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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Pitchforkmedia.com

Date: Sometime, 2001

Transcribed by
Stu (stuniversal@hotmail.com)


  page: 
 title: Tool - Lateralus
author: Brent DiCrescenzo

Eric Partridge's Dictionary of the Underworld (1998 
NTC/Contemporary Publishing), a lexicon of 19th Century 
street slang, defines the idiom "pitch the fork" as "to tell a 
pitiful tale." The term appeared printed in 1863 in Story of a 
Lancashire Thief:

"Brummagem Joe, a cove ["fellow" or "dude," if you will] as 
could patter or pitch the fork with anyone."

At last, the secret motivation of my schtick and the 
etymology behind our name can be revealed. These reviews 
have been less critique than loquacious concept reviews by an 
entertaining tramp. So you'd think an 80-minute opus by 
Tool would be right up our alley. You'd be wrong. 

Undertow, Tool's 1993 debut LP, took studio skill and over-
trained chops to metal with aplomb. It was Rush Sabbath. As 
emotional, melodic metal goes (the cultural impact of which 
will be left to the reader), it opened doors for bands like the 
Deftones, and to some degree, Limp Bizkit. However, Tool 
have always possessed a latent understanding of absurdity 
and comedy; their videos look like Tim Burton stop-motion, 
goth Primus.

But with popularity and praise, Tool's shadowy tongue-in-
cheek turned into the simple biting of tongues. Ænema 
spiced their sound with electronics and industry, as was the 
trend at the time. Now, with the early new century 
demanding "opuses," Tool follows suit. The problem is, Tool 
defines "opus" as taking their "defining element" (wanking 
sludge) and stretching it out to the maximum digital capacity 
of a compact disc.

Dictionary of the Underworld also offers several definitions 
for "tool," including: "a small boy used to creep through 
windows," "to steal from women's pockets," and "to loaf, to 
idle, to do nothing in particular." All of which oddly strike the 
nail on the head in relation to Lateralus.

And now, the obligatory pitching of the fork.

* * *

My Summer Vacation, by Crispin Fubert, Ms. Higgins' Eng. 
Comp. 901

I believe that music comes and goes in cycles, and some of 
us are lucky enough to ride the crests. The men in my family 
are perfect examples of this. Initially, I thought that perfect 
music appeared every 16 years, which is also the number of 
years between Fubert generations. My dad was born in 1971. 
In that year, landmark albums were released. They were 
Nursery Crime by Genesis (the first with Phil Collins), Yes 
Album by Yes, Aqualung by Jethro Tull, and In the Land of 
Grey and Pink by Caravan.

My grandfather skipped out on Vietnam-- because Jimi 
Hendrix himself told him to-- and he moved to Canterbury, 
which is in the United England. There, he got married to my 
grandmother, who used to sell baked goods to people at 
concerts, and they had my dad. After the war, they moved 
back with a box of awesome records like the ones I 
mentioned. I think it was cosmic or fate or something that 
my dad was born the same exact day Chrysalis released 
Aqualung, in March of 1971.

Jump ahead 16 years later and my dad got this girl pregnant, 
who turned out to be my mom. It was 1987 and a whole 
bunch of lame dance music was ruling the world, like Hitler or 
Jesus or something. But all of the sudden, albums like 
Metallica's ...And Justice for All, Celtic Frost's Into the 
Pandemonium, Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime, and 
Slayer's South of Heaven came out. That's when I was born.

All those records were sitting around the house we all live in, 
and I grew up listening to them in the basement. So I 
couldn't wait until I was 16, because fate says that would be 
when 1) more kickass records would come out, and 2) I'd get 
sex. Both were due, because girls are dumb and listen to 
stuff like N'S(t)ync and BBSuk. But after this summer of 
2001, I've had to rethink my entire cycle theory, like maybe 
the cycles of music are speeding as time goes forward, since 
two amazing things happened: Tool put out Lateralus and I 
saw Tool in concert.

I feel like this record was made just for me by super-smart 
aliens or something, because it's just like a cross of 1971 
and 1987. Imagine, like, Peter Gabriel with batwings or a 
flower on his head singing while Lars Ulrich and Rick 
Wakeman just hammer it down. It's the best Tool record 
because it's the longest. All summer I worked at Gadzooks, 
folding novelty t-shirts, and on each break, I would listen to 
Lateralus because the store just plays hip-hop and dance. My 
manager would always get on me for taking my breaks 20 
minutes too long, but that's how long the album is and it just 
sucks you in. It's like this big desert world with mountains of 
riffs, and drum thunderstorms just roll across the sky. The 
packaging is also cool, since it has this clear book with a 
skinless guy, and as you turn the pages, it rips off his 
muscles and stuff. Tool's music does the same thing. It can 
just rip the muscles and skin off you. I think that's what they 
meant. So my manager would be like, "Hey, there's a new 
box of 'Blunt Simpson' shirts I need you to put out and 
the 'Original Jackass' shelf is getting low." He's a vegan and I 
would buy him Orange Julius because he didn't know there's 
egg powder in there.

