First off, I want to tell all of you who sent e-mails asking me to say "happy birthday" to Maynard for you that I did so at his party on Tuesday night. Mission accomplished, people. Since I couldn't possibly remember all of your names, I wrote them down and read each one to the birthday boy at his house. This took awhile, but I think it really meant at lot to Maynard. Actually, I thought I saw tears in those puppy eyes. I must have scored Brownie points for taking the time to write down each one, cause afterwards, he took me outside to look at his property and told me to go take a hike! We should do the same thing for Danny whose birthday is coming up in May. But, before that, how about some birthday greetings for my sister-in-law, Victoria, who celebrates her **th on April 25. Vickey, another important cog in the Tool machine.

Before we begin in earnest, it seems like there's something I'm forgetting. Something that I was going to discuss in this issue. Damn, I just can't remember what it was... OH, that's it! I was going to say something about the NEW TOOL... video. Well, I went down to have a look-see while they were still shooting "Schism" and, without giving anything way, I remember thinking somewhat sadly how "hell is going to be a bit of a disappointment to Adam." Okay, in other news: Look for DANNY C. to appear on the cover of June's (on stands now) MODERN DRUMMER magazine. Also, look for JUSTIN C. to appear on the cover of the next issue of BASS PLAYER magazine. And I think both Adam and Justin are featured in the next GUITAR WORLD magazine.


Speaking of magazines, while shooting an ad for Paiste that is to appear in the next issue of Modern Drummer, something interesting (and potentially disastrous) happened to Danny and the crew. They were on location in the California desert, waiting for the "magic" hour when the sunset painted the cliffs serving as a backdrop when Danny heard what sounded like a hellish tambourine among the rocks on which he was standing, posing for the camera. This turned out to be a Mojave Green rattlesnake, diamond-patterned and all, making its annoyance known to all present. Hard to believe isn't it - the extremes those guys in Creed would go to thwart the upcoming Tool tour. Just kidding. To tell you the truth, I heard a song on the radio the other day by Creed that I really liked. It was called "Riders of the Storm." Although I thought the vocals could have been better, I had no idea they were such good songwriters. Turn the other cheek, boys. Eventually, the rattler moved on, and the photographer got his shot. But, if Danny looks a bit unnerved in the ad, you'll know why. With Danny's luck, even had he been bitten (the neurotoxic venom of the Mojave Green being potentially deadly), there probably would have been a group just around the corner on a training exercise to instruct those how to treat the victims of a rattlesnake bite. I was once with him when he ran out of gas on a busy Southern California freeway. Amazingly, he was able to cost through several lanes of traffic onto the shoulder.


Before he could say ****! there was a tap on his window. Danny rolled down the window to find a man in a uniform, not unlike those worn by petroleum transfer engineers (i.e. gas station attendants) asking if he needed some gas. Seemingly out of no where, he had pulled up behind us in a tow truck, part of a new California program in which these guys patrolled the freeways, giving FREE (yes free) gas to anyone who ran out. This, explained the man, was the first day of the program. That lucky mother****** I thought. Danny's luck does not seem to hold up in the month of April, however. At least not when I'm around him. Last week, after walking out of a bookstore with a vellum-bound treasure we were given jaywalking tickets by a motorcycle officer. The conversation went something like this:

DANNY ... Can't you just give us a warning?

MOTORCYCLE COP Well, why should I do that?

DANNY You could do it just to be cool.

MOTORCYCLE COP (Writing the ticket) Well I guess I'm not going to be cool.

DANNY So you're going to be a dick, instead - -

MOTORCYCLE COP Sir, have I not treated you with respect?

DANNY I'm just pissed because I just had ten thousand dollars of gear stolen - -

MOTORCYCLE COP (the dick) Sir, did I steal your stuff?

DANNY No, but if the police didn't waste their time on jaywalking tickets, they might have more time to find my stolen shit - -

BLAIR (Taking a line from The Big LaBowski) Have you got any leads?

