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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Miami Herald

Date: October, 2001

Transcribed by
Kyle Wall (shaggy5225@hotmail.com)


  page: 
 title: Egos play second fiddle to Tool's music
author: Alan K. Stout- Knight Ridder News Service

Tool is hard rock's true enigma.


The group is wildly popular and getting tons of airplay on modern-rock
radio, and its latest album, Lateralus, hit No. 1 on the Billboard
album chart. Yet, you and many others may know nothing about Tool.


The band, which is coming to Sunrise Tuesday, has no clear image, uses
no gimmicks and chooses to keep a low profile. It doesn't even appear
in its own music videos, and there is no photo of the band on its new
album. When it graced the cover of Spin magazine earlier this year,
the group's faces could not be seen. And when Tool bassist Justin
Chancellor is asked if -- given America's highly fragmented radio
formats -- it is now possible for even a multiplatinum act to remain
relatively unknown, he answers in the affirmative.


``I definitely feel like we're still underground,'' says Chancellor,
English accent intact. ``I meet a lot of people in America that
haven't heard of us. In America, there's enough stations where people
can have their own tastes and actually listen to what they want to
listen to, compared to some other places, where it's really hard to
hear your favorite stuff on the radio.''


Tool is on the radio.


All the time.


Schism, the hot new single from Lateralus, hit No. 2 on the
modern-rock chart, and its repetitive chorus of ``I know the pieces
fit'' seems to be a perfect synopsis of the band itself. Tool, says
Chancellor, is a cohesive musical unit.


``The whole agenda is to be true to our own creative thoughts and to
get to do exactly what we want to do,'' he says. ``Perhaps in some
other bands, there's one controlling part of it, but with this band,
it's tightly democratic. Everyone has to `come to be' in it, and it
allows the music to go where it wants to go.''


Tool was formed in Los Angeles in 1990 and consists of Adam Jones on
guitar, Maynard James Keenan on vocals, Danny Carey on drums and
Chancellor, who joined in 1995, on bass. Aenima, from 1996, sold more
than 2 million units, and Lateralus should easily surpass that. The
band's music has been described in several ways: hard rock, prog-metal
and even alternative.


Chancellor, like most musicians, tries to avoid any such labels.


``Tool,'' he says with a laugh, when asked to describe the band's
music. ``To me, it always feels like a living organism. Even from
album to album, it's changed, so it's even harder to label it. It's
really something that keeps evolving and turning corners.''


It is, however, Chancellor admits, often highly aggressive.


``The most aggressive stuff was in the beginning,'' he says.


``Everyone was in L.A., just kind of getting frustrated. The scene at
the time was pretty lame, with lots of big hair and the rest of it. I
remember hearing Opiate (the band's 1992 debut) in England, and it
totally appealed to me. There was kind of a cathartic aspect . . .
getting those frustrations out in a positive way.''


Tool's frustration should be subsiding. Its own music has now been
heard by millions, and it has a No. 1 album under its belt.


``We were actually in Amsterdam when we heard,'' says Chancellor, when
asked about topping the charts. ``It was kind of a shock and really
unexpected. I guess we'd been so concentrated on getting it done . . .
we hadn't really given too much thought to what it was going to do. We
had hopes everyone would be into it -- as we were -- so when it came
out and it was No. 1, it was just like a bonus.''


Perhaps a five-year space between albums also contributed to the high
chart debut, as Tool fans were clearly hungry for new music. Industry
legal battles contributed to the delay and, in the downtime, Keenan
helped form A Perfect Circle, a new side project that also wound up
becoming a platinum act.


Chancellor says Tool, through it all, never stopped working on new
music. He says he, Jones and Carey were in the studio every day,
experimenting with new sounds and musical ideas. Keenan's lyrics and
vocals later completed the project, and Lateralus was born.


``By the time he came back,'' says Chancellor, ``we had some pretty
cool stuff going on, and then we started working his melodies and
vocals into the music and changing things even more. It was a long
time, but we were working on it the whole time.''


And what about that non-image? Why is Tool -- a huge rock band --
still somewhat shrouded in mystery?


``The idea is to kind of avoid concentrating on individual egos with
an aim of keeping the focus completely on the music,'' says Chancellor.


``We wanted to avoid people getting distracted by whatever haircut
we've got or any of that. A lot of bands go that way, and you almost
forget about the music.''


Tool is on tour and promises fans a big show. The way Chancellor
describes it, it almost sounds like a Pink Floyd-like spectacle. He
admits he's a big fan of the English icons and says such comparisons
are fine.


``It's a bombardment of the senses,'' he says. ``We obviously play our
music, but we use a lot of visual stuff as well. 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: 10/07/01 10:17:40