Remember When: Tool Played/Trolled a Scientology Center

When Tool got the opportunity to play two nights at the Garden Pavilion in 1993, they knew it was located within the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood and decided to troll the institution. They invited a group called Love Jones to open up for them, and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan also decided he was going to have some fun during their shows.

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There are different stories about what happened that night, but it seems the audience in attendance was likely a mix of Scientologists and outsiders. While the church likely thought this would be a clever recruitment tactic to bring in people from the outside, it is doubtful that went as planned.

Shut Off the Mics

Before the first show, Keenan was given a tour of the Celebrity Centre, with his guide allegedly not realizing he would have no luck in converting him or any of the members of Tool. Although Keenan mentioned in a Revolver interview with comedian David Cross (who was in attendance for one of the shows) that the Lounge Lizards opened for Tool, a Seattle Times profile and UCLA Daily Bruin review confirmed it was Love Jones that opened—and it was that group that upset the church employees who were in attendance.

As quoted from the Seattle Times profile on Love Jones from December 1993:

“Members of Tool caught the band at Largo and invited Love Jones to open for them at the Scientology Garden Pavilion in Los Angeles. Tool’s mosh-inducing show went off smoothly; Love Jones was the evening’s troublemaker.

“The show impressed Tool’s label, Zoo Records, enough to get Love Jones a record deal. But the Scientologists didn’t look upon the band as kindly; seems they didn’t appreciate the stage banter, which targeted the the church and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. After four songs the band’s microphones were cut off, but they continued to play anyway. “We were accosted and removed from the property,” [Loves Jones member Ben] Daughtrey said.”

“Do You Really Want to See Where This Is Going to Go?”

In his conversation with Cross, Keenan recalled, “[Someone from the church] came backstage as I was warming up. The guy was clearly armed. He makes sure that his jacket is unbuttoned, and I can see it. ‘We had to pull the opening act off. Are we gonna have a problem with you?’ I go, ‘You just walked up to me with a gun, and I’m going to do what I’m going to do. And this is a glass building. Do you really want to see where this is going to go? F–k off.’”

Tool played both shows, cranking their metallic jams in a glass-domed room Keenan said had the worst sound reflections he had ever heard. They performed with an exotic dancer on stage, people were crowd-surfing, and the vocalist often bleated like a sheep during the show. One wonders how church attendees felt about Tool’s stage show, Keenan’s “baaaah” calls, and their song “Prison Sex.” Tool made their feelings about Scientology known on the title track to their next album Ænema, during which Keenan sang: F–k L. Ron Hubbard and f–k all his clones / F–k all these gun-toting hip gangster wannabes / Learn to swim, learn to swim.

As one might expect, Tool have not played the Garden Pavilion since, nor are they likely to be invited back. Their appearances there have become part of the quartet’s unusual history as the band and venue were such an odd pairing. It makes for a surreal tale, for sure.

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Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

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