Enlarge Photo Credit: Travis Shinn

Justin Chancellor Initially Turned Down the Offer to Join Tool


There exists a certain subset of Tool fans that insist the band’s original bassist, Paul D’Amour, who played on Undertow, was and will forever be the only true Tool bass player. Don’t be that guy/gal. Justin Chancellor fucking rules.

But he almost didn’t join the band, at first turning down an offer to audition because he thought he was too busy with his current band, Sterling (which had just formed from the remnants of Peach). Speaking to Striking a Chord, he said:

“Anyway, I got the call, I called them back, quite nervous, I’m, like, ‘What do they want?’. It was Maynard and he’s, like, ‘We would like you to come out and audition to be in the band.’ It was a little too much to absorb and take in, and I think right on that first call I basically immediately just said, ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’ Again, the details are a little sketchy at this point. Essentially, I said, ‘Thanks very much, that’s so nice of you, but I’m way too busy here.’”

Explaining his reasoning at the time for turning down the invite, he said:

“Part of it was that I was very determined, I was writing music with this band, and I’d left university to pursue this to be in a band. I was very committed to it as well, so that was part of the reason that I wasn’t just going to suddenly get up and leave. But my brother said, ‘This is crazy. You got to do this, you got to try it. What does it matter? Even if you fail, what a great thing to be asked to do, you have to try this.’ I didn’t in any way feel musically on a level with them.”

Thankfully Tool were forgiving when he changed his mind:

“It almost too easy just to say, ‘No, I can’t really, I’ve got a deal,’ but my brother, really, because he knew how much it meant to me and how much I liked the band, so I had a difficult thing of basically calling them back and saying, ‘Would it be alright if I changed my mind?’. They were really cool and they said yes, so that’s pretty much how that came down.”

Chancellor went on to talk about his first days in Tool and how he was involved in the writing process for Ænima. Read the interview transcription at Ultimate Guitar or stream it below.

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