On May 2, 2006 – Day 1 – Tool’s fourth LP, 10,000 Days, was released to the world. It would soon top the album charts in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The title – which, on first announcement, led some fans to conclude it was a practical joke – was said to refer to the approximate orbital period of the planet Saturn. The band's frontman, Maynard James Keenan, said it was a time period “when you are presented the opportunity to transform from whatever your hang-ups were before to let the light of knowledge and experience lighten your load, so to speak, and let go of old patterns and embrace a new life.” The title was also suspected to refer to the amount of time Keenan’s mother spent in a wheelchair before her death after she suffered a stroke.

Jan. 9, 2020, marks 5,000 days since the 10,000 Days' arrival. In the 13-year time span, the band endured a series of challenges before finally releasing its follow-up, Fear Inoculum, on Aug. 30, 2019. Below, we take a look at some of the band's highs and lows from Day 1 until Day 5,000.

Day 8 (May 9, 2006)

10,000 Days sold 564,000 copies in its first week and went on to sell 2.5 million worldwide by the end of 2007.

Day 230 (Dec. 18, 2006)

Tool finally released a video for the album's lead single, “Vicarious,” after a series of delays. The song was released in April, before the album, and was followed by two more singles, “The Pot” and “Jambi." The “Vicarious” video was Tool’s first fully CGI promo clip and, as usual, was overseen by guitarist Adam Jones, who has a background in Hollywood visual effects, makeup and set design.

Day 285 (Feb. 11, 2007)

Tool were nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 49th Grammy Awards, but “Vicarious” lost to Wolfmother’s “Woman." However, Jones won Best Recording Package for his art direction on the 10,000 Days release.

Day 649 (Feb. 10, 2008)

The band was once again nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy, this time for “The Pot,” but lost to the Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender." Attending the ceremony for the first time, Keenan said, “We're going to start writing the new Tool record right away. … It’s time for the band to buckle down.” The following month, fans were told they were working three days a week.

Day 961 (Dec. 18, 2012)

Tool’s webmaster revealed he was given information about a few projects but wasn’t allowed to say anything. However, he did note that drummer Danny Carey let him hear  “new Tool music (sans Maynard)." “This was the most new material that I've heard so far, although a few of the riffs and arrangements were familiar," he recalled. "So, what did I think? Dare I say that it sounded like ... Tool (some of it reminiscent to earlier Tool stuff, with other parts pushing the envelope), and I assume that it will sound even more like Tool once the vocal melodies, etc. have been added. ... To answer your next question, I cannot say how far along in the writing process the band is. If I had to guess, I would say more than half way.”

Day 2,465 (Jan. 30, 2013)

The band’s webmaster reported that an injury delayed album development, without explaining which band member was hurt: “The new year started off on a bad note as far as writing and arranging sessions for Tool’s next record. For the most part, this was due to a ‘minor’ accident on a Vespa scooter (slick road conditions being the cause) by a certain band member that resulted in several broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder. Because of the physical nature of the musical instrument involved, nine days of jamming were lost, although I’m happy to report that the person involved is recovering nicely, so much so, in fact, that writing sessions resumed last Monday (Jan. 21), despite it being a holiday for many.”

Day 2,711 (Oct. 3, 2013)

While 10,000 Days was already a landmark of the past, Jones revealed he was still working on more music videos to accompany some of the LP’s tracks. “We ran into a really big snag because the first video is all CGI and we had some vicious production problems,” the guitarist explained. “The company we started with kinda screwed us, but luckily my friend’s company is bailing us out. Since he’s helping us, they can only work on it when their schedule is clear. But it’s gonna be great. When I go home, practically all my time is spent on it.”

Day 2,507 (Mar. 13, 2013)

Tool re-released their debut EP Opiate with new artwork by Jones to mark its 21st anniversary. The launch inspired him to consider the differences between that work and the one the band was still working on. “It’s kinda like a time machine,” he said. “It takes you back to that time and what you were thinking. Creatively speaking, there’s always room for improvement. Playing some of those songs live 21 years later, you’ve obviously evolved. … Maybe I’d redo a lead or use a different effect here and there, but overall I like it. It’s something I’m very proud of." The band members were working on music around their day jobs in 1992, but Jones admitted they lived “kind of cushy lives now." "It makes everything go slow, which is unfortunate – we all would have liked to have been done with a new record a long time ago – but when it’s done, it’s gonna be good," he said. "And that’s the point. We’re not gonna put out something that sucks just to put it out.” He hinted that they "had two really bad things happen, things that I’m not gonna get into, that set us back emotionally and mentally. But we’re past them now, everybody’s recovered, and that process has kind of actually added to us focusing on being creative. So maybe sometimes bad things happen for a reason."

