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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Soundi

Date: August, 2001

Transcribed by
Atte Karppinen (qlqnen@hotmail.com)


  page: 20
 title: You can't prevent evil
author: Petri Silas

This is an article from a finnish publication named "Soundi". 
Rough translation.

Tool was formed in Los Angeles in 1990, when guitar player 
Adam Jones, who at the time had formed a band with future 
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, and bassist 
Paul D'Amour crossed paths with neighbouring Maynard 
James Keenan and drummer Danny Carey. Of the latter two, 
the aforementioned had never even thought of a career as a 
musician, the latter was on his way to become one of the 
Hollywood's session players. In the spring of 1995 Paul 
D'Amour left the band and in November of that same year he 
was replaced by Justin Chancellor who began playing along 
Rush and Thin Lizzy. His former band Peach had opened for 
Tool recently in the USA, so the move was quite natural.

Soundi sits down with  Maynard James Keenan and Danny 
Carey around a table at Isle of T÷rnńvń (?) under sunshine a 
couple of hours before the band goes up on stage in front of 
23 000 people. The pale singer, bearing some resemblance 
to a leprechaun, draws attention with the way he keeps 
looking around and nervously fiddles with either one of his 
large signet rings. It's hard to believe that Keenan went 
straight from high school to military at West Point's cadet 
school. Looking at the two this career move would have been 
more obvious for the drummer: tanned Carey is in his 
sunglasses, shorts and Oakley sandals like a typical in-good-
shape kind of guy just coming from a little trip with his 
mountain bike.

As a cult band Tool can be mentioned only in imperfect: while 
the magnificent previous album Ănima (1996) went straight 
to nuber two in the home country of the band, the new album 
Lateralus went stalk (?) to number one. As this article is in 
the writing both have gone platinum in the US, their 
predecessor Undertow (1993) over 2,000,000 copies. Tool 
received a Grammy for Ănima, so no real breakthrough 
album can be isolated from the gradual growth.
Danny Carey: -We've been together for over ten years now, 
so from our point of view the growth of popularity seems very 
gradual indeed. The people just getting to know us may think 
it's been quick, but we see things differently. And besides, 
nobody knows when it starts to fade... For us the most 
important thing is to stay true to our visions. I'm hoping that 
this certain seriousness is transferred to the people , who are 
looking for alternatives to all that basic shit that's marketed 
as music now. The music of today is designed to appeal to 
people with poor concentration, not to people who have some 
sense in their head.

The two admit openly, that the huge success of Ănima was 
nevertheless a quite a surprise. But as Lateralus shows, 
popularity never influenced the routines in any way. 
Maynard James Keenan: -The public or popularity will never 
affect our songwriting in any way. For us making music 
represents the communication of four people in a space 
where every single distraction is left outside. We try to focus 
on the famous big picture and think what the part is for each 
member in a song or a part of a song. If we'd let the 
audience or any outside influence affect our expression, we'd 
have to compromise. And that won't work for us. Besides, our 
work continues even after the album is done: we perform the 
music to the people and watch as the songs evolve.

Throughout the existence of the band Tool has been 
painfully hard to define. The language form of the quartet is 
close to progressive angst metal, but for the heir of heavy 
metal bands this group seeking inspiration from 
existentialism fits badly. Maybe the guys will half-accidentally 
define themselves, if they're asked to choose a comparative 
group from the world of music.
MJK: -I can't really tell whether or not these artists can be 
viewed as our comparative. We are possibly delighted if we 
are thought of equal to them.... Well, anyway: inspiration has 
been taken from Aphex Twin, Portishead, Massive Attack, 
Tricky... PJ Harvey. And of course King Crimson. 

