As most of you remember, Tool embarked on a short tour earlier this year to venues in the US and Mexico. Some of you will also remember the controversy when Kanaduh recorded and posted about the VIP sessions with Adam. Kanaduh attended several shows on the recent tour, as well as the VIP experience, and took the effort to pen a comprehensive write-up of his Tool experience. He is a passionate Tool fan, and the article is a reflection of his thoughts and opinions, not those myself. I present it largely unedited. Hellboy
Hello. As some of you know, I travelled to the first bunch of shows of the Tool tour earlier this year in the West Coast. It was an interesting tour that featured some interesting setlists. Along with the usual group of songs, the tour featured a few performances of Third Eye and Pushit, plus a rare live-extended version of Opiate that will almost certainly been seen in some formation on the new album. I had never been to the west coast before so visiting these cities was also an amazing part of the experience. Spokane was beautiful in the winter, Portland was great, and Eugene was the University-hippie capital of the world. I wasn’t a fan of San Francisco, but maybe I just didn’t go to the right areas.
Don’t get me started on Reno – what a shithole!
As is always the case with my crazy adventures, the highlight was meeting some incredible people from these forums (ToolNavy and Fourtheye). I want to sincerely thank all of the people I met over those two weeks (you know how you are) for the beers, joints, and generally crazy nights we experienced.
The purpose of this post is about my experience on March 12th one show where I purchased the VIP package. As some of you may know, I was the one who recorded the entire Q and A session and VIP sound check session. First of all – this is not something I planned on doing. In the 39 Tool shows I have been to I have barely taken a picture, let alone any bootlegs or videos or recordings. However, in the days leading up to my VIP experience I noticed that not a single leak/bootleg existed online. When I entered the venue in the morning I noticed that security was extremely light, and I figured I would try getting some recordings if it would be safe and possible. Everything I recorded was simply with the built-in basic recording application on my iPhone. Because I was early I was able to get a front seat in the Q and A session, and with the phone slightly (and discreetly) sticking out of my pocket it managed to get a VERY crisp and clear recording of the entire session.
Surprisingly, this seems to be the only leak that came out of the entire VIP experience on the tour. The Sober sound check I recorded is on YouTube (that somebody else posted), however the ambient-transition and Vicarious sound check, in addition to the entire Q and A session were removed promptly and have not resurfaced yet as far as I know.
I received a not-so-friendly email from the brother of Adam Jones (who is an intellectual property lawyer in Chicago) demanding that I cease and desist posting any of the recordings. [What are the odds I can get all of the Tool members to sign the letter!?J]
I also find it comical that in the Vegas VIP experience (the next one), they confiscated everyone’s phones (very inefficiently from what I heard as they wasted tons of time), and Juan cited “that asshole in SF” who ruined it for everyone. Sorry.
Anyways, since I cannot post the Q and A without risking more friendly messages from Tool, I did the next best thing: I went through the entire 90 minute session word by word and tried my best to transcribe it for you guys.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Everything here is paraphrased based on my personal interpretation of what was being said during the session. Even though quotes are used below, sometimes it may not be word for word. This should be used as a reference and a general overview of what Adam talked about – not a direct quote of what he said. I did my best to interpret everything as fairly and accurately as possible.
Q and A
- Adam introduces himself and talks about the format for the session. Says he will talk about Tool, his involvement, the song writing process and also play Jambi for us (his guitar is in the room along with speakers and sound other equipment).
- Talked about the early days: lived in San Francisco growing up trying to make it in the artistic industry/sculptures/etc. His parents told him he would not make it in music or art.
- Moved to Los Angeles to attend a makeup school for 6 months (makeup for fashion, theatre, motion picture) This experience helped a lot with future videos/art for Tool.
- Living in Los Angeles and was successful in the makeup industry for film (worked on Batman 2, Predator 2, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park).
- Very good friends with Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and his mother was Adams home room teacher in middle school.
- Gloria (a friend of Adam) was dating a very weird guy named “Maynard” which is how they met, and became instant friends.
- Maynard showed Adam his high school band and Maynard is pissed that this is out on the internet today (I believe he was referring to Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty) – link for the lazy:
- They decided to start a band together. Went through classified advertisements to find a drummer and a bass player.
- Adam knew the Green Jello members through mutual friends. Danny was one of their drummers at the time.
- They tried to get Danny to jam with them, but he was in 5 bands at the time and did not have time or interest to play with Adam/Maynard.
- They were rehearsing in Danny’s place because he had a rehearsal space (which I believe is the “Loft” they refer to) which they still write new material in today.