Day 2,752 (Nov. 13, 2013)

Even though there was talk of Tool’s fifth album being released in 2013, Keenan told Rolling Stone it wasn’t going to happen. “No new disc. Not this year. … I have not written any songs. So, no, there is nothing,” he said succinctly, adding that his bandmates "write the music. I don’t write the music. I wait for them to bring music to me. They tend to go back over and over stuff. It’s a long process. For a person like me, it can be a very tedious process. … In some ways, they are bigger perfectionists [than I am]. But you can only help support their talent so long.” Keenan noted the band didn’t actually need new music to keep selling out shows. "As an artist, you don’t want to become a greatest hits version of yourself," he said. "You want to push the boundaries. You want to figure out how can you challenge yourself to discover something new, discover something different about yourself. … I don’t have any interest in coasting yet.”

Day 2,875 (Mar. 16, 2014)

Jones was forced to go public about being misquoted about the new album’s release date. “The record’s done and it’s coming out tomorrow,” he was quoted as saying. But he immediately followed those words with “Just kidding,” which was removed from most coverage. An official statement confirmed that “Adam, in a private conversation with fans attending the Portland Tool concert, joked the band’s new album was not only finished but coming out the next day. Unfortunately, his off-the-cuff joke was taken out of context. Work on the forthcoming album is ongoing, and as soon as it is done, trust us, we will be the first to let everyone know.”

Day 2,996 (July 15, 2014)

Jones and Carey finally came clean about the setbacks preventing them from completing work on a new record. “The fans are pissed at us,” Jones said. “And while part of me is selfish and goes, ‘I’m not necessarily doing it for them,’ it’s time that they understand what’s going on.” He explained that, in 2007, a lawsuit arose over the rights to some artwork used by the band. When they turned the case over to the insurance company paid to defend them, that company sued the band too. After seven years, a series of suits and countersuits was keeping them from their creative work. “The whole thing is really depressing,” Carey said. “The bad thing is it’s really time-consuming. As we’ve gotten older and our priorities have changed, it’s hard to get the band on a good, solid schedule as it is. People have kids now. And there’s lots of other things that pop up. To throw this into the mix, it makes everything that much worse and stresses people out.” Jones added that "it’s costing millions and millions and millions of dollars to defend us. And the fans are all going, ‘We want a new Tool album. What the fuck?’ And you don’t want to pull people into your problems, because they don’t understand. But the point is, we’re fighting the good fight. … We’re going to trial and we want to crush them. But every time we’ve gotten close to going to trial, it gets postponed and we’ve wasted money and time and it has just drained our creative energy. We bought an insurance policy for peace of mind, but instead we would have been better off if we never had it and just dealt with the original lawsuit.” On a brighter note, the pair hinted at “raw musical ideas” that were underway in the studio, with Carey describing the work as “a little more ‘metal’ sounding” with “really heavy elements.”

Day 3,223 (Feb. 27, 2015)

Keenan emphasized he was “as anxious to get this album done as everyone else,” explaining, “I’ve been making regular trips to [Los Angeles] to check on the writing progress of my Tool brethren. Things are progressing nicely. Slowly, but definitely progressing. Nothing is recorded yet, but the guys are confident that the pieces are coming together swimmingly and will be ready for me to begin writing melodies and content ‘soon.’” He added that "patience is gold in this sound mine. In the meantime, as always, other things are simultaneously occurring. Life is too short not to create something with every breath we draw.” The frontman couldn’t be accused of hypocrisy on that front: Since the release of 10,000 Days, he released three albums with Puscifer, while that side project's total output by the time Tool’s fifth album arrived included five remix albums, two live records and three EPs. Keenan also delivered the 2018 A Perfect Circle album, Eat the Elephant, and a 2016 biography, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things – along with the wine output from his two vineyards.

