June 9, 2007 was a day that changed my life – well, my life when it comes to music.
It was on that day when I first saw Tool perform live, unaware beforehand of the intrinsic experience that lay ahead. I was a fresh-faced teenager recently removed from high school that had been turned on to Tool’s music by a close friend, a borderline obsessive fan of the progressive rock band. At that point, I knew some of the band’s discography – including a couple of my friend’s bootleg early live performances – but nowhere near the level of those I made the trek to Atlantic City with that day.
We got to the gambling Mecca well before the venue’s doors opened, electing to spend our time exploring the boardwalk and all of the junk food it offers to locals and tourists alike. As we were walking, we came across Tool’s bassist, Justin Chancellor, who was out taking his bike on a beach-side excursion. Immediately, my friend squealed and informed me of whom it was, unbeknownst to me, and, without hesitation, we walked towards Chancellor, stopping him like a couple of typical fan boys. After some brief small talk, we asked him to sign my friend’s copy of Tool’s new album – 10,000 Days. My friend was well prepared for if the moment ever came, aware that the band’s members only signed memorabilia in purple – at least that is what he learned on various Tool discussion boards. Chancellor signed the album and after declining a photo op, hopped back on his bike and left.
Just a few hours later, I watched Tool blow my mind in front of almost 11,000 other fans. With smoke machines blasting during 10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2) to make the ceiling of the venue look like clouds, I knew I was hooked – and I have been hooked ever since. After that show, we bought tickets for the final leg of the U.S. tour, unaware I’d have limited opportunities to see my new favorite band in the future.
That was almost 11 years ago and while my passion for Tool was ignited after that concert, the patience for new music has become stale, with each news update creating more agitation and frustration. Loyalty is one of my best attributes but I’m beginning to feel as though the Los Angeles-based band is just dragging me along, worried more about other music projects and various financial endeavors than the fans that helped the band grow into one of rock’s more successful acts. I knew going into this relationship that the next album would take some time, as it typically took the three-time Grammy winners five or six years to release new music – but this is ridiculous. 10,000 Days was released in early May 2007 and, since then, rumors of new music have run rampant.
Lead singer Maynard James Keenan has focused the majority of his time on his Arizona-based winery, along with his side-projects, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. In the time since the last Tool album, Keenan’s other two bands have released three full LPs, on top of other new music in the form of EPs and singles. Of course, there are four people in the band, so it doesn’t fall on just the lead singer to create new content but with limited tours in recent years – 10 stops here, a few festivals there but never a full-on lengthy tour – it’s surprising the band can still remember the bulk of its catalog. But Tool rolled through the northeast early last year and, after franticly battling Ticketmaster when the seats went on sale, a friend and I managed to snag a pair for the group’s stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania – one of just several in this specific mini-tour.
It was overly apparent that the band hadn’t lost anything, whipping out some of its most clairvoyant songs and the mind-bending effects that come with each soundtrack. While the setlist might have been a little shorter than usual, hearing Tool play Eulogy – the first time since 2001 – was well worth the drive. As we made our way out of the concert, we believed new music was coming soon and that the band was preparing for something coming in the near future – that was almost a year ago.
Each month, there’s some new gossip about Tool’s next album, claiming that the group is in the studio laying down the instrumental portion of the new music. Tool has made it abundantly clear in the past that the instrumentals are recorded first, at which point Keenan adds lyrics to finish the song. It has been well over a year since fans were told that the instrumentals were being recorded and nearly finished, yet there’s still nothing to show for it. The frustration of fans has bubbled over, with many unsure if we will ever hear something new – often commenting on the band’s social media post begging for something. It would seem that the frustration might have even set in with members of the band. Last week, while Tool was playing the Northern Invasion festival in Wisconsin, Keenan poked fun at the lengthy delay for a new album, placing much of the blame on his fellow band mates.
“A lot of people recently have been asking me, Maynard James Keenan, what’s with the fucking riot gear?” the lead singer explained, according to a recent Revolver piece. “Well, I’ll tell you. I’m afraid of bananas, and other forms of fruit, because eventually you wonderful people are going to run out of f***ing patience. So I beg you — Danny [Carey], Adam [Jones] and Justin [Chancellor], please finish your parts so I can finish mine. So I can take off this f***ing riot gear.”
It’s not the first time he’s mentioned the fact that he wishes the rest of the group would work quicker – he mentioned it on the Joe Rogan Podcast late last year – but, honestly, at this point no one really cares. We are tired of hearing it – tired of the excuses, tired of the rumors, tired of waiting for an album that will now warrant an incredible amount of hype and potentially a lot of scrutiny. Plenty of other bands have waited a long time between albums but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have new music by now, or, at the very least, a morsel of something new to keep our attention.
Tool is pissing away the end of its prime, along with the early twilight years and the only ones suffering are the fans that have waited for the band’s next immersive experience.