the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Circus Magazine

Date: August, 2002

Transcribed by
jmrhite (

 title: TOOL – New Tour, Single and maybe a New CD....  Maynard Speaks Ou
author: Gabriella

Tool is one of the bands where nothing is ever normal, 
nothing stays the same and they are always good for a 
surprise, their music and lyrics are considered spiritual and 
loud, and in an ironic, symbolical way true.


Maynard James Keenan’s methods are contradictions and 
paradoxes and pretty often in interviews he prefers speaking 
in riddles, being as elusive as possible, as he is when he 
confesses that, “Tool is busy working on a new video,” but 
claiming that the band doesn’t know which video.  Yet after a 
bit of prompting he finally comes out with the truth, “We 
know which song, but we don’t want to talk about it now.”  At 
least he is ready to spill the information that it will be 
completely in the tradition of the previous Tool videos.


Just like the lyrics, the Tool videos seem slightly obscure and 
often almost abstract, fitting for the music that is a hybrid of 
metal, progressive rock, and psychedelia.  While he was with 
A Perfect Circle he seemed to be the perfect poet; with Tool 
he is simply using the lyrics as a way to put the music in 
words, his interpretation of the sound.


“Everything we release with Tool is inspired by our music, it 
doesn’t matter if it is a video or if it’s lyrics.  The lyrics 
for “Schism” are nothing more than my interpretation of the 
music.  Adam does most of the work when it comes to videos 
and he basically does the same as I do with the lyrics.  The 
videos are his visual interpretations of our music.


“Everything revolves around the music when it comes to Tool, 
music is about listening, the more you play the more the 
magic spreads.  For me life is writing and I can do it 
anywhere, it doesn’t matter where I am, I listen, I write, I live 
and if you don’t live you have nothing to write about!”


Tool’s emotional, melodic metal opened doors for bands like 
the Deftones, but Tool has always been tongue in cheek.  
They started as an alternative band and soon became one of 
the leading new heavy metal acts of the 90s, influencing 
countless other bands with their innovative sound and their 
densely rhythmic style.  When Tool was founded in L.A. in 
1990 by Adam Jones (guitar), Maynard James Keenan 
(vocals), Paul D’Amour (bass)  (later replaced by Justin 
Chancellor) and Danny Carey (drums), nobody knew that 
they’d become something like a landmark in the heavy 
alternative scene, even if the way they were accepted by 
other musicians was a fair indication, that Tool were not 
just “another alternative band.”


Despite the fact that Maynard James Keenan does often not 
want to talk about the music, because he is worried that 
talking about it would take attention away from the music, 
and the people behind it would become more important than 
the music itself, he doesn’t mind talking about shows.


“Shows are really strange, sometimes you really don’t know 
what to expect, sometimes you’re playing in the sunshine, 
something that just doesn’t seem to go with our sound and it 
isn’t worse, it’s just different, absolutely different.  Then there 
are some days when we really don’t want to go on stage at 
all, when we feel terrible and we really shouldn’t play – and 
pretty often those shows turn out to be absolute highlights.”


“So much plays into it, there are so many factors and so 
many things that all play a part in shows, that you really 
never know what makes a good show and sometimes we do 
wonder if we – the musicians – do really play a big part in it 
or if we can hardly influence it.”


During their US tour King Crimson supported Tool, and Tool 
never made a secret of the fact that they worship King 
Crimson.  One might think it would be strange to have your 
idols as a support, but since Tool is everything else than your 
average rock band, their motivation is a completely different 


“I think it was an honor for us and for our fans it was 
something like an education.  A lot of our fans weren’t really 
aware where we were coming from, what inspired us, I find it 
a bit sad.  I think to share one stage with King Crimson was 
important, it showed where our roots are, where we are 
coming from.  After all in today’s music scene every band 
seems to steal from other bands, they’re all stealing from 
each other and they all claim to be the originals, I think it’s 
limiting.  Limiting for the bands and limiting for the listener!”


Tool has created a certain mystery and they seem to be 
worried about being in the spotlight, and that the focus on 
them as individuals might distract from their music.  
Compared to other bands, Tool is probably the most elusive 
band in today’s music scene.  So it is hardly surprising that 
when they were awarded with a Grammy – something other 
bands would give their eye-teeth for – for Tool it wasn’t a big 
issue.  Keenan was true to his philosophy, that if artists take 
themselves too seriously their art is going to suffer.  Tool 
didn’t even bother to show up at the Grammy Awards 
according to Maynard James Keenan it’s not a big deal.


“I think the Grammys are nothing more than some gigantic 
promotion machine for the music industry.  They cater to a 
low intellect and they feed the masses, they don’t honor the 
arts or the artist for what he created.  It’s the music business 
celebrating itself, that’s basically what it’s all about.”


But considering that Maynard James Keenan sees it so 
negative and assuming he speaks for the whole band on this 
issue, he replies:


“Why should we refuse it?  First of all that would just gain a 
lot of attention and we are certainly not attention seekers.  
And if our record company and the music business want to 
have a party, why should we spoil it for them?  Just because 
we don’t like it, why ruin it for them?”


“I don’t care at all!  We’re just 4 guys and we are enjoying 
what we’re doing with Tool.  We are eager to learn, to learn 
about ourselves and to learn about music, about life, about 
everything.  And of course we always hope that we can 
change something for the better through our music, give 
somebody else some inspiration.  I believe that music is a 
force in itself, it is there and it needs an outlet, a medium.  
In a way we are just the medium.”


One thing one can’t help to wonder is, how is Tool getting 
some feedback from their fans?  After all they are so 
reclusive and they keep so much aloof and are not exactly 
looking for contact and interaction with their fans, but 
Maynard has a reason for that as well.


“We really don’t like it, it’s not arrogance at all, we just 
consider it slightly unnatural.  It’s not that we’re looking down 
on our fans and that’s why we don’t want any contact, it’s just 
if we would mix with our fans, they’d most likely would feel 
that they have to tell us how much they like our music and 
that can easily get to your head.  Look at a couple of bands 
out there, with a lot of them I always get the feeling their 
success has gone to their heads.  If you start taking yourself 
too seriously it’s not good for the creative process.  I always 
believed that music should speak for itself, that people 
shouldn’t see us as heroes, that our fans shouldn’t 
concentrate on us, that they shouldn’t try to feed our egos.  
Once your ego gets in the way it is much more difficult to feel 


How different Tools philosophy is, also is shown in the fact 
that Tool wouldn’t even change anything about their previous 
albums.  Despite the fact that Lateralus has been released 
almost a year ago, he wouldn’t change a single thing, not 
because he considers it perfect – Maynard James Keenan 
hardly considers anything perfect – but simply because he 
believes everything happens for a reason.


Posted to t.d.n: 09/01/02 22:40:57