Publication: Scene Magazine
Date: November 14-20th, 1996
Transcribed by email@example.com
Scene magazine is a free weekly entertainment (mostly music) newspaper in Cleveland OH. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Since emerging on the alt-rock scene in late 1991, Tool has earned a reputation for doing things their own way, at their own pace. bands unique creative genius has taken it to the forefront of the heavy alternative scene on the strength of the epic full-length debut, 1993's Undertow, which spawned hit singles and award-winning videos in the form of "Sober" and "Prison Sex," and gave Tool dedication towards following thei creative muse, wherever it may lead them. With Aenima, the follow up to the platinum smash Undertow, the L.A. quartet has shot straight back to the top of the charts, good for a number two debut on the Billboard Top 200. With their latest video, for the new "Stinkfist," alreeady causing a stir with the newly conservvative MTV, Tool bandmates Maynard James Keenen (vocals), Adam Jones (guitar), Danny Carey (drums) and newcomer Justin Chancellor (bass) have embarked on a sold-out U.S. tour, which brings them to the Agora TTheatre Monday, November 18th, with special guests Psychotica. The show is, of course, sold out, but Jones phoned from soundcheck in Houston with an inside look into the wide world of Tool. [BSCENE: What do you make of the album taking off so strong out of the gate? Adam Jones: We haven't been around for a while, and we've had lots of proble an[Bd setbacks and time off, all that bullshit, so people were just waiting and waiting and waiting. So there was this big load up of energy, and when it finally came out, everybody just went out and boought it. We were like numb[Ber two on the charts, which was really goocrazy. I knew it would just drop instantly. (He exaggerates; in it's fourth week o the charts, the album currently sits at number 26). [B SCENE: The shows are sellling out a a pretty good clip, too. AJ: It's blowing our minds. We just did this little tour as a kind of warm-u and we kB[ new the video wouldn't be out until we were in mid-tour, so we didn' really book big places. We'll do an "official" tour next year. But yeah, it' been like [Bthat all over. Our minds are blown, you know. SCENE: What's been the reaction to the new material live? AJ: It's good, its good. When we play old stuff, people yell for the new stuff, and when we play new stuff, they yell for the old stuff. So that's cool. SCENE: You've got a pretty strong presence on the Web as well. That's got to have an effect. AJ: We opened up our own official Web site. There's two to four Tool Web sites. It really gets people to know you a lot better than just advertising and getting your album out there. It's great. SCENE: How did Justin [formerly with the U.K. band Peach] come to replace your former bassist, Paul D'Amour? AJ:Paul kind of wanted to do his own thing. So he started a band called Lusk and they just recorded an album on Zoo. That'll be coming out. People go, "Why did Paul leave?" and I go , "As soon as you hear Lusk, you'll know eexactly why Paul left. He's doing his own thing and he's happy and we're happy, and I'm glad he was actually unhappy, because we got Justin and Justi just completely couldn't fit our band any better. It was such a good move. SCENE:You guys are such a tighlt woven unit, it makes sense that if one piec wasn't fitting... AJ: It was a flat tire kind of thing. THere definitely needed to be four tir SCENE: Five years, three albums, endless touring-- how has your songwriting process progressed over time? AJ: It' sjust on a very experimentlal basis. It's just evolving, you know, s keeps changing and changing--we don't follow formulas. There are a lot of people that like our first album that don't like our other albums. There's people that only like the new album that don't like the album before. So, I don't know. To me its just our own expression, and we're not following any formulas. We're just doing it for ourselves, so it's going to keep changing. SCENE: Tool have virtually complete creative control-- that's pretty much unheard of. Band's just don't get that opportunity to develop these days. AJ: This is the whole point of our band: We're not rock stars. When we got the offer to get signed, we were like, "What? Get the fuck out of here." We were just doing it for fun. We started taking it more seriously when more people started coming after us with contracts. Working in Hollywood for as long as Maynard and I did, we kind of got to know the business. We knew a lot of corporations will, if you go, "Hey, if you give me this, you can keep some of that money you're offering me," they'll take that. So we went, "You keep your money, and give us 100 percent control." They went, "OK." Just, without a doubt, thinking...I