Part II in this series of our co-founder André Archimbaud‘s musical heroes is dedicated to Maynard James Keenan:

When I was a little kid, I was put off by the imagery of metal music. I did like some of the music, but I mostly did not & the imagery didn’t help at all. In hindsight, it sounds lame, frankly. But, I guess I chalk it up to my fairly strict catholic upbringing that the dark & stormy style of metal simply didn’t appeal. I mean, one of my favorite records as a 5 or 6 year old was Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’ & I thought the use of the word “hell” was “edgy.” So, maybe I was cooler than I realized…

That said, by the time I was in high school, I was very open to punk rock – the illegitimate stepchild to metal, in my mind – so, it’s not as if I was a total stiff.

But, then, I went to college.

My ears had always been fertile ground for all sorts of music, so all bets were off when I went off to Boston for college. My music collection grew immensely & began to include some darker items – louder, faster, more melancholic.

I’ve talked about this from time to time here & elsewhere. I spent a pretty rough year of my life in Austin, TX. As lovely as Austin can be, it was just an inhospitable time for me. At the end of the day, it was simply a mistake for me to move there & it was a bigger mistake for me to stay there for an entire year. However, there were *some* benefits.

Getting exposed to other new music that year was one of those few benefits. I spent nearly every weekend downtown running around 6th Street catching this band, that group or this singer/songwriter. I was just as prone to seeing a metal band as I was a folkie. As it was for me as a child, music came to my rescue.

I also worked for the student-run radio station at UT, so I usually got comped to see a lot of these shows – whether they were touring bands or local acts.

Two events occurred while I was living in Austin that shaped my life there.

The first was that my beloved grandfather died back in New Jersey after a brief illness – a 6-week cancer diagnosis that took him just before Thanksgiving in 1991 at 73. The entire story around this is a separate piece, probably.

The other occurrence that transpired was that I was truly questioning the faith that I had been raised with.

Now, in fairness, I didn’t attend church at all in my freshman year at Emerson in Boston other than at Christmastime. In the wake of my grandfather’s passing, I attended mass every day for the next 4 months. He & I used to attend mass together from when I was a little boy whenever we could & I wanted that functional repetition to try to find him again. It worked & it didn’t.

Around Easter 1992, I decided that being catholic didn’t fit my life or mind, so I left the church entirely. That’s another piece in itself as well…someday. I had rediscovered the Andrew Lloyd Webber Original Cast Recording of “Jesus Christ Superstar” & decided that was the extent of religion I wanted in my life.

As that year ended, I had long-before decided to head back to Boston to finish school at Emerson. The night of my last show was in mid-May & I was ready to go. I had inhabited the Midnight – 5am slot for most of that year on Tuesday night into Wednesday mornings. I used to love getting off air & going to the one diner that existed in Austin then right on Guadalupe & have their pancakes!

Anyway, the night of that last show, I said to myself, “I’m going to play nothing but new music tonight!” I was always a John Peel fan – he of the BBC – and he was famous for always bringing new music to people. So, I went to the new music bin at the radio station & basically pulled everything out of it. I did have 5 hours to fill, so one or two records or CDs wouldn’t cut it.

I don’t remember much else of what I played that night, but I do remember playing two bands. One I will save mentioning for later in this series & the other was TOOL.

Their debut EP was in the rack on CD & the artwork & imagery was so appealing to me. There was a demonic six-handed priest on the cover that I took as a jab against the financial aspects of the Catholic Church & many, many, many other institutes of worship.

I put one of the songs in “preview” to see how it sounded:

“Whoa, this is new…this different.”

If nothing else, the lead singer had just such a different presence in his voice than I had ever heard.

I wouldn’t immediately put my finger on it, but they were a mixture of the technical precision of The Police or King Crimson & the rage bands like Fugazi or the Dead Kennedys & the macabre like The Misfits & some of the theatricality of a group like GWAR.

I ended up loving that EP so much that I played all 6 tunes that night. But, I had all but forgotten about them once the school year was over & I had driven another 1800 miles back to the New York area to spend the summer

Cut to about 6 weeks later & I had taken an internship at RCA Records – which had recently been taken over by German music & publishing company Bertelsmann, thus renaming the outfit BMG – under which TOOL’s label was a division.

