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    Genre:Alternative, Metal, Rock
    Rank:2594 history »
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    Aenima [1996]
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    Opiate [1992]
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    Salival [2000]


    Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1990, the group's line-up has included drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Since 1995, Justin Chancellor has been the band's bassist, replacing their original bassist Paul D'Amour. Tool has won three Grammy Awards, performed worldwide tours, and produced albums topping the charts in several countries.

    The band emerged with a heavy metal sound on their first studio album, Undertow (1993), and later became a dominant act in the alternative metal movement with the release of their second effort, Ænima, in 1996. Their efforts to unify musical experimentation, visual arts, and a message of personal evolution continued with Lateralus (2001) and the most recent album, 10,000 Days (2006), gaining the band critical acclaim and commercial success around the world.

    Due to Tool's incorporation of visual arts and relatively long and complex releases, the band is generally described as a style-transcending act and part of progressive rock and art rock. The relationship between the band and today's music industry is ambivalent, at times marked by censorship and the band members' insistence on privacy.

    During the 1980s, each of the future members of Tool moved to Los Angeles. Both Paul D'Amour and Adam Jones wanted to enter the film industry, while Maynard James Keenan found employment remodeling pet stores after having studied visual arts in Michigan. Danny Carey performed as a drummer for Wild Blue Yonder, Green Jellÿ, and Carole King, and played in the Los Angeles area with Pigmy Love Circus.

    Keenan and Jones met through a mutual friend in 1989. After Keenan played a tape recording for Jones of his previous band project, Jones was so impressed by his voice that he eventually talked his friend into forming their own band. They started jamming together and were on the lookout for a drummer and a bass player. Carey happened to live above Keenan and was introduced to Jones by Tom Morello, an old high school friend of Jones and former member of Electric Sheep. Carey began playing in their sessions because he "felt kinda sorry for them", as other invited musicians were not showing up. Tool's lineup was completed when a friend of Jones introduced them to bassist D'Amour. Early on, the band fabricated the story that they formed because of the pseudophilosophy "lachrymology". Although "lachrymology" was also cited as an inspiration for the band's name, Keenan later explained their intentions differently: "Tool is exactly what it sounds like: It's a big dick. It's a wrench. ... we are ... your tool; use us as a catalyst in your process of finding out whatever it is you need to find out, or whatever it is you're trying to achieve."

    After almost two years of practicing and performing locally in the Los Angeles area, the band was approached by record companies, and eventually signed a record deal with Zoo Entertainment. In March 1992, Zoo published the band's first effort, Opiate. Described by the band as "slam and bang" heavy music and the "hardest sounding" six songs they had written to that point, the EP included the singles "Hush" and "Opiate". The band's first music video, "Hush", promoted their dissenting views about the then-prominent Parents Music Resource Center and its advocacy of the censorship of music. The video featured the band members naked with their genitalia covered by parental advisory stickers and their mouths covered by duct tape. The band began touring with Rollins Band, Fishbone, and Rage Against the Machine to positive responses, which Janiss Garza of RIP Magazine summarized in September 1992 as a "buzz" and "a strong start".

    The following year, at a time when alternative rock and grunge was at its height, Tool released their first full-length album, Undertow (1993). It expressed more diverse dynamics than Opiate and included songs the band had chosen not to publish on their previous release, when they had opted for a heavier sound. The band began touring again as planned, with an exception in May 1993. Tool was scheduled to play at the Garden Pavilion in Hollywood but learned at the last minute that the venue belonged to L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology, which was perceived as a clash with "the band's ethics about how a person should not follow a belief system that constricts their development as a human being." Keenan "spent most of the show baa-ing like a sheep at the audience."

