In April of 2018, Tool’s 1993 debut album Undertow turned 25 years old. While we could write volumes about how only three more albums have been released since, the album’s producer has reflected on the record, discussing how she turned down Prince to work with the up-and-coming group.

The name Sylvia Massy might not mean a lot to you, but there’s a very real chance you would have heard some of the records that she’s worked on.

From working as an engineer on System Of A Down’s 1998 debut to producing Spiderbait’s Tonight Alright in 2004, Massy has had a rather storied career, though it was her work with Tool in the early ’90s that arguably brought her to the mainstream, and made her make a rather huge professional decision in the process.

Having worked with comedy-rockers Green Jellÿ (then known as Green Jellö) in 1991, Massy begun to get introduced to a litany of other rock bands in the Los Angeles music scene at the time.

Check out ‘Three Little Pigs’ by Green Jellÿ:

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“Another local band named Tool had been playing at a Hollywood dive bar called Raji’s and labels were starting to take notice,” Massy explained to Grammy. “They were raw and exciting with progressive arrangements and intense polyrhythms.

“As it turned out, both Green Jellö and Tool had the same drummer: Danny Carey.”

“I had been working with Prince during that year and he had just offered me a job at Paisley Park, but I wanted to do the Tool record,” she explained, referring to Prince’s Graffiti Bridge and Diamonds And Pearls albums.

“I had to make a choice, so I turned Prince down. I knew Tool was an important band, and the album Undertow would be their big breakthrough.”

As Massy explained, many of her suggestions for the band’s sound on the album were taken onboard, including destroying two pianos with “sledgehammers and a shotgun” for ‘Disgustipated’, but when it came to trimming the excess time from the front of ‘Intolerance’, she was told to “fuck off.”

“Tool was a fantastic live band, and my biggest challenge was to capture the live energy in a studio setting, so generally during the first recordings I was just letting them do their thing,” Massy continued.

“However, on Undertow as we started pre-production in rehearsals, I could see them getting stuck with some songwriting challenges so I stepped in as a tie-breaker.

“They knew I was not there to change their music, just enhance it. Some of my suggestions were accepted and some were rejected, and I am always OK with that.”

Tool have shared their first taste of new music in many years in 2018, with an instrumental snippet of ‘Descending’ being used on a promotional video for a clinic by the band. Who knows how much quicker we’d be getting their new record if Sylvia Massy was on production duties?

Check out ‘Sober’ by Tool:

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