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CFNY "The Edge" (Canada, radio)
CFNY, Toronto (102.1 FM)
March 25, 1994
Tori Amos interview and live performance
songs: Icicle, Crucify
This is a transcription from a camcorder recording of Tori's appearance on a radio show conducted on CFNY, FM102.1 in Canada. Most of the stuff spoken without a microphone was audible but incomprehensible due to crowd noise. There were about four hundred people within the studio, and many other people crowded outside the studio's window. Tori wore a gray vest over a dark blue shirt, with black lipstick. Areas marked with [???] or (?) basically means that I either couldn't make it out or am giving it my best guess. -Mike Harris
Bill: Leading actress (?) here from live, 102.1, the Smashing Pumpkins there from their latest album _Siamese Dreams_, and also some Peter Gabriel in the set as well. It's Brother Bill live from the edge of Bluin' Bathers (?). Tori Amos is with us, we have words and music from Tori Amos right after this.
[Crowd cheers. TORI gives them a thumbs-up.]
Bill: ... 102.1, that is the one and only Tori Amos off her latest album _Under the Pink_ and a song called 'God', and I'm more than happy to announce that Tori Amos is with us now, can we hear it for Tori?
[Crowd emphatically cheers.]
Bill: How are you, Tori?
Tori Amos: I'm really good!
Audience Member: Welcome!
Tori: Thanks, everybody. I'm feeling much warmer than I did before I came here.
Audience Member: You look very warm.
Bill: Approximately how many people would we say we have here?
Audience Member: A million!
Bill: Yeah, probably a zillion on the radio and about three to four hundred down here. If I could, I'll ask you right away, have you ever done anything like this before, an intimate kind of ...
Tori: In England, we were doing it just before I left. In London, we had, I did a Globe Concert, inside Capitol Radio.
Bill: Oh, really? And were people able to come in like this, to walk on in to the, uh, theatre?
Tori: No, they had to call first.
Bill: Oh, they had to call first?
Tori: They had to call. They were the giveaway of, yeah, they, they have your name on a list to come in, because it was, it was recorded for a, a big radio special that's coming out. So this is really neat: they said a couple people are going to be down there!
Bill: It's more than a couple.
Tori: Yes, wonderful!
Bill: More than a couple, great. Uh, I guess we should start talking about the new album. We have heard that you had a little bit of writer's block. But yet we have all these B-sides now, and we had all these different, like, an import version of 'God' with different B-sides, you know, UK import, US import, et cetera, with all these songs on it!
Tori: Well, I like to confuse you guys.
Bill: Yeah, how did you --
Tori: I mean, I go, you know, "What are they going to think about: they have the crossword puzzle to do, they can figure what Tori B-sides are out there ... "
Bill: Well, there are fans that want to know.
Tori: The B-sides, some of them are my favorite, to be honest. They just, the songs didn't want to go on the album. They all have different places on where they want to go, and, uh, it's strange. It's like, if you were to imagine writing a book. Chapter 7 is Chapter 7, and so it wouldn't fit in another book. So what I'm compiling, it's about a body of work, it's about a story and sometimes a B-side, that's a different story.
Bill: Right. As far as the writer's block goes, though, how did you manage to get around it?
Tori: Well, I went to New Mexico, and I don't know if you all ever been to New Mexico, but there's a big Pueblo population there, and it was very inspiring to be near the Pueblo and it was their sacred ground. And they say the mountain spits you out if it doesn't like you. It spitted me out like sixty times a day.
Bill: Obviously, it worked!
Tori: But something--yeah, some worked.
Bill: Is it a relief to have _Under the Pink_ finally out? Because this is your second solo effort. Was it a relief to finally have it out? Second full-length album, I guess we'd call it.
Tori: Well, it ain't the Sophomore Slump!
Bill: Naw, I figured that, but, you know--
Tori: I mean, you know, look, more than me putting pressure on myself, I'm very aware that out there is a bit of a jinx on your second record, but the truth is this was my third, whether anybody wants to count the first one, when I was in my plastic snake pants and stuff...
Bill: Yeah, I didn't want to mention that--
Tori: Hey, it's okay, I can't fit into them anymore, but, you know, I had a very good hairspray collection.
