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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Axcess

Date: Sometime, 1994

Transcribed by
Joe Garcia (

  page: 52
 title: TOOL on Videos, Censorship, Art, And Why You Should Never Let A G
author: By J.R. Griffin

TOOL on Videos, Censorship, Art, And Why You Should Never 
Let A Guy Named Maynard Put You In A Cage.

By J.R. Griffin

Tool guitarist and animation video guru Adam Jones must 
brave more than Southern California traffic on his way to work 
everyday- he has Bum Dung to watch out for.
He points as we cruise down a seedier part of Hollywood 
Boulevard. Our destination: Sizzler, the McDonald's of steak 
houses. "You see that liquor store there? It sells gallon 
bottles of wine for $2, so all the local bums go there, get 
booze and hang out on the street. And when they have to go, 
they go anywhere, usually in the alley behind The Loft where 
we park our cars. So you have to watch out for the Bum 
Dung." Although they took part in this year's Lollapalooza 
Festival, and their full-length debut Undertow recently went 
gold, the guys in Tool- Jones, vocalist Maynard James 
Keenan, bassist Paul D'Amour and drummer Danny Carey- 
are by no means going soft. Jones and a small group of 
dedicated workers are finishing up the video for "Prison Sex," 
the follow-up to their breakthrough stop-motion animation 
video "Sober." Their workspace, The Loft, is in a rather shady 
part of town, a few doors down from the liquor store Jones 
pointed out earlier. It can be found only by a handwritten 
address tied to a gate- and a skull and crossbones painted 
on the doors to ward off any unwanted lookie-loos.
When I arrived at the studio, I was greeted by various 
production members who explained exactly what they were 
doing, whether it was adjusting lights

or laying molds for some of the video's animated characters- 
a one-eyed dog named Gerdie and a rather disheveled 
Adam. Earlier in the day, the band stood ankle-deep in ashes 
for a photo shoot; other than a few interviews about the 
production of the video, that was Adam's only "break" all day. 
Still stained from the soot, he suggested Sizzler for a late 
night meal.
Munching on cheese bread and Malibu Chicken, Jones 
recuperates and comments on what "Prison Sex" is all about.
"A lot of time when a child is sexually abused they put it out 
of their mind," he begins. 'Then they grow up and they don't 
understand this unrest that they have in them. They turn to 
different ways to try to channel it. They become alcoholics or 
become codependent or whatever. So what our video deals 
with is someone who has that happen to them. To channel it, 
they sexually molest another child." "That whole thing's a 
cycle. It's what stays in your head and is what you can 
eventually become. In the song it talks about 'I become full 
circle.' And that's what that means. This happened, I grew up 
and now I'm doing it to someone else. That's why it's written 
from The Antagonist's point of view is like, "This is what happened to me.'" Back at The Loft, the work 
areas are cluttered with rough sketches and molds of The 
Antagonist- a thin futuristic being, slick, dark and unfeeling- 
and other creatures and set fixtures: lighting that will appear 
to slowly spin around and a young child figure that is only a 
head, arms and a torso. Separate parts of some characters 
are duplicated to shoot different scenes 
simultaneously. "Sober" was shot on a relaxed schedule; the 
band now works under the pressure of a deadline. Shooting 
24 frames for every second of footage can seem like an 
eternity. Click. Move. Click.
Move. Click. Move...
Jones contemplates putting a disclaimer at the beginning of 
the video. "People are really turned off by the name of the 
song," he says.
"Instantly they think of San Quentin.. . being buggered by 
your cell mate. It's not about that at all...
and it's not saying that sodomy or sexual abuse is in anyway 
okay. It's not. It's just a story of someone who is having it 
happen to them now because they're fucked up, because 
they don't know how to deal with past abuse." With lyrics that 
hit some too close to home and a growing audience that may 
not bother to look past the surface of any given Tool song, 
the guys in Tool have already prepared themselves for any 
misconceptions about the music- especially with a song 
called "Prison Sex" on their hands. It looks like having a 
monster hit like "Sober" can teach one a thing or two.
"Like 'Sober,' so many people were, 'Dude, I related 
to 'Sober' so much. I've been sober seven years and I'm a 
liar. That's me, dude, I'm a liar.' You know, that line in the 
song, 'I'm a liar'? And that little guy brings that box. But 
that's not what the song's about.
The song is actually about doing drugs- just leave me


the fuck alone and let me do my drugs. But hey, if 
isomeone got something really cool out of it and it's helping 
them in that way, cool." Undertow, an album chock full of the 
heavy and idisturbing imagery from inside Maynard's head, is 
ihard not to relate to on one level or another. The album is 
so multidimensional that the creations of I;Tool- their artwork 
and videos-- are bound to touch those in their path. Dark 
humor peppers the intensity with hidden jokes, like a secret 
depiction of a cow licking its ass under the black plastic CD 
holder in the CD case, and a hidden track, number 69 to be 
exact, which has a preacher-like Maynard speaking out 
against the genocide of carrots-- "Let the rabbits 
wear ;glasses!" However closely Tool hits the heart of 
darkness, they aren't willing to take on the role of crusaders 
out to save the world's mental health.
Citing Ronald P. Vincent's philosophy of iLachrymology (which 
literally means "the study of crying") as a cornerstone of the 
band's outlook on life, they prefer to see people doing it for 
"Lachrymology is like a life philosophy of dealing with 
yourself and dealing with the pain or whatever bullshit you 
got inside you," says D'Amour on another afternoon. I've 
dropped in on him at a small house behind The Loft that 
doubles as the band's rehearsal studio and drummer Carey's 
house. "But you have to do it on your own. That's our 
philosophy. All these 12step programs and churches and 
religions, Scientology, whatever, are not the way to deal with 
it. You have to go back within yourself and do it 
yourself." 'The music is first and foremost for us. So 
everything you hear in the music is about us or people we 
know. And hopefully people are relating to it because of what 
we're saying and not just because it's heavy metal." "When 
we came out with Opiate, we put our heaviest songs on it," 
comments Jones. "So the critics said, 'Oh, you're heavy 
metal' and only looked at that.

