the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: JournalNow

Date: November, 2002

Transcribed by
riki-lee (

 title: Tool wraps a mystical cloak around it's music
author: Parke Puterbaugh

Fri, November 1, 2002
Tool wraps a mystical cloak over its music

By Parke Puterbaugh

 Tool will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Joel Coliseum. 
Meshuggah will open the show. Admission is $36.50. For 
tickets, call 722-6400.

Lateralus, the third full-length CD by the progressive metal 
band Tool, comes packaged in a severe black slipcase that 
looks like an electrician's schematic. Its small, hard-to-read 
silver lettering reveals not much more than the band 
members' names, song titles and a few crucial credits. The 
pamphlet inside contains no writing whatsoever. Its clear 
plastic pages overlap to form a colorful, intricate anatomical 
study of a human head and torso.

Tool cultivates a certain mystique in its music and visual 
presentation. It is not quite the same ritual infatuation with 
evil that has propelled metal since Black Sabbath first tolled 
the funeral bell back in the early '70s. Nonetheless, Tool has 
left enough room for interpretation in its music that fans of 
Lateralus have made a virtual industry out of speculating 
what such songs as "The Grudge" and "Schism," not to 
mention the imponderable whole, might mean.

There has been extensive cyber-conjecture by fans and 
nonfans that the name Lateralus refers to a cannibalistic 
dissection rite, that subliminal messages have been encoded 
into the disc, and that the entire album derives from the 
Qabala (a mystical, symbolic interpretation of scripture).

Adam Jones, the band's guitarist and artistic mastermind, 
chuckled when some of these notions were put to him. "Most 
people don't understand what's going on," he said. "They 
really want these unanswered questions answered, and if 
they're not, they say, 'They're dark,' 'They're 
sinister,' 'They're nihilistic.' It's OK, it's fine. I don't worry that 
someone is or isn't getting the message of the band. It's 
kind of a selfish approach. The four of us get it, but for 
anyone else outside the circle, it's up for interpretation."

Does he believe that Tool's fans get it?

"Oh, no way!" he answered without hesitation. "But it's OK. 
I'm not saying there's a secret message. I mean, there are 
definitely ideas and concepts. But it's like this - if you see a 
painting that moves you and you go, 'Well, this is what I 
think is going on in the painting and what I think the artist 
was feeling when he did it,' does it matter if you're right or 
wrong? It's just perspective, and it's all up for grabs."

Tool's densely knit music is challenging and often brutally 
intense, yet there's also room for a certain amount of 
minimalist beauty and even a well-concealed touch of 
humor. "We've always approached it as doing some kind of 
serious expression that uses both sides of your brain, while 
at the same time not taking ourselves very seriously," Jones 

He was speaking from backstage at a venue in Lowell, Mass., 
where Tool would be playing in a few hours. Lowell is the 
birthplace, childhood home and final resting place of Jack 
Kerouac - the author and figurehead of the Beat Generation - 
and the band visited his grave earlier in the day.

It's fitting that Jones made reference to painting, because 
Tool - whose other members are vocalist Maynard James 
Keenan, drummer Danny Carey and bassist Justin 
Chancellor - is an art-rock band as much as it is a metal one. 
Jones was born in 1965 and cut his musical teeth on 
progressive-rock bands of the 1970s.

"The bands I liked were ones where you didn't know what 
they looked like, they had really amazing artwork, and their 
music went deeper than what everyone else was doing," he 

Jones named several that rate as key influences. Yes, Rush, 
Pink Floyd and, especially, King Crimson. "These bands, we 
are their children," he said. "We are the result of them."

Tool actually toured with King Crimson this year in a pairing 
made in prog-rock heaven. "We mentioned to King Crimson, 
as a joke almost, about playing with us, and they were totally 
into it," Jones said. "So we just split everything up the middle 
and had the show. We went on after them, because lots more 
of their fans than our fans were buying tickets, but the 
collective of their fans and our fans were just amazing."

"It was just a complete honor and the stuff I learned about 
relationships and music and the music industry was 
amazing," he said. "I could die a happy man after that."

Tool came together in 1991 when three relocated 
Midwesterners - Jones (from Illinois), Keenan (Ohio) and 
Carey (Kansas) - met in Los Angeles. Tom Morello, the 
guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, played a pivotal role 
in making introductions. The quartet was rounded out by 
bassist Paul D'Amour, who was replaced in 1995 by U.K. 
native Justin Chancellor, late of the band Peach.

The first Tool album, Undertow, appeared in 1993, and was 
followed three years later by Aenima. Legal issues with record 
companies sidelined the band for several years, but they 
emerged in 2001 with Lateralus, their strongest album to 
date. Along the way, they played on a couple of Lollapalooza 
tours and an Ozzfest, and they've toured with the likes of the 
Rollins Band and Rage Against the Machine.

Despite all the noisy company they have kept, Tool is by far 
the artiest of any of the bands to which the "metal" tag can 
be applied. Vocalist Keenan is a wine aficionado who is 
establishing a vineyard in Arizona and co-owns a restaurant 
in Hollywood. Drummer Carey came to Tool from Green 
Jello, "a very artistic kind of goofy costume-oriented band," 
according to Jones.

Jones himself has studied art, sculpture and film, and worked 
in Hollywood as a makeup artist and special-effects person. 
This orientation has obviously informed his approach to 

"I look at things in a very layered way," he said. "I see them 
as you might look at doing a computer program, like an 
editing program, where you can see the different parts and 
layers, what works and the harmony of the whole thing. I 
don't think I have some amazing insight that other people 
don't have. I think it's just a different perspective of trying to 
visualize things in three dimensions through sound or 
through an idea or concept."

In terms of what Tool means to accomplish, "we're trying to 
overstimulate and understimulate at the same time," Jones 
said. "It's the power of complexity with the power of ... 
nothing. It is something you find in a lot of things that come 
in movements, like a classical piece or an art show, 
something that's a little more complex than one single thing. 
We're trying to take it as far as you can without overdoing it."

Posted to t.d.n: 11/08/02 13:44:49