| Essay |

Six Degrees of Tool Separation

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Last week, we ran an essay on how Tool's move to streaming services could bring people closer to the band and its music. This week, local musician and writer Tom Reardon talks about the distance he and others feel from Maynard James Keenan's most popular creation in the state the frontman resides.

There's a theory that we're all connected through six introductions. Consider it, for a second, if you will.

You're six handshakes away from Maynard James Keenan.

In 1993, a wonderful film called Six Degrees of Separation explored how our need for connection, when multiplied by our degree of detachment from the life or person we want (or want to be), can bring tragic results. Sometimes, though, this theory works oppositely.

Just a sec, there, pardner … What does this theory have to do with Keenan? Why did you bring up the wine-making lead singer of Tool?

Sometimes, we are separated by someone or a band by six degrees because we have zero fucking clue why anyone would want to be one or two degrees apart from them ... a band like Tool.


Tool? You want to be six degrees away from Tool? Poppycock! (Side note: Poppycock would be a great name for a Tool record.)

Some of us feel distant from Tool, unfortunately. It’s to the point where support groups should be forming. PWDUOLTA (People Who Don’t Understand Or Like Tool Anonymous) and PWAFWPWDUTAAAA,S,QDITA (People Who Are Friends With People Who Don’t Understand Tool And Are Ashamed And, Sadly, Quite Disappointed In Them Anonymous) will be the most well-attended groups, particularly in Arizona.

There are six key degrees of what separates Tool fans. For our purposes, there are the Tools and the UnTools, or "those without Tool." These degrees are easily defined and are intended to help build a bridge of understanding between the two groups.

Degree 1: Everyone Should Like Tool, Damn It

This degree captures so many UnTools. The Tools just don’t get it. Tool fans are speechless when an UnTool mentions the notion that Tool is not the greatest fucking band of all time. You should like Tool. Do it. Now. Pretend, if need be.

Degree 2: You Are Just Not Into Prog

Prog rock is not for everyone, but this is where Keenan’s bandmates, drummer Danny Carey, bassist Justin Chancellor, and guitarist Adam Jones shine. Their style is prog above all else. For example, Chancellor has some great bass tones, but his sound is firmly rooted in traditional prog-rock oeuvre while meshing seamlessly with Carey’s poly-rhythmic mastery. UnTools who don’t like this technical genre are never going to appreciate this.

Degree 3: Odd People Scare You

This degree is pretty self-explanatory. Tools often see Keenan as a god-like figure, but he’s just an unusual guy. UnTools in Arizona are frightened by the fact of the simple geographic proximity to Keenan is decreases their degrees of separation by a factor of "Forty Six & 2."

Degree 4: You Missed Out On Grunge Or You Are Stuck In The Grunge Era And Can’t Get Out

Many Tools and UnTools enjoy grunge music. Tool came of age during the heyday of the grunge movement. Bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam (the Anti-Tools) ruled the world. For Tools, though, if you compare the aforementioned bands from Seattle to Tool, who came from Los Angeles, those bands are sophomoric at best in terms of song structure and lyrical content.

Degree 5: Tool Sounds Too Much Like “Fool” For Your Taste And You Pity The Fool

Mr. T is definitely an UnTool. Who doesn’t want to be like Mr. T?

Degree 6: You Are A Bad Arizonan

For UnTools, it is excruciating to listen to how amazing Keenan is because he owns and operates businesses in Arizona, including Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards. It’s great and all, but the UnTools who live in Arizona know this because in-state Tools keep bringing it up. They share multiple stories about how they thought they saw Keenan in a restaurant in Jerome. Stop this practice immediately. With a moment of "Reflection," maybe the Tools and UnTools will finally get along.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.