Publication: San Francisco Chronicle
Date: Thursday, November 10, 1994
Transcribed by Cameron Keith ([email protected])
title: A Tool for the Truly Cool Big hit of Lollapalooza tour gears up for second album With each passing day, singer Maynard James Keenan and his bandmates in Tool - guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Paul D'Amour and drummer Danny Carey - take on more status in the alternative music scene. The band's introductory EP "Opiate" and its debut album "Undertow" combine the thrashing force of Metallica with the vocal finesse of Queen. With "Undertow" certified platinum, Tool now faces the dreaded sophomore jinx. The band is confronting the demon head on, embarking on a brief California tour before entering the studio to record its second album (the tour stops at the Warfield Theatre tomorrow)* At a Hollywood restaurant Keenan talked about the tour, the creative process and the peculiarities of fame. Q: Why are you doing this tour? A: People involved in corporate bands tend to think in terms of touring while the buzz is out on the band. But that's not really how we're thinking. We just want to blow the dust off, and it kind of helps in the middle of writing to go in and do some shows. Once the new tunes are locked in, then it makes it easier to write even more new songs. Q: What's the difference between the new songs and your previous material? A: I think (the new album will) be completely different from the first. I've just got a feeling that a lot of the fans who got into us and heard a lot of Pantera in the sound are definitely not going to like the new record. The first thing we put out was "Opiate". That was a pretty aggressive record, but it needed to be angry because that's where our heads were at - it was our primal scream, so to speak. But I think that's mellowed out, and there's a lot of different stuff on our minds right now that doesn't have much to do with anger and frustration. Personally, my thoughts are more introspective. Q: To what do you attribute that introspection? A: Well, we've traveled overseas, and you see so much more when you open yourself up to different countries, different people and music being played by different musicians. When you see how other people live and their struggles and aspirations, you go through a change. You tend to come to terms with a lot of the shit going on in your own small world. It's like, "Wow, I was moaning about all the junk in my life, and it was such a waste of energy." Q: The "Prison Sex" video seemed to strike a chord with just about everyone who saw it. What are your impressions of the clip? A: In a lot of the music you'll find open spaces for your own interpretation. In the "Prison Sex" video you question whether the song is actually being sung from an infant's point of view, or from the antagonist's point of view. But there's definitely a cycle involved, a push-and-pull. Q: Though critics hailed the "Prison Sex" clip as a breakthrough video, MTV stopped airing it after only a few viewings. Were you disappointed that the network didn't put it's muscle behind a video that dealt with such a sensitive topic? A: What got to me about the whole situation was, here you have these other videos where Steven Tyler's daughter is stripping in front of old men, or where Janet Jackson is practically having oral sex. I kind of find that disturbing, yet it's something that's just thrown in people's laps and they don't think twice about it. So I guess anything that deals with that sort of ('Prison Sex') subject matter is going to end up hitting road blocks. Q: The first album seemed to deal quite extensively with power and corruption. A: I used to work in video. And when you're working 20 hours a day on video sets for people who really don't give a damn about you then you start really to get a feel for how little you mean to the people around you. Q: Billboard pronounced you a big winner at Lollapalooza. How did you feel about that? A: It's such a popularity contest. I appreciate their attention, but I'm really skeptical about what portion of the attention is sincere, and what portion is just them saying something to cover their ass if something happens with us. Q: Who would you say are influences? A: I think I'm influenced more by moments or events rather than bands. Take somebody like Tom Waits, for instance. If you want to focus on him then that's great. But look at the stuff that influenced him - the piano and the bar, the drunks, the bosses who won't hire losers. Combine all those things with where he was born, and it culminates in a moment. When you're writing it helps to look at the whole picture. End of article. * Tool played again at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium three days after the Warfield.