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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: The News Tribune

Date: November, 2001

Transcribed by
Christina (

  page: 1,4
 title: Tool Time
author: Ernest A. Jasmin

Tool time 
Vocalist's return puts British band back in business 

Ernest A. Jasmin; The News Tribune 

The other members of Tool were apprehensive at times as 
frontman Maynard James Keenan pursued his side project, A 
Perfect Circle. 

But that's understandable. 

Tool - Thursday's headliner at the Tacoma Dome - was in the 
midst of a five-year hiatus that ended in May with its latest 
album "Lateralus." Meanwhile, Keenan was busy racing up the 
charts with A Perfect Circle, largely on the strength of that 
band's first single, "Judith." 

Sure, Keenan kept in touch with his Tool mates. But the 
question lingered in the back of their minds: Would he ditch 
the band that made him famous for his successful side 

"The fact that the Perfect Circle thing did pretty well, there 
were a few moments of insecurity when you weren't sure, is 
he coming back or what?" bassist Justin Chancellor said last 
week in a phone call from a San Antonio tour stop. 

As it turned out, the band's angst was for nothing. 

"It ended up being kind of a healthy, cathartic thing for 
(Keenan)," Chancellor said in a polite-sounding British accent 
that belied Tool's grim image. "I think if you feel you need to 
go and express yourself in a different arena, it's important to 
go let yourself do that. You've got to stay happy, you know. 
It's kind of like he got something out of his system and was 
really excited to get back to doing what we were doing 

The bassist said he knew next to nothing about Keenan's 
other side project - one that may greatly overshadow A 
Perfect Circle if it lives up to the buzz. Tapeworm - a 
supergroup that also includes Nine Inch Nails leader Trent 
Reznor - has collaborated in secrecy for months.

Reznor criticized Keenan on Nine Inch Nails' official Web site 
after the Tool singer unveiled a Tapeworm song 
called "Vacant" in January while touring with A Perfect Circle. 

"I have to admit I find it mildly irritating for ("Vacant") to 
debut in this fashion before it has been properly realized," 
Reznor wrote.

That aside, Tool is unified and back on track. 

"We're on Tool time now," Chancellor said. "People can do 
their own things, but people are pretty much focused on Tool 
right now."

While Keenan was away with A Perfect Circle, Chancellor, 
drummer Danny Carey and guitarist Adam Jones worked on 
reinventing Tool's sound. 

"We really wanted to come up with something that kind of 
surprised ourselves even. We just decided to take as long as 
it took to do it," Chancellor said, downplaying other 
distractions that kept Tool out of the studio for years. 

Turmoil at the band's old label, Zoo, and a $5 million lawsuit 
filed by the band's former manager also slowed the creative 
process and gave Keenan incentive to pursue other creative 

Whatever the reasons, Chancellor said the wait was worth 
it: "I think it worked out. I think we were all pleased about it, 
and we didn't lose too many supporters."

Last spring, the intricate, creeping bass riff that 
drives "Schism," the first single off "Lateralus," provided a 
sharp contrast to the heavy, brooding sounds of "Sober" 
and "Prison Sex" - the hits that, along with the grotesquely 
artsy videos that accompanied them, landed Tool in heavy 
rotation on MTV. 

"Lateralus," as a whole, showcases music that's more 
complex, free-flowing and subtle than much of the material 
on Tool's previous studio albums, "Opiate," "Undertow" 
and "Aenima." 

Fans will also notice that the band has downshifted 
emotionally from the rage expressed in earlier work. The title 
track of 1996's "Aenima" epitomizes the nihilistic vibe that 
runs through many of Tool's songs. 

On it, Keenan yearningly sings of an apocalyptic event that 
will wipe out his hometown, Los Angeles. 

One great big festering neon distraction
I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied
Learn to swim, learn to swim
'Cause mom's gonna fix it all soon
Mom's comin' 'round to put it back the way it oughta be

Chancellor put the sentiments in context: 

"LA's a pretty bizarre place," he said. "I think when you're 
trying to create something unique you tend to butt your head 
up against all the things that are trying to prevent you from 
doing that - the normal (stuff) that really drags you down. ... 
Everyone's suing everyone. Everyone wants to be an actor or 
an actress. It's kind of a lot of talk, you know, and not so 
much action.

"On 'Opiate' and 'Undertow,' I think there was a little bit more 
of that frustration and releasing of that aggression. ('Aenima' 
is) kind of like the final release. We started feeling a little 
different and just a little more settled with things ourselves 
and (felt like) moving forward to more positive themes."

These days, a more well-adjusted Tool works at refining its 
live sound. During the first leg of Tool's "Lateralus" tour, 
which stopped by Seattle's Paramount Theatre in August, 
Tool played only a few new tunes. 

