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Michael Pearce (www)
September 11, 1994
Tori Amos interview, 9/11/94, for Internet
TA: Is this Mike?
MP: Michael. Yes it is.
TA: How are you?
MP: Great. I really appreciate your doing this. The questions I have for you are from people on various Internet groups and mailing lists. The first thing I want to ask you about is that -- I see you credit Apple Computer on your CD for "really great machines"; we're wondering what you do with yours and if you spend any time on line.
TA: I don't spend any time on line. I spend time with boys who spend a lot of time on line. Let's put it that way. I kind of get it indirectly. I spend most of my time with my Bosendorfer. The guys I pull in to work on a project use the computers in unbelievable ways. All the tracks are recorded, me and the piano alone first, then everything is built on top. So you can imagine how computers can be used. Tempo changes are happening all the time within my own structure and they have to get clicks for the musician to play on top of my work so that it make sense. There's loads of stuff that happens in the computer.
MP: One poster says that a lot of your early success was due in part to people discussing you in various newsgroups, and congratulations, by the way, on being the second female artist to have her own Usenet group; rec.music.tori-amos has 702 messages and it's been on line for less than two weeks. [Afternote: her being the 2nd artist with her own rec.music group has been disputed.]
TA: Really! That's fantastic, huh?
MP: Yeah! I logged in this morning to see how many there were and it was almost completely overwhelming. 702 messages is not something you sit down to read right away. There are a lot of people discussing your music and everything about you. One of the questions that was asked: At the Albuquerque concert, you told a story about two people you brought up to Taos and said that they had brought you the best pot and 'shrooms that you had ever had. The person wanted to know if you get some of your inspiration from the things you experience and if there is any connection to the way things were done in the '60s and the psychedelic music.
TA: Um, (pause) the most influential journeys I have had have been with Euyaschusca (sp), the vine from the Amazon, the combination of that and mushrooms. It's very much a medicine woman, medicine man's journey drug, where you go inside. It's not a social thing. It's an internal experience. I experiment with things that are usually an internal experience, because that's just what excites me. And yes, it does sometimes give me visions. But my intention when I am doing it is very different than recreational. I don't do it recreationally. I do it to go do inner work, and I'm very clear before I do it what I'm searching for. That way, there's no abuse suffered and I don't rely on it. It's just one more tool that I use sometimes.
MP: That leads to another question -- you refer to God a fair amount so you seem to believe God exists. Considering that your father is, or was, a minister, and what is in some of your songs, religion is obviously a big issue for you. You express the bones you have to pick with God, but outside of traditional organized religion, what do you believe about the nature of God?
TA: Well, my beliefs are different from institutional religion. But I talk about the institution a lot. Organized... (pause)
MP: How does your Cherokee background influence your beliefs, if it does?
TA: My grandfather always taught me that spirit was in all things. He saw things like a medicine man. So there were complete opposite beliefs growing up, and the more restrictive one won out as far as what was practiced in the home, and that was my father's side of things. My father was a lot more domineering than he is now. He's really grown a lot. My father is an incredible success story on how you can be hip at 65. He's like the hippest 65-year-old. He's really getting cool. But he wasn't (laughs). He was a dictator. He couldn't help it -- he was totally caught up in all these belief systems that were handed down to him, and I think that the work and the world that I've exposed him to over the years has really opened him up a lot. So we've grown from that. But I was exposed so much to how the church worked and their belief systems and how controlling it is so I was really seeing it from the inside. Yes, I do feel it's part of my responsibility to expose that. I think that when you know certain information that's keeping a lot of people divided in themselves, you have a choice to share or not share it but why wouldn't you want to share it so that those people can find freedom within their selves? This is the core of my work, I think, is going in there and seeing what am I really made up of. By exposing it to you, I'm just showing you a little blueprint of how I've had to dive in there, and look at the things I'm hiding, and the places where I'm lying, and the games that I'm doing. It's so easy to go, "This person is just really manipulative," and now I'm going, "What is my part in this also? Maybe this person is manipulative, but what am I trying to get from them? What game am I playing?" That's when you really start gaining power, because you're taking responsibility for what you're doing at all times. I'm going, "Okay, yeah, I want him, so yeah! Maybe I am putting this out." And then you have to decide if you want him on those terms, or if you want him on terms that are based on honor, and truth, and compassion, and then you go well, if you want that, then maybe I need to look at the way I'm going about this.
MP: You said once before that you have to fight for your right to have monsters. What do you mean by that, and what are your monsters?
