the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: The Music Paper

Date: April, 1994

Transcribed by
K[elly] (

  page: 13
 title: Tool Let the Music do the Talking
author: Anne Leighton

Singer Maynard James Keenan, bassist Paul DíAmour, 
drummer Danny Carey and guitarist Adam Jones have got a 
good thing going and they call it Tool. Formed in late 1989 
by Jones, the group was initially inspired by a little-known 
book of philosophy, A Joyful Guide to Lachrymology, which is 
the study of crying and how tears can be used as therapy.

The EP Undertow, released in 1991, was quickly followed by a 
full album, 1992ís Opiate. The latter is already gold, and 
based on the bandís high standings in the alternative metal 
field and their strong, melodic material, it looks like it will 
definitely break platinum status.

Critics have called Tool everything from Joni Mitchell meets 
Judas Priest to Tom Waits meets Iron Maiden. I think their 
sound is sort of Bandlands blues meets Frank Zappa chords. 
Whatever, this uncompromising group of musicians is 
heading in their own direction.

The Music Paper: I guess once you start having gold records 
the pressures start to build up.

Maynard James Keenan: Thereís a lot of scavengers around, 
but theyíve always been around. I donít see any difference 
except increased numbers of people.

TMP: Is there a reason you donít want your lyrics printed on 
your CDs or in magazines?

Keenan: The music is more important.

TMP: Why do you consider lyrics secondary?

Keenan: The emotion of the song dictates the subject 
matter. The music can probe and pry where words canít reach. 
A lot of people will hear different things. If I give you the 
map, you might neglect all the side doors.

TMP: For years I thought David Bowie sang, ďTime may 
change me but I canít change timeĒ in the song Changes. 
When I looked at the sheet music, I found itís ďTime may 
change me but I canít trace time.Ē Writers have something 
specific they want to get across through words and obviously I 
had no idea what he was talking about Ďtil I read the words.

Keenan: Thatís all well and good, but whatever he said, it 
meant something to you. You took it a certain way and itís 
more special for to come back after and hear it the correct 

Weíve got an interactive record. Itís not just listener-friendly, 
itís active-listener friendly. If a person wants to know what the 
lyrics are and they write down what they think they hear, Iíll 
gladly send then the real lyrics.

TMP: Have you actually done that?

Keenan: Yeah!

TMP: That certainly makes thing more personal.

Keenan: Thatís my end. Danny coordinates with people about 
drumming and Paul is certainly a social person. Adam is very 
active in the visuals.

TMP: What does the band get out of this interactive 

Keenan: I kind of learn things about personalities, what your 
limitations are, and how much you can bend, things you can 
hold on to. As far as it goes, youíre kind of reevaluating your 
work and who you are and how to get over stupid hurdles.

TMP: What were some of your limitations as an artist?

Keenan: Itís more about learning how to listen rather than 
dictate. I donít know it all.

YMP: Did you know you were going to make music as a 
career? I know you also sculpt.

Keenan: I knew I was going to be an artist, but I didnít know 
what kind. I sang in choir and I was in plays.

TMP: How would you describe yourself now?

Keenan: A guy whoís not quite sure what heís gotten himself 
into! I like whatís happening for the most part. Itís opened a 
lot of doors for me. I think thereís a lot of doors that Iíll 
never be able to shut.

TMP: Now that youíre beginning to have some measure of 
success, do you find yourself doing things that you never 
thought you would?

Keenan: You know that stupid clichť ďNever say never?Ē 
Thatís pretty much our philosophy. We are so worried about 
whether weíre gonna sell out or not. I keep hearing people 
ragging on [Henry] Rollins about him selling out and I keep 
reminding people heís doing exactly what he wants to do 
regardless of what everyone else wants.

TMP: Are you one of those people who writes off ďhair bandsĒ?

Keenan: The only thing I draw the line on is if they claim to 
be musicians and theyíre not sitting down and playing music. 
I think a majority of hair bands are businessman, not 
musicians. If thatís what they want Ė a lot of money, fast 
cars, fake-titted blonde women Ė if thatís their goal, then 
theyíre being true to their goal. If theyíre musicians trying to 
make good music thatís timeless and all that other stuff is 
secondary, then be musicians. First of all, itís all a matter of 
what they want, what they claim they want and what they get. 
And second, who am I to judge what they want or to evaluate 
who they are?

TMP: Success definitely takes its toll. You donít know whatís 
real and whatís not anymore. Take Stone Temple PilotsÖ

Kennan: Those guys are catching a lot of flack, really they 
are. I donít know what to say about it. The album sounds 
good. Iíve heard Ďem live and in my opinion they donít sound 
as good as their album. That just tells me there was a lot of 
stuff in the studio they used to make them sound a certain 
way that they canít reproduce live. And a lot of the sound that 
they got in the studio and other things which they portray in 
their videosÖ itís like they do an Alice [In Chains] video and 
it sounds like an Alice song. And then theyíre like Eddie 
Vedder. I donít know if theyíre latching on to those songs or 
if [Weiland] is genuinely unaware that heís doing it.

Whether itís conscious or unconscious, I think theyíre having 
a lot of difficulties right now, enjoying their success and 
dealing with the pressure on them for their next record. 
Should they come out with a record that sounds like their last 
one just to prove thatís their sound or do they come out with 
a record that sounds thatís better and confirm the suspicions 
that the first one sounded like to everyone else? They should 
just tell everybody to [buzz] off and just make the album.

TMP: Itís hard to listen to what the music tells you to do when 
youíve got so many scavengers who around as soon as 
thereís money.

Keenan: It twists you. I think Perry [Farrell]ís done well with 
it. Heís taken the opportunity of success to so what heís 
wanted to do: get a hold of Ice-T and do a song, put 
together a really cool tour, abandon the old situation for one 
heís more comfortable with, where a bunch of friends can tour 
and have fun rather than worry worrying about what people 
think of the music theyíre making. They make the music 
together and itís good for the four people who are together 
making it. Itís not Pink Floydís Dark Side of the Moon, but 
who said it had to be? I think heís doing really well with that. 
Theyíre turned down megabuck offers for using their songs in 
different commercials Ė and ungodly amount of money.

YMP: What would it take for you to do a commercial? 
Supposing you were offered an endorsement for the kind of 
running shoes you use?

Keenan: You mean if Nike wanted me to an endorsement? 
Yeah, Iíd do an endorsement with Nike; I wear Nikes! I 
wouldnít want to do if I had to do a full thing, like do 
commercials and write music for them. But maybe a one-off 
thing like an ad in a sports magazine and they can give me 
five free pairs of Nikes!

[ Note: Article is typed as is; errors and all. ]

Posted to t.d.n: 03/11/02 21:06:11