Tool: Sea Change
“Every time we’ve made a record, our songs were already worked out by the time we started recording,” says Jones. “But every time we’ve worked with someone, they’ve wanted a production credit. We’d say, ‘Okay. Why not?’ But to me a producer is someone who comes in when you don’t have your songs worked out or you want to be a certain kind of band and you need someone to come in and make you into that type of band. It reminds me of American Idol—or as I call it, the Gong Show Rip-Off.”
Although rumors of Tool’s breakup regularly surface—fueled largely by Keenan’s tendency to become immersed in side projects during the band’s downtime—Jones insists that the relationship between the four members has never been stronger. Absence, it turns out, may not only make the heart grow stronger but may also be the key to enjoying a long, successful career as a band.
“I’m really lucky that the three other guys I work with are so incredible,” Jones says. “It’s not perfect; we don’t all see eye to eye. We fight, not with our fists, but we disagree or get into arguments when one person wants to go in a certain direction and the others don’t. But we all respect each other and try to work it out. It’s a four-way arrangement. We split everything four ways. I think that’s why we’ve been together as long as we have.”
GUITAR WORLD The songs on 10,000 Days are structured more like classical music: they start in one place, go somewhere else and end in a completely different place altogether. It’s as if the songs are telling a story in a linear fashion.
ADAM JONES Thanks. That’s the thinking. This is going to sound really pretentious, but it’s more emotional. For us, writing music is very therapeutic. You get to these different states, and it’s almost like you’re entertaining yourself. You’re leading someone by the hand, but the hand you’re leading is your own. I don’t get choked up when I hear other people’s music, except in a few rare instances. The Melvins did something that I thought was absolutely fuckin’ beautiful. But if we write something I really like, I get teary eyed. I’m the kind of guy who can cry really easily. The really long song on the record that starts very classically and builds is my favorite song that we have ever done. I get really choked up whenever we play it. I was really worried where Maynard was going to go with it, but he nailed the lyrics on that one.
GW That song is quite a tour de force. You really don’t notice how long it is while you’re listening to it.
JONES I’m 41, and I never thought about that stuff as a kid. I never bought a record and thought, “Oh, this song is long.” I never thought “Stairway to Heaven” was a long song. I loved how there was this part and then there was another part that was completely different. If you’re making music for all the right reasons, people are going to be receptive to that and appreciate it the same way you did when your were writing it. It’s not radio friendly, but we’re not…
GW You’re not exactly radio artists.
JONES We are and we aren’t. We’ll pick a single that we think will do well on radio and we give it to them in its entirety. A band we knew told us that they’d edit their songs for radio,bit even if they edited a song down to four minutes, radio stations would edit it down to three minutes. So we just give it to radio as is. We can't control it anyway. It's their world, and if the song does good, great.
GW You have an extensive background in the visual arts. Do you tend to visualize things when you’re writing songs?
JONES I like soundtracks and I like film. I try to think in those terms, but it’s more emotional. How can you describe something without telling the person what it is? If you wanted to explain the yellow color of that Kodak [film] box without showing the person yellow, how would you do that? You might be able to do it by saying, “You know when you feel like this or when this has happened or you’re sitting under a tree?…”
GW How did you prepare for this record?
JONES There’s always the influence of music, film, art and the other things that drive me. I’m usually inspired by my environment and whatever is making me happy or mad. By the time we decide to get together again and start jamming, Justin and I have a huge amount of material. We bring it in and everybody rips it apart like wolves. We explore every avenue and path of it and then choose the paths that work best with one another.
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