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A TOOL-Related Article

Publication: Hot Metal Magainze

Date: Issue 94 Summer 1997

Transcribed by Justin McKinlay (s338171@student.uq.edu.au)



  page: 48 
 title: faeces deceases


Two of the heaviest and smartest albums to come out of LA in the last 
five years have come from Tool. Danny Carey talks to Carl Hammerschmidt 
about getting in touch with your feminine side. 


Just like drummer Danny Carey's old job, Tool's new album gives you some 
nasty snap shots of an unpleasant world. Like standing downwind from a 
dead animal, AEnema is whiff after whiff of some uncomfortable things, 
some things you'd rather not know about if you were to live a safe, 
comfortable life. Just reach inside and see what comes out. 

Like when Carey was working in a tape duplication house. It was 1992, 
he'd moved to LA a few years previous and was already a part of the music 
scene having played in Pygmy Love Circus and the nursery rhyme version of 
Gwar, Green Jelly. But his day job was the killer. Day in day out he'd 
dub tapes - demos for LA glam wannabes, religious motivational tapes, 
whale and rainforest noise relaxation tapes. Dub after dub, tape after 
tape. Like lying there with snow and static blaring on the TV but being 
too wasted to get up and turn it off.

"It was bad," Carey moans in a smooth, bass-filled saunter, "probably in 
the whole time I worked there, I can only remember hearing one or two 
tapes that I actually enjoyed listening to more than once." 

At the time though, the release for his frustrations was coming together. 
The year previous a wild-eyed cynic with the dorky name Maynard James 
Keenan had moved in down the hall in the same block of apartments as 
Carey. They had a lot of the same ideas, as did a friend of a friend who 
worked at a special effects studio in Hollywood, a guitar player called 
Adam Jones.

It was a time when the whole North-West USA rock scene was at a peak and 
the word alternative was beginning to sour as wagon jumper after wagon 
jumper trundled into the spotlight. The sound was heavy and the angst was 
thick but Tool wanted to be a band who took things one step further. They 
knew how to rock a mixture of heavy metal and hardcore, but they were 
interested in song writing. Making things deep with painstaking 
musicality and imagination, using influences like childhood heroes King 
Crimson, Joy Division, KISS and Joni Mitchell - yes, they also enjoyed 
taking hallucinogenic drugs.

"I don't really like going out, but sometimes I would go to these clubs," 
Keenan said just after the release of their second album, Undertow. "I 
would stand at the back and watch these bands that people would tell me I 
should go and see, and after I said that these bands suck so many times, 
my friends just said, 'Well, if you think you can do better'. So i did." 


At the start of 1992 Keenan, Carey, Jones and their bass player at the 
time, Paul D'Amour, signed a deal with the BMG affiliate Zoo and released 
the EP Opiate, an angry little sucker with a weight that floored all 
those who heard it. Especially as the LA scene at the time was producing 
very little in the way of heavy duty variations. 

From there it took three things to make a band bigger in conception than 
the whole alternative scene at the time. An LP called Undertow, a spot on 
the '93 Lollapalooza tour and a super atmospheric clay-mation video for a 
song called Prison Sex which stood out like dog's balls amongst MTV's 
steady diet of pablum. A year later they had sold over a million and a 
half copies of their record in the States alone. 

"Opiate sort of set things up for Undertow, that got things started," 
Carey explains about an LP that, for almost every country it was released 
in, was a massive sleeper, taking two years in some places for any sales 
at all to start registering. "After we got all the attention on MTV and 
on Lollapalooza it really pushed Undertow over the edge and everybody 
really knew who our band was."

But any schmuck can sell records. It was the way Tool did it that scored 
the points with the media and fans alike. The music is as far from simple 
hooks and catchy choruses as could be imagined for a top priority band. 
All their songs required maximum investment for maximum return. The music 
was tactile, enveloping like a warm bath. 

"In England we had a woman who went to every show," Keenan remembers. 
"She was about 50 and she was blind. She stood in the front row every 
night for all 10 shows.

"We're not about moshing and fucking shit up, we're more about sounds," 
he stated.

Neither were their albums for the faint of heart. They spoke about the 
unspeakable in the way your nightmares always try and tell you about 
things you try not to think about - the shit that doesn't come out while 
you're awake and your head's in control. 

"We know each other well enough, and we get along well enough, so that we 
can really dig into some of the grittier areas, and some of the darker 
places which some people may have a bit of a resistance to go to," Carey 
explains, skirting around actually having to come up with a juicy 
example. 

"Maybe that's why it takes a bit longer for people to appreciate our 
records. A lot of it is because we are all very comfortable with each 
other, so we can go ahead and maybe not pull as many punches by writing 
pretty little pop songs about superficial things. We can go ahead and get 
a lot more out of it, and other people can too." 

It was never so much about hate, even though some would call it that. 
It's not a negative nihilism either, even though a lot of bands find that 
easy to hide in. It's more a contempt which ranges from a knowingly smug 
smirk to a full blown roar which, through its directed rage, takes in the 
whole, big, ugly picture. They're more like a good comedian, they 
understand the problems, the idiocy, the hypocrisy and subvert it, not 
just mindlessly slam it.

