[toolnews] guitar world article (w/Adam)

  • From: Crazy Johnson <crazyjohnson3@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: toolnews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 05:52:36 -0700 (PDT)


As seen in the June 2001 issue of Guitar World --
transcribed by Chris Brightwell on May 24, 2001


"The four of us never wanted to be rock stars," says
Adam Jones. "We just wanted to push art for art's

Tool's guitarist is lounging on a couch in North
Hollywood's Larrabee Studios as he makes this
declaration. He certainly doesn't look like a rock
star, with his wrinkled t-shirt and faded jeans. But
the truth is, with multi-platinum album sales,
worldwide tours, and a long list of fan sites (today's
true definition of fame and popularity), how can Tool
be considered anything but?

"It's all about perspective," says Jones. "The band
decided early on that we, as people, would take the
backseat and instead push our ideas and thoughts
through our music."

Jones appears relaxed as he says this, but really, he
and the rest of Tool - lead singer Maynard James
Keenan, bass player Justin Chancellor, and drummer
Danny Cary - are in the midst of fighting a battle to
complete the final tracks on their latest release,
Lateralus (Dissectional/Volcano). Unfortunately, it's
a battle they will ultimately lose; when the smoke
clears, the records still ends up hitting stores a
month behind schedule.

But what's another month, considering it's been four
years since Tool released Ænima, the group's last

"People always ask us why it took so long to record,"
says an exasperated Jones. "But we didn't take four
years to record. First, we toured for a couple years
behind Ænima. Then we did Ozzfest, and then Maynard
did his work with his side group, A Perfect Circle. So
we really did this album in about a year, which in my
mind is pretty good."

"But you know what?" he continues," That's not
entirely accurate. There were a lot of little things
that got in the way of us completing the record on
time. I think everything that could have gone wrong
with this album did, from little things like broken
gear to bigger issues like getting involved in a
lawsuit with our label. I was telling the band as we
got on a plane to go to the mastering studio in Maine
that I wouldn't be surprised if we crashed."

It's enough to break most bands' sprits, but not Tool.
The band has been fighting the record industry and all
its slings and arrows since the group's first release,
the 1992 EP Opiate. Tool takes great pains to control
its music, its message and the way it's presented to
the public. Maybe that's why the band members are
notoriously gun shy around journalists, refusing to do
most interviews even as their peers fight to see who
can garner the most appearances on Total Request Live.

As a result, Tool has earned a reputation as one of
today's more enigmatic rock acts. The group's music
defies strict categorization - it's dense,
progressive, aggressive, melodic, heavy, and
experimental all at once. Tracks on Lateralus clock in
at ove seven minutes and cover a sonic landscape so
broad, so full of twists and turns, that other hard
rock bands would get lost in it. Tool's videos and
album art rarely feature images of the band itself,
and vocalist Maynard James Keenan refuses to discuss
lyrics that are, quite often, confusing in their own

"We never set out to be mysterious," says Jones with a
chuckle. "We just didn't want to worry about image.
'How does the band look? What are they wearing? Are
they cute?' We just said, 'Let's allow the music to be
the star.'

"And you know what? I'm comfortable with the fact that
I can go watch the opening band at one of our sold-out
shows and never be recognized."

As the group's celebrated reluctance to give
interviews, Justin Chancellor explains: "How many
times can you say the same thing? For us, the main
focus is the music. When there's nothing musical going
on, there's nothing worth talking about. When the
music comes out, we go back into the interview process

Tool's story begins in Los Angeles in 1989, when Jones
met Keenan through a mutual friend. "Tom Morello,
who's a friend of min, had his band Lock Up - that
really put me in the mood to get something together
myself," remembers Jones. "I had been jamming with a
bunch of different bands at the time, but none of them
were really working out. Then one day, Maynard played
me a tape of some joke band he was in. I just thought,
Fuck, you can sing! He really blew my mind. From that
point on I bugged him until he finally gave in and
joined me."

They were soon jamming with drummer Carey, and were
eventually joined by original bass player Paul
D'Amour. "We began playing out and had done about
three or four gigs before being approached by A&R
people," says Jones. "By our tenth gig, we had a bunch
of record companies chasing us around." Of course,
this only baffled the fledgling band.

"At first we all thought it was stupid. We didn't want
to be musicians for a living; we already had jobs."
Soon though, as more and more record execs began to
show interest, the band became excited at the prospect
of a career change. "It was certainly something we all
enjoyed. And making a living with it - what could be
better? As long as we could do things our way as much
as possible."

