Tuesday, December 10

Tool members simply don’t care if they’re misunderstood

Tool members simply don’t care if they’re misunderstood

Alternative ‘clenched-teeth metal’ band serves as catharsis for
pent-up frustration

By Gaby Mora

Daily Bruin Staff

On a surface level it is easy to hate Maynard James Keenan and
his band Tool.

Keenan is reserved and inexorable; Tool is loud, abrasive, and
deals with uncomfortable subject matter.

But Keenan is also introspective, and genuine.

Tool will perform Saturday at the Olympic Auditorium.

Representing one-fourth of the group, Keenan sits in a coffee
shop in North Hollywood, admitting that he doesn’t like media

"It’s important sometimes to explain what’s going on with the
music, or get some in-depth ideas. But a lot of times it ends being
a personality profile, and my personality has really nothing to do
with the outcome of what four individuals put into a song."

The outcome, in the case of the band’s last album Undertow
(Zoo), were impressive sales and wide exposure via its two videos
for the hit singles "Sober" and "Prison Sex."

Tool is currently working on a new album, where its upcoming
show may offer a glimpse into what fans can expect from its third
release. Keenan only offers, "It’ll sound like an album that comes
after the thought processes of Undertow."

"I think Opiate (the first album) was more aggressive," he
continues. "It was kind of a primal scream kind of record. There’s
a lot of frustration living in L.A. that had to come out. And as
that mellowed out we had a more introspective look at what was
going on around us on Undertow — things that motivate you. Things
that manipulate you. It’s hard to say what this record is going to
be like ’cause we’re still growing."

For a musical outfit that has clearly reached maturity, Tool is
a fresh vent of anger and frustration because they don’t just lay
it out for the audience, it offers the idea that pain can be turned
into something positive.

Following the concepts of Ronald Vincent’s book, "A Joyful Guide
to Lachrymology," Tool’s inspirations range from the author’s
"study of crying" to musicians like Joni Mitchell, Swans and Tom

The press has described Tool’s music as "clenched-teeth metal,"
"alternative-rock" and "hostile" and "dismal." Certainly the
group’s past two albums are filled with all of the above, but as
Keenan told the L.A. Times in 1993, "It’s not as if the rest of our
life is that way."

Two years and over 750,000 album sales later, he maintains it is
a misconception to think that Tool’s content is only about pain and

When asked if his music is misunderstood, Keenan’s caustic reply
is a simple, "I don’t really care."

A lead singer who doesn’t need audience response to feed from
for a live performance, Keenan explains, "Even when you’re playing
on a very small level, as far as a crowd, whatever it is that
you’re doing there’s going to be a small percentage of people that
really understand or have an idea of where you’re coming from. Then
there’s the rest of the people that are just drinking beer and

Keenan, who spends much of his time on stage screaming in
between, and sometimes over, guitar riffs, says his music serves
the main purpose of a cathartic valve through which to express and
explore himself and his surroundings.

For him, the process of creating music is almost mystical, and
involves more than just putting words with melody.

"It’s about little moments, you know, it’s about these four
people getting together for those moments, and an attempt to record
what happened in that moment," he explains.

"There are a million geniuses out there, so-called geniuses, but
what really makes them the people that you recognize as having done
something is exactly that ­ they’ve done something. It’s a
moment, it’s not an individual, you know, I don’t think there are
any great individuals, just great moments."

Whether the lead singer with the big brown eyes and spinal chord
tattoos down his back ends up being loved or hated in this jaded
town, one thing is for certain, his group will remain one of the
greats in Los Angeles music history.

MUSIC: Tool with Woodpussy and Laundry at the Olympic
Auditorium, Saturday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16. For
more info call 213-765-4770.

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