Tool: Awesome and Underrated

Tool, Schism 2010
Tool, Schism 2010
Photo by Luki.r – Flickr

Tool. What can I say? For those of you who don’t know the band, they’re a multigenre band from Los Angeles who’s been around since 1990. They are my No. 2 favorite band, behind U2.

I don’t write about music often because it’s often too close to my heart. However, if I practice what I preach in some if you want to write posts, that’s exactly what I should do – be honest and open.

Chances are if you grew up in the ’90s, you know Tool. They emerged around the same time as Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, etc. You know, when music was actually good.

They’re considered metal, but I classify them as multigenre because they embrace industrial, rock, and many more.

For this reason and more, here’s why they are awesome and underrated:

Unique: Many bands try, but no one comes close to sounding like them. Maynard’s voice is one of a kind and often hypnotic. Tool is the only band I can sleep to anytime. The lyrics are deep, sometimes dark or fun, and always powerful. The bass is heavy, and the band has some of the best bass lines I’ve ever heard. Other bands try to cover Tool songs, and often fail because no one can replicate them.

They do what they want: Tool releases and album every five or so years. In fact, the last album came out in 2006, and there’s talk of a new one, but fans know until it comes out, it’s just talk. They do whatever and play whatever they want. As one of the biggest bands in the metal genre, their music is not available on iTunes. They tour occasionally, but Maynard has two other bands and his own winery, Caduceus Cellars. Musically, they don’t care if you like them or listen to what they put out, they just do it. And do it well.

The live show: I’ve been lucky enough to see them twice – Lallapalooza ’97 and in 2012 in Georgia. Two very different performances, and both were unforgettable. At both shows, the crown sang every word to every song. I haven’t experienced that at any other show; no other fans are as die-hard as Tool fans. The light shows are like what I would think an acid trip is like. The music hits hard and resonates deep in your body and soul.

Maynard James Keenan: Tool could not be Tool without the entire band, but I have incredible respect for frontman Maynard. The beautiful thing is he doesn’t act like a frontman. He doesn’t have to be in the spotlight; in fact, he avoids it. At the 2012 show, he stayed in the dark silhouetted the entire show. Some criticized him for it, but if you know him, you know he may have not felt it that night. He may also have decided to show he’s not the only member who is important. Whatever the reason, he always does what he wants. He’s not a diva about it, either.

The music: I have been a Tool fan for 20 years. I can listen to them no matter what mood I’m in. There’s so much power and emotion in the music, it can make me angry or evoke emotions I’ve suppressed. It’s not a bad thing because the music allows me to admit and confront the issue. On the other hand, sometimes it calms me in tough time. I remember playing the song Aenima on repeat after a pet’s passing. I can drown out and forget the world when listening to Tool. Not many bands can do that for a listener. It’s an experience.

So, there you have it. Feel free to share your thoughts below, and check them out if it’s your thing!

Music: More Than One Voice

RavenRantThe Voice. American Idol. The X-Factor. Three shows with one common theme: singing.

As reality shows about singing competitions flood our culture, it made me wonder what happens to all those people who do something equally, if not more so, important: play an instrument. Why don’t they get the same hype and attention?

I read about music programs getting cut. My son and most of our friends don’t play instruments. Music is not just a good voice and “the look”. Music gets inside you, moves you, and there’s very little as sexy as a good bass line or guitar solo. We need to get our kids off the electronic devices and away from popular TV, and show them there’s more to music than a voice. As Paul Adelstein says in Be Cool, “everyone can siiiing.”

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve come across several talented kids – thanks, YouTube – and I’ve been blown away by how well these kids play. And they’re playing some complicated stuff. I’ve seen covers of TOOL, System of a Down, Iron Maiden, and many more. (Yes, I’m sticking with metal because that’s my favorite). These kids put in the dedication and work to cover some great metal songs, all of which were written by well-practiced, adult musicians.

So, take a few minutes and check out these videos. If a random song about a fox can get 300M+ views on YouTube, these kids deserve three-times that. Enjoy and spread the love!