Tool (band)

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Tool live barcelona 2006.jpg
Tool performing live in Barcelona in 2006. Left to right: Jones, Keenan, and Chancellor.
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1990–present
Associated acts
Past members Paul D'Amour

Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1990, the group's line-up includes drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Justin Chancellor has been the band's bassist since 1995, replacing their original bassist Paul D'Amour. Tool has won three Grammy Awards, performed worldwide tours, and produced albums topping the charts in several countries.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Danny Carey musician, songwriter

Daniel Edwin Carey is an American drummer and instrumentalist best known for his work in American Grammy Award-winning progressive metal band Tool. He has also contributed to albums by artists such as Zaum, Green Jellö, Pigface, Skinny Puppy, Adrian Belew of King Crimson, Carole King, Collide, Lusk, and the Melvins.


To date, the band has released four studio albums, one EP and one box set. They emerged with a heavy metal sound on their first studio album, Undertow (1993), and later became a dominant act in the alternative metal movement, with the release of its follow-up album Ænima in 1996. Their efforts to unify musical experimentation, visual arts, and a message of personal evolution continued, with Lateralus (2001) and 10,000 Days (2006), gaining Tool critical acclaim, and commercial success around the world. The band's currently-untitled fifth studio album, their first in thirteen years, will be released on August 30, 2019.

<i>Opiate</i> (EP) 1992 EP by Tool

Opiate is an EP by American rock band Tool. It was produced and engineered by Sylvia Massy and former Minor Threat bassist Steve Hansgen. Released in 1992, it was the result of some two years of the band playing together after their formation in 1990. Opiate preceded Tool's first full-length release, Undertow, by a year. It is named after a quote by Karl Marx: "religion ... is the opiate of the masses". As of July 7, 2010, Opiate has sold 1,155,000 copies in the US and is certified Platinum by the RIAA.

<i>Salival</i> 2000 box set by Tool

Salival is a live, outtake, and video album, released as a limited edition box set in CD/VHS and CD/DVD formats in 2000 by American rock band Tool. It includes a 56-page book of photos and stills from their music videos.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Due to Tool's incorporation of visual arts and very long and complex releases, the band is generally described as a style-transcending act and part of progressive rock, psychedelic rock, and art rock. The relationship between the band and today's music industry is ambivalent, at times marked by censorship, and the band's insistence on privacy.

Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid- to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk, or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening rather than dancing.

Psychedelic rock Style of rock music

Psychedelic rock is a diverse style of rock music inspired, influenced, or representative of psychedelic culture, which is centred around perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. Many psychedelic groups differ in style, and the label is often applied spuriously.

Art rock is a subgenre of rock music that generally reflects a challenging or avant-garde approach to rock, or which makes use of modernist, experimental, or unconventional elements. Art rock aspires to elevate rock from entertainment to an artistic statement, opting for a more experimental and conceptual outlook on music. Influences may be drawn from genres such as experimental rock, avant-garde music, classical music, and jazz.


Early years (1988–1992)

During the 1980s, each of the future members of Tool moved to Los Angeles. Both Paul D'Amour and Adam Jones wanted to enter the film industry, while Maynard James Keenan found employment remodeling pet stores after having studied visual arts in Michigan. [1] Danny Carey and Keenan performed for Green Jellÿ, [1] and Carey played with Carole King and Pigmy Love Circus. [2]

Green Jellÿ American comedy rock band

Green Jellÿ is an American comedy rock band formed in 1981. Originally named Green Jellö, the band changed its name due to legal pressure from Kraft Foods, the owners of the Jell-O trademark, who claimed that it was an infringement of their trademark. Despite the spelling difference, the new name and the old are pronounced identically.

Carole King American singer and songwriter

Carole King is an American singer-songwriter who has been active since 1958, initially as one of the staff songwriters at the Brill Building and later as a solo artist. She is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the US, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999. King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making her the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts between 1952 and 2005.

Pigmy Love Circus is a Los Angeles rock band that has existed since the mid 1980s era of the Hollywood underground rock scene.

