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Modern Rock Live (US, radio)
February 4, 1996
[A small portion of the beginning is missing.]
Tori Amos: I always wanted to play. That was a language that I felt like I understood, and it was something I couldn't live without. I couldn't live without music in my life in some form. Life just isn't as interesting to me when there isn't music around. So if I weren't playing it, I'd be involved somehow, and I've been doing it ever since I can remember.
Tom Calderone: Tori Amos is with us on Modern Rock Live. We talk to Stacey in Finley Park, Illinois. Hi Stacey.
Caller: Hi. You have a very strong, concentrated and extremely devoted fan base. In fact, I have over 30 of your imports and bootleg CDs. Do you prefer that type of following or fame (as compared) to the type of fame more commonly known as "mainstream"?
Tori: Well, I've never had the other type, so I wouldn't be able to tell you (laughs). But I will tell you that other artists, who are much more well-known, have come to my shows, and they have asked me, "Hey, Tori, can I borrow your audience?" I said, "You can't ask me; you have to ask them." I'm just really thrilled, and I don't know what I did in my last life. I don't know, but whatever I did to get people to come and just be open to what I could play, you couldn't ask for anything more as a musician. There is no greater feeling than when people show up and just go, "Hey, play whatever you want. I mean, if you suck, Tori, then that's a different story (laughs). But, you know, try, and if you get tomatoes thrown at you, then you'll know how we feel."
Tom: The fact that your fan base is so intense to your songs - and, again, buying the bootlegs and seeing you live in concert - does that put any more added pressure on you when you're in the studio, or do you just try and block that out and deal with it when you're actually live on stage? They're not a passive audience. I mean, they are not ones who sit around and talk to their friends while you're on stage. It's a real intense show.
Tori: The concerts are very much about a dual effort. Whoever comes, I'm working off that energy that night. I think a lot of these people know that. The show in Cleveland will be different from the show in Cincinatti just because it will be totally different. I'm working off the frequency in the room. It's not about me just playing a bunch of songs. It's much more about, "Where can we travel?" I mean, we don't have aircraft. I love speed. I love Formula One racing. I love the idea of traveling. But why do you have to leave your body to travel? I mean, you travel on a computer, so why can't you go interdimensionally emotionally? So that's what I try to do in a concert. But I'm tapping off of every resource in that room that decides where we can go and where we can't go. I think a lot of people cruise through cos they want to take a trip.
Tom: Tori Amos is with us on Modern Rock Live. We go from Chicago to Nebraska and talk to Tom on 104.1 "The Planet" in Lincoln. Hi Tom.
Caller: On your first two albums, you were mainly a solo act with few backup musicians, whereas on your new disc, you seem to have more musicians playing along with you. Are we starting to see a change in your music style?
Tori: I think I wanted to expand a bit as a musician, as a player and arrangement-wise, so I do think that that's changing. On the tour, I'm hoping to have guest musicians show up at different times. I'm not bringing a band because, first of all, I don't think I could improvise. I only have ten days to get the live show together. We couldn't learn how to think like a band that's been together for a long time. Part of the live shows are very much based around improvisation, so I think you're going to see some people show up who maybe won't be there for the whole tour, but I hope to keep it interesting for everybody.
Tom: Can we ask you to do another song for us?
Tom: But I'm not going to ask you what song until after.
Tori: Cause I don't know either.
Tom: No, that's cool.
[Tori improvises a new song. Here are the lyrics:
She needs to sleep like the ocean. She needs to dream like that boy in the stratum. Don't know where he's about, but I'm sure he knows one armed sports. I need to be in this body. I need to breathe. I need no need but one, and it's gonna be here like it never was, like it never was. He's got girls on his fingers. Little doe eyes making ringers ring off the phone. Tell her you know what she's been thinking cause I need only one, only one sugar plum, I said. You're gonna see I'm ready to be just with the one, with the blue, blue motions emotions]
Tom: Awesome. Tori Amos here on Modern Rock Live, live from Electric Lady Studios. And the title of that song?
Tori: I don't know. It just happened. "For Mark." How's that?
Tom: Okay, a work in progress. Rory is calling us from West Palm Beach, Florida. There you go - another exclusive from Tori that you're not going to hear anywhere else.
Caller: I was wondering who your musical influences are?
