On 23 May 2011, grizzled dowsers of internet gossip felt a sharp tug from the direction of the Tool Newsletter, through which the band’s official website manager, Blair McKenzie Blake, put out the following missive:
“No matter how many new TOOL tunes are currently complete, I will personally guarantee that the new CD will be released on MAY 22, 2012 (or MAY 15, 2012).”
And lo, the internets did a crazy. Even though said-same announcement also claimed that those dates came second-hand “via trance-contact (which was written down on a scratch pad) from an interplanetary avatar (and sector commander) named ZEMKLA JR..“, and this confirmation this was a joke three days later on the same site, it still sent Tool fans across the globe into a bit of a state. Well, it’s been fourteen months since that sticky leaf of disinformation was flapped around, and it’s now 6 years (and counting) since 10,000 Days. Just what in the Hell have Tool been up to all this time? We charged Ruth Booth with the task of finding out.
Top 6… Things Tool Have Been Up To Instead Of Working On Their New Album…
1) INSIDER ART
When your band’s artistic vision encompasses perception of reality, the nature of existence and self-actualisation, it doesn’t hurt that your guitarist worked on special effects for Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Adam Jones has used his experience at Stan Winston Studio (Aliens, Jurassic Park, Edward Scissorhands) as helmsman of Tool’s music videos. Jones gave the biggest hint yet of work-in-progress, when he tweeted this photo – “a production still from a new TOOL PROJECT that should be out in the Fall” (31st May 2012).
Meanwhile, Jones has kept busy exhibiting as part of the 2010 AP show, producing poster art for the recent Tool dates, and working with renowned horror writer Steve Niles on the X-Files/30 Days of Night graphic novel crossover. On that note, Niles’s new publishing house 44FLOOD releases a debut anthology stuffed with Tool collaborators later this year. TOME includes art from Chet Zar (early Tool vids, the band’s live visuals, Tool site The Dissectional) and Collide (who Danny Carey has drummed with). Indulging a little speculation, it hardly seems unlikely Jones might contribute too. Unless, of course, that’s not a fake arm…
2) LATERAL RHYTHM
Tool’s arrhythmical heart keeps just as busy. Snippets have emerged from Justin Chancellor’s M.T.void, and their alt. metal debut Nothing’s Matter, since 2010. Release date? Better hold your breath only in a hyperbaric chamber. This February, an excited Peter Mohammed (vocals) posted on facebook he’d finally seen the album art.
If you’re in need of a quick fix, your best bet is Danny Carey. Tool’s drummer is prolific, playing with VOLTO!, Pygmy Love Circus, Bubbatron, and regularly joining VOLTO!’s John Ziegler at Ziegler’s Baked Potato night at LA’s Studio City. An eclectic list of credits for a man who’s so much a drummer’s drummer, he had Aaron Harris (yes, that Aaron Harris) as his drum tech for Tool’s set at the Riverside Festival 2012. We’re limited in how far we can verify claims Carey’s symmetrical live set-up is so to harness the occult power of the unicursal hexagram. But, fuck me, have you watched Carey play Triad? Oh. Then you should go do that. We’ll wait.
Watch the video to ‘Toad’ by M.T.void:
3) STUDYING THE OCCULT
We may not know why the unicursal hexagram is on Carey’s kit, but he damn sure knows what one is. Carey is an acknowledged collector of the works of Aleister Crowley – magician, mountain climber, sexual libertine and chemical experimenter. Variously known as the “Wickedest Man in the World” (press at the time) and 73rd Greatest Briton (2002 BBC Poll), Crowley created the religious philosophy Thelema, with its oft-misinterpreted tenet of “Do What Thou Wilt”. You can see some of Carey’s library in Tool webmaster Blair McKenzie Blake’s tome, The Wickedest Books in the World, now in its second edition, for which Carey provides the foreword.
Carey’s collection is particularly impressive as, at the time, many of society’s pillars considered Crowley dangerous and disruptive. Progression through the degrees of Ordo Templi Orientis, the organisation Crowley revolutionised early last century, involved mastery of autosexual magick, learning to create a homunculus (in Crowley’s conception, a living being in the form of a man, without a soul, to act as a servant), and at higher levels, the magick of “anal intercourse techniques”.