A family friend had connected me with the V.P. of Distribution at BMG & he asked me to come see him after the internship in the recording studios began. When I arranged the time with his assistant, she & I hit it off immediately. Still think of Kim Smith very fondly.

I went down to see them & she asked me if I wanted any albums, tapes or CDs to take? I was in heaven – after 12 months of being so frustrated & sad about having left Boston.

Amongst the items she offered me was a cassette tape of this new band called TOOL. She didn’t happen to have any CDs of the EP, so I took it. I immediately remembered having played them that last night on KTSB-FM in Austin by sound & by that album art.

Again, while I enjoyed the technical musicianship of the band, I was really drawn in by Maynard’s lyrical content. No one I was listening to at that time was covering the sorts of subject matter that he was – expanding one’s mind, pushing one’s boundaries, exceeding one’s expectations, no matter the circumstances or consequences.

In keeping with the band’s own wishes, I won’t link to any of the YouTube clips. TOOL have gone out of their way not to have any true digital presence, per se. You cannot download their music nor can you stream it.

So, look below & see why Maynard meets my criteria as one of my lyrical heroes

Two Notes of PS:

1) I have seen TOOL live about a dozen times & it’s never been anything short of astounding. So, if you dig the music, you’ll love the live show!

2) As much as I love Maynard, I’ve not engaged at all in his other band Puscifer. I do like A Perfect Circle, but TOOL stands alone in many ways.

“Cold & Ugly”

Underneath the skin and jewelry,
hidden in her words and eyes
is a wall that’s cold and ugly
and she’s scared as hell.
Trembling at the thought of feeling.
Wide awake and keeping distance.
Nothing seems to penetrate her.
cause She’s scared as hell.

I am frightened too
I am frightened
Oh oh oh.

Trembling at the thought of feeling
Wide awake and keeping distance
Nothing seems to penetrate her.
cause She’s scared as hell.

I am frightened too
I am frightened

Wide awake and
keeping distance from my soul.
Wide awake and
keeping distance from my soul

FADE

Underneath the skin and jewelry,
hidden in her words and eyes
is a wall that’s cold and ugly
and she’s scared as hell.
Trembling at the thought of feeling.
Wide awake and keeping distance.
Nothing seems to penetrate her.
cause She’s scared as hell.

I am frightened too
I am frightened too
I am scared like you
I am frightened

“Sober”

There’s a shadow just behind me,
Shrouding every step I take,
Making every promise empty,
Pointing every finger at me.
Waiting like a stalking butler
Who upon the finger rests.
Murder now the path of “must we”
Just because the son has come.

Jesus, won’t you fucking whistle
Something but the past is done?
Jesus, won’t you fucking whistle
Something but the past is done?

Why can’t we not be sober?
I just want to start this over.
Why can’t we drink forever.
I just want to start this over.

I am just a worthless liar.
I am just an imbecile.
I will only complicate you.
Trust in me and fall as well.
I will find a center in you.
I will chew it up and leave,
I will work to elevate you
Just enough to bring you down.

Mother Mary won’t you whisper
Something but the past is done.
Mother Mary won’t you whisper
Something but the past is done.

Why can’t we not be sober?
Just want to start this over.
Why can’t we sleep forever.
I just want to start this over.

I am just a worthless liar.
I am just an imbecile.
I will only complicate you.
Trust in me and fall as well.
I will find a center in you.
I will chew it up and leave,
Trust me [x5]

Why can’t we not be sober?
Just want to start things over.
Why can’t we sleep forever.
I just want to start this over.

I want what I want [x4]

“Third Eye”

Dreaming of that face again.
It’s bright and blue and shimmering.
Grinning wide
And comforting me with it’s three warm and wild eyes.

On my back and tumbling
Down that hole and back again
Rising up
And wiping the webs and the dew from my withered eye.

In… Out… In… Out… In… Out…

A child’s rhyme stuck in my head.
It said that life is but a dream.
I’ve spent so many years in question
to find I’ve known this all along.

“So good to see you.
I’ve missed you so much.
So glad it’s over.
I’ve missed you so much
Came out to watch you play.
Why are you running?”