So when Zoo (later Volcano Entertainment) offered the
type of artistic control the band members wanted, they
decided to take a chance and try their luck. "I worked
for a makeup effects house, and everyone was convinced
I'd be back in a month," says Jones. "To tell you the
truth, I was pretty scared. I was worried that they
might be right."

No chance. Today, Tool is consistently cited by such
groups as Limp Bizkit and the Deftones as a major
influence, and many critics consider the band to be
the forerunners of the current agro brand of new
metal. Not that any of this happened by design.

"We don't set out to be influential. Anything that
happens in our music comes out of the dynamics of the
band," says Chancellor. "We're just four completely
different people, and we have our good sides and our
really fucked up sides. When you in the studio
playing, it's like a democracy, and sometime it
creates friction. But that in turn produces great
variety in the music. Because sometimes someone will
have his way with a riff that you wrote, and it will
give the song an entirely new character. Sometimes
there'll be a meeting of minds, and a song will take
on yet another character. And then there's the times
when you end up sacrificing your original version
entirely, and the song goes in yet another direction.
It's that thrill - and challenge - of discovery."

Or as Jones puts it, "When I hear our music, I like
it. I like it a lot. And I don't think that's ego. I'm
proud of what we've done. What we do together is
magical, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

In an exclusive Guitar World interview, Adam Jones
breaks his band's code of silence to give us the
inside scoop on the making of Lateralus, the pressures
of running a successful band, and why you can't let go
of your artistic integrity.

GUITAR WORLD: So tell use: the delays, the stresses,
the lawsuits - is this typical of the way things run?

ADAM JONES: It's a business. And the bigger your
business becomes, the more pressures you face - the
more you need to become a better businessman. Most
younger bands don't seem to care about these details.
Hell, there are lots of bigger bands that don't care,
and they're the ones who get ripped off and end up on

From the start, we've always tried to have our hands
in our band's success. If we had done things the
record company's way, I don't think we'd be together
today. They would have chewed us up and spit us out.
But you have to accept that it's going to be a slow
climb. Maybe our album's not going to come out and be
number one, but two years from now we'll still be
riding it working it, touring behind it. We don't want
to be a band that puts out an album a year - we'd
become a cover band of ourselves. There'd be no room
to grow.

GW: The irony is that you end up becoming a better
long-term investment for the record companies by doing
it your way.

JONES: Of course we do. But they don't see it like
that. They thing, How can we make as much money as we
can as fast as possible? But we try not to let it
worry us. 

What I'm REALLY worried about is you guys in the
press. You keep saying that Lateralus is the most
anticipated album of the year, but I haven't heard
that any fans. You're setting it up to be an instant
letdown, like the Y2K bug or something. Sure, I think
there are a lot of Tool fans that are definitely
anticipating this album. But that's a very small
market. Most people don't give a shit about our band.

GW: In many ways, though, it's the group's fault.
You've put out two extremely well-received albums, as
well as a great EP. You've set your bar very high, and
consequently, people have high expectations of the

JONES: Only within our own little community. But the
press use it as a headline to sell magazines.

GW: Well, having heard the album, I can honestly say
that it's very good. In fact, it's everything it's
been hyped up to be.

JONES: I think our fans will be really happy. And I
hope we make some new fans with it. I sort of know
what will happen: with Ænima, fans complained that it
wasn't as good as Undertow. But they came around after
giving the new music a chance. There's 78 minutes and
a58 seconds' worth of music on Lateralus. There are
many different paths that we went down and
experimented with, so I think there's something to
touch everyone. I think it will grow on people, too.

GW: Something about the album makes it feel more
intimate that Ænima and Undertow.

JONES: It's a lot more vulnerable, yeah. We were under
so much stress going into the album due to label
problem, and that influenced its direction. Also,
Maynard wrote about theme he wouldn't have addressed
in the past. Before it was more about themes that were
outside the band, like the stuff about (deceased 80s
comedian) Bill Hicks on Æenima. We're all fans of Bill
Hicks, and we wrote two songs based on his

On Lateralus, we went inside the band for themes. For
instance, Maynard might write something that's about
him specifically - maybe about his relationship with a
girl. Since we know him and have maybe gone through it
with him, the song becomes personal to us as well. Or
maybe it's a concept that we really do all share
directly, like when you and your friends have an
inside joke that no one else gets.