The executive director of the latter, Robert Fripp has 
complemented Tool's productions for a long time and by the 
time this paper is out King Crimson has Opened for Tool on 
six US shows.
DC: -I met drummer Pat Mastelotto once when we were 
playing at his hometown of Austin. He came to see our gig 
and also introduced me to indian Aloke Dutta, with whom I 
then started studying tabla playing. As you can propably hear 
from my drumming Crimson's archdrummer Bill Bruford has 
been one of my heroes since I was a little boy, so his recent 
departure annoys me a little bit. Bill's style has some rare 
beauty, no matter what the frame of reference was. Both he 
and Pat have also done a lot of pioneerwork for electronic 
drumming. I think there is a demand for real electronic kits, 
but most of the drummers are so stupid that they don't know 
what to demand from the manufacturers. Progressive steps 
are taken with other instruments.

A part of Tool's weirdness can be put on often almost solo 
performer Carey's account. He started playing drums at the 
age of 10 and went wild with his brother's Led Zeppelin 
albums. But even though Tool is an apprecieated unit and it's 
members are frequntly seen on music magazines' covers, 
imitators are nowhere to be seen. 
DC: -Not really, no. What's also odd is that if I've read of 
someone saying that they've been influenced by us, direct 
connections have been rather unnoticeable. 
MJK: -Or then they borrow the most obvious elements from 
us... Today odd time signatures are "Tool-influences", when 
the influence could have come from anywhere else... King 
Crimson, Yes...
10-15 years ago bands using 7/8 time signature had always 
listened to Rush.
DC: -Right. (laughs) Exactly.
MJK: -That's right. Not that any of the aforementioned ever 
invented the odd tim signatures.

To counterweigh their seemingly emphasized intellectual - yet 
catchy and hypnotic - music, Tool has distinguished fooling 
their fans via media. Disinformation eruptions occur regularly 
and Danny's enthusiasm for the occult and paranormal 
phenomenons makes the rumourmill going frequently. The 
Hellfire Club of the 21st century for the guys with too much 
time on their hands, or too much X-Files plus opiates? Who 
knows. Interested in astrology, MJK's other interest is 
numerology. So, if Opiate and Undertow had one year 
between them, Undertow and Ănima three years and Ănima 
and Lateralus five years, the next album by Tool - depending 
on method of calculation - is out in seven or eight years...
MJK: -(laughs) Nice theory. But it took a year and a half in 
the courtroom battling out with our former manager (Ted 
Gardner, who has been since replaced by their ex-tour-
manager Pete REdding) and our record label. And in addition 
I took some time to work with A Perfect Circle. So the whole 
truth isn't in those figures.
DC: -The next album isn't likely to be in the works as long as 
Lateralus. Unless we take some time to do the movie project 
we've been enthusiastic for years. Adam is naturally the most 
excited about the project, but the rest of us have spent some 
time with The Song Remains The Same and The Wall as well.

Tool spends more time on their videos as well as their 
concerts' appearance than your average rock group. This 
multimedia aspect however will not take time nor strength 
from the main subject, which is making music. Not even from 
the main architecht of dark visions Adam Jones, who before 
joining Tool worked at Stan Winston's effects studio on 
Jurassic Park and Terminator 2 among others.
DC: -The visuals come in after the music is done, so basically 
they don't take time from the music. In it's own way this 
division belongs into the same process as rehearsing songs 
for the tour.

In the future making songs might be sped up by the fact that 
there are a few billets of songs waiting in the archives.
MJK: -If some idea doesn't work, we put it on hold. Ticks & 
Leeches is a good example of a track that needed a little 
digesting before it was completed. But on the other hand, the 
lyrics are the last thing to be finished.
DC: -Other song on Lateralus that was initially left to grow 
was Parabola.

Thanks to Adam Jones' ambition and vision, each and every 
Tool-productions' visual aspect is in line with the feng shui of 
the musical material. As preparing for the tour the inner 
tensions and emphasized themes of the album need to be 
fooled around with, so that material can be performed 
comprehensively. Choosing- and dropping-processes 
Maynard and Danny see as a necessary evil, but fortunately 
there isn't much on the records that can't be reproduced on 
stage.
MJK: -Listening to an album for us is a totally different 
experience than a live show. Gigs are situations for us, in 
which we judge our material with fresh opinions. We can 
perform almost every one of our songs live, but of course 
different choises need to be made every night. I can also 
reveal that we are saving some of our songs for future tours. 
For each tour we make a set that varies throughout the tour 
for maybe two songs or song orded related issue along the 
way. This way we know exactly what we've played when and 
where, so next time we go there, we can gather a new set for 
that area in which there are songs unperformed for that crowd.
DC: -Improvisation on stage is a great thing to relieve the 
numbness of touring.

