Date: Sometime, 1994
Joe Garcia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Joe Garcia (email@example.com)
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 themselves. "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 outpour. "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