    Tool later played several concerts during the Lollapalooza festival tour, and were moved from the second stage to the main stage by their manager and the festival co-founder Ted Gardner. At the last concert of Lollapalooza in Tool's hometown Los Angeles, comedian Bill Hicks introduced the band. Hicks had become a friend of the band members and an influence on them after being mentioned in Undertow's liner notes. He jokingly asked the audience of 10,000 people to stand still and help him look for a lost contact lens. The boost in popularity gained from these concerts helped Undertow to be certified gold by the RIAA in September 1993 and to achieve platinum status in 1995, despite being sold with a censored album cover by distributors such as Wal-Mart. The single "Sober" became a hit single by March 1994 and won the band Billboard's "Best Video By A New Artist" award for the accompanying stop motion music video.

    With the release of Tool's follow-up single "Prison Sex", the band again became the target of censorship. The song's lyrics and video dealt with child abuse, which sparked controversial reactions; Keenan's lyrics begin with: "It took so long to remember just what happened. I was so young and vestal then, you know it hurt me, but I'm breathing so I guess I'm still alive ... I've got my hands bound and my head down and my eyes closed and my throat wide open." The video was created primarily by guitarist Adam Jones, who saw it as his "surrealistic interpretation" of the subject matter. And while some contemporary journalists praised the video and described the lyrics as "metaphoric", the American branch of MuchMusic asked Keenan to represent the band in a hearing. It deemed the music video too graphic and obscene, and MTV stopped airing it after a few showings.

    In September 1995, the band started writing and recording their second studio album. At that time Tool experienced its only lineup change to date, with bassist D'Amour leaving the band amicably to pursue other projects. Justin Chancellor, a member of former tourmates Peach, eventually replaced D'Amour, having been chosen over competitors such as Kyuss' Scott Reeder, Filter's Frank Cavanaugh, Pigmy Love Circus's E. Shepherd Stevenson, and ZAUM's Marco Fox.

    On September 17, 1996, Tool released their second full-length album, Ænima. It was certified triple platinum by the RIAA on March 4, 2003. After D'Amour left Tool and Chancellor came on board during the recording of the album. The band enlisted the help of producer David Bottrill, who had produced some of King Crimson's albums, while Jones collaborated with Cam de Leon to create Ænima's Grammy-nominated artwork.

    The album was dedicated to satirist Bill Hicks, who had died two and a half years earlier. The band intended to raise awareness about Hicks's material and ideas, because they felt that Tool and Hicks "were resonating similar concepts". In particular, Ænima's final track "Third Eye" is preceded by a clip of Hicks' performances, and the lenticular casing of the Ænima album packaging as well as the chorus of the title track "Ænema" make reference to a sketch from Hicks's Arizona Bay, in which he contemplates the idea of Los Angeles falling into the Pacific Ocean.

    The first single, "Stinkfist", garnered limited and imperfect airplay: It was shortened by radio programmers, MTV (U.S.) renamed the music video of "Stinkfist" to "Track No. 1" due to offensive connotations, and the lyrics of the song were altered. Responding to fan complaints about censorship, Matt Pinfield of MTV's 120 Minutes expressed regret on air by waving his fist in front of his face while introducing the video and explaining the name change.

    A tour began in October 1996, two weeks after Ænima's release. Following numerous appearances in the United States and Europe, Tool headed for Australia and New Zealand in late March 1997. April 1 of that year saw the first of several April Fools' pranks related to the band. Kabir Akhtar, webmaster of the band's semi-official fanpage, The Tool Page, wrote that "at least three of the band are listed in critical condition" after a tour bus accident on a highway. This hoax gained wide attention and was eventually exposed on radio and MTV. Akhtar later posted an apology, claiming that The Tool Page "will not indulge itself in such outlandish pranks in the future"—a claim that would be belied by later April Fools' pranks. The tour continued the next day as originally announced.

    Eventually returning to the United States, Tool appeared at Lollapalooza '97 in July, this time as a headliner, where they gained critical praise from The New York Times:

    Tool was returning in triumph to Lollapalooza after appearing among the obscure bands on the festival's smaller stage in 1993. Now Tool is the prime attraction for a festival that's struggling to maintain its purpose ... Tool uses taboo-breaking imagery for hellfire moralizing in songs that swerve from bitter reproach to nihilistic condemnation. Its music has refined all the troubled majesty of grunge.

