11 Hypnotic, Close-Up Minutes Watching Tool’s Legendary Drummer Danny Carey in Action

Like the great prog drum­mers of old—Bill Bru­ford, Neil Peart, Phil Collins—Tool’s Dan­ny Carey is an arti­san. They don’t make drum­ming like that any­more. He says so him­self (sort of) in an inter­view with Music Radar about his side project Leg­end of the Seag­ull­men with Mastadon’s Brent Hinds. Remem­ber­ing how Robert Fripp would stand on the edge of the stage, watch­ing Tool play when King Crim­son opened for the mod­ern prog-met­al giants, Carey remarks, “We weren’t sync­ing to some bull­shit like so many oth­er bands. We were actu­al­ly play­ing live. It’s a sad thing when almost every band you see isn’t doing that. It’s the clicks and back­ing tracks that are keep­ing time. I’ve nev­er played to a click on stage in my life.”

A “click track,” for those who don’t know, is exact­ly what it sounds like: a play­back of clicks (or any per­cus­sive sound) to the desired tem­po, pumped into a musician’s ear­piece to keep them play­ing in time. A use­ful tool of the record­ing stu­dio, many musi­cians, as Carey says, now use it on stage, along with vocal pitch cor­rec­tion soft­ware and pre-record­ed back­ing tracks to make sure every­thing sounds exact­ly like it does on record.

All of this tech­nol­o­gy ruins the feel of live per­for­mance, Carey main­tains. He would know. He’s been play­ing live since the 80s and play­ing with Tool since the band formed thir­ty years ago. He also jams every oth­er month, he says, “with these weird dudes who played with Miles Davis or Mahav­ish­nu Orches­tra.” So… yeah. The dude’s got some clas­sic chops.

But tech­nol­o­gy isn’t all bad in live music, far from it. Being a drum­mer used to mean that hard­ly any­one could see you on a big stage. You might be the most tal­ent­ed, best-look­ing mem­ber of the band, but you were hid­den away behind your kit with the singers and gui­tarists soak­ing up the glo­ry. Even when cer­tain celebri­ty rock drum­mers get their own stages (with their own mini-roller coast­ers), it can be impos­si­ble to see what they’re doing up close. No longer. Thanks to unob­tru­sive cam­eras that can stream video from any­where, no cor­ner of the stage need be obscured. We can watch a Tool show from over Carey’s shoul­der, as in the video of “Pneu­ma,” live in con­cert, at the top, pro­duced by drum equip­ment com­pa­ny Vic Firth to demon­strate Carey’s new sig­na­ture sticks.

It’s bet­ter to let Carey’s play­ing speak for itself, but for ref­er­ence, “Pneu­ma” comes from Tool’s very eager­ly-await­ed 2019 album Fear Inocu­lum, just one of many tracks “filled with twist after turn, con­ven­tion­al song struc­ture be damned,” Ilya Stemkovsky writes at Mod­ern Drum­mer, “with Carey at the cen­ter of the storm, pro­vid­ing the heav­i­est, most mas­sive bot­tom pos­si­ble. He even gets his own solo per­cus­sion track, ‘Choco­late Chip Trip,’ on which he incor­po­rates gongs and bells, among oth­er sounds.” Maybe this live view, and Tool’s well-deserved Gram­my Win for Best Met­al Per­for­mance this year for “7empest,” will inspire more drum­mers to drop the click and bring back what Carey calls the “ded­i­ca­tion to your vibe” from the days of arti­sanal drum­ming.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

The Neu­ro­science of Drum­ming: Researchers Dis­cov­er the Secrets of Drum­ming & The Human Brain

Wit­ness Rush Drum­mer Neil Peart’s (RIP) Finest Moments On Stage and Screen

What Makes John Bon­ham Such a Good Drum­mer? A New Video Essay Breaks Down His Inim­itable Style

See Why Gin­ger Bak­er (RIP) Was One of the Great­est Drum­mers in Rock & World Music

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (17)
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  • Tammy Miller says:

    Absolute­ly breath­tak­ing to watch. Thank you.



  • Charlotte Banks says:

    Kin­da late to the par­ty, ain’t ya?

  • Suzanne says:

    I was think­ing the same exact thing!🌀🤘🏻🌀

  • Shaun Ashmead says:

    Insane drum­mer!!! All songs are mind-blow­ing psy­choab­stract and I’m stoked as shit hav­ing this album. I’m stoked as shit it exists! I’m stoked as shit Tool exists! I’m stoked as shit about all kinds of shit wor­thy of being stoked about!! \m/

  • David Swanson says:

    Was at their Dal­las show, Jan. 22, 2022. Dan­ny is amaz­ing on the drums!

  • Nathan Beardsley says:

    Tool … The band .and lis­ten­ing then being able to actu­al­ly watch Dan­ny play(WOW)over the man’s shoulder,is absolute­ly amazing!I have lis­tened TOOL since their beginning.i want to say thanks to the Band as a whole for help­ing me through the rough­est times and and the best times to of my life.
    They will ALWAYS be my muse n musi­cal hero’s.. and my son’s as well..thank you so for let­ting me see and want to live my life bet­ter in a complex,soulsearching, spir­i­tu­al way…GO TOOL!

  • Aaron says:

    I caught a drum­head that Dan­ny fris­bee’d into the crowd in 2001 after a show in Madi­son, WI. Signed with his name, a pen­ta­gram, and the illu­mi­nati eye­ball… Still have it.

  • Brice says:

    This video is old, got me excit­ed that maybe they post­ed new vid, now why make a whole strug­gle about such an old video?

  • Chev says:

    Phill Collins is nei­ther prog rock nor a drum­ming great

  • Nektosha says:

    They did men­tion that Phil Collins is a drum­ming great ‚so they are a bit slow

  • James hershel Skidmore says:

    Dammit man my shits get­ting stoked just read­ing of oth­er peo­ples when they lis­ten to some of the best shit in the world

  • Timothy M Snead says:

    I caught the same drum­head in Vir­ginia Beach 01.

  • Tonya Bedwell says:

    Lis­ten to the Gen­e­sis albums from the 1970s. Then you’ll under­stand that Collins is both prog rock and a great drum­mer.

  • Robert Bedwell says:

    Actu­al­ly Phil is a great drum­mer. Lis­ten to any Gen­e­sis album from the 1970s. You’ll under­stand

  • William H Featherston says:

    Why do you even both­er act­ing so cool.ppl will stum­ble upon great­ness and tal­ent always. Regard­less if its well known to most or the new best kept secret. Man fans are somthing else!!

  • William H Featherston says:

    Are you a tool? Really?wow

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