Keenan and Jones met through a mutual friend in 1989. [3] After Keenan played a tape recording for Jones of his previous band project, Jones was so impressed by his voice that he eventually talked his friend into forming their own band. [3] They started jamming together and were on the lookout for a drummer and a bass player. Carey happened to live above Keenan and was introduced to Jones by Tom Morello, an old high school friend of Jones and former member of Electric Sheep. [4] Carey began playing in their sessions because he "felt kinda sorry for them," as other invited musicians were not showing up. [5] Tool's lineup was completed when a friend of Jones introduced them to bassist D'Amour. [6] Early on, the band fabricated the story that they formed because of the pseudophilosophy "lachrymology". [7] Although "lachrymology" was also cited as an inspiration for the band's name, Keenan later explained their intentions differently: "Tool is exactly what it sounds like: It's a big dick. It's a wrench. ... we are ... your tool; use us as a catalyst in your process of finding out whatever it is you need to find out, or whatever it is you're trying to achieve." [8]

Jam session

A jam session is a relatively informal musical event, process, or activity where musicians, typically instrumentalists, play improvised solos and vamp on tunes, songs and chord progressions. To "jam" is to improvise music without extensive preparation or predefined arrangements, except for when the group is playing well-known jazz standards or covers of existing popular songs. Original jam sessions, also 'free flow sessions', are often used by musicians to develop new material (music) and find suitable arrangements. Both styles can be used simply as a social gathering and communal practice session. Jam sessions may be based upon existing songs or forms, may be loosely based on an agreed chord progression or chart suggested by one participant, or may be wholly improvisational. Jam sessions can range from very loose gatherings of amateurs to evenings where a jam session coordinator or host acts as a "gatekeeper" to ensure that only appropriate-level performers take the stage, to sophisticated improvised recording sessions by professionals which are intended to be broadcast live on radio or TV or edited and released to the public.

Tom Morello American guitarist and singer-songwriter

Thomas Baptiste Morello is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and political activist. He is best known for his tenure with the band Rage Against the Machine and then with Audioslave. As of 2019, Morello is a member of the supergroup Prophets of Rage. Morello was also a touring musician with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. He is also known for his acoustic solo act, the Nightwatchman, and Street Sweeper Social Club. Morello also co-founded Axis of Justice, which airs a monthly program on Pacifica Radio station KPFK in Los Angeles.

Pseudophilosophy is a philosophical idea or system which does not meet an expected set of standards.

After almost two years of practicing and performing locally in the Los Angeles area, the band was approached by record companies, [3] and eventually signed a record deal with Zoo Entertainment. [6] In March 1992, Zoo released the band's first effort, Opiate . Described by the band as "slam and bang" heavy music [9] and the "hardest sounding" six songs they had written to that point, [10] the EP included the singles "Hush" and "Opiate". The band's first music video, "Hush", promoted their dissenting views about the then-prominent Parents Music Resource Center and its advocacy of the censorship of music. The video featured the band members naked with their genitalia covered by Parental Advisory stickers and their mouths covered by duct tape. [11] The band began touring with Rollins Band, Fishbone, Rage Against the Machine, White Zombie, and Corrosion of Conformity, [12] [13] [14] to positive responses, which Janiss Garza of RIP Magazine summarized in September 1992 as a "buzz" and "a strong start". [15]

Zoo Entertainment was an American record label formed in 1990 by Lou Maglia. Zoo released three platinum Tool records, as well as gold records by Green Jellÿ and Matthew Sweet. During its early, successful years, music industry executive George Daly was the label's original Vice President of A&R.

Extended play musical recording longer than a single, but shorter than a full album

An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.

"Hush" is a song by Tool from their 1992 debut EP Opiate, recorded by producer Sylvia Massy at Sound City Studios. It was the only single released from Opiate and was the first song that helped establish the band's reputation. The lyrics protest Tipper Gore and censorship, which is a recurring theme in Tool songs.

Undertow (1993–1995)

The following year, at a time when alternative rock and grunge was at its height, Tool released their first full-length album, Undertow (1993). It expressed more diverse dynamics than Opiate and included songs the band had chosen not to publish on their previous release, when they had opted for a heavier sound. [10] The band began touring again as planned, with an exception in May 1993. Tool was scheduled to play at the Garden Pavilion in Hollywood but learned at the last minute that the venue belonged to the Church of Scientology, which was perceived as a clash with "the band's ethics about how a person should not follow a belief system that constricts their development as a human being." [12] Keenan "spent most of the show baa-ing like a sheep at the audience." [17]

A band logo created by longtime collaborator Cam de Leon, this wrench is an example of "phallic hardware" in Tool's imagery. Tool-logo-early.jpg
A band logo created by longtime collaborator Cam de Leon, this wrench is an example of "phallic hardware" in Tool's imagery.

