"Maybe I'll just come out in my birthday suit," says Tool's James Maynard James Keenan, attempting to figure out how to shock fans during the band's upcoming summer tour. "A 46-year-old naked dude running around onstage. Lets see how that goes over."
Keenan is gearing up for the prog-metal band's 16-city summer jaunt, which kicks off June 19th in New Orleans. The tour includes two stops at Colorado's Red Rocks, a southern run and dates in Canadian cities the band hasn't played in years. "The Canadian audiences get it," says Keenan. "You don't have to repeat yourself in Canada. I say it once and they get it — unlike Boise, where you gotta say it a couple times."
If the summer shows are anything like Tool's epic performance at last year's All Points West, expect a multimedia spectacle. Last time out, Keenan and his mohawk emerged shirtless from a riser behind the rest of the band and massive screens projected darkly arresting images — fire, bulging eyes and cryptic skulls during hits like 1993's "Sober" and 2001's "Lateralus" "There might be all new visuals," he says, adding, "I've been practicing my power slides watching Bruce Springsteen."
While the band isn't touring behind any new material — its last album was 2006's 10,000 Days — the frontman says Tool are quietly working on a new disc that'll be released "when it's ready." But they're considering testing out some new material live. "We're always writing," Keenan says. "If it comes together, yeah, you'll hear some new stuff. If it's not ready, you won't."
Keenan knows the five-year gaps between Tool albums frustrate fans, but says there's an explanation for the timing. "We don't wait," he says. "That's the misconception. Most bands get into a contract and are forced to put out a third record before they're ready. And generally speaking, that third record always ends up being about the road, a lawsuit or the press because they don't have anything to talk about. They haven't lived their lives."
The frontman also revealed he is working on a fourth LP for massively successful side project A Perfect Circle, their first disc since 2004's Emotive. "We've got some riffs and some music. It's just basically playing it over and over again while driving and waiting for things to fall into place."