Tool band

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From left to right: Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor

Tool is an American rock band. Their music has been heavily influenced by King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Rush, among several others. Their overall sound has been described as "grinding, post-Jane's Addiction heavy metal" [1] as well as "a primal sound as distinct as it is disturbing" [2] — most simplified categorizations of the band's genre are often dismissed (see: Arguments About Genre & Categorization). They have been listed as influences for bands of various genres of music including art rock, alternative rock, math rock, heavy metal, nu-metal, and trip-hop.

Tool currently consists of

The band receives a moderate amount of exposure on mainstream television and radio, which may come as a surprise to people who perceive them as a "dark" band. They are known for unusual lyrics, often spiritual or primal in nature, and songs that feature "complex rhythm changes, haunting vocals, and an onslaught of changes in dynamics" [3] which prevalently results in a greater-than-average track length. Additionally, most of their music videos feature stop-motion animation created by Jones, in a style similar to the Brothers Quay that tends to perpetuate the perception of Tool as a "dark" band. Their albums have been and continue to be sold by the millions.


Tool is currently working on their fourth full-length album. Tourmates Fantômas and Meshuggah have been cited as recent influences. There have been some rumors about the new release, including possible titles, potential stylistic changes, and a slew of release dates. Since the members of Tool avoid press and rarely grant interviews, there is little evidence to support any of these claims. Considering the rumor mill preceding the release of Lateralus in 2001, these reports are not likely to prove true. Still, a CD release is widely expected for a release sometime in early 2006. Photos of the band recording their upcoming album can be found at Adam Jones' Myspace page: [4]

On August 23, 2005 Lateralus was re-released in "double vinyl four-picture disc" edition, and limited pre-release copies were made available as well. Members of the Tool Army were given the opportunity to purchase specially autographed copies that were released in very limited quantities.

According to a recent post on Tool's official website, the band "plans to release a DVD featuring the videos for Schism and Parabol/Parabola with added extras [...] sometime in DECEMBER of this year." [5] Many websites have set the release for December 20, and Blair Blake does not contradict this. The much-speculated-about live DVD is still in the works as a completely separate project, with the release date according to Blair still "a great unknown."


The early days

(1990 - 1995)

Tool was formed in 1990, when Danny Carey and guitarist/bassist Paul d'Amour met Adam Jones and Maynard James Keenan.

"I met Adam through Tom Morello of Rage (Against The Machine). And I was living beside Maynard. I never auditioned for them. I felt kind of sorry for them, because they would invite people over to play, and they wouldn't show up, so I'd fill in." (Danny Carey)

Tool immediately received recognition for their first commercial release, Opiate, borrowing the name from Karl Marx's famous quote on religion. The six-song EP included the singles "Hush" and "Opiate" which quickly gained attention. A music video for "Hush" was created, but received little airplay due to the high amount of editing that was necessary to meet FCC standards to play the song.

Undertow album-cover (1993)

Tool was quick to release their first full-length album, Undertow, soon after Opiate. The band began touring with their fellows in the Rollins Band, Fishbone, and Rage Against The Machine. Eventually, they were hired to play the main stage at Lollapalooza in 1993, where they attracted great attention. This helped to boost the popularity of Undertow and the album eventually went gold.

The band would also receive negative publicity, however. With the release of the 1994 single "Prison Sex" and its respective music video, directed and created by Adam Jones, the Canadian branch of MuchMusic (now FUSE) called the band into question by deeming the video too graphic and offensive. In its most direct interpretation, the song's lyrics are about child abuse, and the video portrays this symbolically. Maynard James Keenan, who wrote the lyrics, has been quite clear about his antipathy towards his stepfather during early interviews about the song, and therefore, during a meeting with MuchMusic that was supposed to clarify the situation, the only subject covered was Keenan's past and childhood. MuchMusic Canada never spoke to Jones about the nature of the video.

