How Maynard James Keenan Feels About the Gaps Between Tool Albums


The fact that Tool took over a decade to release Fear Inoculum literally became a meme in 2019, but at least the rockers are self-aware of their pacing. Maynard James Keenan recently sat down for an interview with Rick Beato where he admitted that it’s frustrating that Tool’s creative process is so slow, but he appreciates that it gives him time to be creative in other ways.

Keenan doesn’t use the gap between Tool albums and tours to sit around — he’s extremely productive, and works on material for his other two bands as well, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. While he credited his vast musical taste as being part of the reason he fronts three different groups, he mainly attributes it to the amount of free time he has.

“The guys in Tool, they just take longer to process information and get it together and present me something that I can start building on. I’ve made the mistake in the past of trying to build on something that wasn’t ready yet, and then all the work I put into building on the thing, they change the foundation,” the vocalist recalled. “If I’m trying to decorate the house and then you move where the doors are or the windows or add a floor, I gotta start over, as an interior decorator. I have to wait for them to do it, so there’s time. I have time to do all these other things in between because I can and I should.”

There were three years between the release of Tool’s first two albums, Undertow and Ænima, then Lateral loop came out five years later and 10,000 Days another five after that. The gap between 10,000 Days and Fear Inoculum was 13 years, and the latter is already three years old as of today (Aug. 30).

“One could argue a little bit of discipline and a little prodding, a little cattle prod or a taser would help move these guys along a little faster, but that’s their process, you just have to kind of respect it,” Keenan said. “It’s frustrating. I’m sure they’re frustrated with me because they hand it to me and I’m like, ‘It’s done.’ [They’re] like, ‘You didn’t take any time with it?’ Yes, I took 50 years for this reaction to these things. I’ve been preparing for decades to hear these things and be able to react honestly, and I riff on them — on all the songs, on all the projects.”

The frontman explained that he tends to resort back to his first or second take because they were the most instinctual reactions he had to whatever he was listening to.

“It’s a partly conscious, but mostly unconscious, reaction to the rhythms,” he elaborated.

Keenan doesn’t keep track of his alternative takes, because he doesn’t want to regret not using them in place of the one he went with. In fact, he admitted that he doesn’t even spend much time listening to his records at all once they’re finished, except for when he’s going on tour and wants to revisit songs he hasn’t performed in a while.

Check out the full interview below.

A few months ago, Tool drummer Danny Carey assured everyone that their next album won’t take as long as Fear Inoculum did, adding that they had a “head start” on a few songs at the time. We’ll see how things progress with the rockers over time.

Maynard James Keenan Speaks With Rick Beato

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