Tool later played several concerts during the Lollapalooza festival tour, and were moved from the second stage to the main stage by their manager and the festival co-founder Ted Gardner. [20] At the last concert of Lollapalooza in Tool's hometown Los Angeles, comedian Bill Hicks introduced the band. Hicks had become a friend of the band members and an influence on them after being mentioned in Undertow's liner notes. [21] He jokingly asked the audience of 10,000 people to stand still and help him look for a lost contact lens. [22] The boost in popularity gained from these concerts helped Undertow to be certified gold by the RIAA in September 1993 and to achieve platinum status in 1995, [23] despite being sold with censored album artwork by distributors such as Wal-Mart. [24] [25] The single "Sober" became a hit single by March 1994 and won the band Billboard's "Best Video by a New Artist" award for the accompanying stop motion music video. [10]

With the release of Tool's follow-up single "Prison Sex", the band again became the target of censorship. The song's lyrics and video dealt with child abuse, which sparked controversial reactions; Keenan's lyrics begin with: "It took so long to remember just what happened. I was so young and vestal then, you know it hurt me, but I'm breathing so I guess I'm still alive ... I've got my hands bound and my head down and my eyes closed and my throat wide open." The video was created primarily by guitarist Adam Jones, who saw it as his "surrealistic interpretation" of the subject matter. [26] While some contemporary journalists praised the video and described the lyrics as "metaphoric", [11] [16] the American branch of MuchMusic (which asked Keenan to represent the band in a hearing) deemed the music video too graphic and obscene, [12] and MTV stopped airing it after a few showings. [16]

In September 1995, the band started writing and recording their second studio album. At that time Tool experienced its only lineup change to date, with bassist D'Amour leaving the band amicably to pursue other projects. According to Carey, D'Amour left the band because he wanted to play guitar rather than bass. [27] Justin Chancellor, a member of former tourmates Peach, eventually replaced D'Amour, having been chosen over competitors such as Kyuss's Scott Reeder, Filter's Frank Cavanaugh, Pigmy Love Circus's E. Shepherd Stevenson, Jane's Addiction's Eric Avery and ZAUM's Marco Fox. [28]

Ænima and Salival (1996–2000)

Alternative version of the AEnima artwork shows a dedication to comedian Bill Hicks as "another dead hero". Tool aenima cover dedication to hicks.jpg
Alternative version of the Ænima artwork shows a dedication to comedian Bill Hicks as "another dead hero".

On September 17, 1996, Tool released their second full-length album, Ænima ("ON-ima"). [29] It was certified triple platinum by the RIAA on March 4, 2003. [30] D'Amour left Tool and Chancellor came on board during the recording of the album. The band enlisted the help of producer David Bottrill, who had produced some of King Crimson's albums, while Jones collaborated with Cam de Leon to create Ænima's Grammy-nominated artwork. [31] [32]

The album was dedicated to stand-up comedian Bill Hicks, who died two and a half years earlier. [12] The band intended to raise awareness about Hicks's material and ideas, because they felt that Tool and Hicks "were resonating similar concepts". [33] In particular, Ænima's final track "Third Eye" is preceded by a clip of Hicks' performances, and the lenticular casing of the Ænima album packaging as well as the chorus of the title track "Ænema" make reference to a sketch from Hicks's Arizona Bay , in which he contemplates the idea of Los Angeles falling into the Pacific Ocean. [33] [34]

The first single, "Stinkfist", garnered limited airplay. It was shortened by radio programmers, MTV (U.S.) renamed the music video of "Stinkfist" to "Track No. 1" due to offensive connotations, [35] and the lyrics of the song were altered. [36] Responding to fan complaints about censorship, Matt Pinfield of MTV's 120 Minutes expressed regret on air by waving his fist in front of his face while introducing the video and explaining the name change. [35]

A tour began in October 1996, two weeks after Ænima's release. Following numerous appearances in the United States and Europe, Tool headed for Australia and New Zealand in late March 1997. April 1 of that year saw the first of several April Fools' pranks related to the band. Kabir Akhtar, webmaster of the band's semi-official fanpage, The Tool Page, wrote that "at least three of the band are listed in critical condition" after a tour bus accident on a highway. [37] This hoax gained wide attention and was eventually exposed on radio and MTV. Akhtar later posted an apology, claiming that The Tool Page "will not indulge itself in such outlandish pranks in the future"—a claim that would be belied by later April Fools' pranks. [37]

