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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: San Diego Union Tribune

Date: October, 2001

Transcribed by
John Schroeder (jschrojr@yahoo.com)


  page: 
 title: 
author: George Varga

THE TOOL MAN | Blistering band's frontman puts his mind to 
the world's problems 
The San Diego Union - Tribune; San Diego, Calif.; Oct 25, 
2001; George Varga; 


Abstract:
"They're a huge influence," [Maynard James Keenan] said of 
Crimson, whose guitarist, Robert Fripp, joined Tool on stage 
at their joint SDSU show. (Tool's Carrey had earlier drummed 
with Crimson for its closing number.)


Tool's first album, 1994's "Undertow," quietly sold a million 
copies, which was 997,000 more than its 1992 EP, "Opiate." 
The band's second album, 1996's "Aenima," sold more than 
2 million copies, thanks to such galvanizing songs as "Useful 
Idiot," "Stinkfist" and "Hooker With a Penis," a blistering and 
funny rebuttal to a trendy fan who accused Keenan and Tool 
of selling out.


5 PICS; 1. (Maynard James Keenan) 2. JUSTIN CHANCELLOR -
- BASS (NIGHT & DAY-6) 3. [Danny Carey] -- DRUMS (NIGHT 
& DAY-6) 4. [Adam Jones] -- GUITAR (NIGHT & DAY-6) 5. 
MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN -- VOCALS (NIGHT & DAY-6)


Full Text: 
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY 
Oct 25, 2001 


For information box see end of text.


Maynard James Keenan is the mystery man of rock, as 
reclusive as pop tart Britney Spears and her ubiquitous navel 
are overexposed.


As the singer, lyricist and frontman for Tool, one of the most 
intense and uncompromising bands around, he rivals Nine 
Inch Nails' Trent Reznor as a charismatically brooding 
frontman and heroic antihero. But while Reznor regularly 
consents to interviews, Keenan rarely does.


A search of the Lexis-Nexis data base, which includes more 
than 9,000 newspapers, magazines, wire services and radio 
and TV transcripts, came up with an average of just two 
Keenan interviews a year since Tool's national emergence in 
1992. Accordingly, a request to speak to the press-wary 
singer, who performs here with Tool on Halloween night at 
SDSU's Cox Arena, was swiftly turned down by the band's New 
York publicist.


So it was surprising when a scheduled interview with Tool 
drummer Danny Carey was switched, at the last moment, to 
one with Keenan.


Perhaps even more surprising, the eloquent vocalist freely 
spoke about a wide array of topics. They ranged from his 
opposition to U.S. bombing of Afghanistan and his three-year 
stint in the U.S. Army to his earliest musical influences (the 
Jackson 5, Roberta Flack, Joni Mitchell and Black Sabbath) 
and Tool's efforts to avoid becoming like a fast-food 
commodity.


Indeed, the battle to achieve individual self-expression in an 
increasingly monolithic society has been a cornerstone of 
Keenan's songs since Tool's inception. This focus makes 
Tool's fiercely independent music and themes of alienation 
and transcendence all the more relevant in this time of 
explosive global conflict.


"Absolutely," said Keenan, speaking from a recent concert 
stop in Memphis.


"The source of most of our music is from some quiet space, 
an introspective realm. We kind of get into that Zen space 
within our rehearsals. ... So in light of the (current) conflict 
that we're experiencing, the elements of communication 
definitely come into play, or the lack of communication, the 
lack of compassion, the lack of understanding, the 
fanaticism."


Keenan, 36, momentarily hesitated.


"I can't say anything right now," he said of the U.S.-led war 
against terrorism. "No matter what you say, it's construed by 
someone as an anti-American statement -- even when it's 
the same thing you've said all along (in Tool), which is: 
`Think for yourself, and question authority.'


"The more we'll talk about this, the more I'll shoot off my 
mouth and end up in (`Politically Incorrect' TV host) Bill 
Maher's shoes. Every now and then, you get people who tend 
to forget what this country is about, which is a melting pot of 
races and cultures and freedom of speech. And as soon as 
you open your mouth and speak freely, (stuff) gets thrown at 
you. ... I just don't think that murder is an option to figure 
out a way to punish the guilty."


Keenan is quick to stress that Tool is not a political band, per 
se.


