Sometimes referred to as "the thinking man's metal," Tool is a hard rock/heavy metal band charactized by often complex song composure and cerebral lyrics. While the music is definitely of the hard rock/metal variety, it's typically a lot more talented and creative than most harder rock (let's face it, a lot of metal is rather simple and very fucking repetitive) and it's not uncommon to hear a Tool song that has branched out into other genres or is just plain weird. The lyrics differentiate Tool from many other bands, rock or not, by taking a more intellectual (but certainly not emotionless) stance on the topics sung about. For example, how many bands do you know that incorporate Jungian themes or theories about chromosomes and their relation to a collective consciousness that might evolve into their music?

Tool formed in California in 1990 when drummer Danny Carey was introduced to guitarist Adam Jones through high school friend and guitarist for the now-defunct Rage Against the Machine Tom Morello. Carey lived near singer Maynard James Keenan, which is how the two met. Keenan and Jones frequently practiced together and, when people the two were supposed to play with didn't show up (which was often enough for Carey to remark that he felt sorry of the two), Carey would often offer his services. Eventually, Carey became a part of the band as well. Bassist Paul D'Amour met the band through Carey: Both Carry and D'Amour worked in the film industry (D'Amour has done special effects, art, and make-up work on Predator 2, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Jurassic Park, and a few other films), which is where the two met.

Paul D'Amour left the band in September of 1995 over creative differences (and other such things) but is still on good terms with the rest of Tool (when I saw Tool live in November of 2001, just before playing "Opiate," Keenan said the song was for "Paul of Love"). D'Amour's replacement was Justin Chancellor, previously of the band Peach. Chancellor had met Tool on tour in 1994 when Peach was opening for them. Chancellor had actually already played with the band at least once by the point, having played bass with Tool for a performance of "Sober" at one concert. Initially, Chancellor turned down the offer to join Tool as he was trying to form a band with Ben Durling (long-time friend of Chancellor's and guitarist for Peach, which had broken up six months earlier). Not long after, however, Chancellor decided he couldn't turn down the opportunity and travelled to the United States to audition (Chancellor is British and was living in, surprise, the UK). Chancellor received the position, defeating Filter's Frank Cavanagh, Zaum's Marko Fox (his voice can be heard on Tool's "Die Eier von Satan"), and KYUSS' Scott Reeder.

Tool's first release, an EP titled Opiate, was released in 1992 on Zoo Records (now Volcano Entertainment). The EP contained some of Tool's harder, more typically metal songs of the time, giving the impression to some that the band was just another metal band. Opiate has a distinctly different feel than later Tool releases because of this and is probably the band's least innovative record. Aside from the title and secret tracks (the former playing on a "religion is the opiate of the masses" theme and the latter being a silly, musically tripped out song with the kind of humor Tool fans would later find familiar), most of the songs don't seem to fit in with Tool's other productions. The live tracks on Opiate were recorded at a New Years Eve concert with humorous friends of Tool Green Jelly (they were there and performed but not on this recording). Opiate was produced by Sylvia Massy, Steve Hansgen, and Tool.

In 1993, Tool toured on Lollapalooza, the summer music festival organized by Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros frontman Perry Farrell that use-to-be-cool-then-wasn't-so-cool-then-couldn't-find-anyone-to-headline-then-disappeared (perhaps you've heard of it). Originally slated to be on the second stage, Tool was eventually moved to the main stage where they wowed the crowds and gained a great many new fans.

That year also saw the release of Undertow, Tool's first full-length album. Undertow, named for the downward pull breaking waves and sinking ships create, reflects just that emotionally in its lyrics. Containing what is probably Tool's most popular song at the time-of-this-writing and some of the band's more easily understood lyrics (though in terms of sales, Undertow isn't the most popular album), Undertow still managed to send a more thoughtful and unique messages in its songs (or, at least, delivered such messages in more thoughtful and unique ways) with songs with titles like "Prison Sex" and the usage of anal sex as a metaphor giving listeners a downward-pulling introspective experience. Music videos were created for "Prison Sex" and "Sober" (a music video was created for "Hush" on Opiate but it's not all that special really) featuring dark, claymated depictions that would become a trademark of Tool videos. (Walter tells me Tool's video style is a rip-off of that of the Brothers Quay. I haven't seen any of the Brothers Quay's work yet but I shall investigate this when I can.) Undertow was produced by Sylvia Massy and Tool.

