Section K. “Lateralus”

Released May 15, 2001 USA; Certified Gold and 2X Platinum by the RIAA. Debuted and peaked #1, according to Billboard.

Track Listing:

The Grudge

Eon Blue Apocalypse 

The Patient

Mantra

Schism

Parabol

Parabola

Ticks & Leeches

Lateralus

Disposition

Reflection

Triad

Faaip de Oiad

K1. How do you pronounce “Lateralus”?

“Ladder-Alice” seems to be the correct pronunciation, according to Adam Jones.

K2. What is a “lateralus”?

“Lateralus itself is actually a muscle and although the title does have something to do with the muscle, it’s more about lateral thinking and how the only way to really evolve as an artist — or as a human, I think — is to start trying to think outside of the lines and push your boundaries. Kind of take yourself where you haven’t been and put yourself in different shoes; all of those cliches,” Maynard describes. (Aggro Active; May 2001)(Joel McIver; 2002; Nu-Metal: The Next Generation of Rock & Punk)

K3. In the inside artwork, the word “god” is written in the guy’s brain.

The painting itself is titled “Progress of the Soul”. And, the word “god” takes its proper place in the evolution of the painting as it does with us real humans. 

K4. I’ve heard that the album is a concept album?

They haven’t officially confirmed, but yes. 

“Most of the songs on Lateralus use math and science as metaphors for human issues.” Singer Maynard James Keenan says, “They’re all about relationships. Learning how to integrate communication back into a relationship. How are we as lovers, as artists, as brothers – how are we going to reconstruct this beautiful temple that we’ve built and that’s tumbled down? It’s universal relationship stuff.” (“The Story Behind ‘Schism’ by TOOL”; Ultimate Guitar; 29 September 2017)

Because of the mathematical nature of a lot of the songs on Lateralus, they are speaking of the number Phi, which is considered The “divine proportion” or the “Golden Ratio” -1.618. This proportion is found all over nature: In bee hives, snail shells… even the human body. Phi was derived from the Fibonacci sequence (more on that later) – a progression famous not only because the sum of adjacent terms = the next term, but because the quotients of adjacent terms possessed the property of approaching 1.618.

Anthony Bones Reid had an interesting album interpretation:

“Lateralus is the most perfectly cohesive album ever made, imo. It’s basically the complete guide to life and enlightenment. 

Thou shalt forgive. 

Thou shalt be patient. 

Thou shalt communicate deeply. 

Thou shalt remember your eternal nature. 

Thou shalt not be a parasite. 

Thou shalt not overthink. 

Thou shalt respect your own immense power. 

Thou shalt allow light to uplift you from depression, cynicism, and negativity. 

And don’t forget they’re doing weird shit at Area 51.”

K5. I heard that the band released a fake album title?

On 16 January 2001, TOOL announced on their official website that the [then] new album would be titled “Systema Encephale”. The supposed track listing was as follows:

Malfeasance 

U.V.R.

Numbereft

Encephalatis

Musick

Coeliacus

Pain Canal

Lactation

Smyrma

Riverchrist

Later that day, the site replaced “Musick” with “Mummery”. 

The next day, 17 January 2001, they completely changed the album title and it’s supposed tracks to “Evasion” with the track listing as:

Prescipissed

Bundle up

Alcawhorlick

Alcaharlot

Bushwhacker

Munge

Poopy The Clown

Gullabored

Smell Me

Buzz’s Revenge

Later that day, again, the site replaced “Poopy The Clown” with “48/14”. 

On 28 January 2001 the band revised the website again, this time removing any mention of the old track listings and announcing that the new Album is titled “Lateralus” with the real track listing. (Toolband.com; 16 January, 17 January , 28 January 2001)

K6. What is a “scarlet letterman”?

Ask Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

K7. What is an “Eon Blue Apocalypse”?

Per Danny: “Something like “Eon Blue Apocalypse” is just a really short intro to “The Patient” that you would never think of as a separate song. It’s a tribute to Adam’s Great Dane that died. Well it didn’t die actually, it had cancer” (Terrorizer; June 2001)

K8. What is that sound in “Mantra”?

According to Maynard: “Mantra” is the sound of [him] squeezing one of his Siamese cats. The cat made such a weird noise that he immediately recorded this, played it real slow and made a track out of it.” (Buzz; 2001)

K9. What is a “schism”?

According to the dictionary, a “schism” means a division or disunion, especially in opposing parties. 

K10. What is a “parabol”?

It’s just their way of spelling “parable”, which, in a way, it sort of is. 

K11. So, what is a “parabola”?

In mathematics, a parabola is a plane curve which is mirror-symmetrical and is approximately U shaped. In regards to how it relates to the song, it approximates the shape of two bodies together, sort of like the lyrics of the song.

K12. So, is “Lateralis” like “Ænima”?

No, this was a typo. “Lateralus” the song title and Lateralus the album title are supposed to be spelled the same. Apparently, the first few printings were fraught with this error until it was brought to the band’s attention. Subsequent printings have had this error corrected. It is unknown, however, just how many had this typo.

Note that apparently there are some brand new copies still out there that can be found with the spelling error.

