Publication: Gaffa (Danish magazine)
Date: August, 2001
Bjarke Bertram (email@example.com)
Bjarke Bertram (firstname.lastname@example.org)
page: 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, too. 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 Entertainment. 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 release)! 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 clothing). - 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