GW: When it came to personal themes, was it tough to
open up to one other?

JONES: Yeah, it was, but it became this great
catharsis. We didn't enter into the recording studio
looking for that, but we needed it to happen
nonetheless. I feel like everything that's happened to
our band in the last three years has just been a huge

GW: Did you pass?

JONES: Let's just say that I like the outcome of the
test - I think it's good. It was a healing process.

GW: Did you anticipate all these problems, all the
stress, when you were starting out?

JONES: David Bowie said something in an interview that
got me really excited: "I had to become a better
businessman to become a better artist." I thought it
was beautiful because it's so true. When some bands
become too big, they start fighting about money and
control. Then other parties get involved and
everything starts to disintegrate. That's why you hear
about great bands breaking up. When we started out, we
decided to split everything four ways. We didn't want
to be one of those bands that fought over this song,
that song, the single, or who gets to put what on the

GW: What was the writing process like for Lateralus?

JONES: Most bands have been taught that they have to
write these formulaic pop songs to be successful. As
soon as you start listening to those rules, you're in
trouble. So we approach music as movements, not
necessarily "songs". What often happens is that
someone comes in with a riff and we jam on it -
probably for too long. We go down everything kind of
avenue we can, seeing what kind of feelings and
emotions turn up. If you do that enough, you start
going on this little journey. I don't want to get too
pretentious about it - it's really just fun. We don't
say, "Let's write an eight-minute song."

Then we start putting riffs together. When something
working, that goes to tape. After that we take it home
and scrutinize it. See, there's two ways a musician
hears his music. When he's actually playing it, he's
listening to make sure he gets his notes right.
Afterward, he's listening to it simply as a piece of
music. That's what's really important. That's how you
really tell what's working and what's not.

Most of us in Tool have had some musical training -
high school band, whatever. That's when you develop
the discipline to hear what's best for the whole
rather than what's best for just you. The focus needs
to be the band, not the four members.

GW: It allows you to avoid that old cliché of the band
sitting around the mixer, each member turning
themselves up and fighting to be heard.

JONES: I'm not going to say that doesn't happen. But
it about looking at it as a band and saying, "Okay, we
need to hear more of the bass. Do we need to turn it
up or the guitar down?" There are times when I get
completely buried. But the song's not there for me,
I'm there for the song.

GW: Guitarists aren't typically known for suppressing
their own egos like that. Is it tough for you to do

JONES: [laughs] Sometimes. That's why we like our
producer, Dave Bottrill, so much. Despite his
experience, he never says "That's not the way things
are done." He says, "Well, how about this?" He promote
and atmosphere of experimentation and musical growth.

Like I said, the band members and I try to be open
minded. To at least listen to the other people and try
out whatever they might be suggesting. It's a hard
give-and-take that developed over time. They're my
brothers. Sometimes you love your brothers, and other
times you want to put each other in a headlock.

GW: Was it tough for the band to leave all the
frustrations of the last few years behind when it
entered into the studio?

JONES: Yes. And that's also what I meant when I was
talking earlier about this album being a healing
process. You have all these little cancers on your
body, on your gingers, and they're getting in the way
of your playing guitar. But as you write, as you get
together and play, they start to fall away. It was a
huge challenge, but we're really happy with the

But it also makes you think, What if I didn't have
these little cancerous thins? Would the al bum sound
different? Would we have put less effort into it? It's
all those "what if"s.

GW: So what sort of gear were you playing with on the

JONES: I have a Gibson Custom Deluxe. I also used an
SG and a little acoustic guitar. All of that is run
through a Marshall bass head that has the two channels
hot-wired together. I also use a Diesel Amp, which is
custom-made in Germany. Bill Howerdel, of A Perfect
Circle, used to be my guitar tech and he got me into
them. They filled in for what the Marshalls weren't
pulling off in the low end. The two together are
magic. It's actually the same rig I use live.

GW: There is a very bass-driven, chunky quality to
your guitar sound. In fact, it sometimes seems as if
it's playing bass parts while the bass fills in on
more melodic riffs.

JONES: I think there's a chemistry between guitar and
bass that Justin and I really like to explore. I don't
like to limit the roll of any instrument in the band.
They're not on separate worlds. There's a point where
they can meet and interact in different ways. It's a
pendulum. Sometimes I'm playing bass lines underneath
what he's playing, even though I'm on guitar. In some
ways it's like having a lead player and a rhythm
player and it really opens up our playing. Sometimes
it works, sometimes it doesn't. You just never know
until you try.