Another incident took place at Scientology's Celebrity's Centre in May 1993:

"Tool performed at Scientology's Celebrity's Centre, apparently not knowing that this was the home of the cult. Once they found out, they did not take it nicely. Between songs, Keenan, staring first at the lush grounds paid for by devoted L. Ron followers and then into the eyes of his own audience, bayed into the mic like a sheep looking for his shepherd's gate. 'Baaaaa! Baaaaa!' the singer bleated." (BAM Magazine, November 1994).

In September 1995, shortly after recording for their second album began, D'Amour left the band amicably. In November, he was replaced by Justin Chancellor, formerly a member of Peach, an English band with whom Tool had previously toured in Europe.

Ænima, legal issues, A Perfect Circle, and Salival

(1996 - 2000)

Ænima album-cover (1996)

Some months later, in October 1996, Ænima was released. Once again one of the singles, "Stinkfist", had difficulty gaining airplay: the song was initially shortened for radio play and MTV America renamed the music video for the song to "Track #1" for its offensive connotations. Due to overwhelming fan response, most radio stations were compelled to play the track uncut. Ænima would be Tool's last studio album release for five years.

Ænima was dedicated to satirist Bill Hicks who died almost two years before the album was released. Some of Hick's performances are included on Ænima and Undertow, and include multiple bits about psychoactive drugs and a sample of a bleating sheep. Tool also derived the lyric "Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona Bay," (the chorus of the song "Ænema") from another popular Bill Hicks bit about his distaste for Los Angeles.

In 1997, Volcano Records alleged contract violations against Tool and filed suit. According to Volcano, Tool had been looking at offers from other record labels and were not allowed to. After Tool filed a counter suit and stated that Volcano had failed to use a renewal option in their contract, they settled out of court. They agreed to a new contract, a three-record deal. This legal battle produced a great strain on the band, delaying work on their next album. During this time, Keenan founded a side project, called A Perfect Circle, with long time Tool guitar tech Billy Howerdel.

Word of Tool's breaking up began to spread until the band decided to release the VHS/DVD/CD box set Salival in 2000, spelling an end to these rumors. The box set featured recordings of unique live tracks and B-sides, including a new version of "Pushit" that became extremely popular among fans and a cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter". Also included in the box set were four of the band's videos, "Stinkfist", "Ænema", "Prison Sex" and "Sober". The DVD also contained a bonus video of the track "Hush", from the Opiate EP. Although this release did not technically produce any singles, the hidden track "Maynard's Dick" briefly found its way to FM radio when several DJs chose to sneak it onto air without permission.

Lateralus and recent appearances

(2001 - 2005)

Lateralus album-cover (2001)

In January 2001, the rumor mill surrounding the band gained new life when Tool announced their new album, Systema Encéphale. Only one month later, they revealed that it was actually titled Lateralus and that Systema had been a ruse, much to the dismay of music magazines and commercial websites who had committed headlong to the fake title. Lateralus features songs averaging six-and-a-half minutes in length, unwieldy even for most ambitious disc jockeys. The length of the music video for "Parabola" clocked in at an unheard of ten-and-a-half minutes, almost condemning it from being aired on mainstream music channels. Nevertheless, the album became a commercial success the world over.

After extensive touring throughout 2001, including a 10-show mini-tour with King Crimson in August, their latest tour came to an end on November 24th, 2002 in Los Angeles, CA at Long Beach Arena.

Although the end of the tour seemed to spell another dormancy for the band, they did not become completely inactive. While Keenan recorded and toured with A Perfect Circle, the other band members released an official interview conducted by (long-time maintainer) Blair McKenzie Blake in which they answered many questions about the upcoming album, future DVD releases, and the new direction of their music. Members of the Tool Army were also given access to a recording of the three members jamming to some of their new material, sparking increased anticipation for the album to come

Arguments About Genre & Categorization

Although Tool's music does not vary greatly in style and technique from album to album (excepting the changes that occur foremost in mood), it is difficult to define their place in reference to traditional musical genres because of their experimental approach to music. Tool are inarguably a part of the metal genre, but just where they fall in that genre and how much influence past metal groups have exerted on Tool is the subject of intense debate among both fans and casual listeners.

