In this day and age of ultra-lame music – Justin Bieber, Double Take and, ugh, Rebecca freakin’ Black – the need for a high-quality band with endless amounts of credibility is greater than ever. As far as I’m concerned, the only band that can truly save the cesspool of mainstream music today is Tool, the progressive metal act that’s been active since the early ’90s. With all these teeny boppers sadly commanding much of the attention these days – Taylor Swift’s latest CD just sold more than a million copies in its first week, for Cripes’ sake! – the few music fans with some good taste still remaining are crying out for Tool. This begs the question; just where is Tool?
Anyone who’s been a Tool fan knows all too well the extreme discipline that it takes to keep being enthusiastic about them, since they’re hardly prolific. Since they released their debut album, Undertow, back in 1993 (1992’s Opiate doesn’t count because it was just an EP), the band has put out a mind-blowing three, additional albums. Undertow was followed by 1996’s Ænima, 2001’s Lateralus and, finally, 2006’s 10,000 Days. If you’re keeping count, that is about five years between each album. Put another way, you could have been in a terrible accident just after any of Tool’s albums were released, slipped into a coma, and then woken up half a decade later . . . and Tool would still not have released a new album. Yes, fellow Tool fans, sometimes I, too, wonder whether it’s even worth getting out of bed in the morning.
The anti-prolific philosophy of Tool can be attributed to a number of things. The first thing that springs to mind is Maynard James Keenan’s side project, A Perfect Circle (their best song is called ‘Pet’, off of Thirteenth Step, by the way). Called by some Tool fans the female side of Keenan due to its less aggressive musical approach and softer Keenan vocal delivery, A Perfect Circle, as far as I’m concerned, is just A Perfect Waste of Time. After all, Maynard, you can’t serve two masters: It’s either Tool or A Perfect Circle! Sure, sure, the latter has copious amounts of memorable offerings – ‘Brena’, ‘Judith’, ‘Magdalena’, ‘The Package’, ‘Vanishing’, ‘Pet’ – but to take a break from playing with Adam Jones, Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor so you can play with Billy Howerdel, your friggin’ guitar tech?! Seriously, Maynard, seriously? However, A Perfect Circle hasn’t put out a proper album since 2003 (no, eMOTIVe from 2004 doesn’t count), so what else could be keeping Tool from being more prolific?
Well, unfortunately, there is Keenan’s other side project called Puscifer (I don’t even know how to pronounce that), which put out the classy-sounding “V” Is for Vagina in 2007 and Conditions of My Parole in 2011. I still can’t wrap my head around how the mind responsible for such mystical and genius Tool songs like ‘Lateralus’ and ‘Right in Two’ can also be responsible for creating joke songs such as Puscifer’s ‘Cuntry Boner’. What the hell? Oh, and if those weren’t enough distractions for Keenan, he also owns various vineyards, a restaurant, and an organic produce market. Dude, you’ve got way too much on your plate! No wonder Tool fans, like me, have been waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting for another Tool record – to no avail.
However, Keenan’s not the only Tool band member to get distracted. Drummer Danny Carey frequently contributes to so many bands that it would be futile for me to list them all here. Plus, he probably has a hard time pulling himself away from attending L.A. Lakers’ games, seeing as how he’s a huge fan. Bass player Justin Chancellor doesn’t seem like he has that many side projects though he is involved with M.T. Void, which is a music project-collaboration. Finally, guitarist Adam Jones seems to be the least distracted of the band members, with the only side projects of his I could find being small contributions to a few bands’ albums, and a comic book. Still, with all these extracurricular activities involving the band members, it’s no wonder that the last Tool album came out in 2006, more than half a decade ago. In fact, I just got tired listing all the Tool members’ side projects – whew!
According to a May 2012 post on the Loudwire website, Tool will finally have their fifth album done by the end of this year, if you believe Danny Carey. However, while appearing on the Children of Saturn radio show in July 2012, Carey communicated nothing definitive on the recording process. As usual with Tool, your guess is as good as mine.
I hate to have anyone misunderstand me so I’ll be extra clear: I love Tool. Love ‘em! I love their progressive metal mastery, mystical song topics and lyrics, aggressive/soft vocal dynamics, rumbling bass, perfect metronome drumming, and furious guitar solos and effects. It’s just their absolute lack of being prolific that I hate! I mean, it’s been more than six-and-a-half years since your last album, Tool. Seriously . . . seriously?! How about Maynard stops hanging out with Puscifer so much (not to mention his vineyards and restaurant), Danny stops going to L.A. Lakers games 500 times a year, Justin stops tending to his side project, and Adam stops working on his comic books? If that happened, then I’m sure we could finally get a new Tool album in – oh, I don’t know – maybe the next few years, if we’re lucky.