Since then, Tool has added more of the new songs, such 
as "Triad," an instrumental track from "Lateralus." 

"It's fairly different from what we've put on the album," 
Chancellor said. "Now it's kind of our opening jam song. 
We've been having a lot of guest drummers. It's kind of an 
open palette; we like to take it wherever it can go." 

Fans also can expect an elaborate multimedia display 
of "weird, bizarre" images that projectionist Camella Grace 
controls from offstage.

"She's essentially part of the band," Chancellor said. "She's 
almost like a DJ. She's jamming to the music, and she can 
actually sync the video up in perfect time to the music."

That's not to mention the outrageous costuming Keenan is 
known for, including white body paint, dresses, wheelchairs, 
bikini briefs and prosthetic breasts. When asked what sorts of 
fashion statements Keenan would make this time around, 
Chancellor said only, "Leather and skin."

Chancellor alluded to other surprises for the Tacoma show, 
but would only provide a single, cryptic clue: "Upside down."

We'll just have to wait and see. 

Before Tool's surprises are unveiled, the crowd at the Dome 
will witness trip-hop poster boy Tricky, a man who's made a 
solo career off of mumbling over tweaked out samples and 
beats since he left British dub outfit Massive Attack in the 
early '90s.

That's not exactly whom you'd expect to open for Tool, but 
that's the point. 

"People want something in the exact same vein, but 
hopefully it's a little more mind-opening for them," 
Chancellor said. "There is always going to be a group of 
people who see it and are going to be turned on by it. For us 
that's worth it.

- - -

* Staff writer Ernest Jasmin covers pop culture. Reach him at 
253-274-7389 or

- - -

SIDEBAR: Tool discography


(2000): The band breaks away from its 

death-metal image and strays into the realm of progressive 
art rock. 


(2000): A 74-minute collection of live songs and studio 
outtakes. Includes a DVD of the band's creepy videos.


(1996): This disc marks the peak of the band's angry period. 
Don't be fooled by the spelling. It's pronounced "enima."


(1993): The band branches out musically on this 
breakthrough album. 


(1992): Features "Hush" and other hard-rocking tunes Tool 
played as an opening act for Henry Rollins and Rage Against 
the Machine.

- - -

SIDEBAR: Despite dark imagery, Tool has lighter side

With morbid hits such as "Prison Sex" and "Sober" and a 
string of videos that are grotesque enough to give Wes 
Craven the creeps, Tool has earned its reputation as the 
most disturbed band to top the pop charts. (Marilyn Manson 
is technically a solo act, after all.) 

But there's a dark little secret that might blow its brooding 
image: The band has a sense of humor. 

Case in point: The German rant on the "Aenima" track "Die 
Eier von Satan" sounds a lot like someone speaking at a 
World War II Nazi rally. But the speaker - listed as Marko Fox 
in the album's liner notes - is actually talking about 
something less sinister than world domination and genocide. 

"It was kind of an experiment, you know - just the idea of 
how languages can be misinterpreted because of their 
character," bassist Justin Chancellor says, chuckling at the 
inside joke. "German sounds real aggressive ... but it was 
actually just a cookie recipe.

"If you look carefully there's humor in there," he says, 
alluding to other jokes sprinkled in with Tool's stark, high-
decibel rock. "They're lost on some people, but it only takes 
a bit of time to figure it out." 

But inside jokes are just scratching the surface. Check out 
other evidence the band has a light side: 

* Frontman Maynard James Keenan and drummer Danny 
Carey were members of the campy rock band Green Jello, 
which became Green Jelly with some encouragement from the 
folks at Jell-O. Some may remember the goofy claymation 
video for "Three Little Pigs" that aired on MTV during the 
grunge era. Call it a precursor to Tool's love of animated 

* Keenan and guitarist Adam Jones used to do stand-up 
comedy around Los Angeles. Keenan was even cast in an 
episode of HBO's sketch comedy series "Mr. Show."

* Before the release of last year's "Lateralus" album, the 
band poked fun at its death-metal image by posting fake 
titles for upcoming songs on its Web page. They 
included "Encephatalis," "Coeliacus," "Pain Canal" 
and "Lactation." 

* Here's the biggest shocker: Keenan told Spin magazine 
that he grew up listening to Joni Mitchell's music. 

Wow! How do you go from listening to "Help Me" to writing 
songs like "Stinkfist" and "Ticks & Leeches"?

- - -


* What: Tool, Tricky in concert.

* When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

* Where: Tacoma Dome.

* Tickets: $38.50.

* Information: Ticketmaster (253-627-8497 in Tacoma, 206-
628-2151 in Seattle or

 The News Tribune


Posted to t.d.n: 11/06/01 21:48:31