Around this time the members of Tool became infamous for something other than their music: Their behavoir in interviews. In 1993 and 1994, the band made enough references to lachrymology (which, literally, would be the study of tears), a supposed philosophy and religion whose followers sought to advance themselves through physically and emotional pain. The band built up the idea that lachrymology and Ronald P. Vincent's "obscure" 1949 book, The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology, had a great influence on their music. People began to realize the band was bullshitting them when information on lachrymology couldn't be found anywhere and the Library of Congress didn't even have The Joyful Guide to Lachrymology on record. Tool didn't stop here, having continued to feed the press and their fanbase vague stories and snippets of information that are ridiculous enough to garner additional attention and suspicion but not so ridiculous as to be obvious lies. Blair Blake, Tool's webmaster for their official website, releases a monthly newsletter that usually contains some information about the band and a ton of the possible-but-unlikely-(or-are-they?) type stories, conspiracy theories, and references to the likes of Aleister Crowley, the Freemasons, UFOs over Area 51, and other occult material.

The band likely looks at this behavoir as a way to not only have some fun but get people to think as well. Looking up information on the odd reference mentioned by a band member or conspiracy theory espoused in the newsletter can actually be quite entertaining and educational, even when one's sure it has no real connection to the band. At least, one can't help but laugh after reading a lengthy conspiracy theory regarding the World Trade Center terrorism only to find, at the end of the article, that it was all essentially untrue.

In 1996, Tool released Ænima (I pronounce it au-nee-ma, though you're welcome to call it pea-nut but-ter if you like). Ænima is Tool's most cerebral album to date (the later Lateralus combining the more emotional focus found of Undertow with the thought-provokation of Ænima), incorporating Carl Jung's ideas of the anima and shadow into song with ideas about collective conscious, changing oneself, society as a whole, and drugs (specifically, psychedelics). Music videos combined Tool's claymation style with actual people heavily coated in make-up were created for "Stinkfist" (which MTV referred to as "Track #1," deciding the activity implied by "Stinkfist" was too offensive to mention... yet the lyrics remained unchanged) and "Ænema." (Note the difference in spelling: This song should not be referred to as the title track.) Ænima was produced by Tool and David Bottrill.

Ænima's packaging features several trippy holograms whose images can be manipulated by using the jewel case for your enjoyment. Watch as the sickly eyes fly out from the smokebox. See a single sickly eye's pupil and iris whiz by. Narrowly seeing Maynard James Keenan's tool as he stands, naked, from a couch while a contortionist performs before the band. Witness the majority of California disappear into the Pacific Ocean, forming Arizona Bay. "Woo!" you say. Yes, you do. Even more fun, for non-US releases of the album, later runs of the release incuded a list of "Other Albums by Tool." Obviously fake, the list mentions the following "releases," complete with cover images: Gay Rodeo, Bethlehem Abortion Clinic, Bad Breath, The Other White Meat, Two Weiners For Daddy, Three Fat Brown Fingers, Mungey the Clown, I Smell Urine, The Christmas Album, Iced Pee, Spring Boner, Tetanus for Breakfast, Crapsteaks Smothered in Dictators, Nurse Ketimella's Kit'chen, Just Up That Dirt Road: Tool Live! at the Acropolis, and Brown Magic and Big Appetites: Music from the Movie Soundtrack Jelly Donut. Years later, as the release of Lateralus was approaching, Tool's website presented false album and song titles, spawning a slough of fake songs on file-sharing services with the fake names.

Tool toured in support of the album, as they are wont to do, but faced some major delays before getting started with new music for their next album. In 1997, Tool's record label (Volcano Entertainment) sued them, claiming the band was violating their contract by entertaining offers to sign with other record labels. In response, Tool sued Volcano Entertainment, claiming they could do as they please since Volcano had failed to renew their contract, which was an option they had in their previous contract. This mess occupied the band and its label for over a year and, during this time, relatively little music was created by Tool. Eventually, the two parties came to an agreement and Tool enetered into a three record contract with Volcano.

Another delay came when, in 1999, Keenan began working with Billy Howerdel on A Perfect Circle, a rock band with a somewhat gothic and lush feel to the sound. Keenan has described the lyrics and singing style he uses with A Perfect Circle as his more feminine side and Tool is the more masculine. In 2000, A Perfect Circle released Mer de Noms to much acclaim and toured with Nine Inch Nails. Meanwhile, the other members of Tool had been writing music for the next Tool album and getting somewhat annoyed by the hold-up Keenan's "new band" was causing. Keenan has stressed that A Perfect Circle is not a side project but a band that he is as much a part of as Tool. Also in 2000, Tool's ex-manager Ted Gardner decided to sue the band, claiming they owed him money after they fired him. I don't know what has become of this lawsuit.

