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Tool 2018 Festival and Music Clinic Wrap-up

Tool have completed their short run of shows (two festivals in fact) as well as a run of Music Clinics.  Many of you would have seen posts about these here in the forum, as well as places like Reddit.  For those that haven’t, or just want a handy summary, here are some of the key points I’ve gathered from the internet.

The two live shows had the same setlist.  The went more or less how you’d expect – same as last year but with the welcome addition of Sober:

  • The Grudge
  • Parabol
  • Parabola
  • Schism
  • Opiate
  • Ænema
  • Jambi
  • Sober
  • Forty-Six & 2
  • Sweat
  • Descending
  • Stinkfist

The shows were pretty well received – there didn’t appear to be any obvious visual additions to the sets from what I could see on Youtube videos.  The band sounded to be in decent touch for one that has presumably focused more on new material recently than their old.  Maynard in particular sounded pretty good to my ears.

A few bits of banter during the shows, including Maynard discussing his riot gear, bananas, and the need for the other three to hurry up.  Some media outlets were pretty quick to jump on this so called “rant” as some kind of division between the band, though I imagine it’s nothing more than Maynard joking around.

The Music Clinics were where most of the interesting insights have come from, with many attendees posting their thoughts online.  The clinics took a common format, a Q&A session, followed by a couple of songs – The Grudge and Eulogy.  Some more questions followed, as did renditions of Descending, Jambi and Aenema.  Also played was a new synth heavy drum solo type song, which Danny described as a segue on the new album.  They also appeared to play some sections of Rosetta Stoned.  There was also a screening of 2/3rds of the new Opiate video.

Following the Q&A and mini-concert, there was time for fans to mingle with the band members in attendance, as well as view a range of props and other Tool memorabilia.  There was of course t-shirts, posters and drum skins for sale as well, for those that had some change left over after the $500 entry fee.

Q&A details found online seem to suggest that fans asked similar things most night – typically things like “how is the new album going” and “what are you listening to at the moment”.  Here’s a collection of tidbits I’ve collected from around the place:

  • The band are obviously very excited about the new album, and feel like it’s some of their best work.
  • When asked what song that we’ve heard took the longest to write, at first Justin answered “Third Eye”, but then after a quick exchange with Adam he replaced that with Wings(1&2). Adam commented further that sometimes one of them might have a riff that they really love but it’s just not working the context of any arrangement. It might be several years later when someone else comes in with another and they have some eureka moment when suddenly that old riff the other guy had stashed away suddenly works. He then said (if i recall correctly) “This time there’s like seven of those.” Which I assumed meant tracks on the new album; roughly insinuating that that type of occurrence happened a lot during this writing phase.
  • In regards to live recordings, they appear to have recorded pretty much every show for quite a while, but don’t really want to share it with the record companies.
  • There was some discussion towards their record label in general, including confirmation this album would be the last of their contract.  Reading between the lines it almost appears like they are saving things like the Live DVD to be released independently after the contract is completed.
  • All members of the band met about 12 months ago to discuss the progress on the album and plan how to finish it.
  • Danny has finished his recording parts on the new album, and Justin is mostly finished.  Adadm and Maynard still to do their parts.
  • Maynard composes his parts by vocalising over the top of the music, humming melodies and such, and then fills in the details with lyrics afterward.  The songs don’t change during this process, Maynard works with what the rest of the band give him.
  • Money earned by the band is split equally between the four members. This includes income from the VIP tours, which typically don’t involve Maynard.
  • The band confirmed that every song on the album is over 10 minutes long, and there appear to be 7 of them.  Not sure if that 10 minutes includes some form of segue, but it certainly appears it might be a struggle to fit all those tracks + segues onto one CD.

Most reviews of these Music Clinic shows have been pretty positive.  The only comment I would make is that they sound pretty similar to the VIP experience given on previous tours.  It was nice to see the band (sans Maynard) do their thing in an intimate setting, I gotta say I was expecting there might be a little bit more to these sessions.

