the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: The Inside Connection

Date: August, 2001

Transcribed by
K[elly] (

  page: 30
 title: Demystifying Tool – The Big Enigma
author: Gabriella

Most people, especially journalists, consider Tool difficult. 
They started out as an alternative band and soon became 
one of the leading new heavy metal acts of the 1990s, 
influencing countless other bands with their innovative sound 
and densely rhythmic style. Their eagerly anticipated new 
album, Lateralus, was one of the best-kept secrets in the 
music business because the band was afraid it would 
somehow end up on Napster. Hardly surprising, since there 
were a lot of doubts that Lateralus would ever happen – after 
all, the band took a five-year recording break and fought a 
battle with their record company where the stakes were a few 
million dollars high.

When Tool was founded in L.A. in 1990 by Adam Jones 
(guitar), Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Paul D’Amour 
(bass) and Danny Carey (drums), nobody knew that they’d 
become a landmark in the heavy alternative scene. If the 
way they were accepted by other musicians was a fair 
indication, Tool was not just another alternative band.

Rage Against the Machine invited [Tool] to open for them on 
a European tour and featured Keenan on a song on their 
debut album. After their EP, Opiate, almost every musician 
took notice. When they released their first full-length album, 
Undertow, Tool tour relentlessly and it was no surprise when 
the disc reached platinum status. Their angry intensity, 
penchant for difficult lyrical subjects and Keenan’s often 
strange and grotesque stage getup won the audience over; 
the 1993 Lollapalooza tour did the rest. Their second album, 
Ænima, featuring new bass player Justin Chancellor, narrowly 
missed topping the Billboard charts, firmly establishing Tool 
as a force in the music business.

Their third album’s delay was partly caused by legal problems 
with their record company, Volcano Entertainment, which were 
solved by founding another label just for Tool, Volcano 
Entertainment II. Adam Jones sees it as “maybe not the best 
way, but it certainly is a way,” and explains his view. “I think 
there will always be friction between the label and the band, 
there will always be a certain confrontation. That will never 
change, but it seems that things are running a lot smoother 
now because the band has more of a say in it.”

Maynard James Keenan, born April 17, 1964, in Ohio, has 
lived all over the United States. After Ohio, Michigan, New 
Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, he ended 
up in L.A., a town he confesses he doesn’t like, but he keeps 
living there. “It’s simple: You get things done here. If you 
need something to be done quick, it’s the ideal place for it, 
but I wouldn’t advise anybody to stay here longer than 
absolutely necessary.”

Drummer Danny Carey explains why Tool prefers more 
privacy and why, for them, it’s not important to be on 
magazine covers. “There are enough people in the music 
business who will do anything for headlines. They are media 
whores to a certain extent. We never wanted it. I think you 
can do it without selling yourself to the media. Look at Pink 
Floyd – they’re a really fascinating band and they never 
bothered to do the interview circuits.

“In a way, the more people push and shove to get on covers, 
the more they expose themselves. They become 
interchangeable or even laughing stock, plus it only attracts 
the kind of fans that are into every hype. For us it’s far more 
important that people are into what we’re doing, not because 
it’s a fashion trend but because they are really interested.

“That is one of the reasons why we like being in touch with 
our fans on the Net. There isn’t a filter between the fans and 
the band. The media will print stuff they think the readers are 
interested in, but maybe the readers are interested in 
something else. Through a direct communication over our 
web page, we can address certain issues and address them 
the way we want.”

Keenan has a rather spiritual explanation for music and why 
it’s bad for a band to get too much attention. According to 
him, it would hinder his creativity. “Somebody who likes our 
music shouldn’t see us as some sort of heroes. He should 
remember that the music is out there and sometimes music 
is looking for a medium. So if they concentrate on us, it’s 
absolutely wrong. They’re feeding our egos and that makes it 
more difficult for us to feel the music in its purest form. We’d 
start to take ourselves too seriously. It might sound very 
esoteric and hard to follow, but that’s how it is. Once you take 
yourself too seriously, the art will suffer.”

Keenan doesn’t only dislike interviews, he also doesn’t want 
to talk about music – a bit strange for a musician, but then 
again Tool – and especially Keenan – are anything but 
average. “I don’t think there is much of a point in talking 
about music; I think the music should speak for itself. Why 
interpret something or explain it? If people listen to it, they’ll 
understand or they won’t. I think music should do all the 
talking; a song can be a book. Somebody could write a book 
about a song, the impressions they get from it, the feelings, 
all the different elements.”

He admits that Tool don’t accept any rules where their music 
is concerned. “I think the Beatles tried to do everything that 
is possible with pop songs. If I listen to their White Album, it 
seems to me that it’s an acid trip, nothing else. So if you 
follow the tradition of the Beatles or the Smashing Pumpkins, 
then there are no rules, there are no barriers, nothing. So we 
push it further. We go on and we open up new dimensions, 
we tear down old barriers for other musicians, for musicians 
that will follow. Rock music has changed. It used to be 
dangerous; at least it always had that stigmata or glory of 
being dangerous, but it isn’t anymore. There is nothing left 
to discover.”

Posted to t.d.n: 04/03/02 23:45:30