Day 3,440 (Oct. 2, 2015)

Continuing his slightly terse tone, Keenan was asked about the fact that he recently said he had no music to work with, despite comments from his colleagues about positive developments. In response to a query for guidance about where he was with respect to the new album, he told Rolling Stone“Do I seem like a lazy person to you?” After interviewer said no, he continued: “Okay — that’s all I can really say. … They’re working hard in their own way; I’m working hard in my own way, and I’ve got nothin’ for ya.”

Day 3,469 (Oct. 31, 2015)

At an Arizona festival, during their only live performance of the year, Tool – dressed as Led Zeppelin and opening their show with a cover of “No Quarter” – delivered a four-minute instrumental jam that later turned out to be in-progress track “Descending” without its lyrics. It was the first insight the public was given into what was going on behind the scenes.

Watch Tool Perform 'Descending'

Day 3,492 (Nov. 23, 2015)

In one of the most positive updates since 10,000 Days, Jones reported that work on the fifth LP was “wonderful.” "Things are really flowing and going really well, and I'm just blown away at the stuff that's coming together," he explained. "I'm excited and can't wait for it to be done. It's something I've been missing for a long time, that beautiful collaboration that we have because we're all so different and have different tastes. But again, when you are all meeting in the middle and that thing you do that meets in the middle is just beautiful, it's very rewarding. So yes, I'm very happy.” He added that Tool were in the luxurious position of “having too many good songs than not enough” and said that Keenan was tracking the music’s progress. “He has written lyrics, but he's still working on that and he'll commit,” the guitarist said. “The best thing for all of us is when the song is done. I don't write leads until the song is done. You want to get a vibe. And Maynard can work on lyrics, but until the song's done and he knows how the end is, he's still figuring out the flow."

Day 3,665 (May 14, 2016)

In one of his ad-lib sequences onstage, Keenan, dressed in riot gear, made a joke of the delay situation by rapping, “I'm afraid of bananas and other forms of fruit because eventually you wonderful people are going to run out of fucking patience. So I beg you, Danny, Adam, and Justin, please finish your parts so I can finish mine, and get this fucking riot gear off, because of the fucking bananas!”

Watch Tool Perform in 2018

Day 3,826 (Oct. 22, 2016)

Carey – rumored to be the band member injured in 2013 – played through the pain barrier for a festival set after being diagnosed with a staph infection. “At first, on Friday morning, he was misdiagnosed with a poisonous spider bite on his upper leg,” Jones reported. “Then later Friday night, the quarter-sized wound was cut opened and drained. By Saturday he was still aching from head to toe, and from what I heard, the local doctor recommended we skip the show. But Dan, with headaches and painful joints, played anyway.”

Day 3,873 (Dec. 8, 2016)

“Everyone knows we take our time,” bassist Justin Chancellor told Bass Player when asked for an update. “We’re really trying to be responsible with ourselves in trying to discover ideas that haven’t been discovered before. It’s kind of an alchemy, how we experiment.” He admitted it was "a compliment that people are excited to hear it. But it’s difficult to hear that and not feel some kind of guilt. All I can say is that we’ll go back Monday and do our best to finish it for you, although that’s not really how it works. But we know the listeners will be happy with it when it’s finished.” He appeared to express a preference for playing live as opposed to studio chores, saying the band’s concerts were “absolute bliss; there’s nothing else like it. ... There’s always an opportunity to pull off something we’ve never done before at the level we want to. I always aspire to achieve out-of-body experiences while we’re playing. You connect on such a deep level with the fans who are watching you and listening to the music, and all that has led up to it. You’re always going for that. You never phone it in. It’s such an incredible, emotional experience.”

Day 4,062 (Jun. 15, 2017)

Jones reported that, even though Tool were playing the four-minute jam version of “Descending” for more than 18 months, it wasn’t the track that people would hear on the album. “The best way to explain it is that it’s like when a new movie is coming out,” he said. “It’s a really anticipated movie, so the first trailer is really obscure and you’re like ‘Wait, what?’ That’s what we’re doing. We took the song that is finished, it’s called ‘Descending,’ and we just took the most obscure bits and put it together to give a little taste of what’s coming.”

