Maynard James Keenan’s Regret About ‘Lateralus’

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A Perfect Circle, Tool, and Puscifer frontman Maynard James Keenan has always been a distinctive musician, capable of reflecting his artistry through music. The singer is primarily known for being the creator of unique music videos and lyrics, and his work has been the center of attention for his fans.

Almost none of his fans were surprised to find out about Keenan’s use of the Fibonacci sequence for one of his songs because of his reputation. While his way of creating ‘Lateralus’ was one-of-a-kind, according to many, the singer himself once explained why his approach to these numbers was unnecessary.

Maynard James Keenan Used The Fibonacci Sequence For ‘Lateralus’

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Tool released a song named ‘Lateralus‘ in February 2002 as the third single and title track of their third studio album. Upon its release, the track reached no. 14 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and no. 18 on US Billboard Alternative Airplay. Moreover, Loudwire listed the song as no. 1 on the Top 50 Metal Songs of the 21st Century list.

One of the most significant aspects of the song lies within its different time signatures and corresponding lyrical patterns. As revealed later on, Maynard James Keenan purposely wrote the song according to the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence. Tool bassist Justin Chancellor once explained its logic during an interview and said that the song wrote itself thanks to the numbers.

Chancellor’s statement about the song follows:

“The lyrics to Lateralus switch between 9/8, 8/8, and 7/8 time signatures, with the number 987 being the 16th of the Fibonacci sequence. It’s simple logarithmic spiral integer approximation theory! That whole song is just really crazy because it was just the beauty of the way the universe turns.

It’s always talked about. I see stuff online, like, ‘Tool wrote this according to the Fibonacci sequence.’ But it basically wrote itself. The original riff was a bar of nine, a bar of eight, and a bar of seven, and the idea was that it feels like it’s folding in on itself.

It appears that the band members were also happy with the result of using these numbers, as they allowed them to create something that reflects the beauty of the universe. The song also has a different feeling, and fans realized it was written with another method, but Maynard James Keenan once questioned if the numbers were crucial to creating this effect.

Maynard James Keenan Reflected On Using The Fibonacci Sequence

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While many people were mesmerized by Tool coming up with a song using these numbers, the band’s frontman once explained he doesn’t feel that way. During a conversation with Joe Rogan, Maynard James Keenan was asked about the song ‘Lateralus’ and its creation through Fibonacci numbers.

According to the singer, many people like him try to force these numbers to work with a song to achieve something more meaningful. However, Keenan stated that it’s funny even to think that forcing such numbers would work in the first place since regardless of whether you write the song according to the Fibonacci numbers, those numbers exist in every song anyway. 

After resembling his effort to make a song using the Fibonacci sequence to his kid playing with blocks, Keenan stated that he’s blaming himself for being a little ridiculous to write ‘Lateralus’ this way. It appears that his initial idea sounded great but became entirely unnecessary in the end once he looked at the bigger picture about these numbers.

About using the Fibonacci numbers in his song, Keenan said:

“The funny thing is people, like me actually, we try to force those numbers on a song. It’s kind of funny. It’s kind of clunky because the song is that. I mean, any song is that. So, to kind of force these… it’s like my kid playing with blocks; they are square and stack. Everything is that, so forcing that into a song is a little soft work. I’m reprimanding myself for being a little silly.”

You can watch the interview and listen to ‘Lateralus’ below.