No matter what the genre, each music scene seems to have a band notorious for its overly obsessive fans. For the jam band crowd, Phish gets this accolade; for college rock, Dispatch might get the bid. In metal, there is no doubt that Tool gets the honor (or is it dishonor?) of having fans who have unhealthy obsessions with their music. Perhaps it is because of the mystery involved with the band member’s personas, or the intricacy and vagueness of Tool’s lyrics. Whatever it is, few people seem to be able to ween themselves off of it once they have had a taste. Numerous destinations on the web are devoted to Tool, one of which is a forum with close to 35,000 registered users—all there to talk about the band.
As an act known for mocking its fans’ lemming’s lack of defiance, Tool managed to garner quite a following. Maynard James Keenan is a well-known advocate of forward and original thinking, and naturally denounces any sort of gossip or bandwagons that his fans latch onto. In an interview with Alternative Press back in March of 1997, Keenan is quoted as saying “I get resentful and upset when people don’t use their heads about stuff. It upsets me when people are selling themselves short or letting themselves down, whether it’s education or information.”
Keenan’s actions are somewhat paradoxical at times, because there are a lot of free-thinkers among the “Tool Army.” A shining example of this would be the idea of “Tool’s Holy Gift” in which an anonymous Tool fan discovered a way to rearrange the tracks from Tool’s most famous release, Lateralus, that corresponds with the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc.). How is that for open-minded? Another great, but lesser-known, idea spawned from Tool obsession is overlaying three tracks from their most recent album, 10,000 Days (dubbed as “10,000 Days Synchronicity” around the Internet), placing “Vigniti Tres” and “Wings for Marei (Pt. 1)” end to end on top of “Wings for Marie (Pt. 2)” to make an entirely new song. Regardless of whether or not these ideas and theories are correct, they are certainly “forward-thinking” (after scouring the Internet, any legitimate thoughts or comments by the band about these theories are not available).
Being largely hidden from the public eye can only lead to speculation. The fact that Keenan (as well as the other members the band to a certain degree) does not have large public personas only adds to the intrigue of Tool as an entity, something that has stirred many a rumor about the band over the years. In the end, all of this seems to help the band’s popularity and notoriety. Complex music about complex themes that the fans can make mean whatever they like. While Keenan has dismissed most of the assumptions about their music and themes as false, from time to time some ideas are confirmed as true (which only feeds the fans to keep the speculation up).
So why do Tool fans adore the band so much? Appreciation from the band is not the only thing that can give you fans. It is the malleability of the song meanings, it is the dismissal bandwagon thinking, and the freedom that you get with making the music personal to you. It is their stunning live show. It is the power given to the listener by the band and the music Tool makes. It is the thought of “I get it, you don’t.” It is the feeling of belonging to something bigger than you, me, or the band itself. Tool fans understand, the members of Tool do too. It may sound cheesy, but there is no other way to describe it. The facts are the facts, but they do not make up the entire story.