Shroud-ing all the ground around me
Is this holy crow above me.
Black as holes within a memory
And blue as our new second sun.
I stick my hand into his shadow
To pull the pieces from the sand.
Which I attempt to reassemble
To see just who I might have been.
I do not recognize the vessel,
But the eyes seem so familiar.
Like phosphorescent desert buttons
Singing one familiar song…

“So good to see you.
I’ve missed you so much.
So glad it’s over.
I’ve missed you so much.
Came out to watch you play.
Why are you running away?”

Prying open my third eye.
So good to see you once again.
I thought that you were hiding.
And you thought that I had run away.
Chasing the tail of dogma.
I opened my eye and there we were.

So good to see you once again
I thought that you were hiding from me.
And you thought that I had run away.
Chasing a trail of smoke and reason.

Prying open my third eye.

“The Grudge”

Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity.
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate.
Desperate to control all and everything.
Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen.

Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Justify denials and grip ’em to the lonesome end.
Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Terrified of being wrong. Ultimatum prison cell.

Saturn ascends, choose one or ten. Hang on or be humbled again.
Humbled again.

Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Justify denials and grip ’em to the lonesome end.
Saturn ascends, comes round again.
Saturn ascends, the one, the ten. Ignorant to the damage done.

Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity.
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate.
Desperate to control all and everything.
Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen.

Wear the grudge like a crown. Desperate to control.
Unable to forgive. And sinking deeper.

Defining, confining, sinking deeper.
Controlling, defining, and we’re sinking deeper.

Saturn comes back around to show you everything
Let’s you choose what you will, will not see and then
Drags you down like a stone or lifts you up again
Spits you out like a child, light and innocent.

Saturn comes back around. Lifts you up like a child
Or drags you down like a stone to
Consume you till you choose to let this go.
Choose to let this go.

Give away the stone. Let the oceans take and
Transmutate this cold and fated anchor.
Give away the stone. Let the waters kiss and
Transmutate these leaden grudges into gold.
Let go.

“Wings For Marie / 10,000 Days”

You believed.
You believed in moments not conceived.
You believed in me.

A passionate spirit.
Uncompromised
boundless and open.
A light in your eyes, then, immobilized.

Vacant, broken.
Fell at the hands of
Those movements that I wouldn’t see.
Cause it was you who prayed for me so.
What have I done to be a son to an angel?
What have I done to be worthy?

Day light dims leaving cold fluorescence.
Difficult to see you in this light.
Please forgive this selfish question, but
What am I to say to all these ghouls tonight?

She never told a lie.
Well might of told a lie.
But never lived one.
Didn’t have a life.
Didn’t have a life.
But surely saved one.
Saved on.

Alright, now it’s time for us to let you go…

We listen to the tales and romanticize,
how we follow the path of the hero.

Boast about the day when the rivers overrun,
How we’ll rise to the height of our halo.

Listen to the tales as we all rationalize,
our way into the arms of the savior.
Feigning all the trials and the tribulations.

None of us have actually been there,
Not like you…

Ignorant siblings in the congregation.
Gather around spewing sympathy,
Spare me…

None of them can even hold a candle up to you.
Blinded by choice, these hypocrites won’t see.

But enough about the collective Judas.
Who could deny you were the one who illuminated?
Your little piece of the divine.

And this little light of mine, a gift you passed on to me
I’m gonna let it shine
to guide you safely on your way.

Your way home…

Oh, what are they gonna do when the lights go down?
Without you to guide them all to Zion?
What are they gonna do when the rivers overrun?
Other than tremble incessantly.

High is the way,
but our eyes are upon the ground.
You are the light and the way.
They’ll only read about.
I only pray heaven knows,
when to lift you out.

10,000 days in the fire is long enough.
You’re going home…

You’re the only one who can hold your head up high.
Shake your fist at the gates saying,
“I have come home now…!”
Fetch me the spirit, the son and the father.
Tell them their pillar of faith has ascended.

“It’s time now!
My time now!
Give me my
Give me my wings…!”

Give me my [x5]

(Give me my wings)

You are the light, the way,
that they will only read about.

Set as I am in my ways and my arrogance.
Burden of proof tossed upon the believers.
You were my witness, my eyes, my evidence,
Judith Marie, unconditional one.

Daylight dims leaving cold fluorescence.
Difficult to see you in this light.
Please forgive this bold suggestion.
Should you see your maker’s face tonight,
Look him in the eye.
Look him in the eye and tell him,
I never lived a lie, never took a life,
But surely saved one.

Hallelujah
It’s time for you to bring me home.