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The Verbal Voyager Joins Vagabond Journey for Ironic Study of Tool’s Insufferable Fans

Hello Fellow Vagabonds! Are you ready to rock? 🤟 My name is Alexis, and I am an insufferable Tool fan. (“Hiii Alexis!”). I am an anthropologist ethnographer joining Vagabond Journey while I follow the rock band Tool for a number of shows on their current, quickly selling-out Fear Inoculum tour, doing an ethnographic study of [...]

Hello Fellow Vagabonds!

Are you ready to rock? 🤟

My name is Alexis, and I am an insufferable Tool fan. (“Hiii Alexis!”).

I am an anthropologist ethnographer joining Vagabond Journey while I follow the rock band Tool for a number of shows on their current, quickly selling-out Fear Inoculum tour, doing an ethnographic study of the infamously “insufferable” fans of the spiritual- and occult-theme-laden rock group born out of the golden age of the 90’s grunge era.

The group is notorious for tormenting its (masochistic?) fans by releasing new albums at a water-torture-trickling pace. The current tour was especially long-awaited, as it was abruptly cut short by The Pandemic, and only just picked back up this January in Oregon.

This series will be combination travelogue, auto-ethnography, and reflections from the field, while the academic portions of the project are currently under consideration for presentation at a national-level conference (fingers crossed for that, and I promise to keep you posted!). The bonus news for you is that if the project is passed over for the natcon, I will get to post those delectable findings here. Either way, you’ll get to see the nerded-out paper proposal here in mid-April, when we get an answer on the greenlight one way or the other.

This project kicked off in January with their show in Tacoma–you’ll want to scope concert photographer Iron Mike Savoia‘s brilliant snaps here (who, by the way, also follows Journey)–and will continue through to at least mid-March. After that, the band heads overseas for a one-month jam-packed European tour.

Full bias disclosure: I am a solid Tool fan. Just where I sit on the spectrum of commitment to Tool fandom may be somewhere in the upper middle, with batshit-crazy/on the shortlist of stalker-potentials at the one end, and, “I usually keep their songs on when it comes up on my playlist,” at the other end. None of my tattoos are Tool-themed, and you won’t find me shamelessly describing myself as “busting a nut” as a Pavlovian response to one of Justin’s iconic bass riffs. I haven’t even listened to the band members’ other projects’ albums (yet. Calm down. I will get to them.).

But, I also won’t be The Pot calling the kettle black, as I sit here dedicating most of my scant free time and what’s left of my intellectual energy to a totally voluntary study of their fans as a cultural group–which in some sick sense is kind of like an ultimate exercise in the narcissistic mirror-gazing that has become such a hallmark of the generation I am reluctantly, but technically, part of. (That’s geriatric millennial to you, ya whipper-snappers!)

If you are also an insufferable Tool fan, I would love to hear from you. If you’d like some visual supplements and more ADHD-friendly posts, you can find me on Instagram here.

Welcome to the series, and welcome to the jungle, baby! 🤟

 

Filed under: Adventure, Anthropology, Art and Music, Culture and Society, USA

About the Author:

Alexis Michaels is an award-winning anthropologist and writer trained in a diverse set of field methods and interview techniques. She has a Master of Arts in Religious Studies with a focus on cognitive science. Everywhere she travels she observes the humans around her with the aim of facilitating understanding across deep divides. Once in a while, she can be found riding a motorcycle in the backcountry. has written 5 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • sarah February 16, 2022, 12:13 pm

    looking forward to it! not familiar with their work but happy to be able to follow some of your journey 💛✌🏼

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    • Julia McClenon March 5, 2022, 1:14 pm

      Thank you Sarah! <3

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  • VBJ February 20, 2022, 10:31 am

    Definitely looking forward to this! It’s really something new and different for this site … but at the same time is such a random and unexpected project that it fits right it.

    I should also do a Q and A with you at some point to really introduce who you are and what you’ve done … you’ve really done some crazy / interesting / enlightening things. For those reading, Julia is not your average vagabonding ethnographer.

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