Tool’s fourth album 10,000 Days was released in April 2006, and it’s started to feel like it was named after the length of time that Tool would take to make the next one. Nearly 5000 days on, with the end product seemingly just on the horizon, we look back over a decade of interviews with Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey, to collate the LA prog-metal titans’ eccentric timeline of surges and delays, scooter crashes, courtroom dramas and spoof grimoires, and try to understand how the making of one Tool album ended up longer than Led Zeppelin’s entire career.
10,000 Days has been out two years. Tool attend the Grammys for the first time, nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance for The Pot. Maynard has some more good news for MTV: ”We're going to start writing the new Tool record right away,” he promises, adding “it’s time for the band to buckle down.” We shan’t get too optimistic just yet…
Tool’s official newsletter promises that “Members of the band are still in the process of writing new material (three days a week)”. It also includes excerpts from an “alleged textbook of magical instructions” entitled Libri Of Veneficus Pro Tool, including a ritual enchantment “To get (Tool) to compose faster, and, hence, produce a new album quicker than previous recordings.” Spoiler: it didn’t work.
Tool’s webmaster says that he has heard Danny, Adam and Justin’s latest demo tracks. “I cannot say how far along in the writing process the band is,” he reports. “If I had to GUESS, I would say more than half way.”
“No new disc. Not this year… I have not written any songs. So, no, there is nothing,” announces Maynard to Chilean Radio Futuro on Feb 6th. A week later Danny explains the latest delays, revealing that he broke several ribs in a scooter crash in LA, but insisting to New Zealand’s The Rock FM that the new album will be out “Sometime this year… that’s all I can say.”
“The record’s done and it’s coming out tomorrow!” Danny announces wryly to some fans at a Portland show. Various credulous news sites report the quip as fact, whereupon Tool have to issue a statement declaring “Unfortunately his off-the-cuff joke was taken out of context.”
Tool go public about a series of esoteric, internecine and tedious legal hassles. After being sued for using a piece of artwork without full credit, the band were then sued by their legal insurance company, so they counter-sued… “It’s like we’ve been in a war,” Adam tells Rolling Stone. “Everytime we’ve gotten close to trial, it gets postponed and we’ve wasted money and time… It’s costing millions and millions and millions of dollars to defend us.”
They also mention some “raw musical ideas” that are shaping up: “It’s all a little more ‘metal’ sounding,” Danny Carey reveals, with “really heavy elements.” Bring it on!
Tool premier new instrumental track, Descending, live in Arizona. Adam explains to Rolling Stone “We have a song that’s probably about 13 or 14 minutes long, so… it’s a shortened, different approach to it.” He also added of the new album “Things are really flowing and going really well, and I’m just blown away at the stuff that’s coming together.” Exciting! Or not, as it turns out…
“Everyone knows we take our time,” Justin Chancellor tells Bass Player magazine in top-level no-shit-Sherlock fashion, as 10,000 Days celebrates its tenth anniversary. “We’re really trying to be responsible with ourselves in trying to discover ideas that haven’t been discovered before. It’s kind of an alchemy, how we experiment.” Can’t wait!
Maynard appears on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. After an hour and a half of chat about gardening, hip replacements, roof tiles and jiu-jitsu, they finally broach the subject of the next Tool album. Maynard is keen to clarify that the delay is entirely due to the other three: “Their process is so tedious, and so, like, Rain Man, that I just start fucking folding in on myself,” the frontman explains. He also assures fans that he’s doing what he can to crack the whip now and then. “I’m always butting heads with the guys in the band to get things done, it’s just not their process,” he confirms. “This is just the way that they have to do it, and I have to respect it.”
Maynard also admits to a nervousness about meeting expectations: “So much time has gone by from the last album, there has to be some little bit of fear in there. ‘Is this record gonna be as good as the last one?’ The anticipation now, the pressure is huge.”
Finally though, one piece of music is nearly complete, so Maynard can get started on the words (“In all fairness I should take ten years to write my lyrics now,” he quips). As to where they’re at in the making of the record: “Nothing is tracked yet, nothing is completely finished… Nothing is actually recorded.”
Loudwire asks Danny if Tool’s fifth album will be out in 2018. Danny says “Yes. I’m saying definitely. We’ll probably have it done in the first half (of the year) if things go as planned.”
“Started getting music files from the boys w the word FINAL in the title a few months ago after 11 years of begging,” Maynard tweets.
