Tool

Tool's Official Website

By Brad East

WHEN: 1992-present

CULPRITS: Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Adam Jones (guitar), Justin Chancellor (bass), Danny Carey (drums) / Former member: Paul D’Amour (bass)

ALBUMS: Opiate EP (1992); Undertow (1993); Ænima (1996); Salival (live; 2000); Lateralus (2001); 10,000 Days (2006)

HOW: I was introduced to Tool around ten years ago by my friend Aaron, whose guitar excellence inspired my own foray into learning both guitar and bass. (Actually, one of my favorite musical memories is spending the summer of 2002 learning every single Tool song on bass. I may or may not have dreamed of seeing them live, Chancellor hurting his hand, Maynard asking if someone in the crowd could fill in, and me stepping up and nailing it. Also, maybe still a dream.) Together with Rage Against the Machine, Tool defined what I understood properly to give content to the descriptor “good” before “rock.” I didn’t own an actual album until Lateralus, and continued to piece together their full catalogue and discography throughout high school. In fact I distinctly remember the morning in college when, a few weeks before 10,000 Days was released, I made an exception to my general rule never to download music illegally off the internet — only because I would be buying (and did) the album when it was officially released — and listened to “Vicarious” and “Jambi” on the way to class. It was glorious.

WHY: If Rage unleashed and tapped into the anger and energy of being a young male, Tool both unveiled and harnessed the flip side: dark mystery, dangerous spirituality, profound power. And the music: songs exploded time signatures and structures as much as they brushed aside expectations for length and accessibility. The lyrical circularity and mysticism of Maynard James Keenan, combined with his simultaneously gentle and muscular voice, made him my still-favorite front man in all of rock. These guys are just so weird; yet each could be said to be in the conversation for the best of his kind: Danny Carey for his extraordinarily experimental drumming, Justin Chancellor for his beautifully idiosyncratic bass, and Adam Jones for both his eccentric artistic flourishes and his devastating guitar riffs. If these four keep churning out two albums a decade, with touring and a few years to cool off in between each release, I will be just fine.

SONGS: Making an 80-minute mix of Tool songs is a bit like making a Top 10 list of favorite Tarantino quotes: when there’s only dialogue, you’ve really got to leave some gems out. So for Tool, whose songs often stretch between six and 10 minutes in length, if not longer. I actually cheated a bit on this list by knocking the last 10 seconds off of “Pushit (Live),” which you can do easily in iTunes and which makes sense given that it’s merely a segue into the next track on the album.

The sequence is probably my favorite part about the list; it starts bass-heavy, upbeat and more straightforward, moves into a few older tracks that blend nicely together, then concludes in rightfully epic style with the last four. Due to time, I had to leave out favorites like “Crawl Away,” “H.,” “Third Eye,” and “10,000 Days,” as well as their phenomenal cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter.” However, as it stands, I think it’s pretty solid, and a fitting tribute to who Tool is and has been as a band in their full time together.

LINK: Unfortunately, Tool has no music on iTunes. Instead, check out the expert, unofficially official website for the band at The Tool Page.

Click on list for the TOOL iMix

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~ by eastbk on August 15, 2009.

3 Responses to “Tool”

  1. Oh man, you really need a double-disc 160 minutes for life to fully encapsulate all of Tool’s must listen to songs (and yes, I know that isn’t what the site is all about). Since they record songs that are twice or three times long as a normal song, shouldn’t they be the acception to the rule. Regardless, great job with the list, Brad. I remember when someone handed me a discman with Aenima spinning inside on my way home from a 9th grade field trip to the Fort Worth zoo. I listened to H. over and over. And the day Lateralus came out (misspelled as Lateralis on my copy), I tore the plastic wrapping away from the CD and listened to The Grudge in the Circuit City parking lot with chill bumps on my arms. Great call on the Tool entry.

  2. Couldn’t agree more on needing more time! Maybe we’ll concoct some rule for bands that have songs whose average time is greater than six minutes, or something like that. “Lateralus” was indeed misspelled on my initial copy as well — of course, I assumed it was a subliminal message about Bill Hicks or magick or wine, or some similarly occult matter. Either way: glad you liked the list, and thanks for reading!

  3. I must admit that when I first saw the TOOL graphic while scrolling down the front page I was a bit skeptical of how realistic it would be to concoct a reasonable 80 minute representation of their magnificence, but I must congratulate you for so skillfully plucking and arranging an amazing playlist. That was a long sentence. Well done sir, well done.

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