Bill: With all the songs that you did write for this album, how did you manage to choose the ones that made the album?
Tori: They beat me up and said 'We're coming'. You know, some girls would say, 'If she's on here, forget it! I don't like her!' And some are just more powerful than others. It's like, uh, you know, again, people think I'm nuts for telling you, but I'm just going to tell you how it really works. The songs are kind of already existing before I write them. I'm just translating them to you, that's all I do is translate. And, so, I try to be a good translator. So if you like what I do, then I'm a pretty good translator. But they also tell me how they want to be portrayed, and if they want to go on _Under the Pink_, or if it's like--you know, "Honey" was the greatest of all of 'em. "Honey" is a B-side that'll be out on the 'Cornflake' release in the States and it's on the 'Pretty Good Year' release in England. She was so sweet, she comes up to me and says, "You know, all these girls are battling for a place on the record. And I'm not going to battle. *If* you want me, *I'll* be over here."
Bill: Why don't we, since we do have the piano in front of us here, or the Rollins synthesizer, or whatever you want to call it, do you mind giving us a song?
Tori: Yeah. This one kinda wants to visit you guys.
[Tori performs 'Icicle'.]
Audience Member: How did you get involved working with Trent Reznor?
Tori: I always loved what he did. So 'Past the Mission' said to me, "I want Trent to sing on me." And I said, "I'm sure you do." And, so, I made the call, and he was, uh, 'open to that'. And we, uh, did it at his house, you know, the old Tate House ...
Tori: You know, he sang on my thing ...
[Audience twitters further.]
Tori: Oh, this is getting terrible! No, he just sang on the song, and we got on great, and I tried to make him chicken, and it wouldn't cook, because that house, you couldn't cook anything in that house! I called my mother, I said, "Mom, I can't make this chicken." She said, [Southern accent] "Well, you know, the heir to the Folgers coffee fortune died in that house and I think it's cursed when all [??] cooking is concerned." So he thinks I'm a terrible cook, but, you know, there you go.
Bill: So you recorded this with Trent when he was recording _The Downward Spiral_, his latest album?
Bill: So how did you end up, meet Trent anyway, I mean in the first place?
Tori: That's how!
Bill: Just from doing, just from showing up--
Tori: Yeah, we just, you know--you pick up the phone.
Bill: Do you like his style? Do you find yourself similar to him in style when it comes to playing with him?
Tori: No, it's about an internal thing, more than anything. It's, it's, it's, I think, more than a lot of people out there, I think, Trent is really in touch with, um, even though he represents rage in a way, I think he's more understanding of hurt than a lot of guys that touch rage: they touch rage, but without the depth of … that rage really comes from a very deep pain, and I think he does understand that, that's why his work really touches me.
Bill: It seems to be that you tried to interpret that as well, on the latest album _Under the Pink_ with the song 'The Waitress'.
Bill: That song sounds a little bit like you're a little bit P.O.'d at, uh, I don't know: somebody specifically, or a situation specifically, can you fill us in on that one?
Tori: Well, when you've got some girl's neck in your hand, and you're going, "Well, three to five wouldn't be worth this, right?"
Bill: But you didn't really k--
Tori: Well, we won't go into it, but you're sitting there going, "Okay, why do I want to kill this girl, and what it is in me that she has pushed so heavy, that makes me just want to rip her head off?" I mean, why couldn't I just walk out of the door and go, "You know, *BABE*."
Bill: Was it a specific incident, though? Can you at least answer that?
Bill: It was a specific incident.
Tori: [emphatically] Mm.
Bill: Okay. And you put pen and paper on that ... [???] We do have a question from, uh, from somebody who didn't want to come on mike with us, but they did write this down, and that we were talking about this off-mike, he said we might want to bring this up, and we're going to bring it up now: "How and when did you come to be approached to write the introduction a recent _Sandman_ trade paperback collection? What was your reaction? Had you heard of the _Sandman_ story before and the character he supposedly inspired?" Now can you just line us up for the people who just don't totally understand what _The Sandman_ is all about and how it relates to you?