Some consider Tool to be, above all else, a progressive rock band. Those who feel that Tool are progressive rock artists frequently cite the popular (and admittedly broad) definition of prog. It is a style of rock music that seeks to move away from the mainstream by "pushing the envelope" of the rock genre, creating new sounds and styles that often possess a characteristically high level of layering and complexity. Beyond this broad definition, however, lies much debate about what really makes a band part of the prog scene. Even the most commonly cited prog bands, such as Pink Floyd and Emerson Lake and Palmer, challenge the entire notion of the genre by pointing out either implicitly or in their own words the vast differences in sound and style between each of the so-called "prog bands".

Perhaps the band most cited as a Tool influence is King Crimson, admittedly a favorite group of Tool themselves. King Crimson are listed at the forefront of progressive rock and frequently mentioned as a way to establish Tool's place in prog using the transitive property. Longtime King Crimson member Robert Fripp has expressed disdain for the term as an oversimplification, and in an interview with Tool, touched briefly on how the two bands relate to each other:

Robert Fripp: I was very impressed that the visuals and the band were all part of the same performance. It was... seamless. It was something like, "These guys are playing to the same track." But without being external to the film... There was an integrity to it all.
Danny Carey: Thanks... We all kind of grew up listening to you.
Maynard James Keenan (referring to an upcoming concert tour): First of all we're terrified to go on after you, and second of all we're gonna have all these kids in the audience going, "Hey, TOOL ripped these guys off blind!"
Danny Carey: It feels like that sometimes, for sure.
Robert Fripp: Do you hear the influence? There's just one figure where I hear an influence, just one. It was a piece we were developing that we dropped. And it's almost exactly the same figure: three note arpeggio with a particular accent from the guitar. So I don't think you could have heard it. That's the only thing.
Tool Army exclusive interview

So even among the band and their peers there still remains a debate, not only about their place in progressive rock but also about just how closely they resemble their progenitors who are themselves are only debatably established in the genre.

When Tool are not called prog, they are typically referred to as some sub-category of metal. Many have argued that Tool belongs in the nu-metal genre, due to their great influence within the genre. Maynard James Keenan's unique style of singing has been repeatedly seen influencing new artists, such as Pete Loeffler (of Chevelle), Aaron Lewis (of Staind), David Draiman (of Disturbed) and Steve Richards (of Taproot). Others would include Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit), who calls Tool one of his "most favorite bands in the world" [6], although this association is especially prone to debate, due to the noticeable difference between Durst's (usually) rapped vocals, and Keenan's style, which does not include rapping.

This conclusion is thought of by many to be incorrect, citing the backwardness of this logic. If such were applied in other cases, the blues artists who influenced Led Zeppelin could be argued as belonging to hard rock, or the salsa artists who influenced The Mars Volta could be thought of as aggro in some sense.

Tool are sometimes given an extended genre that would appear to be specific to the band, such as "psychedelic math metal" (see MTV News: The Pain of Perfection) - as other bands that have defied a common classification have. They have also been listed under many genres that people do not normally consider them to be a part of, such as jazz rock (a slight reinforcer to progressive rock assertions), and sometimes even trip-hop, although this occurs mostly as an allusion to a unique live set that featured Tricky.

How well one accepts any of the applied classifications is often a matter of taste. Many people are displeased that "genre theory" is being applied to Tool at all, arguing that far too often genre classification is useless or even limiting.


The name "Tool" was alleged by drummer Danny Carey in a 1994 interview to mean that the band served its fans as a tool through which those people would come to understand lachrymology, a pseudophilosophy that the band has alleged was founded in 1949 by Ronald P. Vincent after the death of his wife in a snow plowing accident. However, it is more likely that the band made this up in order to create a unique backdrop for their own beliefs.

Lachrymology teaches the simple belief that crying is the best emotional release and should be encouraged as therapeutic. Tool's lyrical message often reflects this in their candid expressions of anger and frustration. People who endorse lachrymology often believe that it is only through pain (both physical and emotional) and recovery that an individual can advance him or her self, adopting a slight "whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger" mentality.