Eventually returning to the United States, Tool appeared at Lollapalooza '97 in July, this time as a headliner, where they gained critical praise from The New York Times :

Tool was returning in triumph to Lollapalooza after appearing among the obscure bands on the festival's smaller stage in 1993. Now Tool is the prime attraction for a festival that's struggling to maintain its purpose ... Tool uses taboo-breaking imagery for hellfire moralizing in songs that swerve from bitter reproach to nihilistic condemnation. Its music has refined all the troubled majesty of grunge. [38]

Bassist Justin Chancellor performing at 2006's Roskilde Festival Justin chancellor tool roskilde festival 2006 cropped.jpg
Bassist Justin Chancellor performing at 2006's Roskilde Festival

Ænima eventually matched Tool's successful debut album in sales, [39] and the progressive-influenced album landed the band at the head of the alternative metal genre. It featured the Grammy Award-winning "Ænema" [40] and appeared on several "Best Albums of 1996" lists, [41] with notable examples being those of Kerrang! [42] and Terrorizer . [43]

A legal battle that began the same year interfered with the band's working on another release. Volcano Entertainment—the successor of Tool's by-then defunct label Zoo Entertainment—alleged contract violations by Tool and filed a lawsuit. According to Volcano, Tool had violated their contract when the band looked at offers from other record labels. After Tool filed a countersuit stating that Volcano had failed to use a renewal option in their contract, the parties settled out of court. In December 1998 Tool agreed to a new contract, a three-record joint venture deal. [44] [45] In 2000, the band dismissed their long-time manager Ted Gardner, who then sued the band over his commission on this lucrative agreement. [46]

During this time, Keenan joined the band A Perfect Circle, which was founded by long-time Tool guitar tech Billy Howerdel, while Jones joined The Melvins' Buzz Osborne and Carey drummed with Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra on side projects. [47] Although there were rumors that Tool was breaking up, [48] [49] Chancellor, Jones, and Carey were working on new material while waiting for Keenan to return. [50] In 2000, the Salival box set (CD/VHS or CD/DVD) was released, effectively putting an end to the rumors. [51] The CD contained one new original track, a cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter", a live version of Peach's "You Lied", and revised versions of old songs. The VHS and the DVD each contained four music videos, plus a bonus music video for "Hush" on the DVD. Although Salival did not yield any singles, the hidden track "Maynard's Dick" (which dates back to the Opiate era) briefly found its way to FM radio when several DJs chose to play it on air under the title "Maynard's Dead". [52]

Lateralus (2001–2005)

Guitarist Adam Jones performing at Roskilde Festival 2006. Adam jones tool roskilde festival 2006.jpg
Guitarist Adam Jones performing at Roskilde Festival 2006.

In January 2001, Tool announced a new album, Systema Encéphale, along with a 12-song track list containing titles such as "Riverchrist", "Numbereft", "Encephatalis", "Musick", and "Coeliacus". [53] File-sharing networks such as Napster were flooded with bogus files bearing the titles' names. [53] At the time, Tool members were outspokenly critical of file-sharing networks in general due to their impact on artists that are dependent on record sales to continue their careers. Keenan said during an interview with NY Rock in 2000, "I think there are a lot of other industries out there that might deserve being destroyed. The ones who get hurt by MP3s are not so much companies or the business, but the artists, people who are trying to write songs." [54]

A month later, the band revealed that the new album was actually titled Lateralus ; the name Systema Encéphale and the track list had been a ruse. [55] Lateralus and the corresponding tours would take Tool a step further toward art rock [56] [57] [58] and progressive rock [59] [60] [61] territory. Rolling Stone wrote in an attempt to summarize the album that "Drums, bass and guitars move in jarring cycles of hyperhowl and near-silent death march ... The prolonged running times of most of Lateralus' thirteen tracks are misleading; the entire album rolls and stomps with suitelike purpose." [60] Joshua Klein of The A.V. Club expressed his opinion that Lateralus, with its 79 minutes and relatively complex and long songs—topped by the ten-and-a-half-minute music video for "Parabola"—posed a challenge to fans and music programming alike. [62]

The album became a worldwide success, reaching No.1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart in its debut week. [63] Tool received their second Grammy Award for the best metal performance of 2001 for the song "Schism". [64] During the band's acceptance speech, Carey stated that he would like to thank his parents (for putting up with him) and Satan, and bassist Chancellor concluded: "I want to thank my dad for doing my mom." [65]