- After their first time jamming together they realized it sounded good and should jam again and began looking for a bass player.
- Adam knew Paul D’amour through a mutual friend and Paul was a “guitar player who wanted to switch to bass”. Adam jokes that this was a warning sign in hindsight.
- Paul was a very talented bass player but was never happy being a member of Tool.
- Adam gives him respect for walking away from a lot of money to be happy and pursue his passion elsewhere.
- They knew Justin through the band Peach and all of the members unanimously agreed that he was the easy decision to be the new bass player.
- Justin is a “riff writing machine”.
- All of the members have their unique approaches to song writing which comes together to create tool. Compares band politics to a marriage with discipline and compromise.
- Adam and Justin create and jam riffs together. Danny is so insane that he immediately plays polyrhythms with the simpler material Adam and Justin have created.
- Compares song writing process to painting. Some take months and lots of hard work to create a masterpiece (Adam) and others can do the same thing in one day (Maynard).
- Talks about the song writing process and delays (one “really fucked up medical issue”).
- Lots of lawsuits against them (almost always for stupid reasons).
- Talks about Alex Grey’s experience in the car accident a few years ago, and learning from negative experiences and being positive.
- All four members work at their own pace in the song writing process.
- “It is what it is” in regards to waiting a long time for a new album.
- “10 000 days will not be the last tool album” – just have to wait it out until they are done.
- Tool lasted longer than most other bands from the early 90’s. This is because most other bands fought about money.
- Tool splits everything 4 ways equally.
- “We have A LOT of material” ready, but they have to go through it all before it gets to Maynard.
- Maynard usually gets involved later in the process, however he takes his part seriously and everything he has contributed/written has been impressive.
- Adam talks about writing riffs and plays the intro to 4 degrees (first 10 seconds of guitar only). Danny Carey hated that riff but eventually it became his favourite song on the album.
THIS PART IS INTERESTING:
An audience member asks how the setlist is determined for each concert.
“Adam, Danny and Justin can play with a fever. Adam can play with his back hurt. Justin can play with a migraine… Maynard can’t. So he picks the setlist every day based on his ability to give you his full performance based on how he’s feeling that day.”
Well there you have it. Maynard picks the setlist 100% of the time.
Adam adds: “sometimes Maynard makes a comment about never wanting to play that song ever again. Then 2 years later it’s the first song on the setlist”. Interesting – this could be a reference to Third Eye. (Hellboy: I reckon it’s more likely to be Pushit)
- Talks about how Jambi was created. When Maynard first heard it he stated it sounded like “Jambi from pee-wee’s playhouse” which is where the song title came from:
- Adam talks about basic guitar mechanics/tuning.
- Adam plays the intro to Cold and Ugly (which was fucking awesome!)
- Adam and Danny both have classical music training and are very technical with how they play their instruments, whereas Justin and Maynard are the ones who think outside the box.
- Adam plays some segments from Rosetta Stoned.
- Adam plays a segment from Eulogy (!!!!!!) Another note: according to Juan (the VIP tour guy) they played Eulogy at VIP sound check once during this tour. Those lucky bastards.
- Adam is playing bass during Jambi because of the tuning/melodies of the song.
- Adam talks about the talk box he uses in Jambi. He knew he wanted to use it in 10,000 days but tried to find the perfect opportunity/song to utilize it.
- He refers to the middle section of Jambi (before talk box solo) as “sounding like Meshuggah” and that was clear to him as the perfect time to use the talk box.
- Adam plays a small portion of the intro to Sober when talking about “bends” on guitar.
- Adam explains the dynamics/mechanics of the Talk Box device.
- Adam uses his throat/tongue to distort the sound.
- The guy who invented the talk box device trained Adam on how to use it.
- Adam now plays Jambi in full using a special track with only drums/bass/guitar (this was fucking incredible in such a small room and loud speakers!).
- Adam talks about working the math into the structure of songs (this was actually really cool to hear him talk about. I did not realize how intentional this was).
- Many songs have basic math built into the songs (46 and 2, Vicarious, etc.) and the more structured/deeper ones like the Fibonacci in Lateralus.
- Adam plays the intro to Vicarious numerous times.
- Note about Vicarious: in the 2014 tour every time they played Vicarious the entire intro was only Adam. It sounds very noticeably different when you take out the bass.
- He often gets questions from people about “what is that song about?” and it really annoys the band members. “It doesn’t matter what the song is about!”
- Adam now takes questions from the fans in VIP.
