Tool: Sea Change
GW Are you still using your Marshall and Diezel amps? Have you made any significant changes to your equipment rig?
JONES I don’t know yet. After hooking up with Joe Barresi, I became really impressed with Bogner amps. I was also impressed with this Rivera amp and a Peavey amp that Joe had. I would never think to play a Peavey amp, but it’s awesome. Joe calls it his “Mississippi Marshall,” but if I was to play live right now I would play my Marshall and two Diezels through my Mesa/Boogie cabinets, which are amazing. There’s nothing like them. They really put out that low end.
GW Did you play any guitars other than your Les Paul?
JONES I might have used different guitars for really quiet parts. Every guitar, every tube amp, is entirely different, even if it’s the same make and model. Each has a different character. Sometimes something would sound good, but it wouldn’t be exactly what we needed. We would experiment. Joe has so much equipment, you wouldn’t believe it. We both have a shitload of guitars, and we would just go through them and try different stuff. It’s all a blur to me now. I couldn’t tell you what I used on any particular part because I tried so many different things.
We had at least four different amp setups with different cabinets ready to go at any given time. It was usually a combination of three amps. If that wasn’t working we’d pull something out and put something else in. I learned a lot from Joe. He always listens to the note and the character of that note. He really studies it. A lot of people do that, but they don’t take it farther than their conscious thought. If you really pay attention, you can hear what it’s missing, what you like about it and what you like about something else so you can combine those sounds.
GW It sounds like you’re playing an E-Bow on one song…
JONES Please don’t say that I play an E-Bow. They say on their web site that I use one, but I don’t. If I used one, I’d say it, but I don’t. I asked Robert Fripp what is the best way to get sustain—meaning what equipment should I use, what strings, what kind of amp. He said, “Attitude.” And he’s right. If you play that note and you want sustain out of it, you’ll get sustain. I have overdrive pedals, a wah and my amp. I have one of those blue Coloursound fuzz pedals and a Foxx Tone Machine, which they just reissued. Those are great for sustaining notes. I’ve really tried to get a note to hold as long as it can and make it sing or make it bend on its own. The pickup’s polarity will hold the note’s vibration and can cause it to feedback so it keeps going and sounds like an E-Bow.
GW It takes a lot of discipline to play that way. Most guitarists want to play as many notes as they can instead of wrenching every possible texture out of a long, sustaining note.
JONES I grew up with that. In Seventies rock there were leads in every song. I used to like Frank Zappa, but I thought that when he played a lead he would go on for way too long. In the Eighties everyone had a gimmick. Michael Angelo [Battio] had four necks, so the other guy would have to have six necks. Tom Morello is a friend of mine, and he comes from that school where it’s got to have a crazy sound and he’ll do wacky things. He really gets off on that. But I was always bored with three-hour solos. I think Joe Satriani is amazing, but after three songs he puts me to sleep. I used to play no solos. I’ve come out of my shell a little bit. If it’s tasteful and it’s what the song needs, it’s okay. There’s a big difference between talent and gimmick.
A lot of fellow up-and-coming guitarists will ask me if I think they should go to Guitar Institute of Technology or just join a band. I ask them what they want to do: “Do you want to learn technique? Do you want to learn how to play scales? If so, you should go to GIT. But if you just want to play music, you should start jamming with your friends and start a band.”
GW There’s something to be said for forming your own identity and not caring about everything else that’s going on around you. That’s kind of what you guys did when you formed Tool back in 1990. You were here in L.A. during the tail end of shred mania, but you found your own niche, and eventually the music world caught up with you.
JONES That wasn’t really a conscious choice, though. Maynard and I had read this review where we were compared to one type of music and the review bagged on us. That happens a lot. When we started out, metal was moving away from glam and getting harder, thanks to bands like Corrosion of Conformity. Critics compared us to that. Then Nirvana hit and we started getting compared to grunge. Then Nine Inch Nails got big, and suddenly critics thought we were an industrial band. Whatever group we were being compared to, that group would go, “Fuck Tool. They’re not like that.” Maynard put it perfectly. He said, “We fell in the cracks.” That’s what we are: we’re the band that fell in the cracks.
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