Other beliefs about the origin of Tool's name include a nickname for "brown-nosing" or potentially self-righteous army cadets. Maynard James Keenan attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the first song on Undertow (titled "Intolerance") refererences a military honor code that admonishes all cadets, and which the "tools" follow to the letter: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, and will not tolerate those who do." In a similar vein, the band created a segue track ("Useful Idiot") for Ænima--a term used to designate internal dissidents who are seen to objectively benefit an enemy faction (illustrative but of dubious authenticity, Lenin is said to have referred to Western communist sympathizers as his useful idiots).

Based on one of the band's early logos and a humorous B-side, some have suggested that the name may originate from a slang term for male genitals.


Current members

Previous members

Side projects

All of the members of Tool have their own side projects that exist both during and after Tool's own time for recording and touring. Most notable is Maynard James Keenan's band A Perfect Circle, which was formed during the legal limbo Tool encountered with their record label during the late 1990's. A Perfect Circle has since become a band of its own and Maynard has devoted ample time to them. Danny Carey plays as the principle drummer in both Pigmy Love Circus and Volto!. Adam Jones has made several collaborations with The Melvins and Adrian Belew, as well as directing and designing art for bands such as Peach. Besides collaborating with other musicians, Justin Chancellor runs his own bookstore, called Lobal Orning, with the help of his wife.

Guest musicians

These musicians have joined Tool on stage:


Studio albums and EPs

Year Title Label
1992 Opiate EP Zoo/BMG/Volcano: US
1993 Undertow Zoo/BMG/Volcano: US
1996 Ænima Zoo/Volcano/BMG: US
2000 Salival (CD/DVD/VHS boxset) Volcano II/Tool Dissectional: US
2001 Lateralus Volcano II/Tool Dissectional: US


Year Title Label
1993 Prison Sex Zoo/BMG: DE
1993 Prison Sex Zoo/BMG: UK
1994 Prison Sex Zoo/BMG: AU
1994 Sober Zoo/BMG: UK
1994 Sober: Tales From The Darkside Zoo/BMG: UK
2001 Schism Volcano II/Tool Dissectional: US

