Whatever We Can Glean from a Black Sunray: An Interview with Tool’s Danny Carey
Oct 24, 2004
Author: James P. Bergman
DR: What influences your music? Not just musical influences, but others as well. Out of all of these, what are your most poignant and effective sources of inspiration? Where does Tool’s music come from?
DC: Normally it’s just whatever we can glean from a black sunray - that “darkness which is darker than darkness.”
DR: Danny, as a drummer, can you try to elaborate on what makes the drum such a magickal instrument?
DC: As the oldest instrument on the planet it was man’s first attempt at temporal order and ritual.
DR: Can you elaborate on some of the symbols that Tool displays during their live shows? Why are they displayed? Is there an intent behind their usage? Do they symbolize certain things or ideas?
DC: Contrary to what most people believe, the pantacle, not to be confused with pentacle, and other boards are not for the audience. They’re for us - for our protection and well-being. The symbols on my drums function in the same manner. They’re for my personal harmony and protection. It’s not about making a statement for others to take and run with.
DR: Magickal subjects are brought up all the time at the www.toolband.com website. Can you expound on your interests and beliefs regarding this voluminous subject? How did you first become drawn to the lantern of illuminations (magick)?
DC: I consider myself an explorer, and what better thing to explore than the human mind - to surf the dimensional channel. I was first drawn to magick one day in Kansas while watching the way my grandfather was whacking weeds. There was something strange about the way he made it all seem effortless. Also, I felt an inexplicable euphoria from the patterns he was making during what normally would have been a rather mundane task. Later I recognized these same patterns while observing a sword ritual performed by my father that was based on Renaissance traditions of Pythagorean geometry and Hermetic disciplines. I soon found myself captivated and with the same overwhelming sense of euphoria.
DR: Speaking of magickal topics and similarly related things, can you elaborate in any way that you choose to about each of the following subjects/people?
(A) The Kaballah?
DC: Maybe if we understood the 33rd Key, we could unify the Hebraic and Islamic traditions.
(B) Aleister Crowley
DC: As a student of Western esotericism I have read a lot of Crowley’s works. Those who study his writings shouldn’t lose sight of the concept of Agape.
(C) Satan? Were you kidding when you thanked him during your recent acceptance speech after accepting a Grammy award on behalf of Tool recently for “est Metal Performance”
DC: It’s no longer a secret that Tool signed a pact with the devil in order to sell more records, at least the word seems to have leaked out on a few so-called Christian websites that reviewed our music (or to be more accurate, the pro-social content of the lyrics). For his part, all Satan wanted was a simple thank you (that and our autographs) which I gave him. We didn’t have to sell our souls in fifty years time or give up anything else precious for that matter. People need to understand, this isn’t your great grandpa’s Satan - things have progressed since the “Dark Ages.” Now if only the rest of the world’s religions would get in touch with the times. Oh, and one other thing: 666 - 1080 - 2220.
DC:. If he really could turn water into wine then he’d be welcome at our Lodge meetings any time after 2:00 am.
(E) Mary Magdelena
DC: A perfect example of what the compilers/editors of the canonized Bible thought of the feminine principle.
(F) The Holy Grail?
DC: We’re not going to find it with ground-penetrating radar. Also, in grail romances like Parzival, it’s important to note that, at first, the scenery comes to Parzival and not the other way around.
(G) The Templars?
DC: Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.
DC: Well there’s Masonry and there’s Masonry. As for garden-variety Masonry, it’s a wonderful institution, filled with wonderful old men who would pull the hair from their heads in sheer terror if they really knew what it was all about. I mean, all those nice old men, in blue suits and white aprons, parading about and praying to Pagan gods. The Southern Baptist Convention hit the nail dead on the head with this one. Fortunately nobody ever listens to the SBC. Then there’s the Shrine. I mean, partying in Hollywood is nothing compared to a weekly meeting at the local Shrine. Those old guys really know how to throw down and throw up! In Blue Lodge Masonry it is said that a candidate has to “ride the goat” to made a Master Mason. Well, to become a Shriner you have to let the goat ride you!
