"We threw everything away at one point": Justin Chancellor talks new Tool material, fashion and why MTVoid aren't a supergroup

Justin Chancellor
(Image credit: Scott Dachroeden)

Justin Chancellor might be best known as the bassist of Tool, but the cosmic prog metal masters are by no means his only creative outlet. Alongside Peter Mohamed, Chancellor is the mastermind behind MTVoid, an otherworldly industrial-tinged project whose debut album Nothing's Matter was released in 2013. 

It might have taken the pair a decade to release a follow-up - with 2023's Matter's Knot, Pt. 1 - but as Chancellor speaks to Hammer he admits that he isn't planning on waiting too long before working on a new album, both with MTVoid and Tool. We also got him chatting on his sharp fashion sense and how it felt when Tool (temporarily) dethroned Taylor Swift with 2019's long-awaited Fear Inoculum.

Metal Hammer line break

You’ve just released an excellent new album with your band MTVoid, featuring members of Night Verses and Death Grips. Would you consider this a ‘supergroup’? 

“Ha! Oh god! No, it’s more like a collective, it’s much more hippie than that. That’s our idea for the future; we want to work with more people, we want to collaborate with more people, we want it to be a bit more creative. Fill the black hole with creative input and bounce it off other people, that’s the intention. Supergroup…? No.” 

You don’t care much for that term? 

“It’s a bit pompous. It’s not really about that… although I appreciate the sentiment! Ha ha.” 

As a man who spends most of his time playing stadiums and arenas with Tool, do you miss the intimacy of playing little clubs? 

“Absolutely, we were laughing at ourselves the other day about this actually. We played some secondary markets on this tour, and we were in a smaller arena the other day. Someone caught me saying, ‘Oh, it was a nice small room today.’ It was still 7-8,000 people! But that felt small for us. When the ceiling isn’t a mile above you, and it doesn’t look like a scene in Star Wars

If me and Peter [Mohamed, Justin’s MTVoid bandmate] get it together [to tour more] it would be amazing. But it’s tough to pull off with Tool.” 

Have people started asking when the next Tool album is going to be yet? 

“Did they ever stop?! Yes, they have started asking, but what can you do? We put a little work in before this tour, we gave it a stab for a couple of months. We ended up compiling all the ideas we had; normally when we do that we start writing pretty soon after, but we had a lot of stuff coming up, so we didn’t dive all the way in. When we’re done with Europe, we’re gonna dive back in during the second half of the year.”

2032 can’t come soon enough!

“No, no! Danny [Carey, Tool drummer] is 62 now, so there’s no thought of taking 13 years if we’re gonna do it. We’re gonna have to be more efficient, and we’ve been talking of ways that we can do that. Maybe taking a leaf out of how me and Peter work with MTVoid – instead of staring at each other going ‘Come on! Get it out of ya!’ maybe we could do a bit more at home. We’ll see.”

How exhausted were you of answering the question ‘When’s it going to be out?’ by the time you got to, say, 2018? 

“The whole process was exhausting! It was pretty all-consuming, so that was more exhausting than any questions. We were all struggling. By that point we were just trying to get to the finish line. 

We threw everything away at one point, so to get so close, you’re really determined to put the icing on the cake, everyone is trying not to lose their shit. So to those questions, I’d always say, ‘We’re nearly there!’ and then it would be another two years! Ha ha!” 

You’re one of metal’s best-dressed men. Got any recommendations for tailors for us? 

“I’ll give my bow ties a plug. It’s a company called Brackish, and they are all made from peacock or grouse feathers. Otherwise, I just wear a shirt and trousers, I don’t have any tailormade stuff, but I do like to look sharp.” 

Fear Inoculum knocked Taylor Swift off the top of the Billboard Chart in the US. Do you feel safe from the wrath of the Swifties? 

“Ha ha! Yeah it’s fine. That was only for one moment, it was just when it came out, she was back on top the next week. It was good, because we had all of our previous work in the charts due to it all being on streaming for the first time as well. It worked out well, it caused a kind of tidal wave of Tool that week. We didn’t plan it to work that way, but it worked out, it really pushed it.” 

Are you a Taylor fan at all? 

“Nah… not really.”

Matter's Knot, Pt. 1 is out now via Lobal Orning. Tool tour the UK from May - for the full list of dates visit the band's official website

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.