Hang on. Homunculi…?
Watch the video to ‘Triad’ (Danny Carey Drumcam) by Tool:
4) REVIVING THE TRADITION OF TRAVELLING PLAYERS
We get it. The Information Age has transformed the way we enjoy music. What gets less of the yap time is how this impacts on shows. People want more than “just a gig” these days, they want a “live experience” – and all the ten dollar, limited edition t-shirt art that entails. Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan is on it.
Puscifer is what he calls his “little island of misfit ideas” – merch, animation, music. As you’d expect from a man who makes wine in Arizona, Keenan’s band doesn’t just tour. Puscifer live shows are like cabaret. Multiple versions of songs are interspersed by filmed sketches and live skits, in a universe populated by characters such as Major Douche and Billy D. Burger. Co-conspirators include Milla Jovovich, 3D artist (and Tool art alum) Meats Meier, comedienne Laura Milligan (Billy D’s cousin/wife Hildy), Jeff Friedl and Carina Round. If you’re outside the States, though, you’re out of luck. Keenan’s other commitments mean it’s just US dates for now. Come to think of it, all of those recent Tool dates have been in the US too…
Watch the video to ‘Telling Ghosts’ by Puscifer:
5) PREPARING FOR THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
Now hold your horses. Just because a man keeps close to his business, doesn’t mean it’s Tin Foil hat time. In a quiet corner of Northern Arizona (the bit that’s not all cactus and cattle bones), Maynard James Keenan lays his head, grows his grapes, stars in the odd indie film, runs a burgeoning food empire – and chases fans off his property with a paintball gun.
Granted, not the obvious place to make wine, nor an easy one, with strict regulations on shipping. Yet the volcanic soils make for rich terroir, a little like the Southern France/Italy wine-growing region, and (continuing the great Tool naming tradition) Maynard’s Merkin Vineyards don’t seem to be doing too badly. As documented in the film Blood Into Wine, his boutique label Caduceus Cellars does brisk business, as does his Arizona Stronghold brand, co-owned with mentor Eric Glomski. There’s his ownership of an organic market in Cornville, and the Puscifer store in Keenan’s base of Jerome. With the exception of the usual amenities, he must be close to self-sufficient out there.
Watch the trailer for Blood Into Wine, produced by the Twinkle Cash Company
While he moved after a particularly persistent little dream, Maynard himself jokes he’s simply grabbing prime real estate for when California falls into the sea – the old Arizona Bay schtick of his good friend Bill Hicks, RIP. But as any fool knows, the last place you want to be when a state falls into the sea is right next door to it. It doesn’t make sense.
Crossfade: What wine would you recommend with a human face?
Maynard James Keenan: Well, for cheeks you’ll obviously want a pinot noir.
Read the interview. Think about the remote valley where Keenan has chosen to make his home, and ask yourself: Are these the answers of a man who knows his wines? Or a man expecting to eat a lot of human flesh?
Now, eating zombie flesh would be suicidal. Still, should an apocalypse come that wipes out a large swathe of the animal population, and reduces a section of the human population to zombies and/or cannibalism, Tool seem eerily well-prepared to deal with this eventuality. We know Keenan has the makings of a secure commune. He has experience in the military. We know Jones has been working with human anatomy (or at least bits of it). They have Carey’s knowledge of protective magicks and the psychic resonance of ritualistic drumming. And they have Chancellor’s knowledge, by virtue of his British upbringing, of how to make a proper cup of tea.
Tool don’t seem keen on touring too far right now. With recent studies suggesting an impending shift of the Earth’s geomagnetic field, and its resultant impact on the base resonant frequency of the Earth, it is worth considering: Is there something Tool know that we don’t?
6. PLAYING THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER AT WWE SUMMERSLAM
…Now you’re just being daft.
Tool’s new album will – apparently – be released when the band are good and ready.