Answering the Questions: A Handy Guide to the Band Tool in 2014
Photos by Jim Bricker
You've probably read online that Tool is touring again (and was in fact in Houston Tuesday night), and if you're like most music fans you probably have a lot of questions. According to the rules of rock, bands only tour for a handful of reasons, and since you haven't heard any news about Tool recently, you're probably thinking you missed something big.
REWIND: Tool at Toyota Center, 3/25/2014
Fear not, casual to semi-casual Tool fan; we just saw them live and we can answer any question you might have.
B. TOOL IN 2014
1. So do they have a new album coming out?
Maybe? Tool seems to be in a perpetual state of working on an album except for when they're releasing an album. Since they're not releasing an album, it's safe to say they're working on one. It would not be safe to say anything about when you might hear anything from it because any guess would just be throwing a dart and painting a bull's-eye around it if the answer ends up being right.
2. So is this a cash grab? Don't be so cynical.
OK, maybe be a little cynical, but can you blame them? Studio time doesn't come cheap and owning a vineyard costs money.
C. THE SHOW
1. Does the band still have it? Totally. It's not a flawless show; Maynard can sound dispassionate from time to time and Adam Jones can be a bit sloppy when he starts tearing into solos, but on the whole the band is still rock solid.
2. Does Maynard still dance all funny? Yes he does, although on the whole his dancing seems much less weird now that Lorde is a thing.
3. Are they using the same videos they've used on the last few tours? You mean the repurposed clips from the "Aenima," "Stinkfist," and "Schism" videos? Or did you mean the Human Centipede-esque spiral and third eye graphics in "Lateralus"? Or did you mean the weird lizard-to-man evolution video in "Forty Six & 2"? Yes, all of those are still there.
4. Have you ever thought it was weird the bird in the "Lateralus" clip doesn't have a head chakra? That's an oddly specific question to be asking, but yes, it is weird.
5. Does the crowd still scream "I'LL. KEEP. DIGGING." over the start of the extended section in "Stinkfist?" All these tours and the crowds still haven't learned. Don't blame them -- it's a fun thing to scream. Getting to do so twice is just bonus fun.
6. Does it ever feel like the band is showing off? Absolutely. Danny could totally rearrange his electronic drum layout for "Pushit" to be more efficient, but efficient wouldn't look as cool.
7. So is there anything new? There are a couple of new graphics here and there. The band bought one of those fancy see-through LED curtains, which is the first real major upgrade to the stage show in a few years. Danny does a weird modular synth bit before going in to his big rock-hero drum solo coming out of intermission.
Oh, yeah, there's an intermission now, with a countdown. No intermission music, which is weird since they literally have a song called "Intermission."
8. Would you say they're still weird? They're still Tool, if that's what you're asking. What does weird mean at this point anyway? Yeah, Maynard still stands at the back of the stage and doesn't say much, and there's still a bunch of weird symbols all over the place, but perhaps the most interesting thing about Tool right now is the fact that they've basically a '70s arena rock band that just happens to have better songs and technology.
Danny Carey plays an honest-to-God drum solo. There's confetti. People will try and sell you bootleg tour shirts in the parking lot. It's the logical ending to the journey they started the second they decided to add that talkbox solo in "Jambi."
Story continues on the next page.
D. CROWD BEHAVIOR
9. I hear there's a strict "no recording" policy. Tell me more. You heard right. Security is on top of things, and they will get up in your face if you try and use your cellphone to catch any of the show on it. It's not Dave Chappelle levels of security, but it does prove that it's not impossible to get a crowd to mostly not record a concert. Difficult, but not impossible.
10. Is it still weird when couples hug and kiss during a Tool show? Fuck yes.
11. When should I take a bathroom break? During the intermission. Don't be silly.
12. But I don't want to deal with the crowds during the intermission. You're the worst. Fine, feel free to go during "Intension" unless you absolutely must hear all of that one.
13. What do you have against "Intension?" Nothing, but there are better 10,000 Days deep cuts to play, like "Right in Two."
E. MISC. QUESTIONS
14. Are they doing the right thing and ending the show with "Lateralus?" Kinda. It's the last song of the first set, so at least they don't make the mistake of trying to play something after it. It's much better than that tour where they were ending things with "Vicarious," which is far too cynical of a song to send people home with.
15. Should I spend the money to go to the show? Can you put a price on that feeling you get when the chills run down your spine as Maynard hits the "I must persuade you another way" part in "Pushit?" Well then, if you can, compare that price to the price of the tickets and go from there.
16. Aren't you the guy that said Tool should break up? Yeah, well, I never said I wasn't part of the problem.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.