live and loud: Tool head Down Under .......................
TOOL fans want to know one thing. When the bloody hell is the next record coming out? It was going to be one of the first questions we put to Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of the Californian art-metal band and principal in the fourperson school of Tool. Or is he?
An abrupt email arrives 20 minutes before our interview, stating management requests there are to be no questions directed at Keenan regarding the fifth album. Huh?
Drummer Danny Carey seemed happy to talk about it in an earlier interview but apparently Maynard is keeping mute. Hmmm.
We had to get to the bottom of this for you, curious reader, so let’s set the scene: ‘‘We’re working on it every day, we’ve managed to make some good ideas great,’’ Carey says.
‘‘It depends how meticulous we are. We have flashes of inspiration and several pieces fall into place and then a song is born.
‘‘Right now we’re working on the grandiose, epic thing. All our albums have a 20-minute piece,’’ he says, referencing Disgustipated, Pushit, Parabol/Parabola and 10,000 Days (Wings, Pt. 2).
‘‘Usually, once that is finished, the rest falls into place pretty quickly. It US band Tool – (from left) Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor – are heading back to Australia. seems like we’re over halfway.’’
And what say you, Maynard. What do you make of the next opus? ‘‘I haven’t heard it,’’ he says. So the other guys are working on it and you come in at the end to do vocals? ‘‘They claim to be,’’ he says. ‘‘I keep requesting to be involved. So there you have it.’’
At this point, the operator jumps in, sounding rattled: ‘‘Um, we probably need to wrap it up, Mikey, so if you can ask your last question . . . ’’
The operator is curtly informed we have another seven minutes left. ‘‘Sure.’’ Interesting revelation, that. Keenan is certainly busy using creative juices with Puscifer and A Perfect Circle – the latter have the Donkey Punch The Night release out on February 19 – and creating juices from crushed grapes, so that’s where we shall join him.
‘‘I’m in the bunker at my Arizona winery. I’ve just finished up racking and pre-filtering some wine, enjoying a cup of tea and getting ready for bed,’’ he says pleasantly.
No vino before bed, though. It would make him a little too excited, no?
‘‘Yeah. That tends to be the problem. You see a few bottles sitting there and start to go, ‘I wonder what that one tastes like?’ ’’ he says.
Keenan’s commitment to otherworldly performances might mean, to the casual observer, that he is overly austere. Not so.
Carey sums up the early days of their bro-ship.
‘‘I would catch crickets for Maynard’s geckos,’’ he says.
‘‘He had a whole menagerie in his apartment in those days. He had birds flying around and a waterfall in the corner. It was pretty intense.
‘‘He’d sleep with all these creatures (in the room) – I thought that was pretty eccentric. We’d help each other out all the time, fighting bums, keeping people from taking a dump on our doorstep.
‘‘It was a rough LA neighbourhood but we got through it together and have been best of friends ever since. ‘‘I’d do Tool for myself,’’ Carey says. ‘‘Lo and behold, that’s the one that pays the rent now.’’
And here they come again, doing it for the fans/fans’ money by coming out for another stadium tour. Keenan is preparing by being ‘‘very hands-on at my winery’’. But it’s not enough that he would consider himself match-fit.
‘‘No, I’m not. You see, there we have to go back to the wine part,’’ he says.
‘‘I’m not wearing stretchy juicy suits or anything but I’m only a couple pounds away from that.’’
Luckily, his wife bought him a ‘‘fitness’’ book for Christmas.
‘‘It’s called Dancing With Jesus, featuring a host of miraculous dance moves,’’ he says.
Tool play the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on May 6. Ticket go on sale on February 14.