Tori: _The Sandman_ is, uh, the most awesome comic that there ever was. And Neil Gaiman writes _The Sandman_, and I met Neil a few years ago when somebody passed him a tape of mine at a comic signing. And he thought, he didn't know that I was going to have a worldwide release the next week. So he calls me up, and my number--somebody had written my number on this, it was a pre-release thing, it didn't say Atlantic Records or anything--my friend Rantz, and Neil Gaiman calls me up, the writer, and says, "Hi, I want to speak to Tori," and I said, "This is Tori." He said, "I don't think you're half bad, you know! You know, maybe you should think about, like, uh, are you gonna like do this? Maybe in a club or weddings or something?" And I said, "Well, I have a worldwide release next week, actually, would you like to come?" So, we hung out, and we became very good friends and he called me and asked me to write the, uh, introduction. And what happens is, Neil had created this character, Delirium. But I always find things I say to him sneaking in, because I would talk to him a lot, in London, and you know, silly things get said at three o'clock in the morning.
Bill: So, generally, you were happy with the work he did, the way he did use your stuff, though?
Tori: It's kind of just the way that sometimes I'm talking to him. I just find my conversations with him ending up in things. It's kind of wonderful, because it's so funny, I'll be reading the comic and I'll go, "I love Delirium so much!", because it's like, "Oh, I would say that!", it's like, "I did, I think."
Bill: Didn't some of your material get used in the movie "Toys" as well?
Tori: No. I sang on "Toys". It wasn't my material, that was Trevor Horn. And he was just smoking a very big fatty one day, and he called me up, and I just hung out and sang on it, and there you have it.
Bill: How about the Oliver Stone movie, then? That he approached you to do some work for that, too.
Tori: Boy, you're quick! How did--nobody knows about that! Yes, he approached me, and he wanted to use 'Me and a Gun', and, it's a very violent movie [Natural Born Killers], where the heroine kills forty-seven people, and they wanted to use 'Me and a Gun'. Now, all I said was 'Me and a Gun' is based on a very personal experience, and, when I say, "I must get out of this," in 'Me and a Gun', it doesn't mean go kill forty-seven people! And it was very important, especially for all those women who have been through that (and some men), that 'Me and a Gun' -- I couldn't have that twisted. There are other works of mine that I would have been more open to different films, but 'Me and a Gun', no, if it's not...
Bill: -- the way you want it --
Tori: It's not about, okay, I've been victimized, so now I'm just going to go murder forty-seven innocent people. Now that might be cool to some people. But for me, there's a responsibility, when you write pieces like 'Me and a Gun', where do you stand?
Bill: So you just wanted to make sure that if he was going to use it, that he used it correctly.
Tori: And I had no control, and I--again, you know, it's about serial killers. And of all people, Neil Gaiman was the one, I call him up and said, "Neil, what am I going to do?" And Neil said, "Tori, I want you to go read 'The Morris Murders'." He wrote a story based on the Morris murders, that serial killer that happened in England. He said, "If you can read 'The Morris Murders', and give your songs-- 'cause this is not about Juliette Lewis. She's ain't a serial killer! She's a cute Hollywood actress! These murderers, serial killers, are not cute Hollywood people. They like, you know, sit and talk to little children on videos, and then slit their throats! Now if you can give your material and have it working around those people and their consciousness, and does it mean the same thing, does it correlate, is it making sense, can 'Me and a Gun' represent that? Then give it to them, and if it can't, then don't. But this is not about Hollywood actors, this is about real serial killers." So, you know, I had to make the decision, and that's the decision I made.
Bill: I think we have another question from the audience. Go ahead.
Audience Member: Yeah, it's a little, uh, on a different pace. Um, my favorite song is, like, "Tear in Your Hand". I just wanted to know, uh, like, what is--like, actually that has Neil Gaiman in it, like, you, um, talk about him and stuff. What does that, like, what did that tell you when you were writing it, like, since, since like you really talk to your songs and stuff. I just wanted to know.
