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Tool's Maynard James Keenan confesses to stealing song ideas from Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor

Maynard James Keenan and Trent Reznor
(Image credit: MJK - Rebecca Sapp/WireImage / TR - Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Interscope Records)

Maynard James Keenan has admitted to stealing some song ideas from Trent Reznor, specifically from Nine Inch Nails' 1999 double album The Fragile.

Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer frontman Keenan makes the confession in a new interview with music producer and YouTube personality Rick Beato, during a wide-ranging 55-minute conversation.

Acknowledging taking influence from NIN's 1999 album, Keenan tells Beato that on certain A Perfect Circle tracks he was "stealing from [Reznor's] stolen goods", a light-hearted reference to the fact that NIN's sound wasn't created in a vacuum either.

Keenan says, "Professionals steal, right? And so, really looking at the work of people like PJ Harvey, Trent [Reznor] on The Fragile - he’s stealing shit all over that album, but I’m stealing from his stolen goods...

"I wanted to hear more space in some of the A Perfect Circle stuff. So going back to my original influences of The Swans‘ early Holy Money and Greed albums, just the huge cavern of space that are in those albums. Simple rhythms, just primal in their approach.

"I mean when you think of A Perfect Circle and Swans, they’re not the same thing," Keenan continues. "But logistically if you look at the waveforms on a screen of those songs, you see the space in [Thirteenth Step-era APC song] The Noose that might match the space on the screen of a Swans song. And that was the point of like leaving space, to let your brain keep going in the middle of the spaces."

Keenan goes on to say that he relayed this idea to A Perfect Circle drummer Josh Freese during the recording of Thirteenth Step, which was released in 2003.

"And Josh is a great drummer," Keenan says,"but I remember on The Noose going ‘Stop playing right there. Don’t play through, stop.’ And he was like ‘Ohhh.’ ‘Cause he’s already done that in other things, but you have to remind him, you’ve already done something like this. Do that again, leave space. And it really sells the atmosphere of the track.

As contrasting to [Thirteenth Step track]  Weak And Powerless [which precedes The Noose on the album] which is like a metronome just right through your head. Again, stolen from Trent. Don’t tell him. Don’t watch this Trent.”

View the full conversation between Keenan and Beato below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.