Danny Carey reveals the Tool songs he finds most difficult to play live

Danny Carey performs on Late Night With Seth Meyers
(Image credit: Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images)

Let’s be honest, mastering one Tool song is hard enough for most of us mortals, and with 405 minutes, 20 seconds of music to digest from the band’s core studio output, there’s a fair amount of learning to do. 

So, it’s nice to know that it’s not simply a walk in the park for the man who wrote the drum parts in the first place. Speaking to Danny Carey recently for his Instagram profile, Danny’s drum tech Joe Slaby posed the question, “What’s the hardest Tool song to play, for you?”

With so many iconic (and difficult) parts to choose from, could it be Ticks and Leeches? The oft-covered Forty Six & 2? Rosetta Stoned? As we might have expected isn’t limited to one song, but three. First, Carey chooses The Grudge from 2001’s Lateralus. 

The song is well known for its alternating 5/8 and 5/4 time signatures, as well as the pyramid of double bass drum patterns which transition from quarter notes through eighths, eighth-note triplets, sixteenths and a thirty-second-note barrage over two bars at multiple points in the song. But that’s just the tip of the technical iceberg, as Carey unleashes myriad jaw-dropping fills over the song’s outro.

Typically, while Danny mentions that the double kicks play a part in the song’s difficulty, it’s the subtleties that pose the biggest hurdle, with the song’s recurring main theme tom groove demanding some stamina from the hands.   

“For endurance, it’s The Grudge because if we’re not in tour shape my hands almost cramp up because of all the Swiss Triplets. It’s just a real physical song overall, there’s some double kick stuff in there.” Danny says.

But it doesn’t stop there, as Danny also reveals that two songs from 2019’s Fear Inoculum also present a challenge, even four years on from the album’s release. “The trickiest ones,” he continues “might be Invincible or 7empest, the newer ones. Just because I’m not used to it.” 

With Invincible clocking in at just under 13 minutes-long, and 7empest lasting over a quarter-of-an-hour, we can understand why.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.