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Paul D'Amour

Ex-Tool Bassist Paul D’Amour Speaks On Training Justin Chancellor Back In 1995: “I Honestly Wanted Him To Be Very Successful”


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Unless you were keenly dialed in back in the mid 90s, the circumstances surrounding bassist Paul D’Amour‘s exit from multi-platinum alternative metal band Tool may remain a bit murky. With a platinum record for the group’s 1993 debut album “Undertow” having already been awarded in late 1994, and even bigger success on the horizon, D’Amour somewhat surprisingly opted to move on in 1995.

By now you’ve likely heard of the laborious creative process involved when it comes to writing Tool songs. To this day members of the band lament the tedious perfectionism that led the outfit to a 13-year wait for their latest album, “Fear Inoculum“.

Speaking with Bass Player back in 2020, D’Amour elaborated on what led to him exiting the band he had helped establish. He stated at the time:

“I wish it had been a better vehicle for me to create in, but it just wasn’t. Their creative process is excruciating and tedious, and I guess I never felt the desire to play a riff 500 times before I can confirm that it’s good; that’s why it takes them eight years to write an album.

I always wanted to do other things, and it felt like I was too much in a box with that band. They’re set up where the bass player does the bass part and the guitar player does the guitar part and so on. I couldn’t be stuck in that paradigm– it’s too stifling. I’m not just a bass player; I’m a creator, I wanted to have a bigger role, and it just wasn’t happening in that situation. In the end, I knew leaving was the right decision.”

Perhaps lesser known around that timeframe is the role D’Amour played in helping train his eventual successor, Justin Chancellor, who would take over the low end duties closely after D’Amour‘s exit. Chancellor would go on to appear on all of Tool‘s recordings from the 3x multi-platinum “Ænima” onward.

Ænima” wasn’t entirely a clean break for D’Amour however, as he is credited with helping pen some five of its fifteen tracks. But that wasn’t the extent of his involvement. Sure, it was Chancellor who wound up playing bass on that influential record, delivering a performance that instantly put him on the radar of progressive metal fans worldwide.

While the transition felt seamless, it seems much of that was due to the tutelage the outgoing D’Amour gave Chancellor. D’Amour, who now plays with industrial rock icons Ministry, recently spoke of that time period. Per an excerpt shared from an upcoming interview with Bass Player, D’Amour described how he essentially opened the books for Chancellor:

“I feel like we created a sound that was blossoming at the time of ‘Ænima‘. And to their credit – and I’m not shitting on Tool; I hope I don’t come across as being Mr. Sour Grapes at all because I’m quite happy with my life, my choices, and what I do creatively.

So, yeah, I’m sure it would have been different. Basically, when I left the band, Justin [Chancellor] was my friend; I invited him to my house, sat on my couch with him, and showed him how to play the songs.

I showed him how I got all my sounds, my octave pedals, Whammy pedals, my phasers, and how I approached these different things. I honestly wanted him to be very successful because he seemed pretty nervous about doing it. And so, like I said, that sound already existed.”

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