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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: The Honolulu Advertiser

Date: November, 2001

Transcribed by
Stu (stuniversal@hotmail.com)


  page: 24
 title: Tool Hammers Its Own Niche In Rockdom
author: Derek Paiva

They don't appear on their album covers or in their videos.  
They rarely grant interviews.  They disappear within a self-
designed kaleidoscopic cocoon of spacey color, lights and film 
on the concert stage.  They rank an afternoon spent 
promoting their music on MTV's "Total Request Live"--which, 
they've never been on--just slightly behind a breakfast 
brunch in Dante's ninth circle of hell.
It's even widely believed that a sizable portion of the 7 
million record buyers who snatched up Tool's five albums 
don't even know what its members--lead singer Maynard 
James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, drummer Danny Carey 
and bassist Justin Chancellor--look like.
Still, Tool has managed to survive beyond the Dead Sea of 
grunge rock it exploded from--but, to be fair, never really 
belonged--to carve its own real, though largely anonymous, 
niche in a music industry happy to market celebrity over 
substance.  In fact, Tool may be the only band in the world 
that can claim a No. 1 album on the Billboard Album Chart--
as it did in May with 550,000 in first-week sales 
for "Lateralus"--and still be considered by its fans as fiercely 
underground.
The collection of music genres that the rock press has been 
only too willing to anoint Tool as saviors of--rock, punk, 
metal, Goth, progressive, art rock, among them--could easily 
fill several Tower Records music sections.

Take the 77-minute suite for the disenchanted that 
is "Lateralus," and its aurally demanding melange of wacked-
out sonic wanderings, lumbering instrumental breaks and 
intellectually lyrical rage, which rewards return listeners in 
ways that mildly entertaining bands like Limp Bizkit and 
Staind could only dream of.
"The Grudge" and "Schism" flow like twin episodes of the 
same psychotic Goth soap opera, with Adam Jones' snaky 
riffing taking down every overwrought solo guitar cliche ever 
written.  As with Tool's 2.4 million-selling 1996 
release "Ænima," '70's era drumming and artfully intellectual 
phrasing are reminiscent of group influences.  Yes, Pink Floyd 
and (though they'd probably never admit it) Led Zeppelin are 
all over Lateralus," particularly in the detached and dreamy 
cool of "The Patient" and "Disposition."
Still, as good as it is, "Lateralus" leaves one wishing the band 
would gather its fertile and creative lyrical smarts and move a 
bit beyond its gloriously radio unfriendly, but increasingly 
repetitive, structural modus operandi of the last decade.  
Perhaps offering up its own truly groundbreaking "Nevermind" 
or "Exile on Main Street."
In other words, a much needed tonic to music's dreary post-
millennial "Now That's What I Call Music"-littered landscape.
Oh, well, maybe next time.
Tool formed in 1990, with bassist Paul D'Amour, who 
departed in 1995) first taking its slavishly composed tugrid 
would-be-post-punk/metallic/prog rock masterworks around 
Los Angeles the following year, while working day jobs.
After releasing the seven-track EP "Opiate" to scattered 
notoriety in 1992, Tool's audience exploded with the release 
of the first full-length album "Undertow" in 1993, thanks, in 
large part, to a trippy ground-breaking stop-action animated 
video for "Sober," directed by guitarist Jones.  A former 
special effects designer on films such as "Terminator 2: 
Judgement Day" and "Jurassic Park," Jones won two MTV 
Video Awards for the "Sober" clip.  With the video in heavy 
rotation on MTV and "Sober" a mainstay of then-grunge-
dominated alternative rock radio, "Undertow" went platinum 
in August 1994.
An international touring binge that included 1993's 
Lollapalooza Tour culminated with the release of "Ænima," 
which made its debut at No. 2 on Billboard's album chart in 
1996.  Sidelined by lengthy legal battles over contractual 
negotiations with then-label Zoo Entertainment and its own 
management company, the band took more than five years 
to release 2001's "Lateralus."
The interim saw the release of a two-disc CD/DVD package of 
Tool videos, and live and unreleased tracks titled "Salival," 
and the debut CD of Kennan side project A Perfect Circle, 
whose "Mer de Noms" made its debut on Billboard's album 
chart at No. 4, eventually selling more than a million units.
Tool's third leg of touring for "Lateralus" wraps up with 
tomorrow's concert at Andrews Outdoor Theatre, following a 
Thursday show at Washington's Tacoma Dome.  The 

Saturday show--Tool's first-ever Hawai'i concert appearence--
was a near-sell-out as TGIF was going to press.
Promoter Goldenvoice said Tool would be bringing all the 
accoutrements of its Mainland touring show to Honolulu, 
including a concert-spanning Pink Floyd-ish multimedia 
program of experimental film, swirling light and colorful 
visuals designed by the band.
"(The show is" a bombardment of the senses," Chancellor 
said last month in the Miami Herald.  "The stage setup is 
very much focused on giving people a real sensory 
experience--not just with the sounds but the visuals as well.  
It kind of bleeds away from the individual people.  We're just 
there, kind of creating the background music.
"It's pretty trippy."

Posted to t.d.n: 11/09/01 16:54:01