- I can’t make out the question in audio source, but it’s something about “hidden meanings” in Tool songs/art Adam basically laughs at all the ridiculous conspiracy theories and stuff he reads on the internet (like playing a song backwards for a new meaning, or syncing two tracks together, etc.) Tool fans overanalyze!
- Question about the “7 sided star” symbol that appears on Danny’s kit and on the lighting rig at all Tool concerts] It’s a symbol from sacred geometry that relates to positivity.
- Question about the pace of writing new album and when Maynard gets involved It is what it is. Maynard is sent material when it’s done. And he writes words when he is ready.
- Fan asks Adam for his guitar pick he used during Jambi You asked first so you can have it.
- Adam now passes his guitar around the entire room for everyone to touch/check out
- Is there a tool song that you (Adam) are responsible for alone? No. It’s always a collective thing and we share the work.
- Can you (Adam) sing? “A little bit. The Jambi talk box is sort of singing. I would sing backup for Tool if it was asked.”
- What music do you listen to in your free time? “I play violin. When you start talking about music you like, it’s almost like talking about politics. I’m one of those guys that likes anything. I just like to enjoy the stimulation. I don’t do drugs. I drink occasionally – especially when our singer opens a $1200 bottle of wine. But I get high off of life, I get high off of the ocean crashing by my house, I get high off my wife, I get high off of music, and painting and those kind of things. I love rock, I love country, I love classical, and I love hip-hop. Dude, hip-hop is amazing – it’s like the new metal. I’ve learned more about mixing from hip-hop than any other type of music.”
- Besides Rush, what other bands were anchors in your life? Rush was the band that made Adam appreciate music. The album 2112 changed his life and perspective on music.
- Adam mentions that (at the time of this Q/A session) he is currently listening to Fever Ray and highly recommends everyone check them out.
- What does it feel like to know that your music and band is so inspirational to people?] What do you think – it’s amazing!
- Adam talks about the business part of Tool. He mentions an interview he read of David Bowie where he says he signs all of his own cheques and reads all of his contracts himself. When asked if that distracted him from being creative he replied “no – I had to become a better businessman to become a better artist”. Adam loved this quote.
[Kanaduh notes] Okay – this is where it gets interesting! So for weeks leading up to the tour I knew I would be going to the first 7 shows but only 1 VIP experience. Obviously I knew I would have the opportunity to ask 1 question to Adam. I constantly went back and forth in my head over what I was going to ask him. I definitely wanted it to be something different or unique.
Some of the things I considered asking:
- Question about the prevalence of high quality bootlegs with better technology/smart phones and why they don’t just release a damn live DVD
- Question about some of the many incredible live covers of Tool on YouTube. I was going to ask if he had seen the Japanese Lateralus cover, or the kids 46+2 version
- How they pick opening bands for their tours, and experiences with them playing on stage as guest appearances in songs (extended Lateralus, etc.)
I raised my hand at this point and was lucky enough to be chosen to ask my question. Of course I was nervous and in the heat of the moment I said the first thing that came to my head:
Kanaduh: “Like a lot of people here I go to a lot of Tool shows, and for me one of the best parts of a Tool show is the transition and ambient sounds/intros in between the songs. In previous tours the intermission was always fantastic with sounds/lights/lasers/etc. So why was there a change this tour for the intermission? I don’t want to be negative, but at least for myself and people I’ve talked to the intermission this tour is not ideal”
Adam: “We take a break because we play a long time”
Kanaduh: “But I mean for the audience”
Adam: “It’s not about you.” Entire VIP claps/laughs as if he dissed/insulted me and then Adam walks up to me and shakes my hand
Adam: “It’s just we are older and you know, we play a long time for you guys, so take a little break! Gives you a chance to pee, grab a beer, etc.”
So basically this entire exchange sort of pissed me off. Although I think he misunderstood my question, I wasn’t very happy with the answer. I obviously was not saying “don’t take an intermission!” I was implying that the lights of the venue should not come on for 12 minutes and kill the mood/atmosphere, and instead they should have kept it like previous tours and used those 12 minutes for the lighting/tech crew to give us some cool visuals, and ambient/trippy sounds. In the past many reviews referred to the intermission as an “alien abduction” – the point is that although Tool was not on the stage, the intermission was very much an integral part of the tool concert experience. The 2014 tour changed that, and I think it was a shitty change. I’ve been to more than my fair share of Tool shows and in my humble opinion the new intermission format flat out sucks. And further to reply to Adam’s comment…
yes a damn concert IS about the audience! I will not bitch about the delay in the new album, or a lack of a live DVD, or Maynard’s other distractions, but the one thing we can all say definitely IS about us are the live concert experiences. Another thing – his comment about using the intermission to buy a beer – almost every single venue (with exception of Vegas/casinos) will stop serving alcohol before the intermission. And on top of all of this, as we all know tool shows have been getting shorter and shorter every tour in terms of actual song-playing time – removing the intermission experience just makes it even shorter! Anyways, that’s my personal rant and how I managed to piss off Adam with my 1 VIP question.
