Band pranks and prolonged album release leads to impatient Tool fans recalling what makes them love the band.
There was a time when rock and metal were two genres of music I could never relate to. It seemed violent and at times, disgraceful. At a point like that, I came across a band that used a phallic wrench as their symbol. I found that rudely revolting and disgusting to say the least. Soon enough I learnt that good music really had nothing to do with how glamorous artists looked in their music videos or about how they portrayed the world, inside and outside. Good, intellectual music shows the world as a mirror, unbiased and unflinching. Some of it talks about things that matter and makes you wonder if you can change the world or at least your own frame of mind. That is what Tool is me and many others across the world. Good music is what stands out, something that makes you gape in awe because you could never imagine those kinds of sounds or emotions existed. It gives you an experience that you have never felt before.
Tool is a 4-piece rock band from America. The members consist of Maynard James Keenan (lead vocals), Danny Carey (drums/percussion), Justin Chancellor (bass), and Adam Jones (guitar). Albums released so far by the band include Undertow (1993), Ænima (1996), Lateralus (2001) and 10,000 Days (2006). The band has experimented with multiple genres – from alternative rock and progressive metal and post-metal. They have continuously evolved and created a niche for themselves in the international music scene. The band is adored but also envied for their flawless lyrics which more often than not invoke thought in the listeners’ minds. Their albums talk about topics like evolution, Jungian theories, the Fibonacci series, transcendence, religion and coming apocalypses. They use admirable and highly complex time-signatures and production techniques. Unlike many bands, Tool has stayed away from tags like ‘mainstream’, ‘commercial’ and ‘mediocrity’. They perceive their music as a ‘tool’ to speak, for people to question, evolve, break free from dictated norms, which we unhappily follow. Maynard believes that if his music can’t heal him, how can it heal others.
The band won three Grammys and seven nominations. The band headlined and performed at many various festivals including Download, Roskilde and many more. Tool is known to release an album every 3-5 years, which only leads to fans expecting more. However, the count has gone up to 11 years creating desperation in the minds of people. Things got worse when recently Adam Jones joked about having finished recording the album and stating it would be released the following day. Hours later, the band issued a statement to Rolling Stone stating, Jones was just joking and added to the millions of pranks Tool already pulled off over the years.
So, why do we need a new Tool album? Stating the obvious, it’s been 8 years. It is truly said, “Man creates a habit and gets too used to it”. I speak for Tool followers all around the world when I say I have gotten used to the 5-year interval between albums. Every 5th year, we expect a new Tool album. For half a decade everybody stayed shut. No one complained for five years since the release of their last album 10,000 Days. However, ever since the five year time-period has been over, the bubble has burst. The hue, the cry, the criticism and the constant back-and-forth of rumors has never really stopped. People log onto the official website and Google search ‘Tool new album’ almost every day.
“The only thing in life that is constant is change”, but clearly, no one here wants that. Then comes the part where, when a band comes out with a song like ‘Parabola’ with lyrics like, ‘This body holding me, reminding me that I am not alone in. This body makes me feel eternal. All this pain is an illusion‘ . You can’t really do more than feel inspired to live whatever bit of life you have left instead of letting all that time pass away. Everybody has something that makes them tick. For some of us it is motivation and desire, for others it can even be the need to forget anything stressful or painful going on in their life. That is where Tool comes in for me. While these lyrics may be a great thing, a lot differently can be said about most pop lyrics these days. Especially with Indians obsessing over the new ‘Yo Yo Honey Singh’ and Miley Cyrus wrecking ‘oh so many’ balls.
There are probably just a handful of Tool enthusiasts who stay up late nights reading tool lyrics and wondering what they mean, only doing it again and again with friends and anybody else they seem to connect with. Clearly, the jury is and was out a long time ago on Tool. The band is nothing short of absolute, sheer genius. One song can be twisted into so many different meanings. That is the mark of true brilliance, making ordinary people think and question their own perceptions and thoughts, making them the better person.
Of course, let us not forget the psychedelic videos. Do they blow your mind? Help you trip out? Well there you have it, Reason Number Four. Their highly abstract artsy videos have been the subject of controversy. One of their initial tracks and their first music video Hush, features the band members. In the video, all four are shown butt-naked with parental advisory slogans covering their ‘private zones’. Other videos can only be termed as ‘weird’ or ‘whacked out’, with Sober being acclaimed for its creative oddness that won it the title of ‘Best Music Video By a New Artist’ by Billboard. One of the most striking and unsettling features of a Tool music video is the usage of different kinds of humanoids. These include Jambi, Parabola, Vicarious, Schism and many more.
Coming back to their lyrics, I think it just leaves us in curiosity. What more will these men talk about in their music? I mean they have done karma, reality TV, government, global warming and psychology of an alcoholic. What more can they talk about? What intellectual topics do they have left? How will they describe one thing with different metaphors like they always do? Remember monkeys as humans in ‘Right in Two’? Tool has always had a way with their words. They make it meaningful and inspirational. One could really do with that. God knows that they make you think, something people really do not have the time for in the fast pacing lives.
Apart from that, musically they just blow minds like a canon ball. Their insane time signatures like those in ‘Lateralus’ decorated unusually by the Fibonacci sequence or the tabla-sounding drum solo played on Danny’s tablet in ‘Right in Two’. In addition, more of the heavenly heavy bass like in ‘The Pot’ and the unearthly sounding guitar tones like in ‘Jambi’, ‘Anema’, ‘Eulogy’ and practically all their songs. One cannot ignore Maynard when it comes to Tool, the vocal lines drowning in immense expression like ‘Sober’, just capture all of my 5 senses, giving me instant goosebumps.
Most importantly, I live in the hope that maybe Tool will make a new album and feel India is a good place to perform at. Seeing them live is definitely on the to-do list before I die. Who knows, what good a new album could do. Moreover, Tool is known to have one of the most intense live performances, ranked as best all over the world by Rolling Stone, Billboard and many other magazines. They have psychedelic lights, tripped out artworks by their artwork designer, Alex Grey. The best part of the whole Tool live experience is that every member is so engrossed while they are up on stage that it makes you feel the whole performance while you watch. It is always an experience involving all your senses and giving you the time of your life.
Overall, Tool has been in my life at every stage. Happy, sad, during confusion, pain, excitement, boredom, everything. They make me think. Thinking is good. I need a Tool album. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does. Plus, there is always that part where global warming, World War 3 or an alien attack will kill us all. Tool album just before that would be a tad bit nicer.