But he acknowledged that his group provides an outlet for 
listeners in search of sonic and emotional release. He also 
acknowledged that some Tool fans don't share his views on 
the current world situation, or his aim of making Tool's 
concerts something far more lofty than mosh-pit frenzies.


"Our shows are `gatherings,' as we call them," Keenan 
said. "They are much more of a sacred ceremony, like 
watching a film or attending a vigil. They are about seeking 
truth. But if people need to gather together in some way that 
resembles a pep rally or a football game, I can't really judge 
it."


No regrets


An Ohio native, Keenan enlisted in the Army in 1982, in what 
he now regards as a misguided effort to underwrite becoming 
an artist on the GI Bill. He views his military service with 
mixed emotions, but has no regrets about his decision to not 
become an officer.


"I was in the Army for three years," he said. "I received an 
appointment to West Point; I'm probably the only musician in 
my peer group who can say that. So `anti-American' is not a 
label you can put on me. I received a distinguished graduate 
certificate from my basic training and advanced training. And 
if I'm `the model soldier,' then we have problems.


"You learn how to co-exist in the Army, how to survive, and 
how it's all about relationships. You walk into a situation with 
prejudices and unjustified hatred, and then, when you sit in a 
tent with someone in middle of the desert, doing training, 
you learn about each other and learn you're all in this 
together."


In 1990, Keenan co-founded the Los Angeles-based Tool, 
after playing in two earlier bands, TexAns and Children of the 
Anachronistic Dynasty.


With drummer Carey, guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Paul 
D'Amour (who was replaced in 1995 by Justin Chancellor), he 
established Tool as a welcome anomaly: a blistering, hard-
rocking band that thinks as hard as it rocks. The group 
refuses to appear in its videos, which instead feature the 
same nightmarish animation employed at Tool's concerts.


Tool's tension-and-release-filled music draws from neo-
heavy- metal thunder, alt-rock textures and Goth-like 
moodiness. It also aspirers to the polyrhythmic intricacies of 
King Crimson, the pioneering English prog-rock band that was 
Tool's special guest for part of its summer tour this year, 
which included a sold-out show at SDSU's Open Air Theatre.


"They're a huge influence," Keenan said of Crimson, whose 
guitarist, Robert Fripp, joined Tool on stage at their joint 
SDSU show. (Tool's Carey had earlier drummed with Crimson 
for its closing number.)


"The beauty of what they have to offer," Keenan 
continued, "is they've always kind of said: `We're merely a 
stepping-stone. Just take what we've done, and go to 
another level with it.'


"And, hopefully, thats what's happening with people who are 
responding to what we're doing. I hope they're hearing where 
we came from and where we may end up, but also where we 
went wrong and what we're missing, so they can push things 
farther."


Tool's first album, 1994's "Undertow," quietly sold a million 
copies, which was 997,000 more than its 1992 EP, "Opiate." 
The band's second album, 1996's "Aenima," sold more than 
2 million copies, thanks to such galvanizing songs as "Useful 
Idiot," "Stinkfist" and "Hooker With a Penis," a blistering and 
funny rebuttal to a trendy fan who accused Keenan and Tool 
of selling out.


The band's third and latest album, "Lateralus," hit No. 1 on 
the national Billboard album charts earlier this year. Its 
release was delayed by a protracted legal battle between Tool 
and its record company, and by Keenan's work with A Perfect 
Circle, the band he formed a few years ago with guitarist-
composer Billy Howerdel.


Many of Tool's songs deal with bleak subject matter. But the 
fury of its lyrics and music ultimately provide a form of 
catharsis.


"I guess that's what it's mostly about," Keenan said. "If we 
can get to some core moment, or a realization or observation 
that rings true in our (Tool's) truth, then certainly it will help 
someone else work through something, or see something 
more clearly."


And what about humor, a less overt but important Tool 
ingredient?


"I think the humor gets overlooked quite a bit," he 
said. "We're very big fans of the Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show 
and old Monty Python and Steve Martin stuff. So it's difficult 
for us to not go directly to the advanced sense of humor in 
these stark times, if nothing else for release. You have to 
laugh, or you'll cry."


DATEBOOK


Tool, with Tricky


7:30 p.m. Wednesday


Cox Arena, 5500 Canyon Crest Drive, SDSU


$35


(619) 222-TIXS


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Posted to t.d.n: 11/09/01 13:28:12