“Words and melodies 100% done on all but one. Someday we’ll track them. Long way from the finish line, but at least we’re closer.” No one can remember the last time Maynard sounded so enthused about Tool activity.
The next day, Adam Jones confirms that Tool are entering the studio imminently. Also, ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach reveals on Facebook that he’s attended an instrumental rehearsal of new Tool material. “How lucky am I?” he begins, before gushingly attempting to describe what he heard: “This is not just your average simple rock and roll music. This is progressive metal at its most atmospheric and right when you get into a groovy trance you get beat over the head with riffs so heavy it feels like a TOOL. Some tunes were so pummelling it felt like I was getting a deep tissue massage! in fact they could call the record that.” Tool neither confirm nor deny that they’re calling the album Deep Tissue Massage, but it seems unlikely.
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Adam Jones uploads footage of a wobbling amp to Instagram, headlined ‘Day 1’, with a CD emoji. Responses are 80% euphoric excitement, 20% sarcastic impatience (“Are the trees ready after twelve years to make your fucking instruments for playing the new album???” asked erikilsardo).
A week later, Tool release an official statement confirming they have “moved into a major studio” to record their fifth album. “Pinch yourself if you want, but I have been told that all systems are GO at this point for the upcoming sessions.”
Maynard appears on Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich’s Beats 1 show It’s Electric, where he addresses the long delay behind the new album.
He tells Ulrich: “There's a lot of timing issues with Tool getting to the studio, I always kind of gauge where they're at, and try to figure out where things are going.
“If I see a window where, ‘OK, it doesn't look like things are going to get done any time soon' – because I need certain pieces to do my job – if I see there’s a window, that might expand based on me going, ‘I’m gonna go do something then.' That's why you had a lot of Puscifer for many years.”
The interview coincided with the release of Eat The Elephant, the brand new album from Maynard’s side project A Perfect Circle - itself that bands first album in 14 years.
Eat The Elephant is a very good record. But it's not a new Tool album.
Boom! It’s announced that Tool will headline the Download Festival in 2009 alongside Slipknot and Def Leppard. They’ll also be playing a bunch of other European dates in the summer too. New tour = new album. We hope.
The new year starts off with an uncharacteristic flurry of Tool-related news. First, Maynard tweets: “Update- Final vocals tracked MONTHS ago. If Tool all inst are tracked, long process of Mixing now.”
Update- Final vocals tracked MONTHS ago. Then U.S.-UK-Euro run w #APC. If Tool all inst are tracked, long process of Mixing now. Meanwhile write/film/track w @puscifer for #puscifer2020 & troll the band FBs with wine posts. #funnyshit #whileyouwerewhiningiwasworkingJanuary 4, 2019
A couple of weeks later, Danny Carey drops an even bigger bombshell. Speaking to a fan at the NAMM convention, the drummer lets slip that the new album will be out in April. “At least that’s the plan,” he adds.
And then just a couple of days later, a mysterious new animation appears on Tool’s website. It features a rotating mechanical skeleton which morphs into a weird, breathing skull. No one is saying what it is, but appears that the Tool machine is gathering pace. Excitement grows as it finally looks like the new album will arrive sooner rather than later…
… except it isn’t, at least according to party-pooper Maynard. A fan who asks if the rumour that the album will arrive in April is true receives a single-word reply: “No.”
A few days later, Maynard addresses it in a little more depth, tweeting that the release date for the fifth Tool album is “somewhere between mid-May and mid-July.”
Update- Midway through mixing. Most likely be a few recalls. Then some arguing. Then Mastering, Artwork, Video, Special Packaging, etc. Best Ballpark Guess- Release date somewhere between Mid May and Mid July. More focused updates to follow as we progress. @tool #simplemath pic.twitter.com/o6T4AloLtBFebruary 8, 2019
If Danny had said it, we’d be facing up to another five years of radio silence, but Maynard isn’t given to hyperbole, and it doesn’t seem to be a prank. It’s almost as if it might really be happening! Dare to believe: we will have new Tool in our hands this summer. Unless there’s a problem with the mixing, or the mastering, or the artwork, or Danny’s scooter, or…
On March 7, the band share a photo of the band (minus Maynard) with producer Joe Barresi and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig. The picture was apparently taken at the Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland Maine, where 10,000 Days was mastered by Ludwig. All the signs point to the fact that the album is recorded and inching closer to completion.