Anyone who has walked or driven down Sunset or Hollywood Blvds. knows the place has a dark side. Just how dark is a matter of perspective and/or experience. On the other hand, Hollywood holds unlimited possibilities - even for underground, self-absorbed, whiz-bangers like Tool.
Tool formed in the early '90s. In typical Hollywood style, original bassist Paul D' Amour and guitarist Adam Jones came to the land of eternal promise to get jobs in the movie biz. With the addition of Danny Carney on drums and the ever-popular vocalist Maynard James Keenan, Tool was ready. (Note to struggling musicians: It's more realistic to play on a record label's home turf - L.A. or N.Y. - than expect them to come to you).
First out of the box was the EP "Opiate" with live tracks. The full-length "Undertow" followed and blew the doors off. A slot on the third Lollapalooza tour helped immensely. But change was at hand. First, D' Amour split and was replaced by Justin Chancellor. For the next effort, producer Sylvia Massey, who'd handled Tool's first two projects, was replaced by David Botrill. But there was even a bigger shift looming. The public's roving musical tastes caused "Aenima," a hard charging CD, to yield disappointing sales.
In '00, the live, B-sides and more (including a cover of Led Zep's "No Quarter"), "Salival," hit the streets. The CD/DVD pulled out past Tool high points and even had the Chancellor composed "You Lied," which was originally recorded by his former band Peach. "Lateralus" followed a year later, driven by "The Grunge" and "Tick & Leeches." The CD topped the Billboard Album Chart.
As happens with a lot of bands, they just wear out internally. Endless touring, song writing, rehearsals, recording, the insufferable band meetings and God knows what else, takes a toll. Break-up rumors had been swirling around Tool since the beginning of the decade.
Some bands call it quits and then it's next to impossible to get ex-members in the same room again. Other groups, take a break, work on other projects, before trying to record and tour again. That's what Tool did. Taking a few years off, the group returned in '06 with "10,000 Days." A tour was up next but Tool soon went to the dogs. Or at least their drummer did. Carey suffered serious injury when he ran afoul of his girlfriend's mutt. A bicep wound needed surgery (suppose it could have been worse) which forced the cancellation of several dates, though the group was able to perform at the '07 Bonnaroo Music Festival.
From "10,000 Days," the song "Vicarious" was up for an '07 Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy but lost to Wolfmother's "Woman." The group did win "Best Recording Package." Later in the year, Tool issued "Lowdown" (a biography with interviews) and the Vicarious DVD, a collection of live performances including a seven-minute video of the title track.
Keenan's side project, Puscifer, released their debut album, "V Is For Vagina," in late '07. Keenan claimed this group is a more 'low-key' project. "In a way, I'm trying to discover . . . a way to make music and survive without it being this capitalist monster trying to take over the world and sell 3 million units." The first single was "Queen B."
Keenan also appeared in '09's Crank 2: High Voltage with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, a veteran of the first Crank movie.
Tool seemed long gone in '13 when Jones tried to explain the long gap since '06's "10,000 Days." He claimed that Tool had become a victim of their own success.
"We live kind of cushy lives now, so we get together when we want," Jones told Revolver magazine. "We've become even more eclectic and distant, so getting things done is very hard."
There may have been something to that but the main reason for the delay was a pending lawsuit.
In '07, a Jones associate sued Tool claiming the group had used his artwork without giving due credit. That's not the end of the world, it could probably be settled easily. But no. The insurance company Tool hired for the band's defense also ended up filing a suit against the group over "technicalities regarding the case." Seven years passed as the case dragged on without resolution.
Tool fans are loyal - but even they have limits and Jones was keenly aware of that.
"It's costing millions and millions and millions of dollars to defend us," Jones explained. "And the fans are all going, 'We want a new Tool album. What the f*ck?'."
There had been enough time to record a couple Tool albums but by mid-'14 the group had only completed one track.
"We've wasted money and time and it has just drained our creative energy," Jones stated.
The lawsuit, stuck in Los Angeles courts, was finally settled in Tool's favor in March of '15.
"We've been discouraged and distracted by this major lawsuit, which is the worst thing that's ever happened to us," concluded Jones.
2006 10,000 Days
To Tool's credit, they put Rock into Art-Rock. While these excursions are interesting, Tool really scores when they simply kick it out.
While "10,000 Days" is a potent set, it probably won't settle the long running debate over which album is the group's best. Tool fans claim "Aenima" is the pick of the litter. Critics look to "Lateralus." Take that for what it's worth.
Puscifer's "V Is For Vagina" is a collection of ambient/electronic noise cut with dark, droning vocals.