References:

Weekly Update 14-May-2018

Another quick weekly update for the Fourtheye faithful!  If you’re one of those lucky enough to go to a Tool show/clinic in the next week and want to avoid spoilers, you should stop reading!

In this weeks edition:

  • Billy & Maynard Wig shopping
  • Setlists and Q&A from Tool Music Clinics
  • New music- Wrong, Skinless, Rivers of Nihil, Sleep

Billy & Maynard Wig shopping

Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel from A Perfect Circle have filmed a short, somewhat funny video for Revolver where they joke around in a wig shop.  It’s not really champagne comedy, but worth a watch.

Setlists and Q&A from Tool Music Clinics

There’s a bunch of posts on Reddit which goes into detail what happened at the recent Tool Music Clinics.  For the most part they sound like a cross between the standard Tool VIP experience, and an intimate instrumental only show.  There’s a pretty cool Mega Thread happening on Reddit which covers and range of questions asked at the first clinic.  Some interesting snippets of info!

At the Northern Invasion Tool show last night, the setlist was more or less the same as we’ve seen the last few years, with a nice addition of Sober.  No doubt a range of videos will pop up on Youtube over the coming days.  Adi Granov provided the artwork for the show.  I’d wager that the show next weekend will have the same artwork

Here’s a few links worth checking out:

New music worth checking out!

  • Do you like Helmet? Wrong sound a lot like an old, angry version of that band, and their albums strays very close to out right copying them at times. They have a new album called Feel Great, and great it is!

  • Skinless are a pretty hard hitting death metal band.  Brutal even.  Their latest album Savagery is a great listen for fans of the genre

  • Also in the Death Metal genre are Rivers of Nihil, though they have a bit more of a prog metal thing going.  Their latest Where Owls Know My Name is well worth a listen!

  • Stoner metal legends Sleep surprised us with an album about the same time as A Perfect Circle released theirs.  You can stream The Sciences here.

Salival.fr interview with Maynard James Keenan biographer Sarah Jensen

An interesting interview came across my desk this morning, refreshingly nothing to do with A Perfect Circle’s new album.  Christophe from Salival.fr recently interview A Perfect Union of Contrary Things author Sarah Jensen, and asked her a bunch of questions about the process used to write the bio.

Here’s a sneak peek:

What was your approach here?
Maynard and I agreed early on that this wouldn’t be a typical rock-star biography. It wouldn’t be a book about Tool or a tell-all, but the story of Maynard’s journey. It hopefully would show that everyone’s life is a journey, and that the outcomes depend on the choices they make.

Did you meet Maynard for the content, phone him?
Maynard and I live on opposite sides of the country, so every Sunday we got on the phone, and he told me another chapter of his life. During the week, I worked on turning it into a story. He reviewed everything I wrote, and had final approval over it all.

Were there things more difficult to discuss with him, as there are some sensitive events depicted?
Maynard and I trust each other. That trust meant we could be open and honest with each other. We didn’t shy away from talking about sensitive areas, because it was all done to make the best book we could. Like he says: “If you’re going to do something, you do it. (…) You do it for the art.”

In case you haven’t checked out the book yet, check out my thoughts on it here!

 

Billy speaks with Vice about Eat The Elephant

There have been plenty of interviews with both Billy Howerdel and Maynard James Keenan regarding the new A Perfect Circle record Eat The Elephant. The hype train is starting to wind down a bit now that we’re a few weeks post release, but there’s a new interview up in Vice’s Noisy website with Billy recently, and I think it’s one of the better ones to come out.

Here’s a sample:

How do you pick your battles, or decide when to stand your ground? Depends how intense Maynard gets when arguing with you?
You know, there can be things that are triggering right off the bat. You take a minute and look back and go, “Maybe there’s something to this. Or maybe this is just a power struggle, or maybe this is just…” Like with anything, you kind of have to assess. He’s emotional, I’m emotional, and that’s why we do what we do. There’s baggage that comes with that. My least favorite question about Maynard is: “So what’s it like working with Maynard?” It’s like, “What was it like being breastfed by your mother?” I don’t know—compared to what? I can’t compare it to anything else. It’s all I know. It was just happening.