"One of the goals of the record, among a lot of things, was to make it 
obvious to all the materialistic idiots that energy is primary and the 
illusion of matter is secondary," Carey says, explaining an album the 
band have said is about a lack of unity in the way we treat each other. 

The other thing about Tool was how deep their package went. From songs 
that refuse to quit at the eight minute mark, to all their own artwork 
and videos as done by guitarist Adam Jones. Remember the six-armed priest 
on Opiate and the diorama based around anal sex on the inside? What about 
the shaved pig on a bed of forks and the dildo x-ray on Undertow? And 
then there's AEnema, and the multi-image case with the rolling eye balls, 
not to forget the guy getting himself off orally. 

"For me, that was always a goal. When I was young I enjoyed the records 
most that I listened to four of five times and kept growing on me, and 
showing me new things rather than the things that i liked for the first 
time and then I'd just get sick of them. I hope that people can go back 
and listen to our records again and again." 

Currently on tour around the States in support of the new album - which 
debuted in the second slot on the Billboard charts - the band are working 
the kinks out of their new set, and their new bass player. 

After the tour to Australia at the beginning of '95, original bass player 
Paul D'Amour parted ways with the band. It was at a time when they were 
in the middle of preparing AEnema, and the process of finding a new 
member set the album back significantly. The eventual choice was Justin 
Chancellor, who at the time played with a band called Peach. 

"Paul was smart enough to know what he wanted to do, it wasn't that big 
of a deal. He had the choice to do his own project," Carey says of what 
for all intents and purposes was an amicable split from the guy in the 
band who was always more into the hardcore side of things rather than the 
prog rock.

"Justin just seemed to fit the whole Tool vibe better," he continues, 
"and he was a huge fan of the band, he knew the music very well." 
Chancellor seems to have sussed the lay of the land in no time flat. 

"I've never come across or been a part of a collection of souls so 
diverse in character and belief that possess the ability to mutually 
accommodate those differences and evolve them into positive creativity," 
he said recently. Diversity and creativity being the key words, because 
on AEnema you'll find songs which are much longer and infinitely more 
spread out in their composition. Running between six and 10 minutes they 
are complex and convoluted songs which are broken up by lengthy 
instrumental pieces. 

"The songs, I think, are becoming better vehicles for our emotions, 
better for us to really sink our teeth into," Carey says about material 
which they wrote over a two year period. "That's the main goal, we work 
to write songs just to find good vehicles to express ourselves, and I 
think our songs are still growing in our writing together where we can 
find things so we can translate in that way." 

The tracks will build from hushed, sinister tones into seemingly infinite 
roars, and the whole time the band manage to hold a tension that seems 
unbearable. Of note, musically and lyrically is Hooker With A Penis, an 
incredible bass driven torrent of bile that opens... 

"I met a boy wearing Vans, 501s, and a dope Beastie T/nipple rings, and 
new tattoos/That claimed that he was OGT, from '92, the first EP. 

"And in between sips of Coke/He told me that he thought we were sellin' 
out/Layin' down, suckin' up to the man." 

"People sometimes misinterpret us to be this evil, dark band, and I feel 
much more positive about the bands that are just trying to do anything 
other than play to the mediocrity and sell lots of records, because we're 
not about that, we don't play that kind of a game," Carey says, his 
voice, for the first time, taking on more steel. 

Of the 15 tracks on AEnema, you'll find that only nine are actual songs. 
The others are small skits and bizarre segues which give you a look into 
that world of Tool's gritty injokes, making the band more than just their 
music and linking things to their well respected artwork. 

One is Die Eier Von Satan. It sounds like a sample from the Nuremberg 
Rally, a booming German speech being read out over the top of the 
saluting hordes. It actually translates as 'Satan's Eggs', and is a 
recipe for hash spiked dough balls. The other is Message To Harry Manback 
in which someone with a bizarre accent leaves a hateful message on an 
answering machine, part in English, part in Italian. 

"Harry Manback is Maynard's flatmate," Carey explains. "There was a guy 
that wanted to stay at his house, but it just turned out that he was 
running up phone bills. So they kicked him out and he rang them back and 
he left that message on the machine.

"We just liked the way that it sounded, kind of romantic, almost like a 
love poem or something, where if you didn't speak Italian or English, 
then you'd think it was. We just put that melody in and it seemed to 
fit." 

This is Tool's sense of humour all over and it comes from taking away 
context when looking at what we take seriously. They're as interested in 
John Candy movies and Monty Python as they are ancient texts on the black 
arts and modern philosophers.

"People think we're this totally frightening band, but you have to have a 
sense of humour about it," Carey explains. "It's all a matter of survival 
in the music business, it's pretty grim in general the way the big 
companies control all of it. When it comes down to it we're really just 
making ads for Bertelmann's Music Group, they're the ones that are 
controlling all this shit. They make a lot more money out of our records 
than we do, so you've just got to have a sense of humour about it." 

[transcriber's note-- all errors are as they appeared in the original 
article, including the incorrect spelling of the new album throughout. 
also, carl hammerschmidt writes the "internet" column for the magazine 
and it looks as though he visited toolshed prior to writing his story.] 

article transcribed by justin mckinlay (jud) - s338171@student.uq.edu.au


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