K13. “Lateralus” is catchy, but it has a weird rhythm.

In July 2017, Maynard’s friend Joe Rogan described his writing process in his podcast; “He wrote a song to the Fibonacci sequence. The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical sequence. It starts from one, the next number is one, and the next number being two, creates the 2+1 which is three, continuing in this mathematical progression. That’s how they found the chord progression. It began linking up to the Fibonacci sequence.” The syllables Maynard sings in the first verse follow the first six numbers in the pattern, ascending and descending in the sequence 1-1-2-3-5-8-5-3. “Black (one), then (one), white are (two), all I see (three), in my infancy (five). Red and yellow then came to be (eight), reaching out to me (five). Lets me see (three).” In the next verse, Maynard begins with the seventh number of the Fibonacci sequence (13), implying a missing verse in between. He descends back down with the following pattern; 13-8-5-3. “As below so above and beyond I imagine (13). Drawn beyond the lines of reason (eight). Push the envelope (five). Watch it bend (three).” The second verse adds the missing line to complete the sequence; “There is (two), so (one), much (one), more and (two), beckons me (three), to look through to these (five), infinite possibilities (eight).” 1-1-2-3-5-8-5-3-2-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-8-5-3. (Wikipedia)(Brett Buchanan; 14 January 2018; “Joe Rogan Reveals How ‘Fucking Maniac’ Maynard James Keenan Got Him Sick”)(Cristopher diCarlo; 2001; “Interview with Maynard James Keenan”)(Lewis Goldberg; 1 June 2006; “Finnegans Shake”; New Times Broward-Palm Beach)

K14. I’ve heard that there was another name for Lateralus?

According to the All-TOOL issue of Revolver Magazine, Revolver Presents: TOOL, this song was originally called “987” because the time signature changes in a repeating sequence of 9/8, 4/4, then 7/8. Justin Chancellor, Tool’s bassist, had this to say about the song: “For me, the song ‘Lateralus’ was the turning point. I wrote a bar of nine, a bar of eight, a bar of seven, and we originally called the song ‘987’. I saw it as something that kept getting shorter and shorter and, like a spiral, it kind of folds in on itself.”

K15. Why are “Disposition,” “Reflection,” and “Triad” all linked together on the back cover?

That’s because in the early writing-in-progress stages, they were all originally conceived as one song, but were later split up into the three separate tracks they are now.

K16. So, what is “Disposition” about?

Although there are few words, it is still a meaningful song. Humans need things to be explainable, we have to understand it. “Watch the weather change,” is the action, the beginning. “Mention this to me, mention something, mention anything,” is the begging for someone or something to explain the change, but after he finishes, the “weather” changes again, so he asks again, “mention this to me” but yet again it changes. The meaning of this song is that things happen, explaining how or why these things happen doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we embrace it, because in the end it will always change. 

K17. What is “Reflection” about?

Images in a reflection are dependent on the type of light cast upon them. In this song, the singer reaches what he thinks is the end of his existence, when he looks to the Moon, has an epiphany and realizes that we are all One. There is nothing impossible, and if it is conceivable, then we can achieve it through a higher level of Consciousness.

K18. What is this “Holy Trinity” that I keep hearing about?

Another fan theory here. According to some diehards, “Disposition,” “Reflection,” and “Triad,” or DRT for short, is supposed to be listened to in succession and together in the same sitting, so to speak. Whether or not the band intended on this, is up for debate.

K19. I once heard about a song called “Resolution”?

Apparently, this was an original working title for “Reflection”. 

K20. On the back cover, it says “Machines – Static”. What’s that?

This is actually Statik, a former member of the industrial band Collide, who here is credited for doing some programming on the song “Triad”. Presumably he ran the vocal-sounding samples. 

K21. What does “Faaip De Oiad” mean?

It is Enochian for “the Voice of God”. 

K22. What’s up with that panicked guy, and what the hell is he talking about?

Coast To Coast AM With Art Bell, a Nevada-based radio show that purported to discuss conspiracy theories and the paranormal, was the venue for a strange occurrence on 11 September 1997. During an Area 51-themed call-in program, a hysterical man claiming to be a former Area 51 worker called in to warn Bell’s listening audience that he knew of a series of impending disasters. This is the source of the monologue on this track. Before the man had finished speaking, the Art Bell show mysteriously left the airwaves for about 30 minutes. Several weeks later, the man called back apologizing for the (apparent) hoax, but the mysterious and somewhat coincidental outage has never been adequately explained. (Coasttocoastam.com)

K23.  I heard about “the Holy Gift.” What is that?

It refers to the order the tracks were put on the album. “The Holy Gift” isn’t actually a thing from the band, because they put the songs where they are for a reason: because that’s where they wanted them. Having said that, there is a fan theory that involves the Fibonacci Sequence. In a nutshell, it just rearranges the songs in order to make this “new” version of the album.  The “new” track listing is as follows:

Parabol

Parabola

Schism

Ticks & Leeches

Mantra

Lateralus

Faaip de Oiad

The Grudge

Triad

Eon Blue Apocalypse 

Reflection

The Patient 

Disposition