DC: It depends whether or not we’re talking about pseudo-monarchy or Sangreal Kingship. If it’s church kingship we’re talking about - that is, a monarch who achieves his velvet coat via a church coronation by a Pope or other Christian leader, then I’m completely against it (even in France). However, if by monarchism you mean something akin to the Synarchist model - that is, if these ruling elite were genetically programmed for the job in accordance with the ancient grail code (i.e. their DNA was tweaked by the gods with the small "g" to enable them to serve others in an efficient, benevolent manner), then that might be a different story. It’s a difficult question - democratic verses elitist ideals. There’s something to say for both categories, however, I was raised in Kansas where we didn’t think much of kings, especially after they moved to Sacramento.
(J) The Catholic Church?
DC: Self-preservation at any cost. To borrow the title of a Crowley book: The world’s tragedy.
(K) Psychedelics as magickal tools?
DC: They may be important if we are to find a cure for the hallucination of death.
(L) Sir Francis Dashwood and the Hellfire Club?
DC: I’m curious to know if they ever discovered the secret to curing a hangover - besides to start drinking again, that is?
DR: The P.U.P Lodge that is spoken of at the Toolband.com website, what is it? Or can you divulge this without breaking some sort of oath?
DC: If I were to reveal anything about it, then who’d play drums for Tool? Does that answer your question?
DR: A member of the band wrote a play called Le Serpent Rouge. Who wrote this and what is his interpretation of the poem Le Serpent Rouge? Has it been published and is there any way that we can read it?
DC: Actually, that was Blair, a friend and writer for Toolband.com. He wrote a screenplay about a Santa Barbara surf-rebel who was the "chessboard king" of the Grail bloodline code-named The Red Serpent which is the correct title. The principle character grew up living the life of a typical laid-back California surfer, looking for the perfect wave between rounds of Coronas, unaware that there was something unique about his genetic profile that made him a target of rival secret societies ala the Priory of Sion who were looking for the treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau. In one of the script analyses he showed me, the guy had a problem with Blair connecting the Knights Templar with the Masons, saying that it didn’t hold up since the Templars “were devout Roman Catholics” and the Masons “were banned from the church as a secret society.” That’s Hollywood for you. I also remember that he was going to register the script with the Writers Guild on January 17. This was the day that the Northridge earthquake hit us, and Blair was staying in Woodland Hills at the time, just a few miles from the epicenter. Beware the kiss of the Templars.
DR: Is the band name “Tool” meant in any way to imply the mythical land of Thule?
DC: It is now. Thanks!
DR: Danny, from what I understand you are a voracious reader. Have any books changed your life? Which ones (if they did)? Do you have any books that you would like to recommend?
DC: Voyage en Kaleidoscope. According to the author of The Fulcanelli Phenomenon there are only supposed to be two copies in world, both kept under lock and key by serious students of alchemy. Yet I managed to find a copy in a book stall in Barstow of all places. All right, I’m kidding. Books I recommend include: The Temple In Man by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz. Outside the Circles of Time, The Stellar Lode and Beyond the Mauve Zone by Kenneth Grant. Anything by Szukalski and A.O.S. Ijynx (forth-coming) by BMB. The Qabalistic Tarot by Robert Wang. I am currently reading The Voudon Gnostic Workbook by Michael Bertiaux and am awaiting the publication of The Ninth Arch by Kenneth Grant.
DR: You guys seem to really appreciate the work of an artist named Alex Grey, who did the cover artwork for Lateralus? What other artists do you enjoy or feel has substance?
DC: Ernst Fuchs. Stanislav Szukalski. Rick Griffin.
DR: Have movies ever influenced your music, and if so can you share with us how? What are your favorite movies?
DC: Triumph of the Will, by Leni Riefenstahl.
DR: Can you tell us anything that you care to about your experiences at Area 51?
