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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Time Off

Date: April, 2002

Transcribed by
K. (

 title: Knock a Few Teeth Out
author: Murray Engleheart

“Christina Aguilera came to a show,” Tool’s Maynard James 
Keenan says from Los Angeles. 

“She didn’t stick around to see us after the show. I don’t 
know whether she felt she was too good for us or whether she 
was scared of us or honestly had a prior engagement, which 
is a good excuse. ‘Oh, I have to get back in the studio’ – 
that’s the one I always use.” 

Or maybe Ms. Aguilera just didn’t know quite what to make of 
Keenan. He certainly fooled a lot of people at Tool’s second 
show at the Sydney Entertainment Centre last year. Mid-way 
through their machine-precision performance, Keenan – who 
had been deliberately placed outside the reach of any 
spotlights – completely broke character and spoke 
passionately of the power of the individual and the creative 
process. Then in a moment straight out of The Life of Brian 
he asked the capacity crowd to repeat his declaration that 
they are all individuals. The crowd obliged. It took a few 
seconds for the joke to hit, but by then it was too late.

“We try that everywhere,” Keenan says. “We did it in the 
United States quite a few times. The few kids who knew what 
was going on, they’re trying to tell everybody not to do it and 
it doesn’t work.” 

Following the tour of Australia and New Zealand, the band 
teamed with their heroes King Crimson for a string of dream-
like dates in North America. 

“That was quite a treat,” Keenan says with genuine 
enthusiasm. “[Crimson’s leader and master guitarist] Robert 
Fripp’s a very intense individual. Wonderful, wonderful artist. 
He has a lot to teach. Wonderful. He came out and he would 
do his soundscape right between the little break we had in 
the set. 

“We’ve been in contact and friends with [Fripp] for probably 
about three or four years now. He has been listening to us for 
quite sometime I guess and posted that on his website under 
his journal. [Tool drummer] Danny Carey noticed it and put 
the word out a little bit and said hello. Danny met Pat, the 
[Crimson] drummer at a drum clinic as well as [Crimson’s] 
Bill Bruford.” 

Like Crimson, Tool don’t pump out by-the-numbers albums 
once a year. They’ll allow the Lateralus album to fully settle 
before making any fresh moves. Keenan’s admiration for the 
album has only increased with the passage of time. 

“I think it was everything that we had set out to do,” he says. 

That’s a big call… 

“Well, we just kind of wanted to rediscover each other, re-
communicate, and I think we reached that where it was a slice 
of time that was very indicative of where we as four 
individuals were with each other and our place in the world 
and our relationships outside the band. I think it hit the mark 
for that particular time in our lives. I don’t know if it 
necessarily translates for everyone’s lives. That’s the goal of 
an album and I didn’t know that we reached that.” 

That objective of course doesn’t exactly correlate with the 
marketing requirements of the music industry. In that 
environment, it must be enormously satisfying to have 
broken through in such a big way on Tool’s own terms. 

“Kind of, but I just wish we could reach more people and I 
wish there’s more people doing what we’re doing,” Keenan 
says. “Not sounding like we’re sounding. I mean just 
approaching it like we approach it. You don’t need to do radio 
shows, you don’t need to put your face on the side of a Pepsi 
Cola can. You don’t need to do that. You can actually exist in 
this world without someone looking at their quarterly figures 
or getting sponsorships or selling your face and your 
personality rather than just letting the music speak for itself.” 

My face wouldn’t pay any rent… 

“Well, knock a few teeth out and look really goofy and then 
you can be the goofy guy!” he reasons helpfully with a laugh. 

“But that’s the way it’s been. To sit down to do a television 
show or a radio interview or MTV interview with a talented 
person just doesn’t happen because the intelligent people 
don’t get the job because for the most part they’re not 
animated clowns. You’re going to talk to the animated clown. 
People like Howard Stern, fucking Bozo the clown. You know 
what I mean? It’s all smoke and mirrors.” 

But maybe as someone once said the meek shall one day 
inherit the earth? 

Keenan laughs quietly. 

“I’m not going to call my broker to invest in that yet.” 

Posted to t.d.n: 04/14/02 22:11:31