Many years ago, also in the month of April, Danny and I got another ticket. This time, we had the dubious honor of being the first people to be arrested behind the borders at Area 51. The "camo dudes", as the goons of a satellite government are called, had detained us for "trespassing" on the grounds of the mysterious installation in the small hours of April 24, 1995. The viewpoints of "Freedom Ridge" and "White Sides" were closed on April 10th and we had no prior warning that the land-grab had gone through. (NOTE: the powers that be had withdrawn an additional 3,972 acres of "public entry land" which included the two unobstructed viewpoints of the top-secret research area.) After being searched as "Iraqi spies", we were made to lie on the desert floor by members of the security forces who pointed machine guns at us until the local sheriff arrived. Around the perimeters of the secret base, as many people now know, the signs warn in red letters that the "use of deadly force is authorized." I wonder what would have happened if Danny had called these guys dicks. In a future issue, I will tell the complete story of our trip to "Dreamland", one of some 35 I made to the area, many before Area 51 became known as America's most popular secret base.

One of you sent me an interesting e-mail. Basically, you wanted to know if there were ever any humorous moments in the studio during the recording of LATERALUS. Although I wasn't present for most of the sessions, I was able to observe a few things that put a smile on my face at least. The first of these was during the tracking of the drums for THE PATIENT (which at the time, I remember, was called RED). This was back in October, and was the first song to be recorded. Candles had been lit in the spacious room at Cello Studio, and black lights bathed the talisman painted on a large circular board (see the October newsletter) erected for the occasion. I was seated with David Bottrill at the board, peering through the glass as Adam and Justin began to play the somber strains that comprise the songs intro. Suddenly I heard a loud; off beat crunching sound over the studio monitors. Looking to my right, I saw Maynard in his glass booth, an elfish grin on his face as he munched potato chips into the microphone.

On another occasion, during some down time, I walked into the lounge area to find Adam, Buzz (King Buzzo) and few friends watching a video of a Mexican Charreada (rodeo). In this violent spectacle (set to mariachi-style music for the purpose of the video), macho types who probably swallowed one to many mescal worms were attempting to ride wild bulls. One by one they were tossed like straw cowboy hat- wearing rag dolls, only to be gored and stomped on by the angry beasts. Necks were snapped like stale chorros with no ambulances or medical personnel in sight. Instead, the injured were merely fanned with towels by their drunken friends. The more seriously injured (who were often unconscious) were treated with liberal amounts of Tecate beer (tallboys) poured down their throats. From time to time an icon in the form of a flaming skull would appear on the screen, indicating that the rider in this particular clip had died as a result of his injuries.


After watching this carnage asada for about a half and hour, I began to get jaded. In fact, I found myself jonesing for more flaming skull icons. I was thinking that to make it more exciting - to really impress the senoritas in the stands - after being bucked off the wild bull and scrambling to safety under the fence, it would be great if there were scorpions or a few rattlers in the pit as another test of manhood. What's funny about this you ask? Nothing, but what else can you do but laugh at such ignorance?

I also found it a little humorous to watch producer David Bottrill rolling in his chair, fixing the occasional "bum" note with lightning-quick speed, all the while announcing that this would cost the particular band member an additional five dollars! To me, the funniest moment also involved David. This occurred on the last night of mixing at Larabee. The band had been working for several months now and everyone was ready to get to the finish line (where bottles of champagne were waiting), probably none more so than David who was anxious to finish the session as he needed to pack up his gear and catch a plane to London early in the morning. The only thing standing in his way was to have Danny listen to the mix to see if he wanted to make any changes. Indicating that he was now ready for him, David called into the lounge where Danny was slumped on a couch, watching a tennis match (between Venus Williams and some other woman). As David continued to call, his patience waning, Danny looked over at me and smiled. He'd already invested too much time watching the match, he shrugged, not to see who would win. To truly appreciate this, you had to be there.


Q: What do I have to do to get in contact with UFOs, fairy-folk and ghosts, etc?

A: This one's simple. For ghosts, use a ouiji board. For UFOS, a laser-pointer. Simply shine it up at the starry night sky like Dr. Greer and his CSETI group does to make contact with aliens. As for fairy-folk, whip up a batch of Maynard's chocolate-chip cookies. At least one of these suggestions is guaranteed to work every time.

Q: I have a question concerning the spirituality of the members of Tool. What exactly are their beliefs? I'm not trying to be nosy, but I am just curious, because I've seen Enochian symbols, demonic sigils, pentagrams, Enochian language as one of the Lateralus song titles, one song named after a form of meditation (Merkaba), and several other things along those lines. One could assume that they're Pagans or Mages, but I want to know for sure...

