Time is a funny thing in the world of hard rockers Tool. The quartet generally lets five years elapse between album releases — and never seems to suffer for it. 2001’s “Lateralus,” for instance, went double platinum, while last year’s “10,000 Days” emerged after another long break to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart — and in six other countries — and has sold more than 1.5 million copies in the United States so far.
It also won the group’s third Grammy for the elaborate packaging designed by guitarist
So when bassist Justin Chancellor is asked if Tool plans to make us wait another five years for its next album, he simply laughs and says, “I don’t know.”
“Honestly, I don’t know,” says Chancellor, 35, a British native who joined Tool in 1996, four years after Jones, singer Maynard James Keenan and drummer Danny Carey formed the group in Los Angeles. “We’re in the second year of this tour already. If we finish touring by, say, next January or February, that’ll already be a couple years since we released our album, and another year and a bit since started writing the album.
“So once we’ve taken a little time off, it’s kind of unavoidable it’s gonna be a little while, and it won’t be long before people are saying, ‘It’s five years already!’ It seems crazy that it takes that long, but when you’re busy, time flies.”
Nevertheless, Chancellor is optimistic Tool might deliver something a bit sooner next time.
“I think everybody’s getting a little older, so I have a feeling we’ll want to get on with it sooner rather than later this time,” he says. “I think people want to jump on it and kind of seize the opportunity while we’re still inspired and excited about it. “So I would hope it would be less time than the last time.” Chancellor says signs of a next time already are surfacing in Tool’s world. The group has reached the point of its touring cycle where the “10,000 Days” songs are “loosening up” and the quartet is jamming more, laying the groundwork for the long-form, textured pieces that are the group’s stock in trade.
“We do a lot of kind of segues,” he explains, “to take one song into another. And those pieces, those little links, if you like, they tend to become song ideas for the future.”
In fact, Chancellor says, the “10,000 Days” song “Wings For Marie (Pt. 1),” which Keenan wrote for his late mother, started as an instrumental bridge on the “Lateralus” tour that developed into a full-scale song.
“Who knows which one of the ones we’re doing on this tour are gonna become songs,” Chancellor says, “but there will be pieces that develop on tour that will become songs.
“We always end up struggling through it, and something even more unexpected comes out of the blood and the sweat. I honestly don’t think the music would sound like it does if that wasn’t the way that we worked and we didn’t all commit to it being very difficult to get through and taking a long time.”
Tool is talking about filming some of its shows later this year for what Jones predicts will be a “surreal” concert film. Chancellor, however, says “nothing definite” is planned in that regard, and he thinks the group will work on a whole new album before any kind of film project.
A greater impediment to Tool’s future may be the launch of Keenan’s next band. Having put his successful A Perfect Circle on ice, he’s gearing up for a run with Puscifer, which has been recording and at the very least will post some new music online this year and possibly release an album. The Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave rhythm section of Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk are among the musicians playing on the project.
A Perfect Circle may have distracted Keenan from Tool, but it never lured him away from the band entirely. And Chancellor feels certain the same will be true of Puscifer.
“He seems to have always stayed that way with Tool,” notes the bassist, who operates a music and book store in Topanga, Calif., and plans to spend time “with my cocktail recipe book” after Tool finishes touring.
“I’m assuming that as long as he’s excited and happy about it there won’t be any kind of problem. And if he doesn’t want to, that’s fine, too; there’s no point in someone doing something they don’t want to do.
“But obviously if he’s not going to,” Chancellor adds, “there’s not gonna be much point in making any album. I would expect him to come back and do more music if there’d be any kind of Tool album — and I’m confident he will.”
Tool and Big Business perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday (July 3rd) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $75 pavilion, $39.50 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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