Tori: Oh. I wrote that song when I was at my parents' house. Sometimes it's funny, but if I need to get inspired or write a song, if I'm like really having a dry spell, I go visit my parents, [laughing] 'cause something is always going to come up. Um, it's always good for writer's block, Mom and Dad. And they'll say [Southern accent] "Why dontcha come see us? I know you'll write another song." And, um, "Tear in Your Hand", it's hard for me to--I know you don't want me to explain the songs, and, and I won't, but sometimes, you know, uh--[pause, sighes] they're just different sides of, of me that sometimes I'm not lookin' at. That one's *really* sweet. I love that one: she's such a nice girl. "Leather"-- I don't know, some days I can't even face that chick.
Bill: Could you give us another song?
[The familiar one-note opening to "Leather" leads right into her performance. Break to commercial, and I can't even make out what Tori says amid the general hubbub. Some radio technical talk of no interest, then ... during the break, Tori goes to the window, where people are just packed against it looking at her, and gives a cheery "Hi guys!" Then she turns back to the DJ and says, "They have some stuff to give you." The DJ leads back in from the break and Tori scurries to her seat.]
Bill: We are back, live from the edge of Laura Bathers [??], we just spent ... [???] ... with Tori Amos. And somebody's there ... a lot of people are trying to hand you stuff out there. We're trying to get one of our guys out there to grab it, so, if everybody maybe on the outside there could take a step back, so that big large guy who's comin' out the door now ... [audience laughter] ... that would be amazing, okay.
Tori: Okay, thanks, guys!
[Person camcording says, "Look, money!" -- I didn't see it, but I bet people were trying to bribe the 'big large guy' to get into the studio.]
Bill: We have a couple more questions, actually. Is there somebody over there who wanted to ask a question? Yeah, he's standing there: go ahead.
Audience Member: Hi.
Audience Member: My name is Beecut (?).
Audience Member: Okay, my question is this: you seem like a very spontaneous person. I mean, you just banged out 'Leather' just after talkin' about it, um, I was wondering if your concerts are the same way, are you just--just spontaneous--
Tori: My concerts are, um, much more in-depth because ... I mean, I just had Penny a la Air Beatta [??? -- sorry! Medical term.] and, so, it's kinda right here right now. It's six inches in my voice, and, because it's daylight, and because we're all here, it's a very different mood than when it's dark, and I usually prepare an hour before I walk on the stage, and I call forth different energies that I'm gonna work on that night. And I, I tune into the audience and see what's there. You know, it's, it's different every night-- sometimes it's, it's, uh, it's chaos, sometimes it's, um, intimidation, whatever it is I go in and I work on a certain emotion, so I call forth all sorts of playmates that I have out there to come, and line that room. Every night is a completely different performance: the songs take on different meanings and everything's very, very different. [Guy hands her the gifts from the outside: a poster, flowers, and some other stuff I can't make out.] Oh, that's so wonderful, thank you. So, um, the thing is, when I perform live, I have an opportunity to really go into a deep--a deep place, more like a journey. When I'm doing this, I get a chance to meet you guys, and, and sing on the air. But it's very, very different than, than live.
Audience Member: Thanks.
Bill: How can you consciously, uh, put together all of these thoughts, emotions, plus be able to read the crowd, and still do your show as well? Is it a difficult process for you?
Tori: Well, I've been playing for twenty-seven years.
Bill: Just more used to it, I guess?
Tori: And it's kind of like, I think it's the best part of me as a person, is when I'm playing. I think when I'm just walking down the street, you know, I'm crabby, like half the population: [imitating whiny noises] "Why do I have to wait? Why can't I--why does it take them twenty-five minutes to serve a guy a cup of coffee?" I mean, I don't really like the way I am, sometimes, but when I play, I allow myself to be crabby, I allow myself to be joyous, I allow myself to go into really sick thoughts, and not judge them: it's not about good or bad when I play. It's about *allowing*. And if we could do that with ourselves, I encourage it, because I think I would have jumped off a building if I couldn't have allowed myself to express different sides of myself. We have such judgements on, "Oooh. If they knew that I was thinking that right now, they'd really lynch me!" You know, that thing, how you're going: "God, if every-- if anybody in this crowd knew what I was really thinking--"
Tori: But, so what's wrong with that? There has to be a place where you allow yourself to go, "You know, that's how I really felt." There has to be a safe place where you allow yourself that freedom. So, I do it in music.
