home / interviews
June 29, 1996
Tori Amos' Igloo Houses A Pet
by Paul Verna
In a business that thrives on long-lasting relationships,
few can boast the longevity that Tori Amos and her manager,
Arthur Spivak, claim to enjoy. To hear them tell the story,
they were married 10,000 years ago in a previous incarnation
and lived together in an igloo. It was only fitting,
therefore, that when they decided to form a label many
lifetimes later, they would call it Igloo Records.
The concept for the label was born a couple of years ago,
after Spivak received a tape of a Los Angeles-based rock
band called Pet.
"I fell in love with what I heard," he recalls. "I worked
with them for six months, and I let them grow in an organic
way. Later, when Tori was in L.A. [in February 1995] for the
Grammys, I told her I was really excited about this band
that I wanted her to hear, and she flipped out over them."
Amos says, "Arthur played me a tape of Pet, and soon after
that, I saw them live. I looked at Arthur and said, 'Don't
you let some ding-a-ling get their hands on them.' And he
looked at me and said, 'Well, what are you up to?'
And I said, 'What are you saying?' And he said, 'Well,
aren't you getting bored of just being an artist?' And I
said, 'Well, yeah.'"
At that moment, Amos and Spivak hatched their plans to start
a custom label within the Atlantic Group, Amos' home for the
bulk of her recording career, including her three hit solo
albums, "Little Earthquakes," "Under the Pink," and "Boys
Atlantic Group co-chairman/co-CEO Val Azzoli says he was
thrilled to hear of Amos and Spivak's plans.
"A label is what its artists are," says Azzoli. "We've
always had a great relationship with Tori Amos. She's one
of the most gifted and talented people I've ever met. Tori
has a way of looking at talent and creative things like no
one else does. She's going to spot diamonds in the rough
better than anyone."
Amos says she and Spivak have free rein to bring acts to
Atlantic, where they will have access to the sales,
marketing, publicity, and other support functions of the
various Atlantic labels, as well as the WEA distribution
system. Spivak will continue to manage the band, which is
still without a booking agent or publisher.
Pet will be marketed through Atlantic's TAG imprint, whose
roster includes Yum-Yum, Solution A.D., the Bottlerockets,
the Lemonheads, Fountains of Wayne, Madder Rose, She, Fuzzy,
the Inbreds, Rusty, Johnny Skillsaw, and Ugly Beauty.
TAG VP/GM Darren Higman says "This is a developmental
project. It's not one I envision becoming big right out of
the box. There will be a lot of continual setup. Press is
going to be a really important part of the puzzle. As far
as marketing, it'll be a real grassroots effort. We'll
start from the ground up. We plan on putting them out,
exposing them to the college market, letting people know
there's an association with Tori."
Higman hopes the build-up will entice college and modern
rock radio programmers to "demand a single from Pet, rather
than us cramming a single down their throats."
Pet's self-titles debut is due in stores Sept 3. In the
meantime, an album track, "Lil' Boots," will appear on the
Hollywood soundtrack to "The Crow: City of Angels," which
also features new recordings by Hole, Bush, PJ Harvey, White
Zombie, Filter, Tricky, the Gravediggaz, the Toadies, Seven
Mary Three, former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry and
Grace Slick, Korn, NY Loose, the Deftones, Above The Law
featuring Frost, and Iggy Pop (who appears in the movie).
The Atlantic soundtrack to "The Crow"--featuring Nine Inch
Nails,the Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, and others--was
certified platinum in the U.S. and has sold 1.7 million
copies, according to Soundscan.
Higman says, "These days, it's very hard to get press and
retail to stand up and pay attention. So it's great for us
to be able to send them the 'Crow 2' soundtrack and say,
'Here's our new group. Their record comes out in September.'"
Asked whether TAG and Atlantic have put together a marketing
plan for territories outside the U.S., Higman says, "We're
working on it, but it's still early. They've just gotten the
music overseas. But obviously, one of our goals at TAG is
utilizing our group globally. As you know, a great
percentage of our sales are generated worldwide."
Pet consists of singer/writer Lisa Papineau,
guitarist/vocalist/writer Tyler Bates and drummer/vocalist
Alex LoCascio. They formed after Bates' brother Edward
heard Papineau singing a tongue-in-cheek Ozzy Osbourne
tribute in an L.A. club. Taken with Papineau's voice and
presence, Edward decided to introduce the singer to his
Papineau and Tyler hit it off immediately and began writing
songs together. They enlisted LoCascio, Bates' longtime
drummer, and used temporary bass players to gig around L.A.
and record demos.
When Amos met the band members, she offered them a handshake
deal to cut an album for her fledging label and invited them
to record at her house in Ireland, where Amos recorded much
of her latest project.
The centerpiece of Pet's album is the explosive "Skin
Tight," which will be the first video and most likely the
first commercial single. The uptempo track showcases the
full range of Papineau's voice, from a guttural growl to an
intimate whisper. Other highlights of "Pet" are the
stinging "Lil' Boots," the catchy "Fatherland," and the
Amos says she was bowled over by Papineau's and the band's
material. Amos compares Papineau's voice to that of the
late Bon Scott of AC/DC. "Lisa can sound like that," says
Amos. "And yet she has this wonderful control over her
voice. She can sound like a reed instrument. To have that
kind of energy and write great songs and have the power of
Bon Scott and yet the lyricalness in the voice of a reed
instrument and the power of the band--it's just something I
never heard before."
Azzoli adds, "They're really good, hard-working people, and
they want it. And they're great live, which is Tori's
strength. Given my background as a manager, I'm big on the
Pet's members say they are moved by Amos' commitment to the
band's career. "We loved her when we first met her," says
Papineau. "She wants to see her artists treated with the
respect she didn't get at the beginning of her career. She
doesn't assume that musicians are stupid idiots who should
be led by the hand."
Bates adds that he relishes the freedom that the band had in
making its record. "There was nobody looking over our
shoulder. I've talked to other bands who say they had the
A&R guy making suggestions at the session."
Bates also appreciates the fervor of the TAG team and the
weight that Atlantic can put behind the project."It's awful
nice to have the intensity of a very focused team of people
but also be backed by the big label, so it doesn't limit our
growth potential," he says.
Similarly, Azzoli says, "We figure we'll [work] this band
[at the grassroots level] for a year, a year and a half.
When the record reaches a certain level, the Atlantic
machine can take over."
To set up the album, Pet will embark on a nationwide club
and college-campus tour. Papineau says, "We're going to go
on the road and be inside a very smelly van for a long
time." LoCascio adds, "I'll play anywhere for anybody.
bring it on! Our take on things is just to get out there and
Meanwhile back at the Igloo, a little earthquake is rumbling
between Amos and Spivak. Referring to their previous life
together, Spivak says, "There's some question as to which of
us was which sex." To which Amos counters, "He knows full
well who was which sex. I was chasing him around the igloo,
and he was wearing a little skirt."
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos