Maynard James Keenan Says “Crippling Second Guessing” Delayed New Album

On Friday, September 1st, BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show With Daniel P Carter focused on Tool‘s new album Fear Inoculum and included an array of original interviews around the subject. Members of Bring Me the Horizon, Slipknot, Prophet of Rage, Mastodon and more spoke about Tool’s impact on them as artists and music lovers, but the centerpiece of the episode were the chats with the band’s own Maynard James Keenan and Justin Chancellor. The singer and bass player, respectively, discussed the new album — the band’s first in 13 years — and the group’s creative process.

Keenan was particularly blunt, as is his way. Talking about why Fear Inoculum took so long to be completed and released, the Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer frontman did a little psychoanalysis of the band.

“I think a lot of it just that age where you want it to be right and we’ve had some success in the past and the fear of this thing coming out and not being accepted — the fear that it’s not as good as it can be — that can be detrimentally crippling,” he explained, as reported by the PRP. “Probably in if I had to ‘psychology 101’ [it], I would have to say, ‘Well, yeah, that’s why it would take 13 years to write something, because you’re paranoid that it’s not gonna be the best that it can be and then you second guess every single step that you make, when it was probably good enough — I shouldn’t say good enough — it was fantastic 8 years ago.

“But then the crippling second guessing of yourself sets in and that psychology and that spiral you get in, it can be extremely daunting. And you can actually not even feel it happening. All of a sudden you wake up and it’s 13 years later. The hard part is accepting the fact that maybe you’re not as important as you think you are and you should probably just get on with it.”

Keenan also discussed his relative lack on involvement in the earlier stages of the songwriting process and whether that is more of a recent development or the way the band has always functioned. “I would say way more so now,” he said. “Because you have four strong personalities all fighting for space. So over the years I’ve had to just step out of the room just to let them fight it out. Because just to have another opinion in the room; If you think it’s gridlocked now, to have a fourth arrogant person in the room is not gonna help anybody. So, you have to understand when there’s too many chefs and just step out. Let them get there and then step in and do your magic when they’re done.”

Tool recently announced a big North American fall tour with Killing Joke — see the full itinerary here.