Tool bassist talks new music: “There’s absolutely tons and tons of hard drives full of stuff”

Tool in 2023
(Image credit: Travis Shinn)

Tool bassist Justin Chancellor has offered an update on the prog metal stars’ next album, saying the band has “a couple of solid […] skeletons of songs”.

The musician, who joined Tool in 1995 to replace original bassist Paul D’Amour, has also explained the four-piece’s current songwriting process.

Talking to Kerrang!, Chancellor says of the state of new music: “There’s absolutely tons and tons of hard drives full of stuff.

“Some ideas go back to before [2019 album] Fear Inoculum that are just simple riffs that we never incorporated into a song. But sometimes that’s a bit like grinding the gears when you’re trying to resurrect or revisit them, so it’s really appealing to work on the newest stuff.

“Each time we come together, people also have so many new ideas and then we’ll spend all day playing them.

“We’re constantly introducing new stuff but then sometimes that’ll marry with the old material.

“We’ve been writing for the last couple of weeks, meeting a couple of times each week – we’ve had some really good sessions, and a lot of it has been brand new. We already have a couple of solid, what I would say are, skeletons of songs waiting to be finalized.”

The bassist elaborates on how Tool currently compose music: “It’s a real mixed bag.

“We’ve been doing this round robin thing of saying, ‘Danny [Carey, drums], give us a drum rhythm that you’ve been working on,’ and then we’ll work on that.

“Then Adam [Jones, guitar] will present one of his, and I’ll present one of mine. As soon as one idea gets exhausted, we’ll move onto the next.

“That gives a real different variation of sound or starting point.

“We’re doing what we can to try and give a fresh approach to the writing experience, and part of that is trying not to overdo it so we’re not banging our heads against the wall. It’s knowing when to take a breath.

“We’re all really excited about it but we’re just letting it come as it does. We’ll probably work a little bit in soundchecks and in the dressing room. It’s great.”

Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan recently told Metal Hammer that the band don’t want to take another 13 years to release an album, like they did with Fear Inoculum.

“Tool is a more complicated beast with a lot of egos and a lot of other things going on in our lives,” Keenan said.

“But all the creativity’s there, the songs and the ideas can flow and the arguments ensue.”

He continued: “As soon as we get past the arguments, we can get shit done! [Laughs] I think we could do it more efficiently. And I think everyone’s on the same page that we have to get through that, because we can’t drag this out another 14 years.”

Ex-bassist Paul D’Amour recently told Guitar World that Tool’s meticulous, perfectionist writing process was why he left the band in 1995.

“When we got to writing [1996 album] Ænima, we spent a year and basically wrote five songs,” said D’Amour.

“That, to me, was so frustrating. And I think Adam was really in this moment where he was trying to find his voice as a guitar player.

“He was just so unsure about everything, and playing the same parts over and over and over. And I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t!’ I really couldn't deal with it, you know?”

D’Amour added that the band still write the way they did in the mid-’90s and that he “probably would have left that band 10 times by now” as a result.

Tool start a headlining tour of Europe on Saturday (May 25). See the full list of dates and get tickets below.

Tool 2024 European tour:

May 25: Hannover ZAG Arena, Germany
May 27: Amsterdam Ziggo Dome, Netherlands
May 30: Birmingham Resorts World Arena, UK
Jun 01: Manchester AO Arena, UK
Jun 03: London O2 Arena, UK
Jun 05: Paris Accor Arena, France
Jun 08: Berlin Parkbühne Wuhlheide, Germany
Jun 10: Vienna Wiener Stadthalle, Austria
Jun 11: Krakow Tauron Arena, Poland
Jun 13: Budapest BudapestAréna, Hungary
Jun 14: Cologne Lanxess Arena, Germany
Jun 20: Dessel Graspop Metal Meeting, Belgium
Jun 22: Copenhagen CopenHell, Denmark
Jun 25: Stockholm Tele2 Arena, Sweden
Jun 27: Oslo Tons Of Rock, Norway

Get tickets.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.