Tool: We're Free Agents Now

September 18 [16:00 EDT] -- Responding to charges from its record label that the band is trying to abandon its contract, Tool's management contends that the band's contract has actually expired, and Tool is free to hop to another label.

Ted Gardner, Tool's manager, told MTV News Online, "Tool's position is that (Volcano Records) failed to exercise their option (on our contract), therefore we are free."

The band and the label are squaring off in a legal duel right now. As we reported earlier this week, Volcano (which recently became Freeworld Records) filed a lawsuit in New York Superior Court on Friday charging that the band made a "wrongful attempt to abandon its exclusive recording contract" with Volcano/Freeworld.

Tool then filed a suit of its own in Los Angeles that same day, claiming that the band no longer had a recording contract with Volcano/Freeworld because the label had missed their chance to exercise their option on the band's contract by several months.

As for Freeworld chief Kevin Czinger's contention that the band "recklessly abandoned" its relationship with Volcano, Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan quipped, "Of course Kevin is right, because record companies never lie, do they?"

There could be a lengthy court battle ahead before the dust clears and Tool finds a label, so fans may be waiting a while before the next Tool album arrives. However, considering that the band saw three years pass between the release of 1993's "Undertow" and 1996's "Aenima," fans may be willing to wait.