Tool are undoubtedly heavy, but fans have been debating for years whether the progressive act is a “metal” band or not. Apparently, even the members of Tool were once unsure of whether they qualified as “metal.”
Classic Rock recently posted an archived Tool feature from June 2006 that originally appeared in the magazine’s print edition. The interview took place around the release of 10,000 Days, and at one point the Tool members pondered whether “metal” served as an apt description of the band.
“I don’t think that we were ever a metal band,” drummer Danny Carey said. “I can understand that maybe we’d get compared with Pink Floyd.”
Added bassist Justin Chancellor, “It depends what you mean by heavy metal. I always think that we’re a heavy psychedelic band.”
Vocalist Maynard James Keenan then brought up Black Sabbath, long considered the godfathers of heavy metal. “It’s all about language,” Keenan said. “So, were Black Sabbath a metal band? … If Black Sabbath are a metal band, then I guess that we are, too.”
He added, “But when I listen to things like [Sabbath’s third album] Master of Reality, I hear sort of heavy political rock ‘n’ roll. I guess I don’t really hear them as heavy metal.”
Chancellor then interjected, “Heavy metal just makes me think of Whitesnake.”
Finally, Keenan surmised of the band’s music, “It’s meaty, it’s really weighty shit … It’s not heavy as a genre or anything but the effect is similar. It’s not about the types of guitars, it’s just how it was made. Well, we’re certainly not a hair-metal band.”
Tool certainly stretch across a multitude of musical spectrums, so to merely call them a “heavy metal” band might be unfair. However, the sheer heaviness of songs like “Schism” and the tracks on their new album Fear Inoculum — featuring distinct riffs and relatively loud volume — makes “metal” a reasonable identifier, or “alternative metal,” at least.
That said, even if the members of Tool couldn’t decide whether they’re a metal band, perhaps it’s a moot point best laid to rest — or, like their music itself, left up to personal interpretation.
Fans can decide whether Tool are metal or not by checking out the band on its current North American tour. The outing runs through a November 25th show in Washington, D.C., with tickets available here.