You have to remember that everything in life is based
on chaos. Some things you can just let go, and some
you can't. You need to use your weaknesses as your

GW: The end result of that whole process - Tool's
music - doesn't really sound like anything else coming
out of the metal scene.

JONES: But I don't know if I even consider us a metal
band. We're more of a hard rock prog band. When we
were signed, we kept telling our label, "Don't push us
on all the metal stations. Don't push us with all the
other metal bands." But they did, because that's the
only way they could see us. And that's what happened
with the EP Opiate. We thought at the time that we
should release the heaviest songs we had because they
would make the most impact, but all it really did was
force us into this little category. Which was
ridiculous. Think about the metal bands that were
around in '92: They were all glam bands. We didn't
sound ANYTHING like that. We didn't want to have
anything to do with that.

GW: But the definition of metal has changed since
then, and many people would attribute that to you
guys. Whether or not it was the result of overzealous
marketing on your label's part of not, most of today's
metal bands employ the heavy rhythmic riffing, melodic
vocals, complex drumming and heavy low-end that you
guys are thought to have pioneered.

JONES: Let me respond to that with, "Really?" [laughs]
I had no idea. I never considered us as innovative.
Rage Against the Machine - they're innovative. I can
point to a dozen other bands that sound, or try to
sound, just like them. No one seems to be trying to
sound like us. But I see what you mean. Maybe there is
some of our influence in some of the newer bands. It's
hard to tell, being so close to it.

GW: So when did the band begin to feel like it was
being accurately represented by its music?

JONES: By Undertow. We had most of that music written
when we released Opiate. Undertow showed a much
broader range to our sound - not just the heavy stuff.
I saw that as a second chance, at least in terms of
the way people would perceive the band. It was much
more truthful.

GW: It seems that, based on Zoo's initial decision to
push the band as a metal band, Undertow might be seen
by the label as a risk. You must have had a lot of
artistic control.

JONES: Well, we had some. That was one of the reasons
we signed with Zoo. They offered us a larger amount of
control in exchange for a smaller amount of money,
which seemed like a fine trade to us.

And we did have control, to a point. But there was the
issue of us being promoted as a metal band. And they
were supposed to check with us before doing anything
that would affect the band. Of course, they'd call us
when they knew we were out, and then say, "Well, we
tried to get a hold of you." That sort of thing
happened all the time.

GW: Is that what lead to the legal problems with your
record label a coup of years ago?

JONES: Not quite. That's a longer story. Zoo Records
agreed to sign us and let us have a lot of control.
Plus, they were in LA. Which made dealing with them at
least a little easier. Then Zoo became Volcano
Entertainment and was sold to this jackass who renamed
the label to Freeworld Entertainment before changing
the name back to Zoo. At that time, he was supposed to
pick up our contract option, but he forgot to. And
since we weren't too happy with him in the first
place, we informed the label that they forgot to pick
up our option and, therefore, we were out of our
contract. Of course, they freaked out and tried to sue
us for every reason they could think of, just to make
it all messy. They hoped that they could at least sell
the company to someone else and then let the settle
with us. Which is exactly what happened.

GW: I notice that your new album and your CD/DVD
Salival, are released jointly by Tool's Diessectional
label and Volcano.

JONES: Well, it's a joint company, where we're
supposed to make decisions together. I thought it
would be good, and it is - to a point. But the guys
who own it are managers and it's still just a
business. They have their perspective on how things
work and we have ours. No one's wrong, but no one
agrees, either.

GW: It seems like, three studio albums, an EP, one
live album and a DVD of groundbreaking videos later,
maybe your instincts have been proven correct.
Obviously the fans feel this way. Do you feel like
your label is acknowledging this?

JONES: Perhaps, but that could change on a dime. We
could give them something and they could decide it
isn't working, and then it's all over. That's the
cruelty of show business. But I feel fortunate that
it's gone this way for so long. We've kept out
integrity and I can sleep at night. I wouldn't want it
any other way.

Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Auctions - buy the things you want at great prices
Have something I forgot or should know about? Let me know: 
crazyjohnson3@xxxxxxxxx - If you wish to leave this list for any reason please 
send an email to toolnews-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the 
subject field.

Other related posts:

  • » [toolnews] guitar world article (w/Adam)