Bill: And on stage, especially.
Tori: And on stage.
Bill: Yeah. Um, speaking of your last show, we should talk a little about that: you chose not to use a band once again, um, I just wanted- - -
Tori: After the show. [She laughs.]
Bill: [He laughs.] No, but I just wondered how--you know, you have to have this certain level of confidence. And you seem to have that level of confidence, by the way, but uh--
Tori: Um, if, um, I'm gonna do a band scene, it's got to be really, really, really right. There, there, it changes the whole intimacy level: it's not like I'm in your living room anymore. Albeit, maybe, a very big living room! But, still, it's very different when it's just you and me. 'Cause then I'm--it's between *us*. And I feel like right now if I had five people walk on stage that it would feel a bit like "Who are they?". It would be a little bit of an intrusion because of the emotional level, and it's very important that the audience is able--you know, it should be your time to be anything you want sitting in your chair. You should call your monsters forth, you should call all those different sides of yourself, and, and, and you don't feel, like, weird. I mean, I should be like family now for some people. [Murmurs of agreement.] So that it's--I have no judgement. My God, if you see what I'm bringing every night, you, you won't think twice about stuff you can bring.
Bill: But it's--could it happen one day, though? Could it happen one day that you do a tour with a band?
Tori: Yeah, it could happen. It's just that I don't do it because it's like, well, that's what everybody does. I don't really feel like I necessarily need one. Playing live is about a different experience than a CD, or why do it? CDs are not--I don't duplicate them live. It's about showing people where the songs came from first, you know, where they were born. So you see the inception of a song, before it became everything else, 'cause everything starts from the piano first.
Bill: Since we're on the topic of playing live, you were, you were telling me just before we started doing this interview that, uh, this is not the only time we're going to see you here in Toronto, probably.
Tori: No, no, no. It's a big world tour. I have two hundred and thirty-six shows left. [Audience murmurs appreciatively.] This is my fourteenth. [Audience laughs.] I gotta stop counting. But, um, this is like a preview, the big North American tour is in the summer. I'm in the middle of the--[Outside crowd cheers and claps. She chuckles.] The outside. I'm in the middle of the, um, European tour right now, and we took two and a half weeks to come to North America so that, you know, we didn't, we didn't leave you all out of it. Yes? Question?
Audience Member: Um, I really admire you. Just because--not only your music but the kind of person you are. And, um, I was wondering, your vocal ability: it reminds me so much of Kate Bush's, and I know that when she was younger, she trained a lot, but--[TORI breaks out into laughter. AUDIENCE MEMBER laughs nervously.] Yours, it seems to come naturally. It's almost as if you didn't train for it. I was just wondering about that.
Tori: Well, when I was about seventeen, I was playing clubs and people would come up to me and say, "You sound like Kate Bush." And at the time: seventeen, that was ... thirteen years ago, and I would say, "I don't, I don't know that, but I've heard of her." So eventually, of course, I got her record, and I didn't really think I sounded like her. But maybe there're moments--there're moments--who knows what my great-great-great-great-grandfather was doing back there, you don't know where the genes go. [Audience laughter.] I, I do admit that there are moments of "God, that's uncanny." I mean, I guess if somebody was going to do, like, you know, "Is it live or is it Memorex?", we could probably do each other and nobody would know, unless you really have a good ear. But, um, she smokes a little more weed than I do, so I'd have to catch up. [Audience laughter.] Just a little more.
Bill: And on that note, can we get you to do another one?
Tori: Hey, the peace pipe, guys. The Native Americans. That's how this country was formed.
Bill: Tori Amos live, at the edge of Bluin' Blathers, CNFY, 102.1.
Tori: Another song?
Bill: Sure. If you don't mind.
[TORI launches into some bluesy song with the first line "We're in the boys' room". After two lines she quits and goes into 'Crucify'. Outside, people are gesturing for her to come out.]
Tori: Come outside?
[She exits. END of camcording.]
[transcribed by Mike Harris]
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos