13 years in the making, Tool recently released their new album “Fear Inoculum” - Tool as artists hold a special place for me. From an early age their work has heavily influenced my own art and philosophies.
I vividly remember the first time I heard Tool. It was 2003; Me and a bunch of friends used to do seasonal orchard work in Central Otago. We would stand at a large conveyor belt and grade cherries 8hrs a day. Naturally we would all tune out and listen to music all day. My friend had a copy of Salival and was insisting that we listen to this particular song which happened to be Pushit. It absolutely blew my mind. From that day onward we were fighting over who got to listen to that CD.
Needless to say, I was hooked. Pushit was a song unlike that I had heard before, it struck a nerve with me and still does to this day. From Maynard’s opening statement and enigmatic lyrics, to the grand musical ebb and flow, the mystery hooked me and has ever since.
After that I was in the rabbit hole and have never come out, only to realize that rabbit hole was a rift in space an time to another plane of consciousness (I didn’t know art could do that). Since then there have been moments in my life where Tool unexpectedly resonated with me without conscious thought. During film school in 2005 I made a stop motion animation called Stinkfist. At this point I had never seen a Tool video. During the screening, everyone was saying “man you must like Tool videos or at least the Brothers Quay” (which at that point had no knowledge of either) My response “No i have never seen either I just made this thing”.
To my surprise once I went to watch the videos, it blew my mind once again. I had made something that resonated very closely to the work they were producing without ever having seen it. Maybe I was channeling the energy, but interestingly I had only decided to add music to the stop-motion half way through making it and it fit perfectly….
In 2011, I was in a starbucks in Auckland meeting a guy who was going to work on one of my music videos. I looked over to the line and thought, gee that guy looks exactly like Adam Jones. On a second look, It was Adam Jones(they were playing Big Day Out that year which I photographed). At that point, I had never been to a Starbucks, that was pretty much the one and only time, which made it all the more bizarre. I was star struck to say the least. I excused my meeting for one second and approached Adam. I told him I normally would not do this but had to thank him for the years of inspiration, he welcomed it and we had a small discussion about stop-motion. Adam was super chill and loved that his work had inspired me to do my thing, and that is the main point of this write up.
Artists like Tool come far and few in between but their music and art(collaboration with Alex Grey) inspires me to take my work to the next level. Not to compromise on my creativity and stay true to my self. To continue creating consistently no matter how long it takes or who criticizes you; One must KEEP CREATING! Now this is subjective as you may have the same effect with another artist, musician, author, philosopher etc. For me it was Tool. Living in an age where consumption is prioritized over creation, find those artists that inspire you to create and hold onto them tight.
With their new album out 13 years after their last, I appreciate it immensely having listened to it already countless times. To witness their evolution and watch their art grow inspires me to do the same with my own work and life. To strive and lift my self to the heights I’m capable of and better my self from where I’ve been, to where I am and are going… no matter how long it takes.
Reading many social forums on this album you can see there are people who love it and people who hate it. To the haters I say; Have you ever tried creating something then put it out there for all to judge? Try it, see how how it goes. Try to make the best thing you can, put your heart and soul into it. After years of honing your skills you may even attain perfection in it, and yet no matter what, someone will always hate it, and that’s OK. Because you have to ask your self, are you trying to please the crowd, or are you trying to express your self? because the two creative processes have very different journeys and Tool are not artists who try to please the crowd. Fear of what others think will stifle your growth as a person, create things because you love it and you will find those who resonate with you and your journey.
There is a zen maturity in the new album, an element of a swansong in the whole production. Each song is like an epic finale that nods to where they have been to where they have come. Fear Inoculum represents a mastery of their sound and if its their last release, it’s the crown jewel in their discography. However I think they still have a few more songs left, and if not they have passed the torch of inspiration on to me and hopefully millions of others to make their mark on this universe.
We must embrace that time comes for us all, acknowledged our fears, confront them and use them to be the best we can be.