The first song is called "The Grudge," and it's about astrology 
and how people control stuff. Maynard sings like a robot or 
clone at the opening, spitting, "Wear the crutch like a crown/ 
Calculate what we will/ Will not tolerate/ Desperate to control/ 
All and everything." Tool know about space and math, and 
it's pretty complex. "Saturn ascends/ Not one but ten," he 
sings. No Doubt and R.E.M. sang out that, too, but those 
songs were wimpy and short. Maynard shows his intelligence 
with raw stats. I think there's meaning behind those 
numbers, like calculus. He also mentions "prison cell" 
and "tear it down" and "controlling" and "sinking deeper," 
which all symbolize how he feels. Seven minutes into the 
song, he does this awesome scream for 24 seconds straight, 
which is like the longest scream I've ever heard. Then at the 
end there's this part where Danny Carey hits every drum he 
has. This wall of drums just pounds you. Then the next song 
starts and it's quiet and trippy. Tool are the best metal band, 
since they can get trippy (almost pretty, but in a dark way) 
then just really loud. Most bands just do loud, so Tool is 
more prog.

Danny Carey is the best drummer in rock, dispute that and I 
know you are a dunce. I made a list of all of his gear (from 
the June issue of Modern Drummer):

Drums, Sonor Designer Series (bubinga wood): 8x14 snare 
(bronze), 8x8 tom, 10x10 tom, 16x14 tom, 18x16 floor tom, 
two 18x24 bass drums.

Cymbals, Paiste: 14" Sound Edge Dry Crisp hi-hats, 6" 
signature bell over 8" signature bell, 10" signature splash, 
24" 2002 China, 18" signature full crash, #3 cup chime over 
#1 cup chime, 18" signature power crash, 12" signature Micro-
Hat, 22" signature Dry Heavy ride, 22" signature Thin China, 
20" signature Power crash.

Electronics: Simmons SDX pads, Korg Wave Drum, Roland MC-
505, Oberheim TVS.

Hardware: Sonor stands, Sonor, Axis or Pro-Mark hi-hat 
stand, Axis or Pearl bass drum petals with Sonor or Pearl 
beaters (loose string tension, but with long throw).

Heads: Evans Power Center on snare batter (medium high 
tuning, no muffling), G2s on tom batters with G1s underneath 
(medium tuning with bottom head higher than batter), EQ3 
bass drum batter with EQ3 resonant on front (medium tuning, 
with EQ pad touching front and back heads).

Sticks: Trueline Danny Carey model (wood tip).

He has his own sticks, even. In "Schism," the double basses 
just go nuts at the end. They also do in "Eon Blue 
Apocalypse." And in "The Grudge." And in "Ticks & Leeches." 
And nobody uses more toms in metal. You can really hear 
the 8x8 and 10x10 toms in the opening for "Ticks & 
Leeches." Over the summer, I counted the number of tom 
hits in that song, and it's 1,023!! Amazing. That's my favorite 
song, since it's the one that starts with Maynard 
screaming, "Suck it!" Then he says, "Little parasite." Later he 
shouts, "This is what you wanted... I hope you choke on it!" 
Every time I watched my boss suck down those Orange 
Juliuses I had that stuck in my head.

There is simply no way you could just dismiss the music 
(which is excellent). The bass playing is just really creepy and 
slow and sometimes it has this watery effect. Tool even follow 
in the footsteps of Caravan with Middle Eastern or Asian or 
something sounds. "Disposition" features bongos, and then 
on the next song, "Reflection," Carey's toms sound like 
bongos or tablas or whatever is in those Fruitopia 
commercials. Close your eyes and imagine if Asia had a 
space program. This is like the music they'd play. The song 
is called "Reflection" since it's quieter and slower and sounds 
like it's from India, where people go to reflect. Maynard's 
voice sounds like that little bleached midget girl flying around 
inside the walls in Polterghost. It's messed up.

In conclusion, there is more emotion on that album than 
would be on 30 Weezer albums. At the very least, there's 2.5 
times as much. Like I said, it's messed up, like the world, 
which makes it very real. I don't think I'm going to have a 
kid this year, but that's also a good thing. Just imagine the 
Tool record that will come out in three years, according to my 
theory. It will be the future, and albums can be like longer 
with better compression and technology. Even as amazing as 
Lateralus is, I feel like there's a monster coming in three 
years. Music comes in cycles, and works on math, and my life 
and Tool are proof of that for sure.


Posted to t.d.n: 04/21/02 19:30:40