    Bassist Justin Chancellor performing at 2006's Roskilde FestivalNotwithstanding a decline in popularity of alternative rock music during the mid-90s in the United States, Ænima eventually matched Tool's successful debut album in sales. The progressive-influenced Ænima landed the band at the head of the alternative metal genre: It featured the Grammy Award-winning "Ænema" and appeared on several "Best Albums of 1996" lists, with notable examples being those of Kerrang! and Terrorizer.

    A legal battle that began the same year interfered with the band's working on another release. Volcano Entertainment—the successor of Tool's by-then defunct label Zoo Entertainment—alleged contract violations by Tool and filed a lawsuit. According to Volcano, Tool had violated their contract when the band looked at offers from other record labels. After Tool filed a countersuit stating that Volcano had failed to use a renewal option in their contract, the parties settled out of court. In December 1998 Tool agreed to a new contract, a three-record joint venture deal. In 2000, the band dismissed their long-time manager Ted Gardner, who then sued the band over his commission on this lucrative agreement.

    During this time, Keenan joined the band A Perfect Circle, which was founded by long-time Tool guitar tech Billy Howerdel, while Jones joined The Melvins' Buzz Osborne and Carey drummed with Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra on side projects. Although there were rumors that Tool were breaking up, Chancellor, Jones, and Carey were working on new material while waiting for Keenan to return. In 2000, the Salival box set (CD/VHS or CD/DVD) was released, effectively putting an end to the rumors. The CD contained one new original track, a cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter", a live version of Peach's "You Lied", and revised versions of old songs. The VHS and the DVD each contained four music videos, plus a bonus music video for "Hush" on the DVD. Although Salival did not yield any singles, the hidden track "Maynard's Dick" (which dates back to the Opiate era) briefly found its way to FM radio when several DJs chose to play it on air under the title "Maynard's Dead".

    In January 2001, Tool announced a new album, Systema Encéphale, along with a 12-song tracklist containing titles such as "Riverchrist", "Numbereft", "Encephatalis", "Musick", and "Coeliacus". File-sharing networks such as Napster were flooded with bogus files bearing the titles' names. At the time, Tool members were outspokenly critical of file-sharing networks in general due to their impact on artists that are dependent on record sales to continue their careers. Keenan said during an interview with NY Rock in 2000, "I think there are a lot of other industries out there that might deserve being destroyed. The ones who get hurt by MP3s are not so much companies or the business, but the artists, people who are trying to write songs."

    A month later, the band revealed that the new album was actually titled Lateralus; the name Systema Encéphale and the tracklist had been a ruse. Lateralus and the corresponding tours would take Tool a step further toward art rock and progressive rock territory. Rolling Stone wrote in an attempt to summarize the album that "Drums, bass and guitars move in jarring cycles of hyperhowl and near-silent death march ... The prolonged running times of most of Lateralus' thirteen tracks are misleading; the entire album rolls and stomps with suitelike purpose."Joshua Klein of The A.V. Club expressed his opinion that Lateralus, with its 79 minutes and relatively complex and long songs—topped by the ten-and-a-half minute music video for "Parabola"—posed a challenge to fans and music programming alike.

    The album became a worldwide success, reaching No.1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart in its debut week. Tool received their second Grammy Award for the best metal performance of 2001 for the song "Schism". During the band's acceptance speech, drummer Carey stated that he would like to thank his parents (for putting up with him) and Satan, and bassist Chancellor concluded: "I want to thank my dad for doing my mom."

    Extensive touring throughout 2001 and 2002 supported Lateralus and included a personal highlight for the band: a 10-show joint mini-tour with King Crimson in August 2001. Comparisons between the two were made, MTV describing the bands as "the once and future kings of progressive rock". Keenan stated of the minitour: "For me, being on stage with King Crimson is like Lenny Kravitz playing with Led Zeppelin, or Britney Spears onstage with Debbie Gibson."

