Tool’s Adam Jones: The Gun Shy Interview

Tool guitarist Adam Jones

I never imagined that of all the questions Adam Jones would’ve and could’ve asked me — and why would he ask me anything; I’m just a lowly music journalist and writer and he’s the guitarist for Tool…you know, the biggest rock band on the planet — that he’d ask me what he did Tuesday evening. That’s when I was given 15 minutes of the man’s time to talk about whatever. Of course, I wanted to talk about the next Tool record — and we did end up doing that. But then, Jones started interviewing me.

“Are you going to go see ‘Harry Potter Seven, Part One?’” I hesitantly told him I haven’t seen one of those films since the third came out. Usually — I tell him — I don’t go to the movies, mostly because of the bed bug crisis here in New York that’s shutting certain theaters down. I get movies on demand, or wait until they come out on HBO. “Yeah. Or watch ‘em on the plane, right?” This turns into a discussion that leads me to ask him who his favorite director is.

“I don’t have a favorite director. It would be like going, ‘What’s your favorite album?,’” he tells Gun Shy Assassin. “I don’t have one, and there are so many different guys who just make great films…some guys make one movie that’s amazing, and other guys, all of their films are great. I definitely look for the stuff that…people that are trying to express themselves and not just follow some Hollywood formula will definitely stick out to me. Guys who keep pushing their imaginations and strive to do something different. That’s the stuff that sticks out to me.”

Kind of like Tool’s music, which has pushed the bounds of what commercial rock can be since the band debuted back in the early 1990s. By definition, Tool should not be one of the biggest rock bands in the world. But they are, because what they do is something special, something magical. Name one shitty Tool record? See…you can’t! All four are fucking classics; admittedly, the latest — 2006’s 10,000 Days — took some time to grow on me, but it is rock and roll brilliance. Tool’s sonic tapestry winds monstrous riffs with twisted melodies, tribal rhythms, haunting vocals, and potent bass you can feel in your soul as you listen to — say — a record like Undertow. It is progressive rock for people who appreciate good musicianship and Jones’ guitar work is admirable, to say the least.

Lately, the band’s been rehearsing…a lot. They’ve got two shows coming up in early 2011 — Australia and New Zealand’s Big Day Out Festivals — and they want to be on point for those gigs. “We like to stay fresh, because if something comes up and we can tour, we’re ready,” Jones tells me. “We like playing our songs and it just kind of fits into dialing in new songs.”

That’s also something they’ve been doing during rehearsals. “We’ve started the writing process [for the fifth Tool LP], which is a very slow start. It always is. With that, we’ve been practicing a set so it’s fresh so when we do it, we nail it every time and have fun with it and can weave in and out of it.”

Next, I ask Adam if he can give me a percentage on how much of the record is written. “Zero,” he responds. “We’re just jamming riffs and bringing ideas and writing. But nothing is set in stone yet. I don’t know if I can give a fair percentage because we’re just not at that point. If we had one song, then we’d have one song done. But it’s just…in essence, it is like a little snowball. It hasn’t turned into a big snowball yet but its rolling.”

Jones tells me the band is not going to rush to get the record out. They never would. They’re taking their time, and their record label is cool with “when it’s done” as a deadline. “It just takes the pressure off of all the other things going on, but its just the same cycle from album one,” he says. “We record the record, we tour for three years, we take a couple of years off and then someone calls someone and goes, ‘Hey, let’s start hitting the books.’ So we start getting our feet wet until it starts taking off and that is the stage we’re at right now.”

My time with Jones is limited, so I ask him real quick to dispel a rumor I’d heard about Tool possibly touring with Faith No More. He did; Jones says he never heard that one.

“And I know Mike Patton very well, so…I had heard they’d gotten back together, and did their own tour. Mike has a hundred other things going on, so…I had heard [we were] doing something with Rage [Against the Machine], which has just been sort of a casual talk, and it would probably just be one show. It wasn’t like we were going to tour with them or they were going to tour with us.”

I ask Adam if he’d please tour with Faith No More. Then, I get the answer I wanted to hear. “I’m up for anything,” Jones tells Gun Shy. “I’m the guy in the band who wants to tour, who will drop what he’s doing and hit the books. But there’s just…you know, I’m married to three other guys and we’re all very different, so…I am [down to tour with Faith No More], and if something like that happened, it would be amazing but…hey, it is what it is.”

Also check out our Gun Shy interview with Billy Howerdel from A Perfect Circle

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