I will say, you can’t be a great lyricist… If you’re tapping into all this stuff, it can be challenging to be graceful in every other aspect of your life. One thing I’ve learned from working with bands is an understanding of characters. Like when I was a guitar tech, I’d be paired with a lot of big personalities. I think it was understood that I was kind of good at navigating it. Some were tough—you know, like Axl [Rose], Trent Reznor and Billy Corgan. You can’t expect everything to go exactly how you want it to go. But if you can do everything, then why don’t you just do it yourself? Getting back to your initial question, like when do you pick your battles? I have great trust and respect for where Maynard is coming from, what he’s capable of and what he can see. Because I’m down in the trenches and have my head so far in it. He doesn’t bog himself down with the progress the way I do. So I’ll give him that he can see a clearer picture sometimes than I can.

Enjoy!

Tool Drum Tracking and Newsletters

A couple of good news items from the Tool camp today.  Firstly news that drum tracking is complete on the new album, with a celebratory photo from Kevin Mills:

Here’s a photo taken by KEVIN MILLS (Evil Joe’s assistant) to celebrate the drum tracking being completed (other than a segue, I believe).  Thanks to Justin for sending!

Other news in the last week is that the Newsletter Archive is back on Toolband.  The most recent Newsletters are longer posts that Blair has made recently (such as his thoughts on the Music Clinics) but I’m hoping that from this point forward his regular style of newsletter will be back!

Tool tease demo version of Descending in Music Clinic promo

Tool have released a video promo for their upcoming Music Clinic tour, and in a pleasant surprise it features a recording (presumably some form of demo) of the track Descending frequently played live over the last half a dozen years.

Adam also offered a few thoughts on the clinics via Instagram:

Very excited about the upcoming #ToolMisicClinic ‘s. The concept originated from fans wanting to connect & interact with us personally.
An evening to Hang & Learn about what makes Tool tick. 🤔💭 We did this production in Tempe Az and it was really great! We will play and talk and mingle. Exclusive VIP commemorative merch is included and special #Tool memorabilia will be on display. & Don’t let the venue size fool you. *These are SMALL & intimate events (sectioned off to one part of the building). Much better than a room at a Convention Center… #VIP gatherings are limited to just a few hundred guest ONLY. 🙌🏼 ❤ Toolband.com

Tool add two more Music Clinics

Tool have snuck in a couple of extra Music Clinics while I wasn’t paying attention – one in Pittsburgh and the other Philadelphia.

Blair also added a few thoughts on Toolband as to what these clinics could contain.  It sounds like a little more that just the Adam Jones VIP thing seen on previous tours:

First of all, KUDOS to those Tool enthusiasts who realize the unique opportunity of the upcoming music clinics and have secured their spot for the experience.  As you might imagine, there has been a great response to these intimate forums and the limited number of tickets available to ToolArmy members went really fast.  As of my writing this, there are still a small number of tickets for sale to the general public and these can be purchased via the links below.  Again, I urge you to act fast so as not to miss out – the clinics also include a damn near personal performance of songs followed by the dissections of the tunes by its composers!

From email that I’ve received, it appears that some of you aren’t sure what exactly these clinics entail, and have been comparing them with the Meet and Greets hosted by Adam Jones in the past.  As special as those events were, rest assured that the clinics are designed to be on an entirely different level.  As advertised, “A rare immersive dissection and performance with DANNY CAREY, JUSTIN CHANCELLOR & ADAM JONES,” here’s your chance to gain insight as to how the Tool machine works.  Just about everything’s on the table:  methods and processes behind the writing and arranging of their critically acclaimed albums, individual vision that goes into the overall mix of things, artistic and philosophical concepts behind their distinctive stage projections, videos, etc., as well as their thoughts on the current recording process. But, you’ve got the green light to change things up – questions need not be of a technical nature; ask about their personal musical preferences and other subjects of interest. Believe me, they are varied!

