Publication: M.E.A.T. Magazine:
Canada's #1 Hard Music Magazine
Date: September 1993
Transcribed by Shane M Brouse (email@example.com)
page : 24 title: "Metal on the Rise: TOOL" author: Stuart Green Much has been made of Los Angeles-based gut rockers Tool and their penchant for horrific images. From the shots of a fat woman almost absorbing a skinny man, body piercing and acupuncture, and a rather uncomfortable looking face clamp which adorn the liner notes of the band's debut album, Undertow, to the shuddering animated man whose head melts in the brilliant video for "Sober", Tool is anything but pretty. "We wanted to make (the album art) one of those things where at first you're horrified, but you won't look away because you're fascinated," bassist Paul D'Amour says on the line from Los Angeles. "It's the beauty of horror. I think our songs are fairly visual that way as well. "Music is a very cathartic experience all around for us; pushing out some of those feelings and ideas we have. That's definitely how we're trying to express ourselves." Part of what makes Tool want to express itself in that way comes from the study of a little-practiced philosophical teaching known as Lachrymology. The teaching, which has become a religion to some, was founded in the late 1940's by Ronald P. Vincent, who suggested that people can only advance themselves by exploring and understanding their physical and emotional pain. "I think it's definitely a part of what we all think and believe about how we're expressing ourselves, and what the music does for us," D'Amour says. "It's something that you have to explore on your own, though. Nobody can really talk about it because it's a self expression type thing. "It's a personal religion, but not in the sense where people gather together and worship some certain object or ideal. Whatever your ideal is you can take it and put it into that." Although the band uses a lot of graphic visual images to get its message across, the music plays a big part in things too. The bowel shattering rumble that figures prominently on both this album, and last year's Opiate EP, simply serves to accentuate the gutteral yet strangely melodic vocal style of Maynard James Keenan. It also made the band one of the few pleasant surprises on this year's installment of the Lollapalooza tour. D'Amour says the sound has a lot to do with the different tunings he and guitarist Adam Jones use, as well as drummer Danny Carey's monster bass drum sound. "People are playing a little more in (the key of) 'D' these days--and they're getting a vibe on that heavier tuning," he offers. "You can get more interesting tones from it. I usually move my strings around to try and get bizarre chords. Black Sabbath did a lot of that stuff." In addition to the use of long time Bad Brains producer Ron St. Germain to mix the record, Undertow's most notable outside contribution comes in the form of a guest rant from Mr. Intensity, Henry Rollins on the track "Bottom". "We toured with the Rollins Band last summer for a couple of months and we really got along. So when we went into the studio we asked Henry if he wanted to do a little bit," D'Amour recalls. "Maynard has this spoken word thing that goes in there, and Henry tried to do that--it sounded alright, but he wrote his own thing that is more expressive of what he's about. It's like heavy metal poetry." Tool's sound is something of an anomaly in that most of the hard rock bands to come out of L.A. in the last couple of years either look or sound like Guns N' Roses or Motley Crue, or a combination of both. Apart from Tool, Rage Against The Machine and Wool are probably the only exceptions. "There was never any intention to fit in," says D'Amour of the mainstream L.A. scene. "I don't think anybody had any plans to spend any time playing in a band there. We didn't play that many shows there before we were on tour. We basically hit the road right away." Although his band's music is far from what would be considered commercially viable, the band seems to be generating one of those record industry buzzes that often means the kiss of death to new bands. "What can you do?" D'Amour asks. "It's just morons who don't know anything about music talking about it. They're buzzing about how much money they think they can make off some band." He notes, however, that while the business side of things is something the band finds repulsive, they can't ignore it either. "I think if you do you're foolish because you'll get taken advantage of," he says. "We learned as we went along the ups and downs of the music business."