ToolTravis Shinn

Maynard James Keenan Admits Tool’s Success Has Been A Bit Of A “Deterrent”, “A Month Can Pass With Nothing Happening And You Don’t Feel It”


Tool‘s enigmatic vocalist Maynard James Keenan and acclaimed guitarist Adam Jones both separately participated in a recent cover story for Metal Hammer. That feature with the aforementioned UK publication has just newly published online.

This discussion was conducted in mid-February amid the the chart-topping progressive metal faction’s then U.S. touring and touched upon various aspects of their career, creative process and more.

Earlier this year, the outfit’s bassist Justin Chancellor stoked hopes that the group would be able to deliver a sixth studio album in timely fashion, rather than serve up another 13-year wait. In fact, he posited that due to age becoming a factor (half of the quartet are now in their 60s), they don’t have the luxury of time to waste if they hope to continue playing at the level their fans are accustomed to.

It’s a sentiment that Keenan himself shared in this very interview. When asked if the experience of making the band’s comeback album “Fear Inoculum” will have any impact on their apparent next record, Keenan told Metal Hammer:

“Well, considering one or more of us will be dead if we wait another 14 years, we might want to figure out a better way. So maybe figure out how to move faster. Make it the priority. You don’t have to skip any of the art part. You don’t have to skip any of the creative process. You just have to force yourself to be in the creative space more often and more consistently.

Tool is a more complicated beast with a lot of egos and a lot of other things going on in our lives. But all the creativity’s there, the songs and the ideas can flow and the arguments ensue. As soon as we get past the arguments, we can get shit done! Ha ha ha! I think we could do it more efficiently. And I think everyone’s on the same page that we have to get through that, because we can’t drag this out another 14 years.”

Keenan also elaborated on how commercial success may have negatively impacted Tool‘s catalog — at least when it comes to affording them the luxury of not needing to create new music to maintain a successful lifestyle.

While Keenan has remained the most creatively prolific of his bandmates, also fronting alternative rock outfits Puscifer and the multi-platinum A Perfect Circle, Tool‘s 34-year career has produced a modest five albums and an EP.

Speaking on how the writing and recording process differs between Tool and his other outfits, Keenan explained:

“I think there’s something to be said for friction and the need to create. When you get fat and cozy, that art tends to disappear a little bit. Over here, we’re like those overcrowded rats in a terrarium, with plenty of food, plenty of water, plenty of bedding, and we just start eating each other because we’re bored.

When you have to actually struggle to find the food, find the shelter, find the clothing, there’s something to be said for that friction. It’s where the art happens. But when you’re rich and cozy, time is a beast, ’cause there’s no sense of urgency.

So that’s why I think things take a little longer, ’cause of the success. It almost is a deterrent, and you don’t really have a sense of urgency. So a month can pass with nothing happening and you don’t feel it. Whereas if somebody is desperate to put food on the table, you’re probably a little more efficient and a little more organized to get things moving along.”

At the onset of the aforementioned U.S. tour, Chancellor stated that he remained hopeful that a new Tool album would begin to materialize this year. Speaking to Metal Hammer on that in a different interview earlier this year, Chancellor stated of Tool‘s current headway with that next full-length:

“We put a little work in before this tour. We gave it a stab for a couple of months. We ended up compiling all the ideas we had; normally when we do that we start writing pretty soon after, but we had a lot of stuff coming up, so we didn’t dive all the way in. When we’re done with Europe, we’re gonna dive back in during the second half of the year.”

When asked directly if Tool had begun the writing process for a new album in this latest interview to be published online, Jones was a bit more guarded on the band’s progress at the time, stating:

“No, we’re jamming. We haven’t really hit that mark. At some point someone’s going to call another person and go, ‘Hey, what do you think?’ No. ‘OK.’ Sometime later, ‘Hey, you ready?’ And they go, ‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ ‘I’m ready too. Let’s start jamming.'”

Elsewhere in the discussion, Keenan, elaborated on his personality and if people have any “misunderstandings” on who he is. He replied:

“None that I pay attention to. This is the thing that we do. I’m sure it could work better and make us bigger if we did things differently, but this is what we’re comfortable doing and this is where we are.

I was talking to a friend of mine, and we were getting into a gin project, and the company we’re talking to is like, ‘Yeah, [Maynard], we’ll have you do all these things…’ Look, dude, [actor and Aviation Gin co-owner] Ryan Reynolds enjoys mingling with people. He’s a very enigmatic person. He’s Canadian. He’s just a nice guy.

I’m not a nice guy. I am a concentric weirdo. And I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. I definitely don’t like being around a lot of people. It has nothing to do with the people. It has to do with me. So I can’t be the guy out doing the kind of things… like Dave Grohl and Ryan Reynolds. I cannot be those people. I can’t even fake being those people. So you just have to do what you’re comfortable with.”

You can dig into that whole chat over at Metal Hammer. As for Tool‘s live plans, the group will seemingly be wrapping up their “Fear Inoculum” touring cycle by the early summer if their aforementioned plans to craft their next opus pan out. For now, they have the below European/UK run booked:

05/25 Hannover, GER – ZAG Arena
05/27 Amsterdam, NET – Ziggo Dome
05/30 Birmingham, UK – Resorts World Arena
06/01 Manchester, UK – AO Arena
06/03 London, UK – The O2 Arena
06/05 Paris, FRA – Accor Arena
06/08 Berlin, GER – Parkbühne Wuhlheide
06/10 Wien, AUT – Wiener Stadthalle
06/11 Kraków, POL – Tauron Arena
06/13 Budapest, HUN – BudapestAréna
06/18 Köln, GER – Lanxess Arena
06/20 Dessel, BEL – Graspop Metal Meeting
06/22 Copenhagen, DEN – CopenHell
06/25 Stockholm, SWE – Tele2 Arena
06/27 Oslo, NOR – Tons of Rock

Night Verses will join them on select dates.

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