Origin: Los Angeles, CA.

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Genres: Alternative Metal, art rock, Progressive metal, Progressive rock

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Tool is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1990.  The group’s lineup includes Danny Carey (drums), Adam Jones (guitars), Maynard James Keenan (vocals) and Justin Chancellor (bass) who replaced original bassist Paul D’Amour in 1995.  The three time Grammy award winning band has toured the world and topped the album charts in several countries including America.  Tool has sold more than 13 million albums in America.

Tool recently released their first album in more than 13 years Fear Inoculum to worldwide critical and commercial acclaim.  Tool also achieved music chart history occupying the entire top 10 positions on Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales chart upon releasing their discography on streaming platforms.

Tool emerged in 1993 with a heavy metal sound on their first studio album, Undertow becoming the dominant act in the alternative metal movement of that era.  Due to Tool’s incorporation of visual arts and long, complex pieces the band is generally described as a style-transcending act and part of progressive rock, psychedelic rock and art rock.

Keenan and Jones met through a  mutual friend in 1989.  Upon hearing a recording of Keenan singing from a previous band project Jones was so impressed he urged him to form his own band.  The duo began jamming together while on the lookout for a drummer and bass player.  These roles were soon filled by Carey and D’Amour.

After almost two years of practicing and performing in the Los Angeles area the band signed a record deal and released an EP; Opiate.  Described by the band as “slam and bang” heavy music it included the singles “Hush,” and “Opiate.”  Tours with White Zombie and Rage Against the Machine followed with the band generating an immediate buzz.

In 1993 at a time when grunge and alternative rock was at its height Tool released its first full length album; Undertow.  As Tool’s acclaim continued to expand their concerts became a must see event.  This acclaim culminated in that year’s Lollapalooza tour that saw them moved from the second stage to the main stage.  This popularity boost resulted in Undertow achieving gold and finally platinum status within two years.  The album’s single “Sober” took home Billboard’s “Best Video by a New Artist” award.

Tool’s second album; Ænima (1996)  saw Chancellor replacing D’Amour on bass and eventually achieved triple platinum status.  By 1997 Tool were Lollapalooza tour headliners.  Ænima’s success with its progressive influences landed the band at the head of the alternative metal genre with the album appearing on several best album lists of 1996.

Beset with record label litigation and band members pursuing solo and other group projects it was not until 2001 that Tool released its next album; Lateralus.  The album’s sound took the band further toward art and progressive rock territory.  The record achieved worldwide success debuting at number one on the U.S. album charts.  Tool also received its second Grammy Award for best metal performance of 2001 with its song “Schism.”

After a world tour ended in 2002 it seemed that the band was in for another hiatus when its website announced that “Maynard had found Jesus” and would be abandoning perhaps permanently the recording of their next album.  When asked to clarify the statement several months later the band announced on its website that is was merely and April fool’s joke and in 2006 Tool released its next album; 10,000 Days.  While the album debuted in the top spots of various international charts and sold more than half a million albums in America in its opening week it was received less favorably by critics than its predecessor Lateralus had been.

Tool toured periodically between 2008 and 2013 without releasing an album.  Band members focused on solo projects and fought ongoing litigation.  In January 2016 Tool toured America but it was not until August 2019 that Tool finally released its fifth album; Fear Inoculum.

Besides its musical style Tool is renowned for its visual arts.  Adam Jones doubles as the band’s art director and directs their music videos.  Another expression of this is an official website “dedicated to the arts and influences” on the band.  Tool’s videos and album art work have been honored with numerous awards.

Tool cites the group Melvins as one of its influences but perhaps their biggest is their musical idols the progressive rock group King Crimson.  In fact one of Tool’s musical highlights was opening for the band at several shows.

References –

Tool Discography

Undertow (1993)

Ænima (1996) 

Lateralus (2001)

10,000 Days (2006)

Fear Inoculum (2019)

Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3 FM plays Tool.  All part of 50 years of Rock, Blues and More, 24-7 on our station’s stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN/

Check out Tool’s latest single “Fear Inoculum.”