Last week, The Tool Page, a fansite older than some of you, tallied the results of “Tool Madness,” a tournament painstakingly designed to crown the best Tool song to date. Lateralus, the title track from the band’s third full-length, beat out Third Eye in the final to come out on top.
The 2001 album was arguably their most technical, and while opinions are split around here when it comes to whether mathematics contribute to or distract from its enjoyability, the 9 minute and 24 second Lateralus was a crowning achievement for the band by all accounts. It’s as likely to be found blasting out of some oblivious knucklehead’s pickup as it is to be at the center of an expensive-cannabis-fueled dissertation on how the time signatures and syllabic rhythm all follow the Fibonacci sequence “by no fucking coincidence, dude.”
In the spirit of making everything way more complicated than anyone normal would ever expect, The Tool Page’s tournament, first announced back on April 5th, was crafted to be as scientifically just as semi-reasonably possible. Inspired by the NCAA’s March Madness, 64 Tool songs were pitted against each other in a brackets system, each seed determined by Last.fm play counts over the previous six months. Polls were posted daily. Rabid fans with not much else to focus on (with the band on hiatus) followed along.
Fortunately (and a little surprisingly), the title track from 10,000 Days, their fourth album, beat their most well-known MTV staple Sober, proving wrong to some extent the notion that the band peaked back in the early 1990s before they “got all old and shit.”
When the results came out, for fun, we called up our old buddy Kabir who runs the Tool Page, mostly just to fuck with him for doing something so nerdy rather than moving on with an adult life. Not that Antiquiet is a shrine to maturity or anything, but whatever. Here’s some of that conversation:
I’m pissed that Sober beat Prison Sex.
A lot of people were really strongly anti-Sober vote. They were like, ‘it’s a good song, I’ve heard it too much, I would like any other song to win, please.’
How old is the fan community? Has it aged with the band?
I think it has. From what I see, there’s a lot of high school kids… I mean you’re talking about a band that still puts out #1 albums over and over again. And there are a lot of guys like you and me in our 30s, I mean the band is in their 50s, think about that.
How strong is the sentiment that they’re… you know, fill in the blank; Too old / sold out / not as good as they were in the ’90s, etc. How strong is fan faith in general?
I think what you had a long time ago was the kind of internet morons- like think about all the rumors, like Maynard keeps corpses in his basement. That was a real thing that people believed. Now everyone’s just like, they dig into music for whatever meaning they’re looking for, but people online have evolved from ultra nerds only 15 years ago, to being… everybody.
So the nerd factor has decreased.
The nerd factor is way, way down.
How many people voted in total?
Well, there’s two numbers. There’s total number of ballots, like final four picks and so on, which was 1,621. But the total number of votes cast in the whole Tool Madness tournament was 93 thousand and something… We were getting about 2,000 votes a day.
Of all that participated, what percentage would you say you’d be comfortable, like, hanging out with?
[laughs] What’s funny is that hanging out with people from the internet, now, you can easily find pictures of them. And a lot of information is out there.
You can screen at least.
What kind of drama is going on, on the message boards and shit, over [the results?] Are there warring factions? Any sore losers?
You know, a really good friend of mine, when this started, said that Third Eye was going to win. And I told him that was wrong.
It surprised me that it was doing so well.
It was a low seed… It’s a pretty unpopular song, in terms of just people actually listening to it, it’s a long song and it takes a lot of brain power to listen to it. You know, it’s not The Humpty Dance. But anyway, everyone was going to be happy whether Third Eye won or if Lateralus won. The one thing nobody wanted was for Sober to win.
[laughs] Even though everyone was voting for it?
There were a lot of people emailing, saying, ‘if Sober wins, this whole thing is bullshit.’
[laughs] That’s kind of how I was feeling. Like Sober can win when KROQ does theirs.
Yes, the KROQ audience would go with Sober and The Pot.
What, if anything, do you know about the next Tool album? Feel free to make crazy shit up.
They were releasing one every 5 years for awhile… They’re not going to make it this year.
Blair said something about May next year, or something?
And you know, if that’s true, it would be amazing. It would be incredible foresight, good planning on the part of the band, to know that far ahead of time… I would take that with a huge grain of salt.
I would not be surprised if 10,000 Days was their last record… I would not have been surprised if Lateralus had been their last. For no other reason than… After X number of years, I mean, do you just keep going?
But if they can get an album out before the next Rapture, that would be good.
How would you say Maynard’s interest is balanced these days, between music, and wine? Think he cares more about wine, or music? 50/50?
I can’t speak for the guy, but if you read what he puts online, he writes about wine. And then a little bit about A Perfect Circle. And Puscifer. So take from that what you will.
I’m just trying to get you to talk shit so we can get some internet beef going.
I’m a tough one.
I never play instigator with actual famous people, but I figure I can fuck with you.
[laughs] It’s not April Fool’s day. That’s my day to let loose.
What’s the most absurd thing you’ve seen in your close proximity to the band?
That is an excellent question. Most absurd thing… I feel like it must be crazy fans…
It might be Perry Farrell tripping his face off at Lollapalooza one year. He was talking about how we need to… like, ‘next time we do this, we gotta build more support. We gotta protest something, to get everyone behind it.’
So I’m like, ‘yeah, what about milk?’
He trails off, all like ‘yeah. We can protest milk…’ With this faraway look in his eyes.
That’s pretty good.