Other releases

Year Title Label
1991 Tool (promotional EP) Toolshed


  • The band's singles and accompanying music videos include: "Hush" from Opiate, "Sober" and "Prison Sex" from Undertow, "Stinkfist" and "Ænema" from Ænima, and "Schism" and "Parabola" from Lateralus. "Hush" is the only video where the band members appear prominently, although they appear briefly in "Sober" as well. Although the videos are directed primarily by guitarist Adam Jones, many were created with the help of outside artists such as Cam de Leon, Alex Grey, the Brothers Strause, and interpretive dance duo Osseus Labyrint.
  • Singles for which no official music videos were made include: "Opiate" from Opiate, "Eulogy", "Forty-six & 2", and "H." from Ænima, and "Lateralus" from Lateralus.
  • The 2001 CD release Lateralus produced pressings that misspelled the title track as "Lateralis" instead. This was corrected on subsequent copies. However, the differentiation between 1996's Ænima and its 13th track "Ænema" is intentional.
  • Initial pressings of Ænima had a lenticular cover. The cover art could be optionally replaced by one of two inside covers that also functioned with the lenticular cover. One was a touched-up version of Cam de Leon's Ocular Orifice painting, and the other featured a picture of a nude contortionist sitting on a carpeted floor in a suggestive position but with back turned to the viewer.
  • On Tool's second full-length album Ænima, there is a track titled "Message to Harry Manback", which, according to drummer Danny Carey, is "a recording of the words of an uninvited Italian guest who came to Maynard's house one day. A so-called friend of a friend of a friend of Harry's ... Before we finally managed to figure out that nobody really knew him, he had already emptied the fridge and run up a huge phone bill. He got kicked out of the house." Harry Manback is a pseudonym for the real recipient of the message, presumably a past roommate of Maynard's: Hotsy Menshot of Green Jellÿ. [7]
  • Comedian Bill Hicks has influenced and is well respected by the band. Samples of his comedy are featured on "Third Eye" and the booklet for Ænima features a painting of him entitled Another Dead Hero.
  • Timothy Leary has provided an influence on Tool: his "Think for Yourself, Question Authority" monologue (sampled from Leary's video, "How To Operate Your Brain") introduces the live version of "Third Eye" on Salival.
  • Noted tabla player Aloke Dutta taught Danny Carey much of his own tabla technique and other percussive lessons. He has joined Tool on stage to perform a second version of "Pushit" that can be heard on Salival.
  • Tricky appears, uncredited, in the video for "Parabola". He and his band, including reggae artist Hawkman, have also joined Tool on stage, on songs such as "Reflection", "Triad", and "Opiate".
  • The String Tribute to Tool: Third Eye Open is a tribute album released in 2001. A number of Tool songs are rearranged for classical music string instruments (violins, viola, cello and a double bass) with at least three musicians. The lack of percussion is sometimes countered with "clicking" col legno and other bowing techniques. Tool's songs are mostly multi-sectioned, and the band's sophisticated grasp of harmony allows for an interesting instrumental interpretation. A second volume of string tribute titled The String Tribute to Tool Volume 2: Metamorphic was released in 2003 featuring two groups of musicians, including the group from Third Eye Open. Other tributes to Tool include: Finding Beauty in the Dissonance: A Piano Tribute to Tool, Chamber Made: The Baroque Tribute to Tool, A Gothic Acoustic Tribute to Tool, and the simply named Tribute to Tool which features various rock artists.
  • Some pressings of the Opiate EP contain a hidden song called "The Gaping Lotus Experience." It fades in at six minutes, six seconds on the sixth track ("666").
  • The final track of Undertow, called "Disgustipated," appears as track 69 on early pressings of the US copies of the disc, on others it appears at track 30 (the intervening tracks are all 3 second blank tracks). On European and other releases, the song appears as track 10 after a period of silence following "Flood."
  • Behind the CD tray on Undertow is a picture of a cow licking itself.
  • The inside cover of Undertow depicts two nude figures (a small man embraced from behind by a large woman), a profile of the same woman in a semi-fetal position, and an X-ray of a rear entry vibrator. The profile of the woman, held up to a light source, displays her encased in the rib cage sculpture on the front of the liner. These photographs were deemed too graphic, causing Wal-Mart to ban the explicit version of the CD and stock only an edited version with liner art featuring a giant bar code and a cynical note from the band.
  • For the most part, Maynard James Keenan requests that the band not perform "Ticks & Leeches" live if possible due to the immense strain on his voice. However, they have performed it before in spite of this, Maynard using heavy vocal effects and distortion.
  • In 2005, Tool's web domain was rerouted to a gateway to the known official Tool websites. According to Distortion Online, the Tool logo seen on the gateway page is not a new logo, but an invention by web designer Joshua Davis, who has reportedly been asked by Adam Jones to take over the Tool websites.
  • Tool have performed songs by other artists occasionally in their live sets. These songs include: "Spasm" (Peach), "You Lied" (Peach), "Stranglehold" (Ted Nugent), "Demon Cleaner" (Kyuss), "No Quarter" (Led Zeppelin), and "Commando" (The Ramones).
  • Tool has long been associated with outlandish April Fools' Day jokes, such as a falsified bus crash in 1997 reported on a fan site[8]. Most recently, on April 1st, 2005, Maynard James Keenan sent word via e-mail to his close friends and to MTV that he had "rediscovered Jesus" and that Tool would have to "take the backseat." Maynard later clarified that Jesus was a drunkard and "a total punk" whom he encountered while "location scouting" in Los Angeles.

Reading list

Tool have listed the following books as recommended reading in their official newsletter. Reading these books is encouraged by the band as they provide a stronger insight to Tool's music and inspiration, and the philosophies used in their music.

External links


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