Extensive touring throughout 2001 and 2002 supported Lateralus and included a personal highlight for the band: a 10-show joint mini-tour with King Crimson in August 2001. Comparisons between the two were made, MTV describing the bands as "the once and future kings of progressive rock". Keenan stated of the minitour: "For me, being on stage with King Crimson is like Lenny Kravitz playing with Led Zeppelin, or Britney Spears onstage with Debbie Gibson." [57]

Although the end of the tour in November 2002 seemed to signal the start of another hiatus for the band, they did not become completely inactive. While Keenan recorded and toured with A Perfect Circle, the other band members released an interview and a recording of new material, both exclusive to the fan club. On April 1, 2005, the official Tool website announced that "Maynard has found Jesus" and would be abandoning the recording of the new Tool album temporarily and possibly permanently. [66] Kurt Loder of MTV contacted Keenan via email to ask for a confirmation and received a nonchalant confirmation. When Loder asked again, Keenan's response was simply "heh heh." [67] On April 7 the official site announced, "Good news, April fools fans. The writing and recording is back under way." [68]

Work continued on the follow-up to Lateralus; meanwhile, a Lateralus vinyl edition and two DVD singles were released, and the band's official website received a new splash intro by artist Joshua Davis. [69] The "double vinyl four-picture disc" edition of Lateralus was first released as a limited autographed edition exclusively available to fan club members and publicly released on August 23, 2005. On December 20 the two DVDs were released, one containing the single "Schism" and the other "Parabola", a remix by Lustmord, and a music video with commentary by David Yow and Jello Biafra.

10,000 Days (2006–2007)

Tool performing a headline slot at the Roskilde Festival as part of the "10,000 Days" tour Tool roskilde festival 2006.jpg
Tool performing a headline slot at the Roskilde Festival as part of the "10,000 Days" tour

Fifteen years into the band's career, Tool had acquired what Dan Epstein of Revolver described as a devoted "cult" following, [70] and as details about the band's next album emerged, such as the influence of Lateralus tourmates Fantômas and Meshuggah, [71] controversy surrounding the new Tool album surfaced with speculation over song titles and pre-release rumors of leaked songs. [72] Speculation over possible album titles was dismissed with a news item on the official Tool website, announcing that the new album's name was 10,000 Days . Nevertheless, speculation continued, with allegations that 10,000 Days was merely a "decoy" album to fool audiences. [72] The rumor was proven false when a leaked copy of the album was distributed via filesharing networks a week prior to its official release. [73]

The album opener, "Vicarious", premiered on U.S. radio stations on April 17, 2006. The album premiered on May 2 in the U.S. and debuted at the top spots of various international charts. 10,000 Days sold 564,000 copies in its opening week in the U.S. and was number one on the Billboard 200 charts, doubling the sales of Pearl Jam's self-titled album, its closest competitor. [74] However, 10,000 Days was received less favorably by critics than its predecessor Lateralus had been. [75] [76]

Prior to the release of 10,000 Days, a tour kicked off at Coachella on April 30. The touring schedule was similar to the Lateralus tour of 2001; supporting acts were Isis and Mastodon. During a short break early the next year, after touring Australia and New Zealand, drummer Carey suffered a biceps tear during a skirmish with his girlfriend's dog, casting uncertainty on the band's upcoming concerts in North America. [77] Carey underwent surgery on February 21 and several performances had to be postponed. Back on tour by April, Tool appeared on June 15 as a headliner at the Bonnaroo Music Festival with a guest appearance from Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello on "Lateralus". [78] Meanwhile, "Vicarious" was a nominee for Best Hard Rock Performance and 10,000 Days won Best Recording Package at the 49th Grammy Awards. [79] The music video for "Vicarious" was released on DVD on December 18.

Fifth studio album (2008–present)

Tool in Paris in 2006 Tool-live-Paris.jpg
Tool in Paris in 2006

Chancellor stated in May 2007 that the band would probably continue their tour until early 2008 and then "take some time off". [80] He added that the band had already written some new material and would surely release another album at some point. He speculated about the possibility of a "band movie", something the band has considered for a long time. Ideas ranged from "a narrative story in a surreal fashion with as much money and special effects as possible" to "pockets of all of that or something that's live or the band playing". [81] Although Carey stated that the necessary know-how was at hand due to the band's connections to artists working in the movie business, Jones dismissed the idea, saying "It's just talk right now." [81] [82]