DC: My initial interest in S-4 had to do with the H-PACs or Human Piloted Alien Crafts that were rumored to be tested there in the late 80s and early 90s. As unlikely as it may seem, behind the dark rumors of alien beings working in consort with certain mysterious agencies of a shadow government at facilities like the Groom Lake complex and inside Archuleta Mesa at Dulce, there might have been a secret program to genetically manipulate humans in order to create pilots, or, in essence, biological machines capable of withstanding the stress and forces the body is subjected to by this revolutionary technology, especially if the crafts or propulsion system were back engineered from something from elsewhere. In the few trips I’ve made to the perimeter, and on one occasion beyond the border, I never did see anything that I couldn’t explain - save for some of the locals at the Little Ale’Inn. However, the last time I visited Rennes-le-Chateau some woman in the Blue Apple Cafe was telling me about an alien base on Bugarach. This was supposed to be the home of the standard gray types. I though this was just more Rennes tomfoolery until one night when I was driving back from the village. Something strange and gray-colored dashed in front of my rental Eurovan. Instinctively I swerved to avoid hitting whatever it was. The next thing I know, I’m at the bottom of a ravine. All on board were okay, but my father’s books took quite a beating, the dust-jackets did, when they were ejected from the vehicle’s shattered windows. Anyway, you should have seen the look on the faces of the people at the rental counter in Toulouse when I returned the key but not the shiny Eurovan. When they asked me where it was, I pulled open a copy of David Wood’s Genisis and pointed to a spot within the Pentacle of Mountains. I’m still not sure if it was some kind of animal or an AWOL gray from the base at Bugarach.
DR: You’ve also visited Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. Any interesting things happen there and your comments on the place?
DC: I took a cab from Edinburgh to travel the eight miles or so to Rosslyn. On the way, I struck up a conversation with the driver. It turned out that he had lived most of his life in Edinburgh and had been a Freemason for 30 years. Yet, incredibly, he’d never been to Rosslyn chapel before, and didn’t know anything about its history other than the fact that it was an old church on the outskirts of the city. So here was the jewel of Masonry practically right in his own backyard, and he’d never visited it. This is what I mean about garden-variety Masonry. It’s an amazing place, no doubt holding the key to something of great import. I need to visit it again when I have more time to meditate upon all the various sculpture-work.
DR: How many of your fans so you think are aware of and understand your interests in these subjects? How would you describe the typical Tool fan (if there is such a thing)?
DC: Quite a few, judging from the e-mail we get. I’d like to think Tool fans are people that think for themselves. That and they have good taste in music.
DR: Do you see an “Arcadian Renaissance”, or a renewed cultural interest in Hermetic subjects on the horizon?
DC: Honestly, no. It seems like the essence of Hermetic tradition has become watered down over the ages. For example, look what’s happened to astrology. The recovery of our divine essence with regards to the fallen angel of matter hasn’t been easy, especially with the all the obstacles provided by Roman Catholic Church and others.
DR: Are all of the members of the band into these mysteries and subjects, or just some of the members?
DC: We all have different interests and each member contributes to the project in their own unique way.
DR: Do you know any other bands that are into these subjects?
DC: Killing Joke comes to mind, and Zaum. There are probably quite a few.
DR: Danny, you are from a Masonic family (at least that’s what I gather from your bio at the website). How come you never took up the Craft?
DC: I just chose not to travel any singular path. Instead, we formed our own Lodge.
DR: Can you elaborate on any Tool album title and why it was named this at the time?
DC: If people want to know something about the album title they should contemplate possible correlations between the thalamus (Gr. for chamber) and the femur.
DR: Here’s the really off-the-wall question: If you could walk into the bodies of certain people (people who are living now and those that are historical in nature) and view their experiences as they happened while they were alive, which three people would you choose?
DC: Hugh Hefner circa 1960s (only he knew about bikini waxing). Berenger Sauniere, just to set my mind at ease. Hugh Hefner again (and there’s no Viagra in my pockets.)
DR: Is there anything else you would like to say?
DC: I just wanted to set the record straight about the “Templar artifact” that was given to me at Rennes-le-Chateau a few years ago. Although this was quite old and interesting from a historical perspective, it was basically a worthless medallion that I had melted down along with the Paiste cymbals in my Custom Craft kit. Recently, while on display at a NAMM show here in California, someone vandalized the set, stealing a T-rod and claw. Because of the “calling card” left behind, I’m pretty sure this was related to the worthless medallion I was given at Rennes. Anyway, the whole thing was captured by a security camera and I’m thinking about showing the footage to the audience during our upcoming US tour.