So, while you are there – seize the moment.  Connect.  Interact.  Whether you’re an aspiring or seasoned musician… or just someone who appreciates the band members and wants to know what makes them tick.  Ask that one question that you never thought you’ve have the chance to.  Intermingle like you’re backstage.  Chat with Tool about anything now that you will be among the very few people that ever have the opportunity to do so

This is also your chance to view up-close rare Tool memorabilia and receive exclusive commemorative merch that only you are privy to.

Ticket details for these clinics are on Toolband.

A Perfect Circle announce Fall US and European dates

Fresh from the release of Eat The Elephant, A Perfect Circle have announced a new set of dates for later this year, with a small run of dates across the US as well as a range of new ones for Europe:

October 20 Salt Lake City, UT Maverik Center
October 22 Denver, CO Red Rocks Amphitheater
October 24 Austin, TX Austin 360 Amphitheatre
October 29 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
October 30 Orlando, FL CFE Arena
November 1 Charlotte, NC Bojangles’ Coliseum
November 2 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
November 6 New York, NY The Theater at Madison Square Garden
November 17 Anaheim, CA The Theatre at Honda Center
November 18 Las Vegas, NV The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas – The Chelsea
November 20 Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre
December 2 Glasgow, Scotland Glasgow Academy
December 3 Manchester, UK Victoria Warehouse
December 5 London, UK SSE Arena Wembley
December 7 Antwerp, Belgium Lotto Arena
December 13 Hamburg, Germany Sporthalle Hamburg
December 15 Kraków, Poland Tauron Arena Kraków
December 16 Vienna, Austria Wiener Stadhalle
December 18 Milan, Italy Mediolanum Forum
December 19 Rome, Italy Palalottomatica

US dates on sale Friday.

Europeans shows on sale Wednesday.

Check your usual ticketing venues/websites.

Good deal for European fans, seeing them a couple of times this year.  A little disappointed there’s not a run of Australian shows.  I don’t think there are big enough gaps in the calendar for that to happen now – perhaps early 2019.

Review: A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant

“This is not going to go the way you think” a prominent quote from the most recent Star Wars movie The Last Jedi – and I expect the latest A Perfect Circle album will be greeted with similar levels of division within the fanbase.  Seemingly gone is the goth-tinged hard rock of the first two albums, Eat The Elephant greets us with a range of largely more mellow, yet more diverse sounds.

It starts off with the title track Eat The Elephant, with an abrupt piano jerking us into their world, with some jazz vibes and some very deep notes.  Maynard sings about the need to begin, the Elephant seemingly a metaphor for a large project.

The second track Disillusioned matches the bands stance on phones/photos at concerts, and encourages us to reconnect at a less digital level. Many are somewhat critical of this stance, however personally I both like the message (it’s not pressing for a full digital disconnect) and think the track is one of the best on this album.

The Contrarian is the first “new” track that jumped out to me as being great – Maynard’s vocals take on an eerie tone throughout, with a range of singing techniques and layered vocals telling the tale.  It then breaks out into what is one of the more traditional APC like moments as it finishes with bang.

The lead single for the album is The Doomed, and it’s one that after reading many Fourtheye comments a selection of you felt were some kind of “theme” for the album.  Many sick of politics had ruled the album (and track) a dud, merely because they didn’t want to hear Maynard singing about politics.  In the end those fans needn’t have worried, as the album didn’t end up the big political protest that some feared.  The Doomed is a solid track, and definitely one of my favorites from the album.  Not to mention probably the heaviest moment.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish is quite the interesting track.  On the first couple of listens this upbeat and more poppy piece had me scratching my head and wondering what had happened to the band.  Even after a number of listens, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of this song, but I admire that Billy & Maynard have tried a few different things on this album.  This album really doesn’t sound like any other APC record.

