the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: JJJ Radio

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
Ryn (

 title: Tool J Files
author: Michael Dwyer

JJJ Interview by Michael Dwyer with Adam and Danny

M: OK can you give me some kind of insight into the creative 
process, how does that work, do you start jamming or does 
Maynard bring in some lyrics or what?
DC: It all pretty much comes from jams and kind of every 
song can start from a different place. We try to keep as rule 
free as possible about it.  I mean some of them start from a 
little melody that M will come in humming and we all will start 
jamming on it. Itís mainly a jamming thing, you know itís a 
pretty organic process, to see how far each little ditty will take 
us and expound upon it as much as possible.  Keep a tape 
rolling while we do it and then go back and find the jewels 
and develop them and try to hook it together.
AJ: Itís interesting too, cos like you know a riff can come in 
and you know, by myself it sounds one way and then once 
the band starts jamming to it it just completely morphs into 
something else and almost like changes from what it was. So 
thereís so many ways of um starting the process. But itís just 
the four of us just kind of tearing apart ideas and then kind 
of patching them back together or going different avenues 
with them.
DC: Yeah, you canít be too precious about them cos your 
little babies get destroyed every time
AJ: Stomped on
DC: Turned into, mutated into some creature [laughs]
AJ: But it always comes out good.
M: You said how far you can let these ideas go, I mean they 
go pretty far often. I mean the length of a Tool song has 
become regarded as something of a statement in itself . . .
DC: Thatís pretty much it, we just kind of let the songs 
dictate in a lot of ways, you know. They take on kind of their 
own life and we try to make them a complete idea into 
themselves. Sometimes it takes five minutes, sometimes it 
takes 20.
AJ: Itís not planned out that way at all. I mean itís just kind 
of what we feel. I think it has a lot to come from where our 
influences were when we were kids. You know the kind of 
music we were all listening to, which was all very different but 
it was from a time when you know, stuff was on vinyl. You 
had artwork you could stare at, you didnít know what the 
band looked like, you didnít care how long the songs were. 
So I think thereís that aspect definitely influencing it, but 
thereís never a time when we go Ė right weíre gonna write a 
three minute song or thereís never a time where we go weíre 
gonna write a 20 minute song. It just happens.
M: It would be Ė I concluded they are that long because they 
kind of tackle weighty subjects and weighty emotions. Do you 
kind of see that as being the case?
DC: I donít know, maybe just because weíre trying to do 
something and communicate on a deeper level than some 
bands do. Maybe it takes a little more time to get your point 
across or to be articulate about things that are a little deeper. 
I mean I feel like we, our musicís gotten a little deeper 
because weíre able to communicate with each other better. So 
maybe thatís a by-product, weíre getting longer songs now, 
maybe the next record Ė itíll be one song and thatíll be it. 
M: This might sound like a strange question, but um, youíre 
all like stunning musicians, do you find that . . . I mean is 
that ever actually a problem in terms of serving a song 
directly, is it  easy to get caught up in the intricacies of 
playing your instrument?
AJ: Thereís having discipline, you know. I mean thatís the 
most important thing when youíre playing is listening to each 
other and knowing, you know . . . like I play guitar but 
sometimes maybe I need to play bass. I mean not physically 
pick up a bass but play my guitar like a bass because thatís 
what the song needed. Or may not play because thatís the 
power the song needed. So, ah . . . thanks for the 
compliment, you know, itís a -
DC: Yeah, I donít know, I kind of thought like we were more 
kind of hack musicians
AJ: Yeah [all laugh]
DC: I donít weíre all that good musicians on a lot of levels. I 
mean compared to like technical people . . . I had to study, I 
wasnít like a prodigy type person, I had to learn from a lot of 
M: I mean you have studied, thatís a difference to a lot of 
rock drummers I would say.
DC: Yeah, I guess
AJ: I think Danís the most, you know um, musically directed 
person with his experience of growing up than any of us. But 
I think the element youíre talking about is what any good 
artist can do, you know if . . . If you see some painting that, 
you know, maybe the guy canít render the human figure and 
make it look life-like. But, you know, his style, because itís 
coming from his heart, makes it really you know, powerful. 
And I think that has a lot to do with what we do. Thereís a lot 