The band's 2009 summer tour began on July 18 in Commerce City, Colorado, at the Mile High Music Festival. They headlined Lollapalooza 2009 and a show on August 22 for the Epicenter Festival in Pomona, California. [83] [84] [85] Their Tool Winter Tour played dates across the U.S. and Canada in January and February 2012. [86] [87] The band played at Ozzfest Japan on May 12, 2013. [88] Meanwhile, Tool members have pursued their own musical projects. Keenan has toured extensively with Puscifer, which he describes as involving a series of musical ideas he did not have an opportunity to explore with Tool or A Perfect Circle. [89]

Keenan and Carey offered conflicting reports on whether or not their next album would surface in 2013, [90] though Carey later conceded that "early 2014" seemed more likely. [91] By May 2013, Keenan stated that he had actively joined the writing process as enough instrumental material had been written. [92] On March 6, 2014, Crave Online reported that Jones had said the new album was complete and on track for a 2014 release. [93] The following day, Tool released an official statement to Rolling Stone, explaining that Jones was joking. [94]

On July 15, 2014, Carey and Jones informed Rolling Stone that family commitments and an ongoing lawsuit are the key reasons for the delayed fifth album. [95] Carey said to the music publication that one untitled track is "pretty much done". [95]

In March 2015, Jones revealed that the lawsuit had been settled in the band's favor, and as such, the band was turning their focus towards recording the album. [96] He said that he hoped the album would be finished before the end of 2015 but emphasized that the band would not rush their work to meet an arbitrary deadline. [96]

In January 2016, Tool undertook a tour of the United States. [97]

While it was reported in February 2017 that Keenan had entered the studio to work on vocals for the fifth Tool album, [98] it was later reported that the album was not scheduled for release in 2017. [99] [100] Still, the band announced a North American tour starting in May. [101] A month later, Chancellor revealed that the new Tool album was "about 90-percent there", [102] while Carey claimed in separate interviews that it would "definitely" be released in 2018. [103] [104] In February 2018, Jones revealed that Keenan was working on lyrics for the album, and that the band would begin recording in March. [105] In June 2018, during his acceptance speech for the Icon Award at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, Keenan stated "I'll go on record now saying you're gonna see some new music next year." [106]

On September 11, 2018, Keenan announced via Twitter that production on the record was progressing and that vocals had been written, before suggesting a 2019 release. [107] In January 2019, Keenan announced that he had completed recording his vocals for the album "months ago." [108] While Carey mentioned aiming for a mid-April release date, Keenan later explained that between May and July was a more realistic timeframe to wrap up production and release the album. [109] On May 5, 2019, the band debuted two new songs live at the Welcome to Rockville Festival in Jacksonville, Florida called "Descending" and "Invincible". [110] Three days later, it was confirmed that the band's new album is scheduled to be released on August 30, 2019. [111] [112]

Musical style and influences

Tool was described by Patrick Donovan of The Age as "the thinking person's metal band. Cerebral and visceral, soft and heavy, melodic and abrasive, tender and brutal, familiar and strange, western and eastern, beautiful and ugly, taut yet sprawling and epic, they are a tangle of contradictions." [72] Tool has gained critical praise from the International Herald Tribune 's C.B. Liddell for their complex and ever-evolving sound. [113] Describing their general sound, AllMusic refers to them as "grinding, post-Jane's Addiction heavy metal", [51] and The New York Times sees similarities to "Led Zeppelin's heaving, battering guitar riffs and Middle Eastern modes". [114] Their 2001 work Lateralus was compared by Allmusic to Pink Floyd's Meddle (1971), but thirty years later and altered by "Tool's impulse to cram every inch of infinity with hard guitar meat and absolute dread". [59] Tool had been labelled as post-metal in 1993 [115] and 1996, [116] as well as in 2006, [117] after the term came into popularity.