Last year's Salival-package is filled with Tool's dystopic show 
frenzy and the four first abstract and nightmarish, even a 
little depressive promovideos. The livepart's covers get a 
rude judgement.
MJK: -Cover songs are insignificant for us. Through them we, 
at most part, look on what kind of players we are and how, as 
performers, we react to ideas that have been played before 
by someone else.

The hard-touring band can't make any significant difference 
between European and American audiences, but a distinction 
of other kind is found relatively easily.
MJK: -The diversion is more between bigger and smaller 
towns. Regional or national differences don't come to mind.
DC: -You have to remember that kids in London, LA or New 
York are in a way spoiled, since there's a big show in town 
every week. The audiences in these places aren't as 
enthusiastic or appreciative as people in Bumfuck, 
Oklahoma. In this aspect, it's a lot nicer to play in smaller 
places.

Different eras and different courses of actions represented by 
Carl Gustav Jung, Timothy Leary, Aleister Crowley and Joseph 
Campbell have strongly influenced the texts by MJK as well 
as the whole appearance of Tool along the years. But if 
there's one doctrine found from the band, it's propably best 
defined in the early t-shirts, with the text "all indians, no 
chiefs". People following the stronger individuals like sheep 
are worth nothing in Tool's mind; only the thinking of an 
individual can take the progress of the collective onwards.
MJK: - The theory of the smallest common denominator rules 
the music business today. Everyone wants to sell a lot of 
records, but with the least possible amount of energy used. 
This gives us products, that lower their own standards making 
compromises with the quality of the music. We wouldn't 
accept that at any price and we are continuously striving to 
not to work with the kind of people we can assume or 
interpret to want to make compromises. That's why from time 
to time it's hard to give record companies any decisions to 
make that have anything to do with your career. And that 
slows everyone's work. Artists who care for their cause should 
learn to take care of being involved in making decisions that 
have to do with their music. Because it's us, the artists who 
suffer from false decisions. Not the record company. We're 
the ones making the albums, so they'd be out of job if it 
weren't for us. So it's weird how the media and companies try 
to direct and advise bands all the time. Let them make the 
music if they know how to do it! But, again, it's my own 
people, the musicians who are to blame. They let others walk 
all over them.

Once on a roll, the singer born in 1964 into an ohion baptist 
family drubs the people who unarguably form the major part 
of the musicians and performers of our time.
MJK: -These people don't exist in my world actually. They are 
the same as a McDonald's McRibs -sale or Starbucks' 
Frappucino -discount. Futile people. They're not artists, 
they're businessmen and politicians. Sponsored musicians 
should not be on the same list as Aphex Twin or Tricky. They 
should have their own lists and awards, where the best 
marketing plans are awarded among other kinds of things 
alike. Limp Bizkit belongs on the same list with McNuggets! 
Robert Fripp and Aphex Twin do exactly what they want, when 
they want. Compromise is not in their vocabulary. And this is 
what Tool aims at. 

As is appropriate for their role, Tool hasn't taken any views 
on mediasexy issues like globalisation.
MJK: -Our actions don't have any influence on these issues 
because we're not politicians. We strive to make the purest 
possible art... Music that possibly affects young people or 
even kids. When they some day are in a leading position, 
they will hopefully make better decisions than their mothers 
and fathers before them. Challenging the power elite of our 
time is a waste of time. It's much more reasonable to try to 
affect on the children of the families ruling the world.

Posted to t.d.n: 05/28/02 20:17:07