Tori: So many. It's constantly changing cos I'm always having my ear to the ground.
Tom: What do you like now that's out?
Tori: Somebody who influenced me recently is Manu Katche, the drummer. Maybe you're familiar with him. He's one of the great drummers alive now. He's played with Peter Gabriel, Sting and loads of other people. The way that he listens to rhythm. I watched him. He played on "Pele," and I would just watch him. As I watched him play, I would have to sneak outside because he wouldn't let anybody be in there. And he wears these blue sunglasses when he plays. You know, he's Parisian; he's Northern-African Parisian, so he just looks down at you. You feel totally inferior when he's around (laughs). But I went outside, and one of the sound guys said (in a whisper), "Tori, check it out. You've got to watch the way he plays. Look, he wears his shades on when he's playing and they don't fall off his face." I said, "Okay, let's go check it out." So we race outside and I'm on top of their shoulders cos I can't see him through the window. I'm too little. They lift me up, and I practically fall in. He looks up and it's like, "Get out of here!" (laughs) Yet, he smiled this smile, and he's like, "If I knew you were going to all this trouble, I would have just let you in." What he showed me was how it's so effortless. Rhythm is just the breath. I've always thought about it as a piano player, but to see when a drummer feels the breath, and the air is so much a part of the sound. How they bring that arm back, and it's within milliseconds when they hit that snare. It's like (moans). I mean, when they get it right, there's nothing more delicious than the way that they just lay it in there. You feel like you're getting driven by this 18-wheel truck, and it's fantastic.
Caller: I was wondering if it's true that you do sketches while you write your songs, and what kind of drawings did you do while writing "Boys For Pele"?
Tori: Doodling would be a better word for this (laughs). I mean, I don't have any delusions here. The art world doesn't need to wait for my sketches. A lot of times, I'm just trying to free my brain so that I stop thinking about where the next phrase is gonna go. I find that I lead a witness, no different than a lawyer. I'm leading the next line. I almost have to take it to … so that it can go somewhere that maybe I'd never go because it doesn't make logical sense.
Tom: I'm Tom Calderone along with Tori Amos on MRL. Can we ask you to do another song for us? We don't know what you're gonna do, but here we go. More exclusive playing from Tori.
[Tori plays Putting the Damage On]
Tom: That's Tori Amos exclusively on MRL. And the name of that song?
Tori: "Putting the Damage On" from "Pele."
Tom: Great. Thank you. We'll be back with Tori Amos and more of your calls.
Tom: Tori Amos is with us exclusively on MRL. We go back to our busy phones and talk to Max in New Providence, New Jersey.
Caller: I heard that your rape hotline is going out of business. I was wondering if there's anything we can do to help it out.
Tori: Well, thank you for asking. We're trying to do a special benefit concert in accordance with HBO, and some of the bands are really coming forward that want to try and help out. There's gonna be information in Spin in a couple of issues. I'm thrilled that you've called and asked. We're just trying to figure out ways to keep the hotline going, so we'll keep you posted. Thank you so much for asking.
Tom: Could you also do us a favor, Tori? Keep in touch with us, too, cos we'd like to get that information out as the weeks go on, even though you won't be here. We'd still like the listeners to know about it.
Tom: So tune in to MRL for more details on that.
Caller: I know that you co-produced the previous two albums, but I wanted to know what made you decide to produce this one on your own?
Tori: Well, I was kind of claiming my womanhood on this record, so I felt like I couldn't look over my shoulder and say, "What do you think?" I really enjoyed collaborating with some of the producers I've worked with, namely Eric Rosse whom I worked with exclusively on "Under the Pink." I missed that in some ways, and in other ways, it was kind of like I did things that I have never done before just because I had a bunch of live guys, sound guys, there, and sound guys kinda looked at you... I could have suggested, "I want to mike up 15 sherpas (?)," and they would just sit there and find a way to do it. That's the thing about techs. When I came up with an idea, they said, "Let's find a way to do it," instead of "Does this make musical sense? Is this really what you want to do?" They wouldn't ask me that. I really needed at this time in my life to not have any logical comments (laughs). Sometimes, it's like, "No, I want a Leslie. Where are we gonna put it?" The techs go, "We're gonna put it in the graveyard cause there's no place else." Does it matter that it's raining and the wind is blowing 50 m.p.h.? No! We get blankets. We put the Neumanns under the blankets. They put the Leslie out in the graveyard and we roll tape, and that's what's on "Horses." So it just became, "Let's try it. Let's do it." No kind of, "What do you think?" We would just try things and do it.