Musical style

A component of Tool's song repertoire relies on the use of unusual time signatures. For instance, Chancellor describes the time signature employed on the first single from Lateralus, "Schism", as "six" and "six-and-a-half" and that it later "goes into all kinds of other times". [118] Further examples include the album's title track, which also displays shifting rhythms, [118] as do 10,000 Days: "Wings for Marie (Pt 1)" and "10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)". [119]

Beyond this aspect of the band's sound, each band member experiments within his wide musical scope. Bass Player magazine described Chancellor's bass playing as having a "thick midrange tone, guitar-style techniques, and elastic versatility". [118] As an example of this, the magazine mentioned the use of a wah effect by hammering "the notes with the left hand and using the bass's tone controls to get a tone sweep", such as on the song "The Patient", from Lateralus. [118]

Completing the band's rhythm section, drummer Carey uses polyrhythms, tabla-style techniques, and the incorporation of custom electronic drum pads to trigger samples, such as prerecorded tabla and octoban sounds. [119]

Keenan's ability as a vocalist has been characterized more subjectively by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer : After his performance during an Alice in Chains reunion concert in 2005, freelancer Travis Hay saw him as "a natural fit at replacing Layne Staley". [120] Regarding his role in A Perfect Circle and Tool, The New York Times wrote that "both groups rely on Mr. Keenan's ability to dignify emotions like lust, anger and disgust, the honey in his voice adding a touch of profundity". [121]

According to Guitar Player magazine, Jones does not rely on any one particular guitar-playing technique but rather combines many techniques. [122] For example, Allmusic wrote that he "alternately utiliz[es] power chords, scratchy noise, chiming arpeggios, and a quiet minimalism" in "Sober". [123] Additionally, the band uses forms of instrumental experimentation, like the use of a "pipe bomb microphone" (a guitar pickup mounted inside a brass cylinder) and a talk box guitar solo on "Jambi". [124]

The band puts an emphasis on the sound of their songs and attempts to reduce the effect lyrics can have on the perception of songs by not releasing song lyrics with any album. [1] Lyrical arrangements are often given special attention, such as in "Lateralus". The number of syllables per line in the lyrics to "Lateralus" correspond to an arrangement of the Fibonacci numbers [125] and the song "Jambi" uses and makes a reference to the common metrical foot iamb. [126] The lyrics on Ænima and Lateralus focus on philosophy and spirituality—specific subjects range from organized religion in "Opiate", to evolution and Jungian psychology in "Forty-Six & 2" and transcendence in "Lateralus". [127] On 10,000 Days, Keenan wanted to explore issues more personal to him: [127] the album name and title track refer to the twenty-seven years during which his mother suffered from complications of a stroke until her death in 2003. [128]


The band has named the group Melvins [20] as an influence on its development, but the most-publicized influence is progressive rock pioneer group King Crimson. [129] Longtime King Crimson member Robert Fripp has downplayed any influence his band had on Tool. In an interview, Fripp touched on how the two bands relate to each other, stating "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 do not think you could have heard it. That's the only thing." [130] He also said, "I happen to be a Tool fan. The members of Tool have been generous enough to suggest that Crimson has been an influence on them. Adam Jones asked me if I could detect it in their music, and I said I couldn’t. I can detect more Tool influence in King Crimson than I can hear King Crimson in Tool." [131] In describing their wide range of styles, critics have noted that they are "influenced as much by Pink Floyd as by the Sex Pistols." [132] Other reported influences of the band include Rush, [133] Helmet, Faith No More, and Jane's Addiction. [51] [134] In a 1993 interview, Adam Jones named Joni Mitchell, King Crimson, Depeche Mode, and country music as being among their influences. [27]

Writers HP Newquist and Rich Maloof attribute to Tool an influence on modern metal in their book The New Metal Masters. [4] Sean Richardson of The Boston Phoenix sees System of a Down, Deftones, and Korn as examples of Tool's "towering influence" on the genre. [135] Keenan's unique style of singing has been seen as heavily influencing artists such as Pete Loeffler of Chevelle, [136] Benjamin Burnley of Breaking Benjamin, [137] [138] Will Martin of Earshot, [139] and Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. [140]

Visual arts

Part of Tool's work as a band is to incorporate influences of other works of art in their music videos, live shows, and album packaging. Adam Jones doubles as the band's art director and director of their music videos. [141] Another expression of this is an official website "dedicated to the arts and influences" on the band.

Music videos

Screenshot from the "Sober" music video, directed by Adam Jones and Fred Stuhr Tool-Sober-video-screencap.jpg
Screenshot from the "Sober" music video, directed by Adam Jones and Fred Stuhr

The band has released eight music videos but made personal appearances in only the first two, which the band states is to prevent people from "latching onto the personalities involved rather than listening to the music." [11] With the exception of "Hush" and "Vicarious" all of Tool's music videos feature stop motion animation to some extent. The videos are created primarily by Adam Jones, often in collaboration with artists such as Chet Zar, [142] Alex Grey, [142] and Osseus Labyrint. [143]

The "Sober" music video in particular attracted much attention. Jones explained that it does not contain a storyline, but that his intentions were to summon personal emotions with its imagery. [10] Rolling Stone described this imagery as "evil little men dwell in a dark dungeon with meat coursing through pipes in the wall" and called it a "groundbreaking", "epic" clip. [144] Billboard voted it "Best Video by a New Artist". [10]

The video for "Vicarious" was released on DVD on December 18, 2007. [145] The video is the first by Tool to be produced entirely through the use of CGI.

