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A TOOL-Related Article

Publication: JAM (Florida's Music Magazine)

Date: November 8 - 21, 1996

Transcribed by

 title: TOOL TIME
author: Peter Atkinson

So said Tool singer Maynard James Keenan two years ago as the band was 
wrapping up their tour in support of their incessantly intense, very 
successful debut album. By then he'd had over a year's worth of gigs to 
vent what was left over from the cathartic Undertow where he boasts 
"hatred keeps me alive" on the track "Bottom."
Listening to Aenima, the follow-up to Undertow, it would seem Keenan 
perhaps misspoke about anger's usefullness on that earlier occasion-the 
title itself means "hostile emotion."
"I sure could use a vacation from this bullshit three-ring circus side 
show," sings Keenan on the title track. He also warns listeners on 
"Hooker With A Penis" that, "before you point your finger at me little 
buddy, you should know that I'm the man... so you can point your fucking 
finger up your ass." To go along with that is the chilling segue "Message 
To Harry Manback," a piano-backed answering machine message-apparently 
for Harry-from a murderously irate foreigner who notes "one of three 
Americans die of cancer, asshole. You're gonna be one of those ...I hope 
someone in your family dies soon." Not exactly the "Happy Happy, Joy Joy" 
song, but then again, Tool has never been accused of propagating sugary 
sweet pop music. Unfortunately, Keenan has not made himself available to 
take up the argument. Tool of-fered but a handful of interviews upon the 
release of Aenima instead of the full-frontal media assault one might 
expect after the platinum plus success of Undertow. With Keenan keeping a 
low profile and guitarist Adam Jones finishing the video for "Stinkfist," 
drummer Danny Carey is acting as Tool spokesman at this rare point in 
time when the band is even talking at all.
"I think(Aenima)is a real positive record ,"opines Carey , despite the 
ominous tone that permeates the disc. "íHooker is probably the lightest 
song on the record-itís almost like comic relief in the middle of it all. 
Itís a fun song to play (because) we like the good energy of it." 
"Thereís all these emotions that run the gamut of everyday life and the 
record is pretty much a postcard of our lives over the past year or so. 
While ëStinkfistí is a song that deals with desensitization and 
overexposure-the media and things like that-overall, itís a record about 
unity and change, metamorphosis and evolution."
If that message is hard to gather through Keenanís whisper-to-a-scream 
vocals and often cryptic lyrics, then so be it. Tool has little use for 
fluff and by avoiding the obvious-and notable not providing a lyric 
sheet-it leaves things wide open to interpretation by the listener, which 
Carey is all for. "I think you can dig deeper into our music," he says. 
"We get along well enough (as a band) that weíre comfortable with each 
other. We donít have to talk about strange, superficial things. We can go 
in and pull out some of the uglier things that maybe people wouldnít 
normally share with each other. 
Itís a unity thing.
"Itís a good feeling to be able to share that with other people, and they 
really relate to it, " he adds. "You arenít going to get that listening 
to the radio most of the time."
As far as Toolís veritable avoidance of the media for Aenima, donít 
mistake their reticence for arrogance. The band would just rather have 
its music and vision do the talking, despite the obvious interest by fans 
to hear it from the horseís mouth.
"I think a lot of times (interviews) limit peopleís interpretations," 
says Carey. Itís kind of nice just throwing (a CD) out there and letting 
(people) run wild with it and seeing where they go. I think thatís a 
healthier way. 
When I was growing up, it was always better in my imagination than in 
real life. Itís good to let people imagine things. "We try to keep our 
egos out of our music as much as possible and let things happen. Weíre 
just lucky that we met each other and have someone to share ideas with. 
It feels good that way;you donít have to try to force things." 
Indeed Tool is a model for teamwork. Despite the departure of bassist 
Paul DíAmour last year (who has formed his own project Lusk ), Tool is 
about a tight a unit as you will find. The band does almost everything 
within its own ranks, from writing and recording the music to making its 
captivating and painstaking videos to putting together the packaging and 
artwork (which, for Aenima, involves a dynamic 3-D presentation). 
Everyone is as important a cog in the wheel as the next guy-even new 
bassist Justin Chancellor (formerly of Peach).
"As soon as we found out record companies wanted to sign us, we were 
concerned as much about maintaining complete artistic control as we were 
about getting big advances, " says Carey. " We understand what weíre 
It always seemed like such a ridiculous thing for a band to give away 
that part of their expression.
"(As a band, Tool ) is a good healthy environment," he says. "We feed off 
each other in a lot of ways, so it kind of snowballs. Iím always amazed 
when I talk to other bands about how difficult it must be to go through 
the arguments and things like that. Everyone in the group has a similar 
vision that we can relate to. It gives us a lot more energy and power." 
Things fell into place quickly for Tool when it first formed in early 
Keenan moved in next door to Carey. Keenan knew Jones, and DíAmour was a 
friend of Jones. The quartet quickly began jamming and, by the end of í91 
after a handful of gigs, Tool landed a deal with Zoo entertainment. 
Several months later, the band released its debut EP Opiate, and hit the 
road with The Rollins Band. In typical Tool fashion, they havenít looked 
back since. "We all knew we had a similar vision in mind once we started 
playing together and got to know each other," says Carey. "All it really 
takes to have a good band or success in anything is strength in numbers 
working for you. We all believe in what we do."
Aenima debuted at No. 2, and likely would have been No. 1 were it not for 
Walmart and K-Martís policy of not stocking albums labeled with "explicit 
lyrics" stickers. All of the hard work put in with Undertow has paid 
instant dividends this time.
With Undertow, it was a much slower climb to success. The album went 
platinum over 15 months after its April 1993 release without ever 
cracking the Top 40. That longevity is largely due to the haunting but 
visually striking stop-action animation videos for "Sober" and "Prison 
Sex". "It took a while for MTV to catch on or, actually, to become aware 
of the band, says Carey. "The main breakthrough was playing on 
Lollapalooza (1993) because MTV was giving that tour a lot of attention. 
Once we moved up to the main stage we started to reap the benefits of 
that. They up picked our video and thatís really when things started to 
take off. We went to our peak position when Beavis and Butthead got a 
hold of it. "We knew it was a good record but you are always surprised 
when people like it. It was kind of a shocker," he adds. "A million and a 
half people bought it. Iím glad there were that many people who could 
relate to something like that rather than, say, a Hootie record or a 
Garth Brooks record." Still the band didnít let commercial considerations 
play into the follow-up, as evidenced by the series of bizarre interludes 
that tie the record together. Thereís also the epic "Third Eye" which 
concludes Aenima-an album on which most of the tracks top six minutes 
anyway-in a tumultuous 15-minute jam.
"All the pressure just comes from us-it doesnít come from anywhere else," 
says Carey. "You always have to question, ëAm I growing, am I learning, 
am I progressing in some way?í As long as your heart is in the right 
place, thatís going to naturally happen. We just let it work, and if 
things are in harmony between us, thatís going to come out in the record. 
I think it did this time."

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