Publication: Winnipeg Free Press
Date: November 7, 1996
Transcribed by Melissa Dupuis (adupuis@MTS.Net)
title: Tool of the trade: Unpredictability author: Sal Caputo of The Arizona Republic Tool's pounding mix of industrial and metal styles, and the heart-of-darkness lyrics of such tunes as Prison Sex, won a large audience for its 1993 album, Undertow. The group's current album, Aenima, seems to constantly strain at the boundry between the sacred and the profane. Noise and fevered monologues provide segues between the songs, some of them unwinding in long declamations, like the closing 13-minutes opus Third Eye. Woven into the fabric of clashing guitars and drums are world-music touches. A Middle Eastern feeling touches the spiritual side, offering some shelter from Tool's storm. Conflating the words "anima" (the soul or spirit) with "enima" shows the extremes that preoccupy Tool. Thos extremes were precisely what attracted Justin Chancellor to the band. The Englishman and the American group hit it off when his old band Peach opened for Tool on a british tour. When Tool's original bass player, Paul D'Amour, departed last year, Chancellor was one of about a dozen people asked to audition, and he was floored when he passed it. "More than just friends," Chancellor says from a Los Angeles office. "Its like playing with you hero: How do you fit in with them?" He didn't have time to ponder the question because the band was in process of recording Aenima. "It was like jumping in the deep end," he says, chuckling over his original trepidation at playing with the other members of the band-drummer Danny Carey, vocalist Maynard James Keenan and guitarist Adam Jones. "It was like, 'OK! You're in the band now! Start writing!'... It was exciting. You know why that is? Because you don't have any time to think. So you're just kind of like, 'Oh! OK! Well, what're we gonna do? Hmmm? OK! Let's do it!' " Tool had no qualms about experimenting on this sophomore album (the band also had released an extended-play single called Opiate in 1992), and called on David Bottrill to be producer. Bottrill, a begind-the-controls vetteran of work by King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, seemed an odd choice to work in Tool's heavy style. "The whole thing for Tool is that it's not a metal band, " Chancellor says. "It's a band that's very open to interpretation of what you want to perceive it to be. "The choice of David as a producer was because he's someone who comes from that musical-sensitivity background instead of being a rock guy, and there was a sensitivity there that this album, this music, neeeded that interpretation." Bottrill's ear for experimentation and world music brought out those elements that Tool, particularly Carey, had been experimenting with. The band's current show is a misture of world from all three recordings, Chancellor says. "We try to vary the set every night so that is doesn't become boring for us," he says. " We opened the other night with Third Eye, which is a 13-1/2-minute song. So that might or might not be in the set. We write the set virtually on the day." And the songs might also be fleshed out from the recorded versions: "We have variations or extensions, like a good haircut." With Aenima's parental-advisory sticker and fittingly nightmarish artwork (which Chancellor says "germinates from Adam's deep dark recesses"), there is a tendancy to think of Tool as morose and morbid. Yet Chancellor comes across as jolly. "We're not dark and brooding or anything like that, but I think the music reflects what we feel is life as we know it today. It's a little bit Brazil," he says, referring to the satirical movie. "Maynard (who writes lyrics) is writing about stuff that he sees happening to us today, and a lot of it is not pretty and it isn't Nickelodeon." Then, he adds as an aside about the cable network:"Good cartoons. We don't get cartoons like that in England."