Prison Sex

"Prison Sex" is a song by American rock band Tool. The song was released as their second single from their debut studio album Undertow. The song uses a modified drop-B tuning. The track features an "anti-climax" coda,[1] in which memorable verses and choruses dissolve into an unrelated, quiet final section.

"Prison Sex"
Single by Tool
from the album Undertow
GenreAlternative metal
Tool singles chronology
"Prison Sex"
Audio sample
The intro to "Prison Sex".
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Music video

The video for "Prison Sex" was created with stop-motion animation techniques, and was directed by the band's guitarist Adam Jones (who had previous experience in art direction and animation, including work on the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park) and was edited by Ken Andrews. The video was removed from the MTV playlist due to its disturbing content. "Prison Sex" was also nominated for 1995's MTV Music Video Awards' Best Special Effects category.[2] The music video later showed on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head.

The video primarily revolves around a battered white humanoid, robotic-like doll figure trapped in a room full of cabinets that contain other humanoids, such as a caterpillar with the main humanoid's face, a jar with a wasp inside, a robotic character with a little child's face that twists and turns, and a being made out of what looks like meat and feces. During various points in the video the main character is confronted by a larger black humanoid who causes the doll to go catatonic. While catatonic, the black figure molests the doll with a paintbrush. In the beginning of the video, the black figure severs the doll's legs (even though they still move by themselves) and hangs them out of reach of the doll. By the end of the video, the doll subjects itself to the abuse by painting itself. In the final shot, it is revealed that the doll was in its own cabinet the whole time when the black figure closes the cabinet door.


With the release of the 1993 single "Prison Sex" and its music video, directed and created by Adam Jones, MuchMusic called the band into question by deeming the video too graphic and offensive,[3] later running an episode of its Too Much 4 Much series to discuss the video.

MTV stopped airing the "Prison Sex" video after a few viewings due to its symbolism depicting the sensitive subject of child abuse.[4] Maynard James Keenan, who wrote the lyrics, has been quite clear in interviews about the song that it relates to the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his stepfather.[5]

Before a live performance of Prison Sex on November 29, 1996 in Montreal, QC, Keenan had this to say:

"This song is about recognizing, identifying, the cycle of abuse within yourself. That's the first step of the process: realization; identifying. The next step is to work through it. But, this song is about the first step in the process, which is recognizing."[6]

Track listing

UK version

  1. "Prison Sex (album version)"
  2. "Undertow (live)"
  3. "Opiate (live)"
  4. "Prison Sex (radio edit)"

German version

  1. "Prison Sex (album version)"
  2. "Intolerance (live)"
  3. "Undertow (live)"
  4. "Opiate (live)"


  1. "Prison Sex (album version)"
  2. "Intolerance (live)"
  3. "Undertow (live)"
  4. "Opiate (live)"
  5. "Prison Sex (radio edit)"

Promotional radio version

  1. "Prison Sex (radio edit)"
  2. "Prison Sex (album version)"

Release history

Region Date Label Format Catalog
Germany 1993 Zoo CD 74321-19049-2
UK Vinyl 74321-19432-1
UK CD 74321-19432-2
Australia 1994 CD 74321-19049-2
UK Promo vinyl TOOL-002

Chart performance

Chart (1994) Peak
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[7] 32


  1. ^ Osborn, Brad (2013). ""Subverting the Verse–Chorus Paradigm: Terminally Climactic Song Forms in Recent Rock Music"". Music Theory Spectrum. 35, no. 1: 24.
  2. ^ Toolshed article by Adam Morrison — publication: Circus magazine
  3. ^ Roman Sokal (2001). "Stepping Out From the Shadows". Retrieved March 6, 2006.
  4. ^ "A Tool for the Truly Cool - Big hit of Lollapalooza tour gears up for second album". San Francisco Chronicle. 1994. Retrieved March 2, 2006.
  5. ^ Kabir Akhtar. "F10" (TXT). The Tool FAQ. Retrieved March 2, 2006.
  6. ^ "Tool - Prison Sex (Live In Montreal, QC - 11-29-'96)". 1996. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
  7. ^ "Tool Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2017.

External links

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Brenda V. Smith

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The biggest winners are director Jim Blashfield, special effects artist Sean Broughton, and production company GloriaFX with two wins each. In addition, GloriaFX is also the biggest nominee in the award's history, receiving six nominations between 2015 and 2017. Closely following are special effects supervisors David Yardley and Fred Raimondi, as well as the company Pixel Envy (headed by the Brothers Strause) and BUF, with four nominations each.

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Tool (band)

Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1990, the group's line-up includes drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Justin Chancellor has been the band's bassist since 1995, replacing their original bassist Paul D'Amour. Tool has won three Grammy Awards, performed worldwide tours, and produced albums topping the charts in several countries.

The band emerged with a heavy metal sound on their first studio album, Undertow (1993), and later became a dominant act in the alternative metal movement, with the release of their second album, Ænima in 1996. Their efforts to unify musical experimentation, visual arts, and a message of personal evolution continued, with Lateralus (2001) and the most recent album, 10,000 Days (2006), gaining the band critical acclaim, and commercial success around the world.

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Tool discography

The discography of American rock band Tool consists of four studio albums, one compilation album, one extended play, four video albums, thirteen singles and eight music videos.

Tool was founded in 1988 by vocalist Maynard James Keenan and guitarist Adam Jones, who then recruited drummer Danny Carey and bassist Paul D'Amour. They initially released a demo EP in 1991 called 72826. Although demos are typically intended only for record labels, the band was so pleased with theirs that they sold copies to their fans. Tool signed to Zoo Entertainment just three months into their career, and released their first studio EP, Opiate, in March 1992. After touring to positive reviews, they released their first full-length album, Undertow, in April 1993. The album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2001.Shortly after entering the studio to record their second album in September 1995, the band experienced its only lineup change to date, with bassist D'Amour leaving amicably to pursue other projects. He was replaced by Justin Chancellor and recording resumed. October 1996 saw the release of Ænima which eventually beat Tool's debut in sales, and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA in 2003. The second single from the album, "Ænema", won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1998. Following legal battles with their label, the band went on hiatus. Tool returned in May 2001 with the release of Lateralus. The album reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart in its debut week, and was certified double platinum in August 2005. The first single, "Schism", won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2002. Again waiting five years between releases, 10,000 Days was released in May 2006. The album sold 564,000 copies in its opening week in the US and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package in 2007.

Undertow (Tool album)

Undertow is the debut studio album by American rock band Tool, released on April 6, 1993 by Zoo Entertainment. Produced by the band and Sylvia Massy, it was recorded from October to December 1992 at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys and Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood. The album includes some tracks the band decided to not release on their debut EP Opiate.As of 2010, Undertow has sold over 2.9 million copies in the United States, and is certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

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