They say patience is a virtue but if you’re a Tool fan, those words won’t offer much comfort.
It’s already been an agonising eight years since the prog metal masters released last album 10,000 Days and, according to guitarist Adam Jones, chances of hearing any new material in the foreseeable future are very slim indeed, thanks to an ongoing multi-million dollar court case.
“Basically, a long time ago, the band paid my best friend to do some artwork for t-shirts, albums and advertising,” Adam tells Hammer. “Then he sued us for one fifth of the money we ever made – it was just ridiculous. But here’s the point: we had insurance in case we got sued. These insurance companies tried backing out and to me that does not feel right. I honestly feel like if you buy auto insurance and you’re in an accident, then you go to the insurance company and they say, ‘Well, you drive an SUV and we don’t really consider that an auto, so we won’t be covering you…’ Then you try to argue with them and they go, ‘Well, now we’re going to sue you!’”
He laughs with genuine disbelief for a brief second, before explaining how the litigation proceedings have taken their toll on the creative process and made their life as a band increasingly difficult.
“You have four different guys, all with a lot of stuff going on and it can be a struggle to write music. There’s stress. But this time it has been really draining and really put a lot of pressure on us. We got insurance for peace of mind and they totally turned it around on us. I just feel like we’ve been completely abandoned and it’s totally unnecessary. Every time we have a court date scheduled they change it or postpone it. I feel like we’re being extorted, you know?”
It might not the first legal battle the Grammy-winning quartet have faced (they have previously had courtroom tussles with their record label and ex-manager), but it certainly sounds like one of the biggest struggles of their career and a fairly plausible excuse as to why they’ve kept fans waiting. And waiting. Which, intensified by having some of the most obsessive and insatiable admirers around, has led to vast speculation over when that music could be ready and what it might sound like.
“You gotta look at that in a good way. The fans are frustrated and obviously want to hear new music. You have to think, ‘Wow – they really like us and they want more!’ You can’t beat that at all.”
So, at least for the time being, the internet will continue to flood with those “still waiting for the new Tool record” skeleton memes. But if there’s anything we know about Tool albums, it’s that they’re always worth the wait.
“We’re always on an experimental path and it’s a selfish process. Things start to take a different path over time, this riff from last week goes really well with this riff from two years ago. We piece stuff together, almost like a film soundtrack, you know? We’ve always felt it’s not good when it’s done – it’s done when it’s good!”
And while being unable to give us any kind of timeframe, the guitarist was able to shed some light on how the new material is shaping up.
“There’s a lot of 7⁄4 riffs – we find breaking up seven can sound like an even number, which we find exciting! Our song Rosetta Stoned [from 10,000 Days] had some elements of that. So, some really light stuff but also a lot of heavier moments in there too.”