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Tool: Enigma Variations

In 2006, Tool released the 10,000 Days album. At the time, Classic Rock talked to the band to better understand this mysterious band

Tool aren’t so much a rock band as – to paraphrase Winston Churchill – a mystery wrapped in an enigma shrouded in a riddle. Then again, it’s kind of hard to be enigmatic when you’re down the pub. Lord knows, we’ve all tried.

Tool have spent years carefully cultivating an impenetrable cloak of occult conundrum around themselves. Their lyrics are dense, and loaded with gnostic and alchemical significance. Their music is complex and wilfully difficult. Frontman Maynard James Keenan never actually stands at the front, he lurks in the shadows at the back of the stage. “That set-up is purely for the sound,” he claims. “I don’t need to scream over the bass and the guitar to be heard. I need to hit some difficult notes, so I need as uncluttered a live sound as I can get.” 

Tool often perform in total darkness, with the disturbing videos made by guitarist Adam Jones projected behind them. Their albums are the subject of a flurry of disinformation and rumour that usually has no basis in fact, though there remains a suspicion that the band themselves are responsible for their own gossip. They never used to give interviews and now, when they do, they dole out the information that everyone needs to know in small, tantalising doses.

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