• Progressive/Metal Rock band formed in 1990 from Los Angeles California. The original members were Maynard James Keenan (vocals, lyrics), Adam Jones (guitars, songwriting), Danny Carey (drums, songwriting) and Paul D’Amour (bass guitar, songwriting). D’Amour was replaced with Justin Chancellor in 1995.
  • All of the original members were born outside of California, but ended up in the Los Angeles area during the 80s. All played for several bands, with Keenan and Carey performing together in the comedy rock band Green Jellÿ. Keenan and Jones met in 1989 through a mutual friend. Keenan played a demo tape for Jones, and Jones was so impressed with Keenan’s vocals, he suggested that they form a band together. They jammed together and looked for a drummer and a bass guitarist. Keenan’s bandmate Carey began to rehearse with them, saying that he felt sorry for them because other potential drummers wouldn’t show up to their sessions. D’Amour was introduced to the band by a friend of Jones, and membership was complete. They chose the name Tool, stating that for the listener “we are…your tool. Use us as a catalyst in your process of finding out whatever it is you need to find out…”
  • They performed at local clubs for two years, and record companies began to notice them. They signed with a label in 1992 and in March that year they released an EP titled Opiate. The seven songs were the hardest metal-rock songs that they had written to date – the record company insisted on that, as grunge music was reaching its peak at the time. It originally did not chart, though the EP was released to streaming services in 2019 and it charted on the Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Rock Albums chart. Opiate was certified platinum in 2005. The single Hush from the EP was a protest of censorship – the music video showed the band naked with tape over the mouths and signs over their genitals that said “Parental Advisory: Explicit Parts.”
  • In 1993, Tool released their first studio album, Undertow. Still a hard rock album, it also showed some of elements of progressive rock. While it did not chart highly, sales were steady, and it was certified platinum 17 months after its release, and in 2021 it was certified 3x platinum. Singles from the album included Sober and Prison Sex – both charted on the Mainstream Rock chart at #13 and #32 respectively, and both charted again in 2019 on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. Tool was one of the last bands to release their music to digital streaming platforms, and when they finally did in 2019, many of their songs recharted.
  • In 1995, D’Amour left the band, wanting to play guitar and not bass. Several musicians auditioned to replace D’Amour, and Justin Chancellor was chosen – Chancellor had supported the band in Europe as a touring musician. In 1996, they released their second studio album, Ænima. Its success helped the band become a leader in alternative metal music. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and eventually it was certified 3x platinum. Four songs charted on the Mainstream Rock chart – Stinkfist, H., Ænima and Forty Six & 2 – and the title track won the Grammy award for Best Metal Performance in 1998.
  • While the band was writing new music, they were unable to record for several years as they worked through lawsuits with their record label and with their former manager. During this time, Keenan joined the band A Perfect Circle, Jones joined The Melvins and Carey worked on some side projects. Any rumors that Tool was breaking up were squashed in 2000 when the band released a CD/DVD box set titled Salival. 
  • Tool progressed further into the art rock genre with the release of the 2001 album Lateralus. It topped the album chart and it became their third 3x platinum album. The single Schism produced their second Grammy award for Best Metal Performance in 2002. Other singles that charted were Parabola and the title track. Part of their tour to support the album included ten shows co-headlined by King Crimson, the progressive rock band that was the biggest influence on Tool.
  • After the band members worked on side projects for several years, Tool released their fourth studio album, 10,000 Days, in 2006. The band had a cult following of fans at this point, and the album debuted at #1 in the U.S. and in ten other countries throughout the world. The album won a Grammy award for Best Recording Package in 2007. The single The Pot became their first song to reach #1 on a Billboard chart, topping the Mainstream Rock chart, and it was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Hard Rock Performance. Another single, Vicarious, also was nominated for the same Grammy award.
  • Thirteen years passed before Tool released their next album, Fear Inoculum in 2019, after years of rewrites and song tweaks. It became their third #1 album, with the title track peaking at #3 and Pneuma reaching #4 on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. The title track has a run time of 10:21, and when it charted on the Hot 100 chart at #93, it became the longest song ever to be on that chart. Critics loved the album – it made many “best of” lists, both for 2019 as well as the entire decade.
  • The musicians in the group are accomplished. Jones was ranked #75 on Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest guitarists of all time, and Carey was ranked #26 on the magazine’s list of the greatest drummers. Keenan didn’t make the Rolling Stone list of the GOAT vocalists, though he does make the list from many other sources. As someone who grew up loving prog rock from the 70s, I’m happy to find deserving prog rockers from later decades.
  • Jones did film work in Hollywood before becoming a rock star, and he directed most of their music videos, which are highly artistic. Check out his work on the acclaimed video for the song Sober.

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