    Although the end of the tour in November 2002 seemed to signal the start of another hiatus for the band, they did not become completely inactive. While Keenan recorded and toured with A Perfect Circle, the other band members released an interview and a recording of new material, both exclusive to the fan club. On April 1, 2005, the official Tool website announced that "Maynard has found Jesus" and would be abandoning the recording of the new Tool album temporarily and possibly permanently. Kurt Loder of MTV contacted Keenan via email to ask for a confirmation and received a nonchalant confirmation. When Loder asked again, Keenan's response was simply "heh heh." On April 7 the official site announced, "Good news, April fools fans. The writing and recording is back under way."

    Work continued on the follow-up to Lateralus; meanwhile, a Lateralus vinyl edition and two DVD singles were released, and the band's official website received a new splash intro by artist Joshua Davis. The "double vinyl four-picture disc" edition of Lateralus was first released as a limited autographed edition exclusively available to fan club members and publicly released on August 23, 2005. On December 20 the two DVDs were released, one containing the single "Schism" and the other "Parabola", a remix by Lustmord, and a music video with commentary by David Yow and Jello Biafra.

    Fifteen years into the band's career, Tool had acquired what Dan Epstein of Revolver described as a devoted "cult" following, and as details about the band's next album emerged, such as the influence of Lateralus tourmates Fantômas and Meshuggah, controversy surrounding the new Tool album surfaced with speculation over song titles and pre-release rumors of leaked songs. Speculation over possible album titles was dismissed with a news item on the official Tool website, announcing that the new album's name was 10,000 Days. Nevertheless, speculation continued, with allegations that 10,000 Days was merely a "decoy" album to fool audiences. The rumor was proven false when a leaked copy of the album was distributed via filesharing networks a week prior to its official release.

    The album opener, "Vicarious", premiered on U.S. radio stations on April 17, 2006. The album premiered on May 2 in the U.S. and debuted at the top spots of various international charts. 10,000 Days sold 564,000 copies in its opening week in the U.S. and was number one on the Billboard 200 charts, doubling the sales of Pearl Jam's self-titled album, its closest competitor. However, 10,000 Days was received less favorably by critics than its predecessor Lateralus had been.

    After the release of 10,000 Days, a tour kicked off at Coachella on April 30. The touring schedule was similar to the Lateralus tour of 2001; supporting acts were Isis and Mastodon. During a short break early the next year, after touring Australia and New Zealand, drummer Carey suffered a biceps tear during a skirmish with his girlfriend's dog, casting uncertainty on the band's upcoming concerts in North America. Carey underwent surgery on February 21 and several performances had to be postponed. Back on tour by April, Tool appeared on June 15 as a headliner at the Bonnaroo Music Festival with a guest appearance from Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello on "Lateralus". Meanwhile, "Vicarious" was a nominee for Best Hard Rock Performance and 10,000 Days won Best Recording Package at the 49th Grammy Awards. The music video for "Vicarious" was released on DVD on December 18.

    Contrary to rumors, Tool have not completed a new album. The band has issued a statement exclusively to Rolling Stone explaining how a misunderstanding between the band's guitarist and a fan led to speculation that the group had completed the album and intended to release it this year.

    "Last night, Adam Jones, in a private conversation with fans attending the Portland Tool concert, joked that the band's new album was not only finished but coming out the next day," says the statement. "Unfortunately, his off-the-cuff joke was taken out of context. Work on the forthcoming album is ongoing and as soon as it is done, trust me, we will be the first to let everyone know."

    Jones also posted a message on Twitter that said, "FYI, 'The record's done and it's coming out tomorrow' is what I said yesterday, followed by 'just kidding... '"

    Late last year, Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan told Rolling Stone that the creation of the new album is "a very tedious process." "I don't write the music; they write the music," he said of his bandmates. "I wait for them to bring music to me. They tend to go back over and over stuff. It's a long process." But that's not to say any one person is to blame. "We're all in this together," he said. "I'm not pointing any fingers. I will take full responsibility if I have to."

    The band is on the first leg of a North American tour that kicked off in Spokane, Washington earlier this week and found them playing a two-hour set of tracks dating back to their 1996 album Ænima. The group will end the trek in Phoenix on March 27th.

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