don't know what they were thinking. But it was kind of that mentality, that they can save their corporation a lot of money. But it's really helped us in the long run. Our record label's really cool. They just bought themselves out from BMG. The president of the record label's just an amazing guy. I don't kno about the investors. They want results right away. That's not what we're about at all. But like you said, we've got a sweet deal. It keeps us right where we want to be. SCENE: Whereas with most bands, if they score a platinum album, the label pushes them to get more product out in a hurry. You guys take your time and work at your own pace, and it shows in the final product. AJ: Exactly. I don't ever look back on Tool and go, "Ughh." I look back on everything with us and go, "God, I'm really fucking proud of that." That's the point. Im making myself happy. SCENE: You directed the new Tool video, which I just caiught on "120 Minute the other night. What was your vision with this one? AJ: I've been doing make-up effects for seven years. I;ve worked on a lot of stupid movies, and a lot of good movies. I've really gotten to know the business. I've always dreamed about what I wanted to do. I've always wanted to do stop-motion this time, but we didn;t have enough time, so we weren't going to do a video. At the last minute, me and my partner Kevin [Willis] who's basically my partner in everything I do and also helped with a lot of the album artwor we said, "Let's go for a live action thing, and animate it." I was like, "Ye yeah. Totally." SCENE: Did that prove easier to do, or harder? AJ: We thought it'd be a lot easier. It just turned out to be a bigger nightmare. When you're doing animation, it's like, four people. You set the camera up, and these guys would go do bongs and come back. You're over there playing video games and you're like, "OK, we're going to shoot." Then you talk about ideas and just sort of flow. This is like, camera rentals, lights insurance, stage, catering...the price just goes up and up. And just because you're Tool, you know, we walk in and they go, "A million dolalrs." So it's kind of a nightmare. As far as the concept of the video, it's a surrealist treatment of my own personal interpretation of the song. SCENE:What's the deal with MTV editing the song title? AJ: They think people are going to be offended that it's called "Stinkfist." That really kind of upset us because the songs a metaphor of that kind of thing -- it's not about that. What upset us was, it's kind of contradicting because "Beavis" and "Butt-head" talk about, you know, "ooh, fist up your butt." and "Stick it up your butt." And then there's the Butthole Surfers, which they say with no problem. So they had this problem with this and they said, "OK, we'll put 'Stinkfist,' but you've got to change the lyrics." And we're saying, "We're not changing *anything*." If you play it, it's fine. So they called it "Trac One" or something. A lot of things -- Primus wasn't allowed in one of their videos to show somebody tied up, but Madonna was. I don't understand it. I guess it comes down to money. I guesss someday if we have more pull, we'll show people getting fucked and tied up. (laughs) SCENE: You mentioned a full-sized tour in the new year. What's the game plan at this point? AJ: I guess after Christmas we're going to go to Austalia, Japan, New Zealan Southeast Asia and India. I think. And then we're going to come back for an American tour-- like, a big one. Not maybe bigger venues, but just a lot mor areas. SCENE: That'll give the Stateside audiences a bit of a break before you hit them the second time around. AJ:We don't want to sock it down peoples faces. People from the label are already asking me about the next video--they want to get it out right away a Christmas. We're in the limelight and they want to stay in the limelight. To us, it's just like, "No, man." Let's do it right, let's not be down peopl throats. Let's make some quality stuff and just keep the ball moving, but not so fast. SCENE: The record maintains its energy -- it's not going to burn out overnight. AJ: It's nice and complex. I think the way we did it-- I'm really sick of hearing bands going, "We recorded our album in two days. Mixed it in two days." And it's like, "What, you take pride in that? " We took a long time, and what you're talking about, that's why. Listen to our album, and you can pull something different out of it. You can listen to the bass, you can listen to the drum by itself. You can listen to the guitar by itself. You can listen to Maynards vocal by itself. You can listen to all the stuff in between. It will lastt, and it's our favorite music. We make what we like, an we like what we make. We've never tried to get in the spotlight or do anything popular. Copyright 1996, Scene Magazine.