Publication: San Antonio Express-News
Date: October, 2001
page: 15H title: Tooling with success author: David Glessner When words such as "majestic," "eerie," "weighty," and "epic" are used to describe a rock band, you can bet your backward baseball cap we're not talking about meatheads such as Limp Bizkit and Slipknot. More Pink Floyd than Papa Roach and more disturbing than Disturbed, Tool would rather take you to the dark side of the moon than meet you in Linkin Park. While the music industry and mainstream media market celebrity over substance, Tool prefers endorsements from obscure musical icons such as Robert Fripp and Brian Eno instead of Carson Daly and Pamela Anderson. Such insistence on integrity would land most bands back at their day jobs, but in the case of Tool, it has elevated the shadowy group to the top of the charts and into the coveted position of dismissing compromise. "It's totally rewarding," said bassist Justin Chancellor following sound check in Fort Lauderdale, Fla last week. "It's lovely. It's a beautiful thing. It's pretty wild to still be sort of an underground band but still have large recognition." Not that Tool is overwrought or pretentious. Before arriving for a much-anticipated concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Thursday, Chancellor wants to make something perfectly clear. "I would just like to say that I promise I won't (urinate) on the Alamo," he said with a British accent that distinguishes him from American band mates Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Adam Jones (guitar), and Danny Carey. With potty etiquette that shames Ozzy Osbourne, Tool brings its sophisticated, multimedia math-rock extravaganza to town in support of "Lateralus," an out-of-the-box best seller that took five years in the making. For a band shrouded in faceless mystique, Tool pulls out all the stops to make an impression onstage. "Twilight Zone"- style video footage, creepy lighting effects and the chameleonlike Keenan provide a surreal assault on the senses. "Lateralus" follows the multiplatinum success of "Ænima," "Undertow," and "Opiate." Since the massive success of 1996's Grammy-winning "Ænima," Tool fans have had to make do with the multimedia release "Salival" and Keenan's acclaimed side band, A Perfect Circle, whose 2000 debut album, "Mer de Noms," produced the rock-radio hit "Judith." Still, Tool's loyal fans swarmed to record stores when "Lateralus" finally hit the shelves earlier this year and made it an immediate blockbuster. "We were really surprised, because it had taken quite awhile to do it," Chancellor said. "It's really reassuring that the people that are into it are in for the long ride and have the patience to let us do our own thing. It's nice to know that you can keep your focus and not have people wander off and get distracted." As always, the sprawling, 77-minute "Lateralus" is painstakingly packaged in eye-popping artwork that far surpasses more conventional releases aimed at bite-sized attention spans. "We were all really into Pink Floyd and stuff, and they would always really give you an extra package when you bought the album," Chancellor said. "You could stare at the record sleeve for hours. It's just like attacking the other senses instead of just the hearing." Given Tool's success with radio-unfriendly songs that can stretch beyond seven minutes and MTV vidoeos that never show band members mugging for the camera, Chancellor agrees that the music industry underestimates the public's willingness to absorb a band more concerned with art than airplay. "I do think they underestimate people and they're going to do things however it works easiest for them," he said. "You get what you get and there's not a lot of choice, because they pick the stuff that works best for them. If you've got something good going, you need to keep focused on that and just sort of ignore what everyone else is doing." Before Tool began building a national audience in the early '90s, the band struggled to make a name for itself in the "great big festering, neon distraction" Keenan calls Los Angeles. He and Carey had previously served as sidemen in the GWAR-inspired joke band Green Jello. Jones, on the other hand, was working in the film industry doing special effects for "Jurassic Park" and "Terminator 2." Jones' experience later would be the creative force behind Tool's nightmarish Claymation videos. Chancellor ultimately joined as the replacement for Paul D'Amour. "I was lucky enough that my brother was running his own record label in London and he had met the guy who actually signed Tool several years before," Chancellor recalled. "When their first demo tape was done, we were probably the first people in England to get it. We were completely blown away by it." "After a year or so, me and my brother decided to go to New York to check them out. They were playing at CBGB's. We saw them two nights there and met them all, and just sort of started a friendship, which ended up with them giving me a call three or four years later." As for Keenan's commitment to the platinum-selling "A Perfect Circle," Chancellor remains confident that the two bands can coexist without the singer's creative energy being diverted away from Tool. "He's done a really good job of making it perfectly clear that they're two completely separate things," Chancellor said. "There were obviously parts of him that he wanted to express in a different kind of arena. "It's kind of a healthy thing. You can't hold someone down or it's going to be for the worst, I think. We're all excited to do other things outside of Tool, but when we designate the time for Tool, everyone is expected to fully concentrate on that."
Posted to t.d.n: 10/20/01 21:18:40