the way they sing it and the emotions more, so I always looked at the voice more like an instrument, I guess. RIP: Tool has enjoyed some success, especially with "Sober"- is there a chance you could lose your edge, become complacent? MJK: People say, "How can you stay so angry?" Go down and try to get through the intersection at Santa Monica and Western without having to wait a half hour. Try to talk to anybody in this town about anything that has to do with anything and see what kind of opposition you get with your friendly nature. Try to sit down with somebody who has been repressed all their lives, who has had to deal with racial prejudices and has had so many hurdles placed in front of them all [their] lives... it's enough to drive you nuts. There's plenty of inspiration. There's plenty of fuel. PD: We still have to go to the bank and the DMV and stand in line like everybody else. Life sucks. It's enough to write an album right there. RIP: Growing up, at what point did you know what you wanted to do with your life? DC: The first concert I saw was Lynyrd Skynyrd, it was the Gimme Back My Bullets Tour, I think. I was a little kid, but I remember it vividly. I remember being so blown away to finally go to a rock concert. It was like, "Wow. That's what I want to do," after I saw that. I mean, I kind of had it in my head. I mean, I was playing the drums already at that point. But yeah, just to see it in it's grandeur like that... it blew my mind. MJK: Remember in elementary school, at the end of the year you have that thing- who your best friend was, and what you did, and what you learned, and what you wanted to be when you grow up? I always had the "Artist" box checked. And I wasn't really sure what that meant. I have a beautiful photo of me on my living room rug, and I have this big plastic rifle and I'm aiming it at my little sister's little stuffed rabbit on the ground, I've got the classic velour shirt on. To the left of me, on the ground, is Ted Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever. RIP: But you were also in the Army, right? Isn't that in opposition to your artistic tendencies? MJK: I've always been one of those people who likes the balance, so it seems like if you're going to sit down with your family and say, "Look, I'm going to put on a tie-dye shirt to pursue an artistic career," and they say,"But..." I can say, "Hey, I was in the army and I didn't like it." I've seen that point of view, and although I can relate to it, it's not what I want to do. I didn't necessarily fit in, as in blend in. It's definitely a chauvinistic situation. No matter how you look at it, in the military there are two orientations; you're a dyke or a whore. There's no escaping it. You're pegged so hard. Ninety percent of my friends in the military were either gays or lesbians. Most of them kept getting called in and interrogated. I actually had a contract marriage with a lesbian so she could maintain her status. RIP: Tool has had a lot of speculation surrounding it- about everything from Scientology to necrophilia... MJK: The attention is really ugly; the recognition [for music] is something I'd rather have. The only consolation I have in mind for the future is if we can just ride the wave that we're riding, I think people's attention spans are not real long. Like David Bowie, I'm sure there was a time when he was overwhelmed by all that shit, but he just kinda got out of the scene. Did some acting, painted some pictures, reentered. I'm sure less people we're trying to kill themselves [over him] at that point. It was more like, "I really dig what you do," rather than, "I almost killed myself over..." Now he's moving about freely for the most part. RIP: What happens when you believe your own hype? MJK: There's so much cloud. Ninety percent of the articles tell us how awesome we are. And 100 percent of the letters. And after a while a person starts believing that bullshit. You believe you can do no wrong, then you start putting out little side projects of your acoustic set. Yeah, I can babble to a drum machine and somebody's going to think I'm a genius. You lose touch with being a creative listener, and you start being more of an obnoxious babbler. RIP: What was the worst review you've ever gotten? DC: I remember one time someone called us " Black Sabbath wanna-be white-trash motherfukers" or something like that. I thought that was a good one. I think you need to put that one on a T-shirt. But, I mean, it's kind of a compliment at the same time, so the worst ones are usually the better ones. RIP: What effect have drugs had on Tool's sound? DC: Psychedelic drugs definitely opened a lot of doors. A lot of people shouldn't take drugs, but I'm glad I did. I know I wouldn't have thought of a lot of things if I hadn't taken drugs. It makes you see things in a different perspective than you could possibly see. RIP: Have you had any moments of clarity on drugs? MJK: Oh, certainly. One of the songs on Opiate was written when my friend and I sat up all night listening to our entire Joni Mitchell catalog on acid. When we started listening, we were facing the inside wall. When we looked outside, it had snowed a full seven or eight inches. RIP: How do you define success? DC: Being able to play and not have to give 40 hours a week to somebody else. Freedom. Nothing's changed in my life since I got to quit my day job. MJK: I think success is pretty relative to whatever it is you want, I suppose. A lot of people are dumb enough to pursue happiness- happiness as a goal. It's pretty stupid. It's just kind of a state of mind that you kinda- that you have now and then, and if you're just a generally happy person, you're gonna have bad days, and that doesn't make you a failure. But I think that a lot of people think that they failed if they're not happy all the time. I think a lot of people pretty much put their emphasis on success in terms of monetary achievement... RIP: Do you feel satisfied at this point? MJK: Definitely. I mean, not to an end-all, you know what I mean? To be satisfied, we would end up quitting tomorrow. There's still things we want to take care of, but we've been successful in that we have a certain approach that we have in our minds about what we think our life is about and what we want to do with it. And we didn't want to have to follow this path over here that had to do with wearing a suit and tie and going to work 9 to 5 and dealing with that kind of a thing. So in that respect, we've held true to our natures, and we're successful with having listened to our hearts and souls and decided this is what we want to do. And I have faith that it's going to work out, and it has.