TALES FROM THE LOFT
With deafeningly loud music peeling the Lissitsky murals right of the brick walls, Danny and I and another bored soul were searching for anything of interest in the large cardboard boxes of Tool’s fan mail that had been sitting at the loft for several months now. Although the various-sized envelopes had all been previously opened (screened) by the band’s management, they nevertheless might have missed something of value, such as collectble peyote buttons, “Wise” brand potato chips, or even a petrified “16th Digit of the Moon” kala. We weren’t having much luck until Danny read a letter from a kid in the Pacific Northwest who included a photo of himself together with a prized pig named “Dirty Mary” that he had raised from a… piglet (I guess they’re called*) and had recently sold for $1.29 a pound. At first Danny thought this was a joke, and even thought that he knew whom the perpetrator might be. Still, he decided to call the phone number that had been provided, even though, as I reminded him, it was about 3:30 in the morning. After a few rings, the kid’s mom picked up. “Hi, is Ryan there?” Danny asked. “Just a minute” was her friendly reply. Seconds later the guy was on the phone. “Hey man, this is Danny Carey. Was that really your pig?” “Yeah” was the nonplussed response. Well, after talking for about 45 minutes about raising pigs and other matters of mutual interest, Danny began to experience problems with the phone (before hanging up, however, he gave Ryan his home phone number and invited him to the next Tool show). Concerned now more about his broken phone/answering machine, as he removed the screws and opened the plastic casing, dozens upon dozens of roaches poured out and scattered across the counter.
* I don’t partake of the pig, and you’ll soon know why.
As the fates would have it, Frater Xaphan (as I now refer to Ryan), soon became really close friends with Danny, Adam, and Maynard, spending a lot of time (even living) at all of their houses, and traveling with them. Besides being highly intelligent and very athletic (he possibly could have pitched in the majors), Frater Xaphan also turned out to be a natural occultist, able to grasp the meanings of esoteric symbols and concepts, and quickly assimilate the abstruse literature (rest assured that all the roaches was merely a coincidence). Therefore, he was very involved in the design and painting of several of Danny’s ensigiled talismanic boards. And although I’m sure that the members of Tool read all of their fan mail, Ryan’s was one of the few (other than e-mail) that a band member has personally responded to. Well, besides the photo sent from the girl that claimed to have worked for Hooters in Atlantis. What was her name again?.. Lemuria?
Up until this point, I hadn’t really listened to that much Tool, and was only familiar with the song “Opiate” and Undertow’s “Sober” – a song that Maynard was instrumental (no pun intended) in writing, picking up Paul’s bass at a jam session at the loft one day and playing the now famous riff for the other band members. However, while driving through the Southwestern desert by myself, I put in the “Aenima” CD and found myself really liking it. I was particularly digging “Third Eye” in the barren surroundings until I got stuck behind a truck that was hauling hogs. Now, this was a bright, terribly hot afternoon, and saliva from the living cargo was splattering on my windshield. I then made the mistake of turning on my wipers, which only smeared the viscid, ropy, mucilaginous stuff into a foul, stomach-churning, slick white layer. And I used to enjoy BLTs. How about you?.. Anyway, with my new Tool break though, others were no longer disgustipated because I didn’t know a certain tune. Before this, rather than pushit, sometimes part of me just wanted to crawl away. (Ah, so that’s why Ryan sent the photo of his award winning pig!)
Besides Danny’s close friends, another fixture at the loft in the “Aenima” days was his younger brother Dale Carey. Not only a good musician in his own right, Dale was also a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He also held the distinction of being the only person who could do more pull-ups at the loft than Danny, whose record he broke one memorable night.* Because of his wide-ranging knowledge, I would often try to trip him up by saying things like, “I didn’t know that Louis Pasteur also invented chocolate milk”, or “Did you know that Marie Curie came up with the original idea for the Slinky?” Or even, “Besides the cotton gin, did you know that Eli Whitney also invented a stationary bicycle-powered shower?” Most of the time Dale wouldn’t bite. He’d just glare at me and take another drink of Budweiser. When the band was on the road, Dale became the loft’s sentinel, although I seem to remember a prized guitar or something having gone missing after one tour. Not to worry, though, Danny had found – literally stumbled over - a better one that had been left in an alleyway by someone on that same tour.
