It seems like every year for the past 12 years, the same thought runs across the minds of every rock music fan: will we be getting a new Tool record? Every year since 2008, two years after they released their last record 10,000 Days, the band has teased in one form or another that they’re working on new material, despite these rumors being shot down by their own band mates (Rolling Stone even released a timeline of the new record’s progress). However, 12 years on, Tool fanatics are still barking up the same tree, starving for a glimpse of something new and ready to devour anything tossed to them.
But it begs the question: Are we worthy?
Consider this: Tool has been widely known as a band with “no destinations,” meaning they’ve never been about immediacy and satisfaction. They could care less about answers than the actual process of arriving at them. They’ve always been a band about guiding you to your path, establishing a road map in listeners’ heads through their lyrics pointing them in the right direction.
Much like Radiohead, they’ve imbued their music with a sense of significance, causing listeners to read deeper into their music rather than seeing it for face value. And for years, fans of Tool have been analyzing and dissecting their music, only to give themselves a bad reputation by being labeled as obsessive. But it’s hard not to read deeper – the band produces such crafted, meticulous rhythms and time signatures that it begs to be studied further. One can tell they’re exploring and expressing more than what you merely hear.
However, much to fans’ dismay, Tool was never a band to be taken seriously. Filled with dick jokes and acid flashbacks, there’s a humor that comes along with the music that seems to negate all symbolic significance. For each fisting joke lies an analogy for self-discovery. The band’s name is “Tool,” the name is a dick joke in and of itself.
So then, why the backlash? Why all the impatience? Why all the anger and disappointment that’s met with the expectation of a new Tool record? System of a Down has just as big of a fan base and hasn’t released a record since 2005 and yet no one seems to be going off the rails for new material, and Maynard’s side project A Perfect Circle hasn’t released a record since 2004. The reason being, over the past twenty years, Tool has become THAT band people choose to wear on their sleeve, to let the band do the talking for them, investing so much emotionally in the music to the point where Tool isn’t even considered a “band” to some people, but more than that. They’ve become a crutch, something for music listeners to fall back on for self-relief.
And it’s for that reason we will not be getting a new Tool record, or at least not any time soon, because in Tool’s eyes, we simply have not earned it yet. Think about it: for a band to have such faith in the well being of humans, we as humans have not even come close to bringing our vulnerability to the table. In the current state of the world, we have been arrogant, stubborn, and unwilling to change our minds. Tool is about finding your place in the universe and your function in the world, and becoming the best self you can be. They don’t take themselves seriously, but what they do seriously. We, and I mean “we” from a general social standpoint, have yet to reach the point where we’re taking our work seriously and thinking for ourselves. We have yet to acknowledge that we are the problem, when we need to be the solution.
Simply put, we won’t be getting a new Tool record because we don’t deserve a new Tool record, or at least not until we get our act together. But until then, it’s as if rock fans are stuck in Tool purgatory.