Day 4,090 (Jul 13, 2017)

Perhaps hinting at one of the meanings behind what would become Tool’s fifth album, Keenan went into some speculation on Joe Rogan's podcast as to why his bandmates had yet to finish the tracks for him to work on. “Their process is very analytical, and I think, at some point, maybe because so much time has gone by from the last album, there has to be a little bit of fear in here," he said. "Now the pressure is huge, so I'm sure there's some of that goes into play.” Despite lamenting their ‘tedious” way of working, he reflected, “When you have a lot of very strong-willed, stubborn, opinionated people that have had success — myself included — when you give somebody some success, they're pretty convinced they're right. So it's hard to talk to me, or it's hard to talk to them, it's hard to talk to people that are in that position, because they've been successful and so you think that the reason you got there is because of whatever position it is you're taking today. Which is fine. But our process has evolved over the years, and that stubborn nature, you try [to] take a step back and not take any of these things personally.”

Watch Maynard James Keenan Talk to Joe Rogan

Day 4,238 (Dec. 8, 2017)

When asked about Chancellor’s recent comments that Tool’s fifth album would arrive the following year, Carey replied, “He did not lie to you. On a scale of how much he lied, it would be zero. It’ll be out. It’ll be out in 2018.” He added that the band would "probably have it done in the first half [of the year], if things go as planned. There’s setup times and manufacturing – I can never predict all that. It seems like it’s constantly evolving.”

Day 4,279 (Jan. 18, 2018)

“Music is done. Lyrics coming in hard,” Jones reported. After later speculation that the record would arrive at some point that year, Keenan tweeted, “Not. Not coming out in summer. Not.” That led to speculation from some fans that the album would indeed appear around the middle of the year, and that its title would be Not.

Day 4,310 (Feb. 18, 2018)

You could almost feel the relief when Keenan reported, “Started getting music files from the boys with the word FINAL in the title a few months ago after 11 years of begging." He added that "words and melodies 100 percent done on all but one. Someday we’ll track them. Long way from the finish line, but at least we’re closer.”

Day 4,329 (Mar. 9, 2018)

Jones posted a studio scene with the words “Day 1." The following week, Tool released an official statement confirming they have “moved into a major studio” to record their fifth album. “Pinch yourself if you want, but I have been told that all systems are go at this point for the upcoming sessions,” their webmaster said.

Day 4,371 (Apr. 20, 2018)

Keenan reflected on the reasons for returning to solo work despite the desire to complete the Tool album. “There's a lot of timing issues with Tool getting to the studio,” he said. “I always kind of gauge where they're at, and try to figure out where things are going. If I see a window where, ‘Okay, it doesn't look like things are going to get done any time soon' – because I need certain pieces to do my job – if I see there’s a window, that might expand based on me going, ‘I’m gonna go do something then.' That's why you had a lot of Puscifer for many years.” He went on to say that perhaps he’d done too much with that band: “I felt like if I was to go back and I do another Puscifer record, someone was gonna sneak into my bedroom and slit my throat, so I figured I'd go and call Billy [Howerdel, A Perfect Circle guitarist] and see where he's at with music.” Hence Eat the Elephant, their first album in 14 years (4,917 days).

Day 4,423 (Jun 11, 2018)

At a U.K. awards ceremony, Keenan told the crowd, “A lot of work's being done, a lot of work's been done. I'll go on record now saying you're gonna see some new music next year."

Day 4,654 (Jan. 28, 2019)

“April … that’s the plan, anyway,” Carey told a fan at a music convention. That led Keenan to later respond, “No,” though he said he thought some time between May and July as a possibility.

Day 4,751 (May 5, 2019)

Tool opened their latest U.S. tour and included the complete version of “Descending” alongside a new track, “Invincible.”

Watch Tool in 2019

Day 4,754 (May 8, 2019)

When Tool released an online graphic containing the date "Aug. 30, 2019," there was some doubt as to whether they were really referring to the fifth album’s release. Keenan cleared up the speculation by retweeting a doubt-filled meme and saying, “Yes. #yesitis.”

Day 4,836 (Jul. 29, 2019)

Tool confirmed that the album title was Fear Inoculum, adding, “Thank you for your patience.” They also confirmed that the release would be preceded with the arrival of the band's back catalog online for the first time on Aug. 2.

Day 4,837 (Jul. 30, 2019)

“Fuck, what a weight lifted off my chest,” Keenan admitted in an interview. “It took a lot of work. The four of us are a lot of fucking work just to get anywhere. Oh my God – everything’s a fucking committee meeting and always gets shot down.” He also sent a message to those who’d become obsessed with the LP’s delay. “I’m going to request, I’m gonna beg – do us all a favor: Turn your fucking phone off, turn your computer off, turn the TV off, go for a long walk," he said. "Just go for a long walk somewhere. Even if it’s in the mall, just go somewhere else. Go out! Go talk to a stranger and just find out something about them. Doesn’t matter what it is.”