Eventually, however, Tool's released not one but two works. Salival, a boxed set containing a DVD (or VHS) of all their music videos up until that point and a CD full of live and previously unreleased material, was released in December of 2000 (I waited a few weeks to purchase mine, having heard of the awful amount of typos found in included booklet's first printing. The next year, Lateralus was finally finished and released. The highly-anticipated album blended the emotion of Undertow and the thought of Ænima with an overall positive outlook (well, aside from "Ticks & Leeches") and some of the most energetic music Tool has ever created. The first single, "Schism," had a video created for it, featuring a couple in heavy make-up and other nifty special effects, claymation, and weirdness: The kind of thing people have come to expect from Tool. Two songs that go together (forming a total of near ten minutes), "Parabol" and "Parabola," also had a music video created for them. Surprisingly, the song lengths weren't edited and some stations have actually played the video in its entirety. The video contains the standard Tool music video componants, plus Tricky with some weird make-up/prosthetic effects applied to him (Tricky opened for Tool on their first US tour in support of Lateralus). Lateralus was produced by Tool and David Bottrill.


  1. Opiate (EP, 1992)
    1. Sweat (3:47)
    2. Hush (2:48)
    3. Part of Me (3:17)
    4. Cold and Ugly (live) (4:09)
    5. Jerk-off (live) (4:24)
    6. Opiate (5:22)
    7. The Gaping Lotus Experience [secret track] (2:18)
  2. Undertow (album, 1993)
    1. Intolerance (4:54)
    2. Prison Sex (4:56)
    3. Sober (5:06)
    4. Bottom (7:13)
    5. Crawl Away (5:29)
    6. Swamp Song (5:31)
    7. Undertow (5:21)
    8. (6:02)
    9. Flood (7:45)
    10. Disgustipated (15:47)
  3. Prison Sex (import single, 1993, out of print)
    Note: Track list varies slightly between the Australian, British, and German versions.
    1. Prison Sex (4:56)
    2. Intolerance (live) (5:12)
    3. Undertow (live) (5:31)
    4. Opiate (live) (6:04)
  4. Sober (import single, 1993, out of print)
    1. Sober (5:07)
    2. Bottom (original version live) (6:22)
    3. Intolerance (live) (4:33)
  5. Sober - Tales from the Darkside (import EP, 1994, out of print)
    1. Sober (5:06)
    2. Undertow (live) (5:35)
    3. Sober (live) (5:07)
    4. Opiate (live) (6:27)
    5. Flood (live) (3:40)
    6. Prison Sex (live) (4:50)
    7. Jerk-off (live) (4:16)
    8. Prison Sex (live) (5:02)
    9. Bottom (live) (6:20)
  6. Ænima (album, 1996)
    1. Stinkfist (5:09)
    2. Eulogy (8:25)
    3. H. (6:07)
    4. Useful Idiot (0:38)
    5. Forty Six & 2 (6:02)
    6. Message to Harry Manback (1:53)
    7. Hooker With a Penis (4:31)
    8. Intermission (0:56)
    9. jimmy (5:22)
    10. Die Eier von Satan (2:16)
    11. Pushit (9:55)
    12. Cesaro Summability (1:26)
    13. Ænima (6:37)
    14. (-) Ions (3:58)
    15. Third Eye (13:47)
  7. Salival (boxed set, 2000)
    1. Prison Sex
    2. Sober
    3. Stinkfist
    4. Ænema
    5. Hush (DVD only)
    1. Third Eye (live) (14:05)
    2. Part of Me (live) (3:32)
    3. Pushit (live) (13:56)
    4. Message to Harry Manback II (1:14)
    5. You Lied (live) [Peach cover] (9:17)
    6. Merkaba (live) (9:48)
    7. No Quater [Led Zepplin cover] (11:12)
    8. LAMC / Maynard's Dick [secret track] (10:53)
  8. Lateralus (album, 2001)
    1. The Grudge (8:34)
    2. Eon Blue Apocalypse (1:05)
    3. The Patient (7:14)
    4. Mantra (1:12)
    5. Schism (6:43)
    6. Parabol (3:04)
    7. Parabola (6:02)
    8. Ticks & Leeches (8:07)
    9. Lateralus (9:22)
    10. Disposition (4:46)
    11. Reflection (11:08)
    12. Triad (6:37)
    13. Faaip de Oiad (2:39)

Re: sickman's write-up here on Tool live.
I'd just like to mention that I was sober when I saw Tool in concert and thoroughly enjoyed it. A matter of opinion, of course. To be honest, I didn't find the imagery displayed on the big screens shocking at all. Interesting, yes. Sometimes too repetitive too though. But neither shocking nor suppose-to-be-shocking-but-not. I, too, thought the concert could have done with more old material. Some overkill on promoting Lateralus. Also, that fifteen minute repetitive guitar thing was an intermission. I think it was more meant for the audience to get up and take a leak than sit there stoned out.

my record collection
and other sources with much the same information



see you auntie