TA: I think there's so much emphasis on pushing things away, instead of pulling them out of the closet. A lot of times I just notice that people try to hide their dirt for as long as possible. Monsters, dirt, whatever you want to call it, the stuff that you censor and that you don't really want to share with people. I think you can only do that for so long before you start losing your mind. I'm finding a lot of freedom right now in just looking at things that I really feel. We're not encouraged to do that, and I think that that's what makes people sick inside of themselves. You kind of want everybody else to think that you're okay. Well, you're okay if you have monsters! That's what people don't understand -- everybody has many many voices going on inside of themselves. Now there is one voice, though, that is more of the ringleader, more of the innermost voice that isn't trying to beat you up, or trying to make you feel like you can go slaughter 67 people and it's okay. You know, the voice in there that goes, "hang on a minute, Tori, we're really feeling lonely right now." That inner inner voice is, to me, the most important because it can start being a bridge between all these other voices in your head. Everybody has them. After the shows, everybody talks to me about how they're pulled in different directions. A lot of times there doesn't have to be conflict, it's just we're not giving attention to different sides of ourselves. You see, you've got a masochist side that has to be met in some way. You need to look at why you need to be hurt, and why you get some kind of pleasure out of it. Then you need to go and give equal time to the part of you that's a sea captain, you see what I mean? The one that sail the ship, and can bring it home, and isn't needy. We have all these different sides, and they just go out of balance! That's what I meant by that.
MP: When you're performing, and the nature of your audience has changed so much with your increased popularity, have you noticed an increase in distance between you and your fans, or do you get a different feel from the audience from what you used to in your earlier days?
TA: No, I think they're more open. They're more open because they're less shy. They are! [I can hear a smile in her voice right now.] And the new ones coming along get instructed by the old ones (laughs). The ones that don't... that feel like a fish out of water? The ones that've been around a little while, I've noticed... try to help them out a little bit. A lot of times they're sitting there for the first time, having emotions come up that they've never experienced; they're crawling out of their body! I think that the old ones sometimes help the new ones a little bit. Then the new ones bring something to it that's fresh, and exciting, so that it's a good balance.
MP: Great! (Electronic tone interrupts) You there?
TA: You aren't using the exclamation points, Michael, are you?
MP: No. Not unless you have obviously exclaimed something. A few. No, I'm gonna transcribe this as closely to exact as possible. All my umhs and aahs will be deleted, and the usual speech pauses, but this will be typed up exactly as you have given it to me and posted on all the relevant newsgroups, and I will try to give you a copy tomorrow. Can I come see you after the show?
TA: Sure. Just tell my stage manager.
MP: Before we go, one of the posters from New York asked me to tell you, if you hadn't found out yet, the guy who almost jumped/fell off the balcony at the New York show -- did you get the story on that? He really tripped over some feet while trying to go to the bathroom and almost fell over the rail, breaking his nose when he made contact with the floor. That's why he screamed so loud. Mike Riccio said he talked to the person whose feet were tripped over, so it had nothing to do with you or the show; it was just a pure accident.
TA: Is he okay?
MP: Yeah, it was just a broken nose.
TA: Well, tell him I hope he feels better. That's awful; a broken nose. That's wild!
MP: Oh, yeah. I want to get some information about your 800 number for rape victims. What is the number; how well is it doing?
TA: It's 1-800-656-HOPE.
MP: Who's running the day-to-day operations of that?
TA: We have a couple of people that do it all the time. If you want to speak to them, I'll get their number. Michael?
TA: Thank you.
MP: Thank you for doing this. [At this point her assistant comes on and prepares to go to another call. But I am still on line and hear silence, so...] Tori? Sounds like you're still on.
TA: Michael, you still there?
MP: Yeah, I thought you had dropped off to the next interview.
TA: (aside) It's Michael, still.
MP: As long as you are there, I wanted to ask you one thing more. What do you do to have a life while you are on tour? What do you do to take a day, a weekend, an evening off, or do you? Is it just a straight job all the way through?
TA: It rarely happens. When I have a day off I go out to dinner with my crew, and hopefully the food's hot, and we have a bit of a laugh, and talk about "Absolutely Fabulous," the new show, and that's about it.
MP: What're you going to do for the first two months when your tour is done?
TA: That's my little secret(!)
MP: Have you written some new songs for the next album, or is that a project you're putting off until you're rested, relaxed and recuperated.
TA: Yeah, I'm actually writing some. So, stuff is coming.
MP: Gonna do any on the tour?
TA: No. Never. (laughs) Okay, Michael. We gotta run. Goodbye.
At this point, she starts talking to David, getting ready for the interview with the reporter from Boulder. But I do not hang up, I just shut up. This seems to be a conference call for all parties; I am not cut off! So I sit there, listening to (and taping) the next interview, which finally cut off after about 15 more minutes. I won't use his questions here; that would be unethical (and probably illegal), except to mention that when he asked her what music she was listening to right now, she said "Beatles. Old Beatles, and Stones." Which reminded me that I never got to ask her about the Happy Rhodes cds that Vickie has been giving to her. I will ask her about that tomorrow, after the show, if I can. Thanks to Jessica, Vickie, Valerie and all the posters on Ecto who provided the questions and made this interview possible.
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