of integrity, cos weíre big fans of our music. We like our 
music, we walk out going Ė yeah. So thatís a really important 
element, you know, and itís a nice compliment, but I think 
thatís where it comes from.
M: Is there much, um, does Maynard discuss his lyrics, his 
themes with you guys or is it all kind of unspoken, in terms 
of what a song is about?
DC: He Ė we leave it up to him to pretty much write the 
words. But I mean, heís always open with us suggesting that 
what Ė how heís interpreting it. We have a dialogue that goes 
back and forth. But itís his baby, definitely the words are. 
Heís the one that has to get up there and belt them out so it 
needs to really be heartfelt with him.
M: But what effect did, um just to sidetrack for a little, his 
side project with APC, did that have any impact on Tool and 
what this album became?
DC: I think it did somewhat at a point. Just for the fact that 
there were a few months went by when Maynard wasnít in the 
room with us working on it, so and we were, we didnít stop 
working. We kept going, you know, so, itís bound to have 
some sort of an effect. Itís kind of hard to pinpoint exactly 
what it was . . . . We were able to maybe try a few more 
possibilities of arrangements and things like that since there 
wasnít another cook in the kitchen, getting in the way.
AJ: Itís usually that way anyway. I mean, you know, 
especially, it was just nice having that luxury this time. But 
weíve always kind treated it like, you know, that the music 
has to hold up on its own. You know, with the lyrics coming 
across and having the frontman and then you have the band 
behind you. But at any time you can just feel that there are 
all those layers and levels there. And, um, usually, most of 
the time, the lyrics come last. You know, he can come up with 
melodies like I come up with melodies or Dan comes up with 
different drum beats and they donít necessarily have to have 
words. Especially coming into it in that later picture, thereís 
that room for the experimentation to take place. So, you 
know, itís not already dictated how itís gonna go, and this is 
how many times Iím singing or this is how many times youíre 
playing the guitar. Itís more like itís still kind of open and 
thatís where you get the really strong arrangement.  Cos 
thatís what I like about our stuff is, you know, the stuff as 
instrumentals I think really holds up well.
M: Thatís something thatís really noticeable about Tool, 
thereís not really, I mean there isnít a phrase that stands 
out. I mean the image of Tool is quite unique and comes 
down to a blend of the videos Ė the videos are more 
intriguing than explanatory Ė you donít see a lot of faces of 
band members on album covers, the informationís very 
sparse. How important is mystery to what Tool is?
DC: I would say very important. I donít know, I mean we were 
saying about the bands we grew up on, thereís a lot of 
mystery there. Bands like Pink Floyd and stuff, you never saw 
interviews with them. It left a lot more up to your 
imagination. You would create this thing in your mind, and it 
made you feel like you were more of a part of it, because 
you had created it in your mind. It wasnít all just laid out on a 
platter for you. I think thatís a real positive thing, you know. 
Gives it a life of its own.
AJ: Especially, you know, in todayís market thereís just, 
thereís no mystery. Thereís absolutely no mystery, you know. 
Everyone wants to know everything about everything and as 
fast as possible so I can get on to the next thing.  And, you 
know, thereís not much room for thinking when that goes on. 
Especially the kind of thinking that you feel good about, you 
know that, leads you to be inspired or not take things for 
M: A lot of your themes are really disturbingly dark it seems 
to me. Are you, how do you rationalise like the response to 
them Ė do you get some really weird fan mail, does it ever 
disturb you the kind of response that you get?
AJ: We encourage really weird fan mail. Absolutely. Like on 
the website and on the albums, we have an address and we 
say, you know Ė send polaroids. [laughs] So people send us 
artwork and drawings and crazy letters and presents . . . and 
itís nice. It just kind of reflects that thatís what theyíre about 
too, you know, theyíre trying to relate to you in that way. And 
itís awesome. Instead of just getting a letter that says Ė you 
guys kick ass. You guys are great. Youíre my favourite band. 
Love Roy, or something. To actually get something from the 
fan thatís actually them giving something back, itís just really 
cool. And weíve had some, ah, really interesting things come 
our way. [laughs]
M: Anything youíve had to turn over to the feds?
AJ: No, but thereís a couple of things that, you know, you 
watched on video and went Ė thatís the last time Iíll be 
watching that.
DC: Yeah [all laugh]

Posted to t.d.n: 05/27/02 22:53:22