As fans of the band surely know, Tool aren't the easiest group to get your friends into — what with their long-ass song lengths, esoteric lyrics and the imposing, cult-like reverence their diehards have for them. Picking just one song to give a virgin listener a solid primer on the band's wide-ranging sound is tricky, but frontman Maynard James Keenan has selected what he thinks is the best entry point into his own band's catalog.
During an appearance on BBC Radio 1 Rock Show With Daniel P Carter over the weekend, Keenan said that Tool's best gateway song is "The Pot," which is one of the most popular and accessible tracks from their 2006 album, 10,000 Days.
"To me, that's one of the examples of some of our earlier energy blending perfectly with our more mature energy and kind of nods to our influences over the years," Keenan said. "I feel like we really kind of struggle to make sure that all four of us shine as best we can on everything we do, to exhaustion."
He continued, "But I feel like this one is one of the one's that felt, not effortless, but fresh and conscious, consciously effortless, if that makes sense? It just captures that vibe that I think, if you're gonna play a song for people to kind of get them into our band, I don't think you should start with the 27-minute one. Calm down. Don't get all QAnon on us."
"Focus on 'The Pot,'" he added. "That will be the introduction to all the other possibilities that happen in this project."
During the interview, Keenan also picked what he thinks are the best gateway songs for his other bands, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. For the former project he selected "The Contrarian" from A Perfect Circle's 2018 album, Eat the Elephant.
"Just even the first three songs on Eat the Elephant was a very difficult task to do because it was an exercise in Billy [Howerdel, APC guitarist] and I showing restraint," Keenan explained. "It's hard to do a very restrained, focused song with a lot of space, it's actually harder than filling in all the space. Especially with that song because there's a subtlety attached to it and a lot of space."
He added, "[Vocally] it was in a range that's not necessarily comfortable for me, and to maintain character in those unfamiliar spaces is a challenge. And I think Billy, too. He had to not reinvent what he was doing but take a step back and not put forward his first reaction or his second reaction. He had to really dig deep and find how he served that song rather than just bringing Billy Howerdel to that song.
"Same for me. 'How do I serve that song and that vibe beyond just bringing what I normally do to that song?' So I just really enjoyed that song. It was a challenge."
Listen to the whole interview to hear what he said about Puscifer. Below, check out our recent interview with Keenan on our "Fan First" podcast, in which he spoke about getting into Black Sabbath and KISS, the writing process for Tool, working with his Puscifer bandmates and much more.