the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Gaffa (Danish magazine)

Date: August, 2001

Transcribed by
Bjarke Bertram (

 title: Ten years with Tool
author: Jens Jam Rasmussen

There was a massive atmosphere of "new rock" - and a new 
spirit of rock - when singer Maynard James Keenan, guitarist 
Adam Jones, and drummer Danny Carey formed the band 
Tool in 1991 in Los Angeles. A new agenda was set by bands 
such as Faith No More, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Smashing 
Pumpkins, Alice In Chains, Helmet, and Rage Against The 
Machine. The American rock radio stations were retiring most 
of the long-haired heavy hits of the 80's while preparing for 
the new sound that was neither direct "heavy", "indie", 
or "punk", but merely a number of new bands with an 
attitude against the fabric-shaped multi-dollar designed rock 
that had been characteristic of the end of the previous 
decade in the slipstream of Guns N' Roses and their 
explosive announcement of the return of sex, drugs, & 
rock 'n 'roll. Yeah, it was a dynamic period for the rock scene 
both in our country (read: Denmark) and the States. But if 
you take a look at the list of the above-mentioned bands 
you'll recognize that they have all either suddenly stopped or 
faded out. But Tool - they are still here. And with their current 
album Lateralus in mind, unmentionably better than ever, 
Tool haven't been busy. Their career has - if any - been build 
up slowly, thoughtfully, and patiently, but with outstanding 
landmarks in between - somewhat like the composition of the 
songs in their heavy, searching, compelling, dark, and 
profoundly personal back catalog that was begun in '92 with 
the Opiate mini album and since has been extended with full 
length albums such as Undertow the year after, Ænima in 
1996, and the great culmination - so far - Lateralus in May. 
Tool does not sound like other bands, and no other bands 
sound like Tool, but with the before-mentioned wave of rock - 
and Tool's 10-year jubilee - in mind it is tempting to ask the 
band's singer Maynard James Keenan if groups like Faith No 
More, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Rage 
Against The Machine, kind of set up a platform for Tool?
- One should remember that we have been on the scene as 
long as these bands. But the bands who have set up a 
platform for us - and the other bands as well - are bands like 
The Melvins and Metallica. And Led Zeppelin, albeit much 
earlier. And maybe some of the punk and art rock bands, 
Maynard James Keenan answers in his mute and calmly 
reflecting voice with his small and slender body buried in an 
armchair about eight hours before the band is headlining the 
Roskilde Festival main stage Thursday night.
- But isn't it true that Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and 
Tool all have had the same critical spirit concerning the 
traditional music industry, fan hysteria, and that being a 
popular rock band?
- Yes, I think that all those bands had these things in mind, 
especially Nirvana and Rage - and yes, all that part of the 
scene. But unfortunately both of these bands had some fatal 
cracks in the composition of their band. There was always one 
person who felt that he controlled the band; an individual 
feeling that its ideas were more important and more right 
than those the other people had. Which means that 
communication at some level broke down - because of 
success and because of people insisting on sticking to one's 
ideas instead of listening to new ideas from their inner circle 
of people ... from their band, their "marriage". And then their 
marriage collapsed.
- It seems there is a special harmony and balance in and 
around Tool. Do you never have any frictions and 
disagreements in the band?
- Yes, absolutely ... all the time. It's like being married or 
having brothers. It's the same thing. But I think we're old 
enough to have found out that if one person is disturbing you 
on an underlying level you must remember that you're 
looking at a reflection of yourself and all that you don't like 
about yourself. So here you have four persons, strong 
personalities with many differences. But our strength is that 
we understand our motives, so we can work through the 
differences instead of denying them and allowing them to 
split us up. So it's a marriage - and the way you manage 
being in a marriage is communication, Maynard thinks.
And Tool has been in need of their internal communication 
and common understanding, obviously. The most important 
reason that it took five whole years before Lateralus could be 
recorded and released was Tools disagreement - and later 
lengthy lawsuit - with their old management, Zoo 
Maynard continues: - If you look upon the history of the 
music industry with lawyers, managers, and everything, it will 
tell you that these "elements" usually can split up bands. 
They can totally undermine a band's process and harm the 
music. But we're a band who generally embraces the frictions 
of life, because life is quite much ... frictions. And as long as 
we are honest with our feelings about the things we observe - 
and don't try to filter these feelings too much - we'll always 
end up being happy with our results. Instead of hiding from 
the conflicts.
And the frictions and tensions really are Tool's spiritual 
trademarks - all the way down to the fundamental substance 
of the band: creating the music.
- Throughout the years we have obviously grown better at 
communicating our ideas and expressing them - and we have 
found out that motivation is crucial, Maynard begins his 
reflection of Tool's musical creation process.
- We just talked about friction and tension and those things 
are totally decisive in music, all down to the fundamental 
process taking a string and tightening it closely to a guitar 
arm. And in the process of making beautiful music you hit 
this unbelievably tight string on the guitar. And then there 
are the heads on the drums, which are all very tight and 
stretched out when Danny hits them. So making music is ... 
tension and deliverance.
And oh yes, it constantly trembles with tension and 
deliverance on the outer fringe on Lateralus which is rightfully 
among this year's most fulsomely praised albums. And the 
long wait for the album has only increased the interest of the 
growing cult of Tool fans. In the states Lateralus debuted as 
#1 on Billboard, the world's leading album chart, with more 
than ½ million sold copies (in the first week after the album's 
It's more down to earth in Scandinavia, on the other hand, 
since Tool haven't been as visible as in the US. Before the 
now legendary show at Roskilde Festival the band had only 
played two times in Denmark - supporting Rage Against The 
Machine in Den Grå Hal and at Århus Festuge in september 
1994 respectively. Maynard James Keenan remembers the 
first mentioned concert clearly.
- Yeah, Christiania! I remember that show. The police used 
tear gas during the concert and the last song we played stark 
naked on stage! That's the only time I've ever performed 
completely naked, Maynard slightly smiles (On stage at 
Roskilde he wore a pair of small, tight shorts as his only 
- But we haven't had a constant progress here in Denmark or 
Sweden or Norway. It has really been a tough road exposing 
ourselves up here so I guess we primarily just have a small 
cult of followers now, it humbly sounds from the front man of 
the band that, if any, has been the great saviour of rock in 
the new millennium and the same night throw about 40-
50,000 primarily Scandinavians into a hypnotic trance of 
deliverance on the otherwise traumatized area in front of the 
Orange Stage.
But quantity is not a guiding parameter for Tool, whose fans 
seem to have a very passionate but also a very deliberate 
and profound attitude towards the band and their expression.
- Oh yeah, that's the way we've created it, Maynard James 
Keenan confirms.
- We challenge ourselves with everything we do, musically 
and visually, and our listeners follow us the same way, having 
to challenge and involve themselves. And as soon as the 
listeners have chosen to be involved and opened their hearts 
and listened they will be influenced since there is something 
for them to get here.
- So the fan base we've developed so far has basically been 
such a fan base, yeah. It has been a slow process but we 
have no rush, and the result is as follows: We have a decent 
group of followers all over the world, deliberate thinking 
beings who will hopefully take what they've heard from us - 
and other people - and go out there themselves and create 
something with these ... tools. Or as Maynard conclusively 
said to the audience from Orange Stage: "The world needs 
more creative people, the bad guys are winning!"
Well spoken, but Tool themselves are obviously an 
exception. Creative, emotional, and intelligent beings in 
movement - and the rock scene's most relevant guides.

Posted to t.d.n: 06/16/02 18:23:46