Tom: From the City of Brotherly Love to the City of the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, we talk to Amy (in Cleveland).
Caller: What do you do in your spare time.
Tori: Sleep! (laughs) No, usually, we're in a different city all the time because I'm rarely in one place. I like to go and just explore a place. I usually go with a buddy, whoever is hanging out at the time, and we go 'slope off', as we say. We just kind of 'slope', and we find places to go. I like to go see visual art a lot. It's one of my favorite things to do. I don't get a lot of time to do it, but I try to see visual art. It always opens up a new perspective for me.
Tom: Tori Amos is with us live in New York. We're gonna ask you to do another song for us. We're not gonna ask you the title, but maybe you could dedicate this to MRL and all the listeners out there.
Tori: Okay, let me think.
[Tori plays Losing My Religion]
Tom: Exclusive Tori Amos on MRL, doing R.E.M. Thank you very much, Tori. Great version.
Tori: I did that for a John Singleton film, "Higher Learning." I don't play it that much, but I enjoyed cutting that. That was always one of my very favorite songs.
Tom: Tori Amos will take more of your calls and play some cuts from her latest CD.
Tom: Tori Amos is with us live on MRL. Tomorrow morning, she'll be the guest on "CBS This Morning." On Thursday, February 8, she'll be on "The Tonight Show (with Jay Leno)." The U.K. tour starts February 23, and the U.S. tour starts April 8 in Orlando.
Caller: What advice do you have for young, female musicians, and do you think it's harder for women to make a name for themselves in music?
Tori: I think it's never been a better time for female musicians as far as people being open. As you can see, you hear female artists much more on the radio than you have ever before. I just think it's important not to see yourself as a female musician or a male musician. I do think, yeah, you're a woman, and a guy is a guy and some guys are women, which is fantastic (laughs). The truth is, it's about not limiting yourself, not thinking of yourself as, "Well, being a female, I kind of write this way." No, just get to know your instrument, whether it's your voice or whether it's your voice and another instrument or just another instrument. You let yourself have no censorship. Approach it from rhythm. Approach it from tone. That doesn't have a sex. That doesn't have a race. That doesn't have anything we can't all access. Just because you're from a certain culture doesn't mean you shouldn't have access to something that gets you off. Just because you grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, or whatever doesn't mean that you can't have Caribbean music in your blood. It doesn't mean that you don't have primitive rhythm. It doesn't mean anything. You just have to allow yourself the freedom to explore. Let yourself do it.
Tom: Good answer. Thanks.
Caller: I was wondering if you could tell me what the song "Father Lucifer" is about and if you're rather religious?
Tori: "Father Lucifer" is really about going to have a cup of tea with Lucifer, which I had to do. Now, when I say Lucifer, I'm talking about the feelings that we hide from ourselves [not something that's twisted and evil, like during the Inquisition when they used Christianity to torture people. That's Satanism.] I had to go in this record when I was trying to find parts of myself that I had not let scream and dance and have a tear. I went to go visit Lucifer to get my talisman, which means my little magic key that took me to the places that I hadn't let myself go. That's really about having a little tango, a little dance, with Lucifer. The idea that Dark is not a scary thing if you go in there understanding there is a purity in Darkness. There's also a lot of distortion in Darkness. It's a choice where you want to go, and I wanted to get to the truth, not to the drama and to keeping me from the truth.
Tom: And here it is on Modern Rock Live.
[the album version of Father Lucifer is played]
Tom: The CD is called "Boys For Pele." We'll be back in just a minute with more from Tori Amos on America's #1 alternative music show, MRL.
Tom: Hey, thanks to everyone who called in. And thanks again to Tori for joining us tonight.
Tori: Thanks, Tom. I just want to thank you for calling in, you guys. Come see us when we're touring cos we have 200 shows to do. We get very lonely (laughs).
Tom: The tour, of course, starts April 8 in Orlando. Thanks again, Tori. I'm Tom Calderone.
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the World of Tori Amos