* Danny recently informed me that while it is true that on one particular night his brother did more pull ups than he, that he (Danny) still held the over all record for the most ever pull ups at the loft.
One night Danny introduced me to some bokachoda named Aloke Dutta who had recently moved from Austin, Texas. Supposedly, Aloke could do things with his fingers that seemed inconceivable. He could also play the tabla (i.e. Bengali bongos) pretty well, or so I was told. Great, with Aloke hanging out perhaps he’d give me some tips on how to improve my chicken vindaloo. “Add some salt, fucker” he suggested in his Bengali accent, before lighting up another Marlboro. With the vindaloo thus perfected, it was now fit to be served to a king. Well, how about a member of Queen. Yep, at the risk of name-dropping, Brian May once broke bread with us during a vindaloo feast, although this was at Danny’s… house. Yes, you read that correctly. With the success of “Aenima”, and a lot of touring, Danny was finally going to move out of the loft and into an… apartment. (Of course a chick was involved.) But not just any apartment – Danny was going to be living in the historic Ravenswood – the prestigious former home of Mae West. He wasn’t there long, though (and not because the building is haunted), only for several months while his newly purchased house was being given a thorough face-lift. (Of course a chick was involved.)
Meanwhile back at the loft: With Damien Storm’s “Zekey Zombie” blasting on the stereo, I thought that I heard someone knocking at the door. Opening it, I saw a young dude standing there with a big grin on the face. “Do you want to look at some tits?” I asked him. “Sure” he said. “Good, because we’re going to hit Jumbo’s in about 9 minutes.” The guy introduced himself as Danny’s cousin, Paul Vilas Jones, a story that he’s stuck with ever since (though I’m still trying to corroborate it). “Great, but that doesn’t give you much time to clean the slime out of the Pepsi cooler”, I told him. “Ha Ha… Really?” “Well, how many singles do you think you’ll need while looking at these tits?”
I’m not sure why I stopped at the loft on that day, but as I approached the closed door I could hear Tool playing inside. Though the sound was a bit muffled, I was immediately taken by a particular bassline that Justin was playing over and over. Not wanting to interrupt them, I waited until they took a break. Once inside, after checking the Dry-Erase board, I saw that the song was tentatively called “Red” (Later this was changed to “The Patient.”) Watching Justin’s skillful use of the bass’s tone control to create a wah effect, I was reminded of a night in Las Vegas not that long ago. My brother and I were staying in a luxury suite at the HardRock hotel and casino, and Justin and some friends visiting from England were partying with us. We had the spacious room’s entertainment center turned up to the maximum ‘HardRock’ volume while listening to a rather psychedelic rendition of “All Along the Watchtower.” When the song ended, Justin asked, “Who is this that you’re playing?” Seriously? I was a bit dumbfounded. Was he only kidding, or could it be possible that Justin didn’t know who Jimi Hendrix was? “Jimi Hendrix”, my bother replied. “I really like it!” said the new Tool bassist. Whatever the case, Justin soon became an avid (to put it mildly) Hendrix fan, as anyone on the band’s tour bus can attest to. Some nights a Hendrix recording would play for hours on a loop until someone – usually Danny – would insist on playing something else.
Although I immediately took a liking to “The Patient”, the same couldn’t be said for the other jam tracks that Tool was working on for the band’s next record. I recall on numerous occasions Danny playing these lengthy, partially written songs on his house and car stereo, not necessarily to get feedback, but most likely for the purpose of tweaking his drum parts. And although they were complex musical journeys performed by excellent players, there was nevertheless something missing. Frankly, I didn’t think the material was nearly as good as the tracks on their previous album “Aenima.” Again, something was missing. Well, DUH! What was missing was Maynard. With the addition of his vocal melodies and lyrics, the arrangements had become transformed into something truly wonderful. Now, it sounded like Tool. However, with that said, it is my personal opinion that in order to do his vocal magic, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have the right music in the first place in which to create and lay down the melodies over. (Duh, again.) In other words, if ever there were a band in which all of the contributors were equal in importance, it would be Tool. As it turned out, “Lateralus” quickly became my favorite Tool recording (With “10,000 Days” running a very close second).
