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A TOOL-Related Article

Publication: Timeoff

Date: February 5, 1997

Transcribed by Scott Rowan (


In his book, I Need More with Anne Wehrer, Iggy Pop reckons that the 
constant assault of amplifiers over the last few decades has altered his 
body chemistry in some significant way. Los Angeles-based earth-shakers 
and psychic stirrers Tool are apparently set on the same gut- and 
DNA-altering course.

"I definitely believe that," says Tool's totally humourless vocalist and 
general shaman, Maynard James Keenan (who, incredible as it now seems, 
was a Kiss maniac when he was about twelve). "That's a proven thing. The 
magnets and electricity that goes through all that stuff on stage 
definitely alters the energy field around your body, just like children 
are dying of weird cancers that have their schools set up next to major 
power lines. That's documented stuff. I don't know if it's a healthy 
thing. I just know that it does affect you." 

Right now, with the release of their second album, the long-awaited 
Aenima, Tool's music is creating a magnetic field of its own that many 
are clearly finding highly attractive. In the U.S., where Toolmania hit a 
belated but very high tide mark with their last album, Undertow, Guitar 
Player magazine, with its massive monthly circulation, was unable to 
secure an interview with the band for its January 1997 issue. They 
decided to go to plan B, which involved featuring the cartoon character 
that appeared in the animated video for 'Sober' from the Undertow album. 
In Australia, their song 'Stinkfist' came perilously close to topping 
"the world's biggest music poll" - the JJJ Hot 100. Tickets for their 
just-announced Australia tour are selling faster their albums - which are 
selling pretty fast. Tool are currently big business. 

The wave that Tool are riding has been building out the back for several 
years. Intensity and heaviness are not the issues they once were. We have 
returned to a time where music is the key. Back in Led Zeppelin's 
early-seventies heyday there was virtually no difference between the sort 
of audience The Stones and Zeppelin pulled. We've gone full circle. 

"Thank goodness," Keenan murmurs.

The central epic piece of the Undertow album was 'Sister Ray'-ish beast 
called 'Disgustipated' that grew from a crazed night at Palladium in Los 
Angeles, during an anti-vivisection show which Tool found themselves part 
of - though they aren't anti-vivisection. It was supposed to be an 
acoustic show with Alice In Chains, Rage Against The Machine and Porno 
For Pyros. Tool, shall we say, departed from that agenda smashing a 
multitude of guitars while Keenan discharged a shotgun. After the smoke 
and plaster dust settled they went and somehow did a studio version of 
it. The material on Aenima was birthed under relatively more conservative 

"'Disgustipated' was kind of an experimental thing.. With this album we 
did a lot of experimenting but it was more of a deliberate process." 

The recording time frame for Aenima was "pretty short, not too long" and 
was -produced by David Bottrill, a choice made at least in part because 
of his pro rata relationship with Robert Fripp, the genius behind Tool 
heroes King Crimson.

"We saw his name on a project with David Sylvian and Fripp that I really 
liked and decided to check him out."

It's an association that's in keeping with Keenan's take on where the 
band are coming from.

"I would relate us more to Soundgarden or Robert Fripp King Crimson sort 
of stuff than I would the Rollins Band," he says. "Though there's 
definitely a lot of similar things going on." 

Keenan is not sure of everything that's been going on in the Tool camp, 
however. For example, he had no idea about the origins of the passage 
about the mind on the CD slick for Aenima. 

"I'm not sure who wrote that. I haven't really gone over that too much. 
Danny (Carey, drums) and Adam (Jones guitar) are the ones that put it in 
there. I'm not sure where it's from."

Have you ever been approached to do any acting? 

"A little bit yeah. Just some comedy stuff, like sketch comedy." 

Is it true you don't blink?

"I don't know. I don't pay attention."

And what has to be in place for a great Tool show? 

"I don't know. I guess all the pistons firing at the same time. You don't 
need to have too much of a spiritual mind set. Once you kick in and the 
sounds kick in, they take you where they're going to take you."

kabir/akhtar | kabir@t.d.n