ToolTravis Shinn

Justin Chancellor Reflects On Tool’s “Lateralus” Turning 20


This Saturday, May 15th, will mark the 20th anniversary for Tool‘s third studio album, 2001’s 3x multi-platinum “Lateralus“. Ahead of that, the band’s bassist Justin Chancellor recently sat down with Kerrang! for a lengthy chat about the record and its enduring legacy.

In it he discusses the various creative and personal tensions that preceded the sessions, the laborious process the band went through to make the album and the various conspiracy theories and more which have sprung up since.

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Lateralus” itself represented a big step up for Chancellor himself, who had joined the group in 1995, midway through the writing for the band’s previous album, “Ænima“. He commented of that:

“The album before [“Ænima“] was half-written when I joined. So it still had a real feel of the old band, and I was influenced by that a lot so I was trying to try to make it all work with great respect to what they’d done before. This time, they were really like, ‘We want you to help us go somewhere else, we want to become something else with you.’”

He continued, “It really was like having your pants around your ankles. It was like, ‘Okay, this is me!'” As for the title track and its usage of the Fibonacci sequence, Chancellor offered:

“That whole song is just really crazy, because it was just the beauty of the way the universe turns. It’s always talked about. I see stuff online, like, ‘Tool wrote this according to the Fibonacci sequence.’ But it basically wrote itself. The original riff was a bar of nine, a bar of eight and a bar of seven, and the idea was that it feels like it’s folding in on itself.”

He credits a friend of the band’s drummer Danny Carey who was hanging out with the group around that time for helping them further expand upon that:

“He said, ‘Do you know that 987 is actually the 16th number of the Fibonacci sequence?’ He started to explain it to all of us, and we started to pursue that idea; it revealed itself, then we followed it. And then Maynard started singing in the Fibonacci sequence, and then there’s a section in the end where he was talking about spirals, so Danny and I started to create the breakdown section where everything was just swimming around on top of each other, and then it all came back together.”

“The Fibonacci sequence is not mathematically correct [in the song], but there are elements of it in there…”

You can find a whole lot more from Chancellor regarding the album over at

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