TalkTalk was the final single released during the album promotion phase, and is another high point of the album.  The message is a quite topical one, and the chorus pretty catchy.  It’s a pretty vanilla song, but works quite well.

By And Down The River is a rerecording of By And Down from their greatest hits album Three Sixty.  I didn’t think much of the track then, and this new version doesn’t really change my mind on it.  Apparently Billy thinks it’s one of their best songs though, so I guess I must be missing something!

Almost straying into rock ballad territory is the track Delicious, but with a ballsier chorus and an almost Smashing Pumpkins like solo at the end.

DLB is one of those moody instrumentals that people like.  It sounds cool and all, but I expect I’d skip over it on most listens.  Not sure what DLB stands for though!

During recent tours the band played the tracks Hourglass and Feathers.  Hourglass has a distinctive synth sound which really draws attention to it, with Maynard chanting along.  Hard to judge tracks based on sketchy Youtube videos, but it never really seemed to translate live for me. One the record though, you can feel the vibe of the track – Maynard experiments quite a bit vocally on this track, not all of it works though.  It’s certainly one of the more interesting parts of the album, but ultimately it falls a little flat for me.

Feathers was the other track previewed live.  It really doesn’t do a great deal for me.  It plods along at a pretty mellow place, and doesn’t really take me anywhere.

The album leaves with a final piece called Get The Lead Out.  Lyrically it seems to play off similar themes to the title track, and has an almost trip-hop vibe in parts.  It’s a cool way to end the album, and for me one of the more experimental moments that clicked for me.

So after a few listens, the album began to gel a little.  It’s a great sounding album – Billy Howerdel and Dave Sardy have done a great job capturing the music, and Maynard’s vocals are strong, though somewhat unorthodox in parts.  He uses many vocal effects and layering not seen outside of Puscifer, and it mostly works.

Some will go to great lengths to work out lyrical jabs at Tool and other things, but my advice is to largely go with the flow.  Don’t read too much into what Maynard writes – it’s just part of the meal that is the elephant.

I’m not going to give this album a score.  I think overall it is a few notches below Mer De Noms and Thirteenth Step, however I do prefer it to eMotive.  Sure, I would have liked a more “traditional” APC album, but I didn’t walk away disappointed after listening, though perhaps a little underwhelmed.  It’s an album that feels like Maynard and Billy are trying to reach beyond the expectations of what A Perfect Circle is all about, and it misses the mark as often as it hits.  I am very interested to see what the future of this band holds though.  Is this one last crack, or will they continue this project over the years to come.?

Maynard chats with Lars and other Eat the Elephant related interviews

Plenty of Maynard James Keenan in the press at the moment, the most interesting of which are a chat with Lars Ulrich from Metallica, and a piece for The Australian.

Firstly, Maynard speaks in a video interview with Lars Ulrich.  It’s a reasonable broad interview, touching on A Perfect Circle, as well as it’s relationship with the other bands in Maynard’s arsenal:

Also out in the last week, Andrew McMillen from The Australian had a pretty insightful chat with Maynard about the construction of Eat The Elephant:

Well, to put it another way, then. Do you recall which song went through the most revisions from the time that Billy initially sent the musical idea to you?

Oh, jeez. All of them. Yeah, they all evolve so much. Then we go down blind alleys, turn around and come back. Yeah, I don’t know. They all go through so many changes, and those changes can be quick, it might be like we mentioned; it could be that the music went through a million changes and all of a sudden, the lyrics came almost overnight, once it was settled.

You’re unique as a lyricist in that sense that you juggle writing for three different, popular bands. Do you have any personal rules or criteria that you use to determine whether a thought or idea would be best expressed through each of these outlets, and not the others?

No, never. It’s all about the music. It’s all about conversations. The way you speak to your mother is far different than the way you speak to your college roommate, or a bartender, or the mailman. You just honour those conversations that are in front of you; those subject matters, that music, it’ll all take that direction.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on Eat The Elephant sometime later today!

 

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