Whether he's playing guitar or creating art, Tool's Adam Jones delights in defying conventions, so it's surprising to hear him talk about his rather straightforward love of pro wrestling: Simply put, he's looking to be entertained.
"Whether I'm watching wrestling or listening to music, I'm really just out to enjoy the experience," he says. "I always try to look at the world like I'm 12 years old."
That point of view has served Jones well throughout his career, and he's not about to change things up just for WWE. So even though he's hung with Triple H, emailed Vince McMahon and popped the question at the Royal Rumble, Jones prefers to avoid the backstage rumors and messageboard conspiracy theories that go hand-in-hand with following wrestling these days. Instead, he's a fan of sports entertainment, the kind of guy who says he doesn't have a favorite wrestler (even though his wife does).
But that doesn't make him any less of a die-hard. Recently, Jones spoke with Rolling Stone about his lifelong love of pro wrestling, why performing at SummerSlam was more nerve-wracking than headlining Bonnaroo and what it's like to shake hands with Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
So, when did you first become a fan of pro wrestling?
I lived in the suburbs of Chicago, in Libertyville, so I didn't get too much exposure to it except through UHF channels. I would watch some local stuff, but they would come and go so often that I don't really remember what I was watching – it's like how a record label changes hands all the time; I can't even tell you what record label we're on right now! I grew up with WWF, now WWE – it was one of my outlets; I was into horror movies and creepy comics, but also sports, so wrestling kind of had it all. And a lot of times there was blood!
As I got older, my interests expanded to include makeup effects and music, but wrestling truly makes me feel like a little kid. For a long time I kept it personal. You know, I wouldn't tell people I was into it – but now that I'm older, I don't give a shit what people think about me. A lot of my friends give me shit – "Why don't you watch UFC? It's real" – but I tell them, "Look, what these guys do is exciting! It's entertainment!" No one is going to hit anyone with a chair in UFC.
I saw you recently attended an NXT taping in Orlando – do you prefer that product to WWE's Raw or SmackDown?
I really love NXT. There's a great vibe, and they put on a great show. In a way, it reminds me of PWG [Pro Wrestling Guerrilla], where the wrestling is great and the audience participation is next level. I've never been to any music event or sporting event that has the same vibe as a PWG show. And NXT compares to that. I've always admired Vince McMahon, because he's doing what he loves to do, and now Paul [Levesque, aka Triple H] has taken over some of the business in the company, including NXT, and he's gone back to the roots of wrestling. We were playing in Florida, and he invited me out to a taping and it was great. My whole point of view in life is to pretend I'm 12 years old, so whether it's listening to music or looking at art or going to the movies or sporting events, I really do enjoy the experience.
Tonight's #NXT tapping was EPIC. Want to thank EVERYONE involved. I'm totally floating above the ground. And here's the deal - I can't begin to tell you how much I admire this guy* Very inspiring friend, leader & entertainer (on stage & behind the scenes). Over the years He has shared advice & wisdom that has benefitted our business & made me a better person. Another Hero that keeps that fire burning inside me. ~He's kind of a big muscle'tastic version of #Yoda . bless you #TripleH https://instagram.com/p/BBEWlRVvwJk/
Who are some of your favorite wrestlers in NXT?
That's the thing; I don't really have favorite wrestlers. When I see a guy who is up-and-coming, that's really exciting, but I really enjoy the vibe more than anything. I can say, "Randy Savage is the best shit-talker ever," or "CM Punk is great," and on and on, but it's hard for me to pin down one wrestler.
So you don't nitpick the storylines, or complain about your favorite wrestlers being buried by WWE? I always thought that was part of being a wrestling fan –
Honestly, no. It's like when I go see a movie. My friends won't even ask me what I think about it, because I always just say, "It was good!" People will criticize everything about it, but I'm always like, "Hey, it's better than your movie." Everyone is so jaded, but when I was 12, I wasn't analyzing everything. It's like, "Hey, just be entertained for a while. Not everything needs to be Star Wars." I love it when they find some weird guy from Mexico, or, you know, bring back some really famous guy – like when Shane McMahon came back, that was a great moment! I'm friends with Lita, and when Shane-O Mac showed up on Raw, she was like "Did you see Shane? That was so great!" I just really enjoy the things I like, including wresting, because they all inspire me to be creative.
You performed 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at SummerSlam; how did that compare to playing a show with Tool?
Doing the national anthem at SummerSlam was honestly the most frightening thing I've ever done. [Tool] played Bonnaroo, and there were like 800,000 people there – it was a fucking sea of people, and I was like, "No problem! Let's do it!" But going out on live TV, at a WWE event being broadcast all over the world, where the guys behind the scenes aren't really directing you, they're kind of just shoving you out like "OK, go, go, go," it was hardcore, man. Plus, you know, it was in L.A., Billy Gibbons was there, all these famous people were there; it was something.
I read that you had to email a demo to Vince McMahon before he'd let you perform. Does that mean you still have his email address? And does he use AOL?
Oh, I have his phone number we talk all the time! [laughs] No, Paul and a few other people helped set that up; they were like, "Vince wants to hear it," so I did a demo and sent it to Vince, and it was, like, so impressive to even have that distant communication with him. A couple years later I was backstage, and I ran into Vince and took a picture and thanked him for all the free entertainment over the years, and he was really intimidating! I was kind of scared of him! He's a good guy, for sure, but you can tell he doesn't take shit from anybody.
And then a few years later, you got engaged at the Royal Rumble – what did your wife, Korin, think about that at the time?
When I first met her, she wasn't into wrestling. She said the same thing everyone says, "Yeah, but it's fake." But now, she's a fan – she loves the Miz.
The way the engagement happened was through Paul. He's a huge music fan, and a really cool guy. People think a lot of those guys are knuckleheads – and some of them are – but he's really fucking sharp and a cool guy. And I know his right-hand man, and I told him my idea, and he was like, "Oh, I gotta run it by Paul, and he's gotta ask Vince." So we went to the show and I didn't know if it was going to happen until probably 10 minutes before the show started, and they came over with the camera and were like, "Hey, Adam, you're going to be on the screen, so wave to the people." But then the screen said "Will You Marry Me?" and I gave my wife a ring – it wasn't even the real ring, it was a cosmetic one – and she said, "Yes!" and it was fucking excellent. And then they start the Royal Rumble, and my wife goes, "Wait, was that real or part of the show?"
Will you be attending WrestleMania 32 next month?
Unfortunately, no – because it's going to be epic. There's going to be, like, 100,000 people there – the biggest sports entertainment crowd ever. You would be crazy not to watch it. If I didn't have my kid and my family, I would be there. Plus, we're writing a record, so we've gotta get that done, too.