Tears, Techno and Time: Tool’s Justin Chancellor on Making “Emotional” New Album

Photo by Travis Shinn

For Tool fans (and fanatics) the big day is almost here: on August 30th the band will drop their new full-length album, Fear Inoculum, the long-awaited follow-up to their 2006 record 10,000 Days.

Ahead of its release, bassist Justin Chancellor sat down with Revolver to talk about the record. Tool remains one of the true white whales of heavy music; it is difficult to ever pin them down for an interview, so it’s genuinely cool to watch Chancellor peel back the curtains on the “emotional” experience of writing Fear Inoculum.

“It’s very emotional being in Tool and writing these songs, going in every day and struggling with each other and fighting with each other and patting each other on the back and laughing and crying,” he told Revolver. “It’s a very emotional process.”

Chancellor goes on to say that after all that intensity; you won’t find him spending his downtime spinning heavy metal. Instead, he finds respite, and inspiration, through “listening to some really banging techno.”

“The last thing I do is go and listen to heavy rock music. But I love electronic music,” he said. “The purity of the tones is inspiring, because it’s obviously much more controlled than a guitar tone. I often use that as a goal — if you can get anywhere near some of the sonic clarity in that stuff, then you’re really getting somewhere.”

Chancellor also revealed that Maynard James Keenan’s famously enigmatic lyrical style is just as arcane to him as it is to the rest of us.

“[Maynard] also makes the very important point that it’s just his interpretation and the idea is that everyone should be allowed to feel what they wanna feel from it,” he said. “You don’t want to explain it away, because then it sort of dies if you just have a fundamental meaning. So he gives us bits and pieces, but I quite enjoy listening and trying to figure out what’s going on myself.”

Overall, Chancellor says that Fear Inoculum is the most “complete” album in Tool’s discography, stating that there was never a point where he felt like he needed to settle or compromise in the composition. “I think I can say that on previous records, I wish I’d fought a bit harder for this or that. I don’t know how the other guys feel,” he said. “I think we did everything the way we wanted to do this time, and that’s something that comes with maturity.”

Read the rest of the interview at Revolver.