The clock strikes 2 and it’s dark outside. I am alone in my room watching live videos of my favorite band. My mom barges into my room, suspecting something fishy and is taken aback. She is speculating all possible unfortunate events which might have led to the status quo. I have absolutely no interest in watching naked men entertaining a crowd, but here I am caught red handed watching Maynard James Keenan in a brassiere live in Lewiston, 1998. How did I end up in such a predicament? My mom needs explanations, I guess you deserve them too. So in the words of the great Maynard Keenan, “Alright then… Picture this, if you will.”
I won’t waste your valuable time by copying Wikipedia here, but would rather explain why you possibly have never heard of Tool. Other than the awesome guitar riffs, unexpected time signatures, alien drum rolls, godlike screams of well-articulated lyrics, unearthly guitar tones and effects which would be explained later, I want to give you a glimpse of the ideology of this band which makes it stand apart from the money minting wannabes. They aren’t in it for the money. As difficult as it must be to digest this, it’s true.
They have so far come up with 4 albums: Undertow (1993), Aenima (1996), Lateralus (2001), and 10,000 days (2006). The years say it all kids, they take significant time in recording and releasing their albums just to make sure that their conscientious efforts don’t go to waste. They are a frugal group of savants who love making music without being affected by the views of the critics, or even their own fans (yeah, I know it hurts to know that). They have a very deep philosophy which by no means do they practice to exhort young minds to start a cult like many other bands do. They are brutally honest in their lyrics, titles and agendas. It is initially disturbing to know, but then you realize that these statements and claims are ubiquitous and hence you make peace with your sanguine eyes which were violated by these lurid videos.
Tool in their history of 23 years have made remarkable songs in every single album. For all you chumps, who feel that bassists are just musically necessary and have no contribution to the band other than giving a groove or metronome on which the ‘real guys’ create magic, well you will piss your pants if you ever see Justin Chancellor live. He was a guitarist who got too bored and joined Tool as their bassist in 1995, and shelled out bass lines which were way ahead of their time (still are).
Try concentrating on what the bass line is and how the entire band just agglomerates in a spectacle for both the eyes and ears Schism is one of the most awarded songs of Tool. Won a grammy as well, it is about the bifurcation of religious or non-religious institutions which crumble from within when faced by difficult times, questions or decisions.
2 The Pot
The Pot composed by Adam Jones and the bass is the grooviest thing you will hear today along with the effects the solo just acts like the icing on the cake. Check out The Pot, Schism, Wings for Marie II and Forty Six & 2 to witness his genius. No discussion about tones or effects is complete without mentioning Adam Jones. He, in every sense of the word, is a riff machine. Adam nails it when it comes to composition, and those lucid time signatures are straight out of god’s own music sheet.
Maynard James Keenan is a philosopher, comedian, wine connoisseur, philanthropist, actor, an eloquent writer, and a gifted vocalist who can sing a lullaby to a little child as proficiently as he can make a bitch out of any screamer you might have heard of (and very often in the same song). Apart from the very serious and very intelligently written songs like Schism, Lateralus, Forty Six & 2.
3 Lost Keys
Try singing the intro of Rosetta Stoned I dare ya. It is the narrative of a person under the influence of acid who believes he was abducted by aliens and was given the onus of spreading their agendas of annihilation. Just, fyi the doctor and the nurse in Lost Keys treating him are the spectators.
Sober is a very polite question to the religious as to why can’t we do what is inscribed in the scriptures as immoral (like drinking) and still be good people, and the list goes on. And yet again, his notes are impeccable, his writing, poetic, and the music, devilish.
5 Wings For Marie
Yeah, I know this song is way too long but stop cribbing about it and go ahead give yourself a shot of this pure awesomeness. It is a Grammy winning song. Wings for Marie (part I and II) which he wrote about his mother, Judith Marie Keenan, who spent an onerous life after suffering from stroke which confined her to a wheel chair for the remainder of her life, yet never gave up on her belief in God and practiced Christianity till the end of her days. This song is the most emotional opus that you might have ever heard. Everything from the bass line to the gradually increasing tempo and culmination into the awesome guitar solo is just blissful.
As a Hindu born and raised in a very religious family I believe in Karma and re-birth. And this knowledge gives me a reason to believe that Dany Carey was an octopus in his previous incarnation, who is trying to make up for his loss of limbs by effortlessly executing drum solos by the remaining 4. He does drum rolls and solos as if his life depends on it. He’s a proud owner of one of the best drum/percussion assembly which he uses to its full potential, and sometimes almost exploites.
6 The Fibonacci in Lateralus
Lateralus one of the most awesome fan videos ever which will spoon feed you their bliss. What happens when you construct a song on the lines with a complex mathematical series and make it really easy for the audience to comprehend? You have a masterpiece. This is also one of the most appreciated compositions of tool. The song begins with a subtle but progressive groove and matures into a headbang worthy riff.
The polyrhythm in Eulogy is something you should try if you are a drummer or a clapper or a percussionist. This song is about the reason that martyrs really serve being used as mere pawns, in fulfilling some other person’s vendetta without actually thinking about it. This vicious cycle goes on and on feeding on one martyr after another.
8 Forty Six & 2
The kinda drumsolo you’ve been waiting for your whole life, this is Forty Six & 2. our body has 23 pairs of chromosomes hence 46 chromosomes in all and when we evolve a pair of chromosomes would be added to the existing ones and the song is a first person narrative of someone experiencing it.
These guys are the most underrated and sophisticated group of individuals who are not driven by the greed for money, or the rock n’ roll way of life romanticized by various self-proclaimed rockers. And this is exactly why they have created a league of their own. Tool brings something new to the table with every single song of theirs. Which explains why they have sold out shows every time and 3 Grammys.
A word of caution for the fainthearted, please do not check their videos out. They are just too complex and sometimes too literal. They might seem repulsive at first but once you’ve let Tool grow on you, and have understood the lyrics along with the message and the feeling being conveyed, you will love the videos equally.
The situation I was caught up in was easily solved by the truth, which was that Maynard once in an interview shared the reason for his absurd fetish, which was that his son thought it was funny and my mom left my room after she saw the interview and I chilled happily ever after.
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