top of page

Tool - Undertow

Tool's debut album was released on April 6, 1993, so here are some facts you may have not known about this mighty album called "Undertow":

1. Some say that this album is one of the factors that kept Metal alive at a time when the grunge scene was in its heyday and the friendly punk-pop seemed on the horizon. This album brought a more significant line and also had content and not just metal style.

2. Half of the album's songs were recorded during the sessions for the band's first EP "Opiate", which was released a year earlier and lasted only four days.

3. The band's guitarist Adam Jones would store his amp head in the fridge !! He heard from one of Fender's engineers who build amplifiers, that they store the unused amplifier parts in the refrigerator in order to preserve its components. Since Adam had a 76-year-old Marshall vintage amp that was responsible for such a special sound of his guitar and could not be found, he would store it in the refrigerator to preserve it.

4. Singer Maynard James Keenan said the lyrics for the album were written with a lot of criticism and response to what he was experiencing from the music and film industry at the time. On the one hand, he experienced the film industry while working as a production worker in Hollywood films and tore his ass off while disgracefully disrespecting small money, and on the other hand he tried to make his way with his new band in Los Angeles clubs which were dominated by Hair Metal bands.

5. In favor of the recordings of the last song on the album "Disgustipated", James wanted to produce the sounds of pianos that were shot by shotguns, sounds delusional? The performance was even more...

The band members purchased two second-hand pianos and placed them in the parking lot of the Grand Master Studio. James simply took a shotgun and fired several bullets at the pianos and recorded the sounds. It is said that there are still holes in the parking area from the bullets from the shooting.

6. But that was not enough because later the members of the band simply smashed the pianos with the help of heavy hammers. They were also joined by "Rollins Band" guitarist Chris Haskett, who was dubbed "Sledge Hammer".

7. The origin of the strange story told at the end of the song "Disgustipated" is in a message left by James' landlord on his answering machine. He even received credit for this on the album cover: "phone message: bill the landlord".

8. Anyone who holds the album's CD in its American version knows that the song "Disgustipated" comes after 59 blank tracks, so it appears as track 69 on the CD.

9. The length of the "track" is 15:47 minutes but the song itself is played from 2:33 to 6:45 while the rest of the track includes recordings of noises, speeches, crickets, and of course the message from the answering machine. And this is the internal division of the track:

Percussion and recording of animals - 0:00 - 1:10

Announcer - 1:11 - 2:32

The "song" includes the piano shooting - 2:33 - 6:45

Crickets - 6:46 - 13:50

Message on the answering machine - 13:51 - 15:47

(Photo: Gie Knaeps)

10. For those who are wondering what the title of the song "4*" means, then James explained that it stems from the fact that the anus is four degrees warmer than the vagina. The lyrics of the song on the other hand are not about sex but about the process of emotional opening.

11. The line in the opening song "Intolerance" - repeated like a mantra "Lie, cheat, and steal" is influenced by the code of honor of the West Point Military Academy, which states: "I will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do". It is the premise of the song that whoever sits idly by as others commit crimes is just as bad as the criminal himself.

12. Right from the start, bassist Paul D’Amour wanted to be a guitarist and not a bassist. While working on this album his desire to switch to guitar was overcome and he asked the band to bring a bass player so that he could switch to guitar. The band members vehemently opposed introducing a new member to the lineup and Paul was forced to stay with the bass. In addition to that, he also tried to tune the band to a heavier sound than the one they wanted. Both of these factors eventually led to his dismissal while working on this album.

13. The song "Bottom" has a section of Spoken Words performed by Henry Rollins. James originally wrote the text and was supposed to do it himself, but when Henry happened to be in the studio he saw the text and wrote some of his own. They recorded the two sections but since Henry's section worked better, his lyrics were the ones that got into the song at the end.

14. The band deliberately used distorted animation in the two music videos that accompanied the album, "Sober" and "Prison Sex". James said that at that time the music videos on MTV were always around the band itself, about how it looked and played and hence the viewers would project on the song and the character of the band. In order to avoid the appearance of the band members affecting the viewers, they used distorted animation.

15. The song "Sober" was written about a friend of one of the band members who was an artist but was only able to function at his best when he was on drugs. Guitarist Adam Jones noted that the song did not come to criticize those who take drugs, but did take responsibility for what happens if they become addicted to them.

16. The obvious interpretation of the lyrics of the song "Prison Sex" is that it deals with child abuse. In early interviews, James talked about his lack of love for his stepfather, and the video could support this theory, yet it is only speculation.

17. The album cover was designed by Adam Jones who loves photos that on the one hand cause discomfort and on the other hand are beautiful. On the album cover, there is: A thin and naked man hugged by fat and naked woman, an X-ray of a man with a vibrator placed in the anus, and a shaved pig with the name of the album lying on forks. In light of the boycott of the retailers K-Mart & Walmart, the band released another version of the album with a white cover and a black caption informing the buyer that if he sends the application form inside the album he will receive the original cover in the mail at no cost.

18. By the way, the pig that appears on the album cover is that of guitarist Adam Jones.

19. At that time there was no use of the famous Pro Tools software and James said they had a very difficult time recording the album. When they worked on the EP everything flowed and worked very fast but when they went back to working on the songs and creating the album, they found that the extra preoccupation with the songs caused them more frustration and hard work.

20. The band members could not save all the versions they created for each and every song and so the last version played was the determining one. James said that in each version something was missing and each time they deleted and re-recorded and messed around a lot with each song would often take them out of balance and the destination they wanted to get to.

To listen to the album at: Spotify, Apple Music

Follow us on Facebook or Subscribe to our website

"Face/Off" - Israel's Rock Blog & Podcast


Enjoying the Blog? Subscribe to get it right to your mail!

Thank you !!

bottom of page