As for track #13, “Faaip De Oiad”, which in the Enochian language translates as “Voice(s) of God”, there’s an interesting story behind it that I’d like to share with you (though not in its entirety). Originally, Danny’s segue on Lateralus was going to be a much more elaborate production, complete with Enochian verses, Calls, etc. (These were later published in my book “IJYNX” as” Da’ath of Babalon”). While working on the ever so important correct pronunciation of these Enochian verses (again, for Danny’s segue) at my parents’ house in Southern Illinois over the X-mas holidays, at some point I fell asleep, only to be awakened by an incredibly intense ‘dream’ around 4:00 am (or thereabout). This ‘dream’ was of something that I can’t really describe, other than to say that it appeared as if some kind of strangely complex bio-machine was juggling lightning-fast colorful orbs of energy. The next day (while back in Los Angeles and listening to Art Bell) I learned that in the early hours of January 5th, 2000 multiple police officers witnessed a huge, silent black triangular craft floating over a number of small Illinois towns – including (it would later be revealed) my parents’ neighborhood in O’Fallon, Illinois. This was the now famous “Illinois Triangle.”
But, getting back to Danny’s segue for Laturalus. Due to time constraints and other factors, the original idea was eventually scratched. In the meantime, Danny had this great sample of some defective reverb unit in the loft that he had saved, knowing that someday he would use it on a recording. One night while I was at home listening to Art Bell’s “Coast To Coast AM” radio program, for some reason I switched on the radio’s cassette recorder. And that’s when it happened – the frantic call from this paranoid fellow who claimed to be a ex-employee at Area 51 and was now divulging what was really going on at the secret military installation until a major satellite outage knocked him (and the show) off the air. Taking the tape to the loft the next night so that Danny could hear it, he was not only blown away, but also decided to use the Art Bell excerpt in the dramatic “Faaip De Oiad.” But that’s not the end of the story. After the piece had been recorded, a few of us were listening to it at the loft when someone smelled something burning. Walking into the back room, we could see that the Testor’s model kit of the S-4 “Sport Model” alien spacecraft that was suspended from the ceiling by wires had caught on fire. Somebody had moved a lit candleholder to close to it, which melted the plastic in a certain area before catching on fire. With the flames extinguished, where the plastic had melted, one could now see the anti-matter reactor and gravity amplifiers inside. (You could also see the small alien figures inside that I had painted in cheesy 1950s sci-fi style sparkling space uniforms). The fire was just another coincidence, I’m sure, but if left unattended, the damn thing could have burned down the loft. I’m glad that we didn’t decide to go to Jumbo’s that night…
Ah, Jumbo’s. After a Lakers basketball game, Danny, Adam, Justin and I were returning to the loft in a hired limo when someone thought that it would be a good idea to stop at Jumbo’s Clown Room first. While having a few beers and enjoying the burlesque (yes, the girl was… dancing to “Sober”), Justin set a wad of money including a $20.00 dollar bill onto the stage while searching for some singles. Before Adam (or was it Danny?) could pick it up, the… dancer quickly (nay, instantly) snatched it along with her other tips (all of which were singles). When someone said that Justin had just set the money there while looking for singles, the… dancer replied by informing us “Any fucking thing on the fucking stage is fucking mine to fucking take!” To which I calmly responded: “Miss, we totally understand that it’s your money. But is it really necessary to use that kind of language?” For a second everything went silent. She then replied with an emphatic “FUCK YOU!” Time to head back to the loft…
TO BE CONTINUED…