Publication: Miami Herald
Date: October, 2001
Kyle Wall (email@example.com)
Kyle Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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