- Adam talks about Danny’s arm injury and how it still impacts his playing today.
- You’re all getting older starting families and stuff, how long until Tool calls it quits? I don’t know. It’s like surfing – you just catch a wave and stay on it 5 minutes, or 10 minutes… there’s no plans. That’s how Tool works. It is what it is.”
- Question about the lyrics of Tool songs It’s all Maynard. Sometimes it’s about him, sometimes it’s about something we all talk about. He mentions Rosetta Stoned as an example of how he wrote it as a joke. Also mentions that Tool songs/lyrics are also therapy for the members of the band. The meaning of the song does not matter – “it’s about what it means to me”.
- Adam: I’m 49 years old and I’ve had such a fucking great life. If I died right now, I would die really happy. I have you guys to thank for that.
OTHER RANDOM NOTES ABOUT THE TOUR
- Failure was the opening band for the second half of this tour. I had not even heard of them at the time, but now I’ve actually become quite a big fan of theirs. I had no idea The Nurse Who Loved Me by A Perfect Circle is actually a cover of the Failure song! (I also saw Failure last month on their solo tour when they came to Toronto and got to meet and chat with Junior for a while who was touring with them).
- Hooker with a Penis and Third Eye rotated as the opening song.
- Third Eye was played with the “2010 extended outro version”.
- Stinkfist was the closing song for every show on this tour. They used two confetti cannons at the very end of the song to finish the show.
- The extended version of Stinkfist was played every show.
- Opiate was played for the first time in Eugene, Oregon.
- Opiate featured a special “extended middle” that I would describe an entire new jam from the future album sandwiched in the middle of Opiate – this did not have the feel of a “live extended” version to me.
- On a personal note – I had the best possible seat in Eugene and I will never forget the look on Justin’s face and body language during that Opiate jam. He was fully dancing and I have never seen him so physically and mentally engaged in a song. This partially adds fuel to my thoughts that this jam is something special and we will certainly be hearing it again in the future.
- The intermission was an actual intermission this tour, with house lights on and a timer on the stage. As I stated earlier, I was not a fan of this at all.
- After the intermission every show the first song was the Danny Carey B’Boom cover. The first half was using synthesizers and very electronic, and the second half was a drum solo.
- Because of the intermission and DC cover, there was a very long time (almost 25 minutes) between Tool songs in the middle of the show
- Both San Francisco shows had GA floor mosh pit. All other shows had regular seating as per usual Tool standards
- Every show this tour featured an extended version drum solo of Lateralus, with no special guest
Anyways that’s all I have to say about this. I hope you genuinely enjoyed reading this review of both the 2014 tour and the VIP experience.
Lastly, I want to post a quick excerpt from my Reno show review I posted in March. It was after I had met 6 different Toolshed/Fourtheye members over the course of 6 days between, during and after the shows. I had totally forgotten about writing this – but it definitely made me smile today and reminded me that you fuckers are all amazing people:
“When I tell my friends back home or at work that I’m travelling all over the country to see TOOL again, they think I’m insane. When I tell hotel employees, taxi drivers or border patrol agents the purpose of my trip, they ask “What makes this band so special that you need to see them again and again?” What people do not understand is that these trips are not just about seeing the band live. These trips are about meeting people – and let me tell you from experience that TOOL fans are among the most amazing people on Earth. Every city of my trip thus far I’ve met with someone new from either Fourtheye or Tool Navy, and these memories and friendships will last long after the band stops touring.
Experiences like this trip let me grow, mature and evolve as a person – mainly from the people I meet in addition to the philosophical-art-rock-brain-orgasm that is TOOL. That is why I go on these trips – to become a better person. Isn’t that what TOOL is about too?I want to take this opportunity to send a message to the many lurkers of both Tool Navy and Fourtheye. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of people every day who read these forums and never post – I used to be one of them. Register for these forums! Start posting! Most importantly, if you see the band live try to attend meet ups or grab drinks with other like-minded strangers. Some of the most genuinely incredible humans post on these boards.”