Publication: Hit Parader
Date: August, 1994
page: 80 title: Tool - Strange Days author: Pat Mitchell There's definitely not a shortage of bands out there searching for a record deal. The things some musicians would do to get signed boggle the mind. Better yet, the things they would do just to get the ear of a few of the A&R big whigs go beyond mortal comprehension. Then there are those bands that don't even give any of it a second thought. Enter Tool - a Los Angeles based band that has blazed a trail to success with their EP Opiate and debut album Undertow. Tool had only been playing together for a little over six months when they made a home at Zoo Entertainment. "We really didn't care about the record companies at all. Getting signed was not why we started playing," Tool drummer Danny Carey admitted in a matter of fact tone. "I mean you can only imagine how strange it was for us when these record companies started making offers. There are a million bands out there banging their heads against the wall. They all want to get signed and we really didn't care." A record deal does not equate the end of the journey for success. However, it usually moves a once non-profit outfit to a more comfortable career status. How could any band honestly say that they did not care about getting signed? "We all had our own lives. I was working with Green Jello and that was in full swing. Adam was doing his special effects stuff with movies. We didn't need a record company to allow us to continue doing what we do. Tool was not the center of our lives. Of course now the band is paying our bills so our focus has shifted to it. Now music can provide our security." "The attitude we had allowed us to make better choices. We did not play the bidding game that some record companies wanted to play with us. It took a while after the initial interest for us to sign with Zoo. They were the first label to show interest in us. There is this thing in L.A. that once a label thinks you're good, they all think you're good. They all want a piece of the action and are afraid they might be missing something. We took our time to make sure we had complete control from art work and videos to advertising and content of music. It worked to our advantage not to be star struck and greedy because we did get that complete control." Tool certainly has a hands-on mentality about their career. They want to do as much as they possibly can without outside assistance. The band did the artwork for Opiate and Undertow. Adam Jones (guitar) and Paul D'Amour (bass) have experience in film and art. Danny can insert his encounters in the music business. And vocalist Maynard James Keenan's life experiences should more than equal the technical seasoning of his band mates. "All of our experience has come in handy," Keenan said. "For example, Adam's film work is prevalent in our videos. We did the album art work ourselves. We are happy we can take care of it all instead of farming it out to some production company like most bands." "It means more to the music and it relates more to the music," Carey added. "The connection is tighter between our videos and our songs. It is a sad thing, but if your video gets played on MTV three times, more people see it than will probably see the album cover or hear the entire album. Videos are very important. MTV did more for selling our album than nothing else. We reached a lot of people initially through radio and word of mouth. But MTV is free to so many people everty time it's on. So we wanted to be represented right." Even more important than video to Tool is their live show. In the beginning, the band was stuck with incompatible bands because people didn't know how to categorize them. Things began to look up when they got the opening slot for Henry Rollins. Last summer, they got the chance to play the mother of all alternative tours, Lollapalooza. The traveling concert circus apparently left a lot to be desired, but it had its good moments. Most of the band compared playing its main stage to a natural high. But we are talking about Tool, remember. These guys enjoyed their month of playing the less coveted smaller stage. "On our first tour we were put with some bad bands," Carey explained. "We did this show with the ex-Guns N' Roses drummer's band. I can't remember their name. We ended up with a bunch of people with big hair watching us with their mouths open. Some of our shows we had five people. Every band needs to go through that. Hey, we needed the rehearsal time. We were not that good back then. We played the songs well, but we were pretty green. "Henry Rollins was great for us. He was like this seasoned pro. He showed us the ropes and took us under his wing. It helped us make it through Lollapalooza. The frustrating part about that tour was being put in that environment. It's more satisfying for me to play a club with 1000 people than a big thing like that. That is why we enjoyed the second stage more. It was more sincere." Sincerity seems to be the key word in music these days. There is no doubt that a new breed of music has taken over the rock world. The popularity of the alternative hard rock sound is comforting to many people. Of course, there are many bands who made financial gains due to this change in style, but the issue goes far beyond money for some people. "Thank God music changed," Carey exclaimed. "We just went through some dark years in hard rock. I was losing faith in humanity. I could never understand how such theatrical stuff could have done anything for anyone. It never meant much to me and it never inspired me to play. We play music we feel. If those guys feel what they play, I really feel sorry for them. There's always going to be lame music and it's made for the lowest denominator of people. Music is meant to bring people's level of consciousness up, not to drag it down to the masses." "Listeners have to get something out of music," Keenan added. "They have to learn from it or relate to it. We keep our music open to interpretation so people can enjoy it their way. One of our goals was to have our music available and acceptable on different levels." Another goal shared by the band is to remain true to themselves. The music has to also be something they can relate to and learn from. Rest asssured that when Tool feels they are not being edified by their music, they will disband. With this in mind, they make no major predictions for the future. "There is a chemistry in the room when the four of us get together and jam," Carey said. "It's hard to describe. The hardest part about putting a band together is to find three, four or five people with a similar vision. The chemistry has to be right so you can reach that higher ground. In some bands, it happens all the time. In other bands, it never happens. It can't be forced and we were lucky to find each other. Five years from now who knows if we will be Tool? I think we have a couple of good albums left in us. It's hard to judge beyond that. We will know when it is time to move on. The band wasn't always the center of our lives and it won't always be the center of our lives."
Posted to t.d.n: 08/28/98 18:15:08