They should look more at the artistic side." With all the band 
members chasing artistic endeavors beyond their music, 
there are more sides to Tool than may first meet the eye. 
Jones started to experiment with make-up at a young age- 
scaring his mom in the process-- and developed his special 
effects talents by working on independent films in San 
Francisco. He's not alone when it comes to this creative 
"It's a passion," he says. "We've all been into film and then 
we started the band. But we still wanted to keep it another 
branch to go to... we want to continue to express ourselves 
with more than just music." Sick of the cookie-cutter videos 
that clog most of

MTV's programming, Tool set out to do it their way. It took a 
little convincing of their label Zoo Entertainment, but they 
were soon behind the idea of stop motion animation "films" 
to fill in as Tool videos- hence the birth of "Sober." "We just 
kind of went into it with the attitude of 'Who wants to see 
another fucking video by a bunch of guys in a warehouse 
playing guitars with graffiti on the walls?'" says D'Amour. "It's 
a bunch of crap with just some wild editing. We said, 'Let's 
make a film with a great soundtrack.' If you want to see the 
band perform, go to the fucking show." Tool's artistic 
expression is so wild, the album itself was at risk of being 
censored because of the disturbing cover art. I express my 
surprise that the video for "Sober" made it on MTV. "Me too," 
responds Jones. It came as no surprise when Wal-Mart and 
KMart refused to carry the album.
Rather than miss out on a large audience, Tool decided to 
censor itself and released a plain white album cover that 
contained nothing more than a giant bar code, the band's 
name, and the album tracks.
Buyers can get a free copy of the original artwork by sending 
away a form that comes with the album.
"It's a pretty big market that might not get a chance to hear 
our music, Middle America basically," says D'Amour. "We 
made the censored cover for those kids who don't have skate 
shops or cool record stores in their town and all they have is 
the lame mall record store or Wal-Mart that doesn't always 
carry everything." .
He pauses and smiles. "Besides, we'll miss out on all that 
money." With Undertow chugging along and another single 
and video ready to shift sales into high gear, the band is 
already planning the next leg of their seemingly never-
ending tour. Tool will headline an international tour with their 
friends Failure opening for them on some dates. But if the 
past is any hint of the future, this tour will be as odd as any 
before it. To make the Tool Experience a memorable one, 
the guys pick the oddest places and stage antics to bum their 
memory in the audiences' minds-like playing the Church of 
Scientology, and bringing the fat woman from 

'I Ii :II'

Undertow's inner sleeve out on stage. "We just wanted to 
play somewhere different," saysjones. "To this day, people 
still think we're Scientologists." (They're not.) Tool doesn't 
want to be forgotten. Most recently: The Cage.
"We recently did this small four-date tour and we had this 
cage on stage," says jones with a smirk. "And we'd ask for a 
volunteer from the audience to go into the cage. Usually, 
Maynard would pick a girl and we'd just leave them there 
during the whole show. But the best was in San FranciscO--:- 
we got a guy to come up on stage. The whole idea was to put 
this guy in front of my amp-- a 100 watt amp-and just 
pummel him. We just wanted to see him crawl out and 
say, 'I've had enough' and leave.
"So Maynard said, 'I'm going to get this guy to leave tonight, 
no matter what I have to do.' So we put the cage behind 
Maynard this time, right in the center of the stage... 
Sometimes when he sings 'Prison Sex' he sticks his dick 
between his legs so it looks like he just has a vagina. 
So 'Prison Sex' came around and he did this standing over 
the cage and the guy was kinda looking up at him and 
laughing. The crowd was laughing and Maynard grabs a bottle 
of water and pours some on this guy when he's not looking. 
The guy freaks out but sees Maynard drinking it and realizes 
it's water and laughs. Then Maynard reaches behind and 
grabs his tea, which is lukewarm by now, and pours it on the 
guy. And he just broke the cage wide open and dove back 
into the audience. He thought he was being pissed on.
We were laughing so hard, we fucked up the song. It was 
hilarious." jones sits back and laughs for a moment, knowing 
damn well that months of sleepless nights await him until the 
completion of the "Prison Sex" video. But it's all worth it. The 
audience, and the band, demand the dedication.
"We don't want to be in that category where you're thrown in 
someone's face and they say, 'Okay, I like it,' and the next 
week something else is thrown in their face and they 
say 'Okay, I like it,'" says jones. "Tool's deeper than that. I'd 
rather have a small group really respect us for what we're 
doing and really get it than a bunch of people only scratch 
the surface and not get it.

Posted to t.d.n: 08/07/03 22:08:07