A: All of the members of the band are members of a magical fraternity known as The EXSULTED HERMETIC ORDER OF THE PAISLEY DOODLEBUG. Want to join? No, seriously, I like to think of them as explorers, open-minded with varying interests. What exactly are their beliefs? The John Gribbin quote, "I do not believe anything" has been adopted by R.A.W. to mean belief is the death of intelligence. As Wilson explains in his "Cosmic Trigger": "As soon as one believes a doctrine of ANY SORT or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence." Again, I think Austin Osman Spare may have said it best: "In a universe that defies description, all systems of belief can only be false." Get the idea?

Q: I heard the world will come to an end during the year 2014 (I heard this on Oprah nonetheless!) What are your thoughts?

A: If I was watching Oprah, that would be way too long to wait.

Here's one of my favorites: Maynard is an asshole. When he came to Nashville with APC he made fun of us by getting one side of the crowd to say "hee" and the other side to say "haw." The bad part is that the ignorant fucks did it. Yes, Maynard appears to be a very sarcastic, unserious prick, hence why I have so much respect for him (that and the fact that he's a great singer and makes great music with two great bands... As I understand it, drummer Josh's father was a performer on the show HEE HAW. Nevertheless, it was still genius.

Q: Pardon my American bred homophobic French when I say, who really gives a fuck about Maynard's chocolate chip cookies? I want to know his favorite color and no one will tell me! It's frustrating and I'm having trouble sleeping. And what kind of name is Blair? Is that supposed to be some kind of nineties unisex plot to undermine traditional American values. So you are in some way responsible for the delay of Lateralus? That takes the cake goddamnit! I must inform you that due to your selfish lackadaisical attitude I'm calling Tank Abbott and he's going to kick your sex-magick-know-it-all-ass! Now that I've buttered you up... how about that green sauce recipe?

A: Listen very carefully (with headphones) to what is being said under the music to the Tool version of NO QUARTER. These are definitely instructions being given here.

Q: Does Justin like ice in his drink and if so is it the cube shape or the other Half Oval kind of ice? Also, does he like it crushed or solid? Same goes for everyone in the band.

A: Being English, Justin doesn't care much for ice cubes of any sort. Danny, however, likes his to made into complex geometrical shapes with... If you're going to waste my time then I'm going to waste yours.

Q: et in arcadia ego... bake (or maybe that's EGGO...) hmm) so I have one word that will once and for all clear up the mystery of what happened to Justin in his back yard on that fateful night: Keebler elves... cookies... the finest ingredients... it all adds up. He said the object was hovering just above the trees - maybe it WAS a tree... a hollow tree... It's all covered in Manly P. Hall's "Secret Ingredients of the Ages: a Masonic, Rosicrucian and qaballistic guide to symbolic baked goods.

So perhaps Maynard doesn't MAKE the world's best chocolate chip cookies after all, eh? Maybe there's a higher power at work... perhaps he is channeling them, or the elves through their subliminal marketing campaigns have caused him to align his home in such a way as to receive the recipe subliminally. Does his oven occupy a tetrahedrically significant place in his home - say at 19.5 degrees in relation to the fridge? Or perhaps he ritualistically sets the oven AT 195 degrees... stunning. That would require a 23 hour baking cycle if salt were not involved (salt, as you know, raises the freezing point depression of any substance, thus significantly impacting time to maximum crispness) It all adds up I tell ya!

Not really a question - more like satirizing the satirist, but I like it. Wonder how Richard feels about it, though?

Q: Hey Blair, great job on the newsletters could you put something in there about faaip de oiad and what the relevance of the song is to the "voice of god." Is it Maynard doing a Charlton Heston impersonation?

A: Actually the "Voice of God" is a sample of a defective or, perhaps, evolved machine - a reverb unit or other device which has intrigued Danny for many years. The sound, whatever it is, is communicating with an EMS SYNTHI AKS as Danny plays his drums. The frantic voice in the background is from a cassette tape I had of a caller to the Art Bell show. The caller claimed to be an ex-employee of Area 51 who, as a whistle-blower, was now in fear for his life. Within minutes of making the call, Art's show was abruptly knocked off the air along with several other broadcasts that shared the same satellite link. (NOTE: on the anniversary of this bizarre incident, almost to the hour, Art's signal was once again tampered with, causing the show to be temporarily knocked off the air. This time Mr. Bell had on a guest who was discussing secret NASA transmissions with regards to apparent UFOS). Coincidence?











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