Album artwork

Jones is responsible for most of the band's artwork concepts. Their album Undertow features a ribcage sculpture by Jones on its cover and photos contributed by the band members. [26] Later albums included artwork by collaborating artists: Ænima [146] and Salival featured works by Cam de Leon; Lateralus [147] and 10,000 Days [141] were created with the help of Alex Grey. The releases garnered positive critical reception, with a music journalist of the Associated Press attributing to the band a reputation for innovative album packaging. [141]

Both Ænima [32] and 10,000 Days [79] were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Recording Package, but while the former failed to win in 1997, the latter did win in 2007. Jones created packaging for 10,000 Days that features a pair of stereoscopic lenses for viewing 3-D artwork and photos. Jones, a lifelong fan of stereoscopic photography, wanted the packaging to be unique and to reflect the 1970s artwork he appreciates. [148]

Live shows

Tool's live performances in 2006 included an elaborate light show using 10,000 Days artwork by painter Alex Grey as a backdrop. Tool live mannheim 2006.jpg
Tool's live performances in 2006 included an elaborate light show using 10,000 Days artwork by painter Alex Grey as a backdrop.

Following their first tours in the early 1990s, Tool has performed as a headline act in world tours and major festivals such as Lollapalooza (1997 and 2009), Coachella (1999 and 2006), Voodoo Fest (2001 and 2016), Download Festival (2006), Roskilde (2001 and 2006), Big Day Out (2007 and 2011), Bonnaroo (2007), All Points West Music & Arts Festival (2009), and Epicenter (2009). They have been joined on stage by numerous artists such as Buzz Osborne and Scott Reeder on several occasions; Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha during their 1991 tour; Layne Staley in Hawaii, 1993; Tricky, Robert Fripp, Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo, Brann Dailor of Mastodon, and experimental arts duo Osseus Labyrint [149] during their 2001–02 Lateralus tour; and Kirk Hammett, Phil Campbell, Serj Tankian, and Tom Morello during their 2006–07 tour. They have covered songs by Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent, Peach, Kyuss, the Dead Kennedys, and the Ramones. [150] [151]

Live shows on Tool's headline tour incorporate an unorthodox stage setting and video display. [152] Keenan and Carey line up in the back on elevated platforms, while Jones and Chancellor stand in the front, toward the sides of the stage. [153] Keenan often faces the backdrop or the sides of the stage rather than the audience. [154] [154] [155] [156] [157] No followspots or live cameras are used; [158] instead, the band employs extensive backlighting to direct the focus away from the band members and toward large screens in the back and the crowd. [152] Breckinridge Haggerty, the band's live video designer, says that the resulting dark spaces on stage "are mostly for Maynard". He explains, "[a] lot of the songs are a personal journey for him and he has a hard time with the glare of the lights when he's trying to reproduce these emotions for the audience. He needs a bit of personal space, and he feels more comfortable in the shadows." [158] The big screens are used to play back "looped clips that aren't tracked to a song like a music video. The band has never used any sort of timecode. They’ve always made sure the video can change on-the-fly, in a way that can be improvised. ... The show is never the same twice." [158] During the 10,000 Days tour, the video material consisted of over six hours of material, created by Jones, his wife Camella Grace, Chet Zar, Meats Meier, and Haggerty. [158] Some of the material created by Zar has been released on his DVD Disturb the Normal. [159]


Awards and nominations

Grammy Awards

YearNominated workAwardResultReference
1997 "Ænema" Best Metal Performance Won [160]
1997 Ænima Best Recording Package (Adam Jones and Kevin Willis)Nominated
1997 "Stinkfist" Best Music Video Nominated [161]
2001 "Schism" Best Metal Performance Won [160]
2006 10,000 Days Best Recording Package (Adam Jones)Won [162]
2006 "Vicarious" Best Hard Rock Performance Nominated [163]
2007 "The Pot" Best Hard Rock Performance Nominated [162]


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