Way back in 1994, Tool were still on their way to super-stardom, as witnessed in this classic mid-nineties Dutch interview with a young Adam Jones in which he discusses his hatred for talking guitars, his embarrassment at being grouped into the "metal" category, and how the band were then striving to maintain their edge despite finding unexpected mainstream success. As Jones turns 54 today, January 15th, now is the perfect time to take a look back on the close-up conversational footage interspersed with rehearsal snippets where the band can be heard playing "Intolerance" from their 1993 debut Undertow (plus the added bonus of concert footage of a mohawked Maynard James Keenan and Company playing mega-hit "Sober").
"We've tried to really stay away from the whole pop scene, the whole Top 40 scene ... We were on like, 53 on the charts and we were like 'Oh man, we're gonna have a Top 40 hit? What is this gonna do to us as a band? We're gonna have to really ignore this'," says Jones as he jokingly nibbles at his fingertips in feigned anxiety. The long-haired newcomer's attitude is hesitant and defiant, in keeping with the demeanor of the band even now, 25 years on. He continues, "It's good to be successful and make money, but it wasn't the point when we started to make money in the band. It was to express ourselves."
The guitarist also eschews the "metal" label bestowed upon the hard rock act, saying "When people call us metal, I kind of ... feel like taking a bath, because to me metal is kind of embarrassing. The whole metal attitude and all these guys dressing like pirates. And now those same pirates on Hollywood Boulevard are wearing flannels." Grunge as a trend was peaking around this time, and many would-be glam guys had moved on to the contrived Seattle image they saw aped in mainstream coolness. "I mean, I like the Seattle bands. I like them a lot," Jones assures the interviewer, "but I like country music, I like Led Zeppelin and ACDC and old music like that, and classical music."
Those eclectic tastes helped Jones and the rest of his band maintain touring and musical longevity despite their long studio silence throughout the interim two and a half decades. The long-awaited follow up to 2006 record 10,000 Days is due out (probably) this year, as Jones said in a 2018 live Q&A, "I don't know if you've noticed but we've kind of this sense of quality. We want good music, we want good art, we want quality tee shirts. We want to put things out when they're ready."