home / interviews


New York Post (US)
Friday, January 12, 1996

MEN NO LONGER GOD TO AMOS

by Lisa Robinson

"I like stirring things up" says singer-songwriter Tori Amos, whose sexually provocative work has produced some of the most powerful and innovative songs of the last five years.

Amos, 32, the daughter of a Southern Methodist preacher, was born in North Carolina and started out as a child- prodigy classical pianist; as a teenagers chaperoned by her father, she sang in gay bars. She has inspired a comic book character named Delirium, believes in fairies and goddesses, and is considered slightly wacky.

Her songs about men and God and work and femininity all blend together in a big bubbly cauldron that sent her first two albums (Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink) to platinum status (Pink was No. 1 in England, Amos' adopted home.) Her live concerts are love fests for her mass "cult" following who worship at the altar of her black Bosendorfer piano, which Amos plays with the same physicality some rock gods play guitar.

Amos, whose eagerly anticipated third album ("Boys for Pele") is scheduled to be released Jan. 23, will tour the United States starting in April.

Lisa Robinson: You broke up a very long relationship [with engineer-producer Eric Rosse] prior to this album; is that what the songs are about?

Tori Amos: Well, an emotional work like this is inspired from an emotional place; it's about stealing fire from the men in my life. [Laughs.] I guess I didn't realize how much confidence I have in certain areas of my life, and just so little in other areas. It seemed as though everywhere I turned was to male mentors or emotional involvements. I became a vampire needing to feed, needing their energy and I didn't know how to access it. When I was onstage I could, but when I walked off that stage I began to see that the woman was completely divided and segregated from the work.

Lisa: Was there ever a long period of time that you weren't involved in a relationship?

Tori: Not really. As I recall, for the most part there was usually a changing of the guard [Laughs] ... Probably the guy walking out gave the guy walking in a cigarette [Laughs], and said, 'Good luck with her.' Half the time I was obsessed, and half the time I was bored. It was always extremes. But still, someone was there, it was important to have someone there, and male, definitely.

Lisa: Didn't all the recognition and success help give you strength and a sense of self-worth, whether you were with a man or not?

Tori: Let's be real honest, when somebody says, 'Couldn't you just accept yourself ? Lisa, you're speaking Chinese. When I'm on my knees in Oklahoma City, even though logically, 'love and let go' seems really beautiful ...

Lisa: Oklahoma City?

Tori: That's where I was literally at the bottom. I was on tour when all this happened and I remember Oklahoma City being totally rock-bottom. 'It was like I was thinking, 'Just you wait, Henry Higgins,' and as I sat there on my knees in Oklahoma City, waiting for the phone to ring needing to feed, I'd reached the end of my rope.

Lisa: Had you felt this despair in other relationships?

Tori: Never like this. You get to a certain point where you can't keep the game up. I guess on some level I've grown as a person. What I used to do was have this way of working; sometimes being absolutely in love and then at the same time just not being an individual anymore, just fusing with one person. And I've hear Marianne Williamson say, "Love and let go,' and I'd say, 'Give me a map to love and let go.' To me, it was just rhetoric that didn't mean anything. I wanted tools; all I knew was I needed blood and I needed boy blood, and I needed to feed.

Lisa: And now?

Tori: There are places I would not put myself in again with men. I'm beginning to feel that I can go certain places I haven't been to before without feeling inept, without making me feel like I'm nothing.

Lisa: When you talk about the men in your life, does that include [Nine Inch Nails'] Trent Reznor?

Tori: Trent's a friend, and sometimes friends affect you. I have a lot of respect for the men who've taught me things, whoever they are, from [writer-artist] Neil Gaiman to Michael Stipe to [former boyfriend] Eric Rosse to Trent to my father. They're different people who've taught me a lot of different things and they all wave hello and wave goodbye. Some people will read whatever they want to into the songs, but there are many layers and levels. I've felt deep things for the men who've taught me about life, and there's a place in my heart for all of them.

Lisa: What about Michael Stipe?

Tori: We wrote a song together called It Might Hurt, but it kind of took a vacation. Maybe I'll resurrect it sometime, I don't know. We were put together by one of the film guys at Atlantic Records, and we got along like a house afire. He's very special.

Lisa: What do you say to people who think your work is so shocking, so sexually revealing.

Tori: Well, I think it challenges people. Some people see it as shock, but I see it as just stirring things up.


t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos
www.yessaid.com