Day 4,850 (Aug. 12, 2019)

Jones told Revolver he didn't feel pressure to complete the new LP, but he was anxious about Keenan’s position in the situation. “I felt anxiety because they would blame our singer, and it's not his fault,” he said. “We all have our own things going on — lives, families, other projects, other interests — so it's ready when it's ready. But I appreciate the dedication from our fans — the very strong dedication. But the record turned out cool and it's very different than our last record. I think that's what we all wanted.” He added that he didn't "know how different it is. It's different but the same, same but different. We really do try to rediscover why we're a band and why we started and that fire that's burning inside us. We're trying to rekindle or restart that. But it's pretty much the same. We jam stuff to death and edit and use stuff we jammed a long time ago with stuff that's new.”

Day 4,852 (Aug. 14, 2019)

The full track listing for the new album was revealed to contain seven songs, with the closer, “7emptest,” the longest at more than 20 minutes. It was also confirmed that the title track was the longest-ever Hot 100-charting single in history, at 10 minutes and 21 seconds.

Listen to Tool's ‘Fear Inoculum’

Day 4,853 (Aug. 15, 2019)

Matching Jones’ expressions of concern, Carey revealed he “felt bad” for Keenan, who took the brunt of unhappiness over the delay. “He even told me he was getting death threats from these idiots out there,” the drummer said. “They just have no idea what our work ethic is. These things don’t happen, man. There’s no other record that’s going to sound like this Tool record. What you hear is what you get, and what you get is what it takes to get it done. And it’s not an easy process.”

Day 4,868 (Aug. 30, 2019)

Fear Inoculum was finally released, hitting the top of the album chart and selling more than 270,000 equivalent units in its first week.

Day 4,872 (Sep. 3, 2019)

With the weight off his chest, Keenan took time to reflect that perhaps the delay didn’t have to have been so long, saying, “I think a lot of it [was] just that age where you want it to be right and we’ve had some success in the past, and the fear of this thing coming out and not being accepted — the fear that it’s not as good as it can be — that can be detrimentally crippling… If I had to ‘Psychology 101’ [it], I would have to say, ‘Well, yeah, that’s why it would take 13 years to write something, because you’re paranoid that it’s not gonna be the best that it can be and then you second-guess every single step that you make,’ when it was probably good enough — I shouldn’t say good enough — it was fantastic eight years ago.”

Day 4,885 (Sep. 16, 2019)

Jones reflected on having endured the difficult times over the past 13 years, telling Guitar World that  "it really comes down to having the communication, discipline and respect to believe in the other person when you might not necessarily believe in what they're bringing in. It's obviously hard for us to get to the end result sometimes, but it's that thing where you do something difficult and sometimes you hate it, but when it's done, you're like, 'Let's do it again!' ... The writing process can be magical and rewarding, or it can be the worst thing in the world and you want to kill the other person."

Day 4,887 (Sep. 18, 2019)

Carey expressed hopes that fans wouldn’t be forced to live through another long delay. “My hope is we get in and knock out another record,” he told Metal Hammer. “We have tons of material. It’s not going to take 12 years, or if it does, I’ll probably be so old I probably can’t pick up my sticks any more! But my hope is we’ll do another record and just keep moving forward.” But, he added, “We’re going to tour on this [album] probably for two or three years at least, I imagine. It feels like what we’ve done on every album, and then I guess we’ll see where we’re sitting after that.”

Day 4,912 (Oct. 13, 2019)

Tool played their first show since the release of Fear Inoculum, kicking off a new North American tour, opening with a debut of the album’s title track.

Day 4,950 (Nov. 20, 2019)

Tool were among the artists nominated for the 2020 Grammys, picking up two nominations for Fear Inoculum, Best Metal Performance for "7empest” and Best Rock Song for the title track.

Listen to Tool's '7empest'

Day 5,000 (Jan. 9, 2020)

It’s just 132 days since the release of Fear Inoculum – but fans are hoping there aren’t 4,736 days – or more – to go until the band’s sixth album arrives.

 

A History of Tool's Elaborate Album Packaging