Here's Everything You Never Knew About Alt-Metal Band Tool

Tool seemingly exploded out of nowhere in the early '90s with their debut album, Undertow. Unlike other bands, the members of Tool were relatively unknown and seemingly mysterious.

But Tool's four original members (vocalist Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, drummer Danny Carey, and bassist Paul D'Amour) were relatively known to other musicians in LA's growing alternative music scene. Carey and D'Amour played with LA band Green Jellö, and Keenan was longtime friends with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello.

With their EP Opiate and debut album Undertow, Tool suddenly gained popularity alongside bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, and Soundgarden. Despite their best-selling albums, they've managed to remain highly enigmatic with few media appearances and long gaps between albums. In fact, since Tool's formation in the '90s, they've only released a handful of albums: four studio albums, one live album, and one EP.

With rumors swirling about a new album - their first since 10,000 Days in 2006 - now is a good time to learn some of the weirdest facts about Tool.


  • '10,000 Days' Is Named For Keenan's Mother, Who Was Paralyzed For 27 Years

    '10,000 Days' Is Named For Keenan's Mother, Who Was Paralyzed For 27 Years
    Photo: stevekeiretsu / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Most Tool fans know Keenan isn't just an atheist or a skeptic - he's deeply anti-religion, a theme woven through many Tool songs. That fact often put him at odds with his deeply religious Baptist mother, Judith Marie Keenan.

    Keenan addressed the split on the album 10,000 Days, the title of which is a direct reference to his mother, who had an aneurysm when Keenan was 11 that left her paralyzed for 27 years - from 1976 until her death in 2003. Or, roughly, 10,000 days.

    He composed both "Wings for Marie (Pt 1)" and "10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)" for her, and their lyrics are out-of-character in their religious message - one of approval. In the lyrics, Keenan appears to want his mother to have an afterlife to enjoy after her years of suffering on earth.

    You're the only one who can hold your head up high
    Shake your fists at the gates saying
    I've come home now!
    Fetch me the spirit, the son, and the father
    Tell them their pillar of faith has ascended

    Keenan later said he regretted the song, telling an interviewer:

    I'll never make that mistake again. It just took too much out of me - too much emotionally, mentally, physically - all those manifestations. Those songs were exploited and misconstrued, people were flippant and dismissive. I won't be doing that anymore.

  • Keenan Formed Tool Because He Was Sick Of The Superficial Musicians Who Dominated The LA Scene

    Keenan Formed Tool Because He Was Sick Of The Superficial Musicians Who Dominated The LA Scene
    Photo: Łukasz Ryba / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Tool singer Maynard James Keenan did not plan for a career in music. After a stint in the Army, Keenan attended the Kendall College of Art and Design and then moved to Massachusetts to work as an interior designer for pet stores.

    Keenan later moved to LA and befriended a pool of talented musicians, including Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and future Tool guitarist Adam Jones. Keenan was so highly critical of the other musicians in LA at the time that his friends spurred him on to start his own band. He joined forces with Jones, reluctantly at first, and put together the roots of what later became Tool.

    As Keenan described in his 2016 autobiography, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things:

    The frustration I felt at that time is definitely what got this project off the ground then. I'd had good friends in Boston and I'd been successful at the pet store and I believed was on the right path. Then I lose everything and I'm living on $400 a month. I needed to destroy. I needed to primal scream and I needed to be loud enough to make people go, "What the fuck was that?!" I needed to get it out. It was that tipping point where you either become a serial killer or a rock star.

  • Guitarist Adam Jones Worked On Special Effects For 'Terminator 2' And 'Jurassic Park'

    Tool's groundbreaking music video for "Sober" hit MTV in 1993, and the dark stop-motion animation helped it stand out from other music videos at the time. Although Fred Stuhr directed, Tool guitarist Adam Jones's artistic vision helped make it powerful and unique. Jones himself was already an accomplished designer for Hollywood at the time.

    He worked with the legendary Stan Winston on multiple big-budget Hollywood films, including Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, and Ghostbusters II. Jones did the effects work for scenes such as when the Arnold Terminator shoots the Robert Patrick Terminator in the chest.

  • '10,000 Days' Has A Hidden Song That Requires Splicing Three Separate Tracks Together

    '10,000 Days' Has A Hidden Song That Requires Splicing Three Separate Tracks Together
    Photo: Łukasz Ryba / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Tool songs can be interpreted in many different ways, and their true nature is often hidden by clues in their lyrics. The band members never confirm fan theories, though. That didn't stop enterprising fans from putting together three tracks from 10,000 Days to form a new super-track that some call "Wings for Marie: 23 Days." Fans laid down "10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)" on one track, and then "Viginti Tres" and "Wings for Marie (Pt 1)" on a second track.

    If lined up correctly, all three songs sync up to create a third song, which sounds incredibly trippy. Although the tracks are virtually seamless when combined, the band has never confirmed whether the songs were really designed to do so.

  • Keenan, Les Claypool, And Pauly Shore Worked On A Ridiculous Green Jelly Song In 1992

    Keenan, Les Claypool, And Pauly Shore Worked On A Ridiculous Green Jelly Song In 1992
    Video: YouTube

    When Tool was still in its infancy, Keenan contributed vocals for the comedy metal band Green Jellö. The band was later renamed Green Jelly, thanks to a cease-and-desist from Kraft Foods, the owners of Jell-O.

    Since its inception in the early '80s, Green Jelly had hundreds of musicians rotate through its roster, and the band's most popular song, "Three Little Pigs," charted on the Billboard Top 100 at #17 in 1993. The track is a retelling of the fairy tale, except the setting is updated to Los Angeles, and it's mostly about a struggling musician's attempts to rise.

    The song features Carey on drums while Keenan, Primus frontman Les Claypool, and comedian Pauly Shore provide backup vocals. That's Keenan singing, "Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin."

  • 'Lateralus' References The Fibonacci Sequence And The Golden Spiral

    'Lateralus' References The Fibonacci Sequence And The Golden Spiral
    Photo: Jitze Couperus / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    The Fibonacci sequence is one of the most interesting mathematical principles. It is both simple in concept and complex in real-life application. In the sequence, the next number is determined by the sum of the two previous numbers, starting with 0 and 1, and it goes on infinitely. Therefore, the sequence starts like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on.

    When charted out on a graph, it creates the golden spiral, a logarithmic spiral that grows ever larger outward to infinity. It appears everywhere in nature - from galaxies to snail shells.

    The song "Lateralus" has a subtle reference to the Fibonacci sequence by the number of syllables within its lyrics.

    Black (1)
    then (1)
    white are (2)
    all I see (3)
    in my infancy (5)
    Red and yellow then came to be (8)

    When charted, the music of "Lateralus" follows the same pattern, but goes up and down the scale, never exceeding 13.

    Die-hard Tool fans took this reference a step further and applied the Fibonacci sequence to the entire album, rearranging the songs into a different order. Fans call this "hidden album" The Holy Gift.