With Tool's Fear Inoculum on the horizon, a look at the band's album release antics over the years

Anurag Tagat

Aug 29, 2019 11:56:07 IST

All over the world, millions are at the cusp of hearing Tool’s new album Fear Inoculum (the obedient and legal way, leakers be damned) this weekend. Even if we took the realistic perspective of the band taking a couple of years off and then begin working, Fear Inoculum, or any new material from the American prog band should have taken no more than five or six years.

But, in retrospect, every fan ought to feel dumb for complaining, because this is Tool.

 With Tools Fear Inoculum on the horizon, a look at the bands album release antics over the years

Photo credit: Tool Fear Inoculum album preview Youtube screenshot.

They even had help from Google’s algorithms (in 2018) when a rapper named Tool$’s new mixtape was the cause of Google Alerts about a “new album by Tool”. Not the most intentional prank, but certainly one the band would have had a laugh about.

Over the last two decades (and maybe further back), Tool have been adept at using their fans’ gullibility. Kerrang! reports that when the band originally started out, they were thinking about adopting a narrative that members had been brought together by a fake philosophy called ‘Lachrymology’ – the science of crying as therapy. If that’s not an intense and dedicated level of trolling, it was at least done to thumb their nose at music industry standards and perhaps to build mystique.

April Fools (April Tools, as some media like to call it) has been a tradition with Tool, with fans picturing a grinning front-man Maynard James Keenan plotting something incredulous that someone or the other will believe. These have ranged from fake bus crashes (probably no longer an accepted prank by 2019 standards, when life is much scarier) in Australia to Danny Carey leaving to Keenan having found Jesus in 2005. They even guaranteed their follow up to 10,000 Days to be out by 2012, which was actually a response to the Doomsday theories swirling around the world.

As if there wasn’t nearly a decade between albums, in 2015 the band posted somewhat somberly about the leak of new music, even claiming another band picked up the track and began claiming it as their own. The link they posted was by Mexican group Hechizeros Band’s 2008 song “El Sonidito” and this was just a short while after Tool had settled a lengthy lawsuit that apparently cost them millions. And yet here they were, humour intact, joking about copyright and infringement.

For April Fools earlier this year, the band went beyond their official website admin to put up a 37-minute clip purported to be a new song. Standing at over 1.6 million views, it was just the sound of night crickets, which fans were happy to troll the band about. This seems like an updated version of a classic Tool gag, because in the file-sharing days of the early 2000s, the band tested the unverifiability of Napster et al when they announced an entirely fake album called Systema Encephale, complete with track names, before unveiling Lateralus, which was very much the real deal. This is funny because when the band eventually announced 10,000 Days, people thought the title was a joke and a dig at metal band Disturbed’s album 10,000 Fists.

With the new album alone, we’ve seen years of trolling, with guitarist Adam Jones telling a fan at a VIP meet and greet in 2014 that a new album was “100 percent done” and releasing “tomorrow,” and the internet (plus that fan as well) totally believing him. The level of paranoia with Tool fans is almost laughable and relatable at the same time, because some old-school fans didn’t actually think the band would put up all their material on streaming platforms, even assuming that to be a hoax.

As much as there have been hoaxes, there have been very real issues behind the delay of Fear Inoculum, of course. When the band speaks of longstanding lawsuits that cost them millions or an unnamed member facing a “really scary” illness, those aren’t hoaxes. Of course, with this album out of the way, no one knows what’s next, which leaves just enough space for Tool to take fans on another ride.

Updated Date: Aug 29, 2019 11:56:07 IST