Tool aren't exactly one of the most prolific bands of the last three decades, but what they may lack in quantity of output, they certainly make up for in its quality. Dense, ambitious and consciousness-expanding in their vision, Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey don't just make music, they make visionary art. As such, Tool's work has inspired many other people, including more than a few fellow musicians. One of those musicians is Leo Ashline, frontman of the Austin, Texas-based industrial-punk duo Street Sects. We asked him to pick his favorite Tool song, and he had a lot to say.
I remember when this single first hit the radio. It was the second single off of their breakout album Undertow, after "Sober." I remember thinking "Sober" was a catchy, interesting song, but it didn't blow me away like "Prison Sex" did. After I heard that song, I had to have the CD. "Prison Sex" was faster, more urgent and more emotional. It was heavy, but it wasn't metal. The lyrics were extremely disturbing, but it wasn't macho posturing like a lot of the aggressive music I was used to. In fact, it was the opposite of that. The vocal melodies and delivery had a sort of delicate angst that I had never heard before... There is real fear and vulnerability on display next to the anger. The guitar work and structure of the song are simultaneously sophisticated and accessible ... It's an absolutely incredible song, and unquestionably one of the greatest songs to come out of the "alternative music" wave of the early/mid Nineties.