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WBCN, Boston (US, radio)
November 17, 1998
Tori Amos interview and live peformance
songs: Cooling and Never Seen Blue
Tori: Hi Bill.
Bill: We're just using the cheap mikes Tori and we want to make sure everything's ok.
Bill:And welcome back to WBCN. You had a traffic nightmare for a little while gettin' here?
Bill:I don't know did you?
Tori:I was eating my french fries, I have no idea.
Bill: You don't look like -- you wouldn't strike me as a french fry eater?
Tori:Really? That's good!
Bill:Yeah I think you look way too healthy for that... [asks her to play a song]
Tori:So this is a B-side, its not on any of the records, so don't go buy any of my records. Hehehehe.
[Tori performs Cooling]
Bill: Yeah, Tori Amos live here at WBCN! [blah blah blah] Tori some of these people have been waitin' outside since like, 8:30 this morning-
Bill:In the rain
Tori:And you can't even hear the piano [people in the background saying "its ok"]
Bill:This has got the be like the uh, the total opposite or extreme of what you're doing right now. Cause you're playing the big, monster hockey arenas right now, which is a very big change for you, how's it been going? Just the transition the larger stage?
Tori:You just have to um, everytime I, I don't do the setlist till like, 20 minutes before I go on. So, I'm in the venue a little bit, have a cup of tea, see the people on the way in... just get a sense of who you're playing to that night, and um, I change -- besides the first and the last song everything else is up for grabs. So you just get a sense of where you're playing and, I do design a show based on the feel I get from that place.
Bill: Yeah, I thinkn a lot of the fans initially, myself included, I was kinda like, I don't know-as much as we want to see you do well, and play bigger places, but its kinda like when you're into an artist its your little thing and you don't, ya know, wanna share it with 20,000 people and having seen you a couple times in very small intimate places I was kinda like, well I don't really know...
Tori: Yeah, I knew I was gonna get that...
Tori: No, its not like your predictable or anything Nik, I figured that would be coming but at the same time, you know, if artists aren't driving their own train, you guys get bored and then, I have to follow always my muse, no matter what. And I knew that I wanted to have a bit of a Dionysian frenzy-it's more like a fire ceremony. You have people moving parts of their bodies that they didn't even know that they had. And that's what an arena creates-its this primitive (growling/purring noise)
Bill: I think the band lends to that too
Tori: Yeah, but its all the bouncing off of these shapes. To me, music is always about sonic geometry. What sounds can fit, what kind of shape your gonna make with these sounds. And in some of these bigger places it just bounces off and it does kind of create that um, ya know, just a decadence that a dry room doesn't create.
Bill: Yea decadence!
Bill:You move on from the 1 to 1... trying to get the mass to move in the way that you want to get them to move.
Tori: But see, I also wanted to show what the acoustic piano can do. She can hold an arena, and she can be integrated with other instruments. And it's not, you know, I don't have a gratuitous back up band. [in a snobby voice] oh yeah, they're the studio guys and they do a little backbeat... it's not about that. Its about obviously, Bonham was my teacher. That music. And when I was gonna put a band together, I had to feel like that the piano could stand next to these, intense live shows by Zepplin, by whatever. And that's what I wanted to do and then the -- to tell the guys to go have a beer or something and do songs at the piano and still work-ya know, that was a challenge.
Bill: Have you enjoyed this challenge? blah blah blah
Tori:Yeah, it's tricky but I think you know, people see the piano. People see WOMAN at the PIANO in a different light. Its not just about, you know, they know that this instrument that is not normally thought of um, oozing jelly dripping down your chin, um, moving your body, and can hold their own against the big guitar things. I mean, that's what was very exciting -- to show that the piano is that versatile.
Bill: It was interesting, talkin about going from the smaller, intimate places to the big uh, enormo domes of the land. [To Lisa Street, I believe] How many times have you seen her?
Lisa: Um, twenty-two
Bill: So when Lisa came in you guys made eye contact and you gave her a little wave and it just amazes me, that uh, whenever I've seen you... the people that come to see you, aren't just fans, they identify with you unlike any other artist. They really feel like they're a part of you and a part of whats going on... blah blah blah... 22 times? As wonderful as that may be, does it overwhelm you even?
Tori: No, I think you just, that's why I change the show every night because the main thing is the crew has a commitment to excellence, so does the band, and it's really about how do we make magic every night? And sometimes we don't achieve it. But we, we're out here on the road to try and achieve it as much as we can. And so, I think that people know that we're not just up there, because we have nothing better to do. I mean, we really want to be there playing music. I'd like to think, you know, if you're bored it's not a bad place to hang out for a couple of hours.
Bill: It's an unusual perspective cause there's people here blah blah blah... search engine I find 197 different entries for Tori Amos... is that overwhelming?
Tori: I don't have a computer -- I think that's a good move. No, you know what it is, I just think you, I really get that, um, I'm a translator for these songs and I try to hold true to them, and I feel really blessed that they come and visit me, and I just they really want to make contact with other people, these songs, and I just try to be a good ya know, interpretor for them. Plus, if I become a jerk they'll kick my ass! So you know, there is a deal that is made, that you make with the muse. I think everybody makes their own deal. And if you forget your deal, that's when you see a lot of artists ya know, have sort of embarassing and tragic, and slow downfalls... hahahah... mentioning no names. But you know what I mean? Sometimes when you realize Oh my God! What are they thinking? They've stopped listening. You've stopped being street-level, meaning you've stopped listening to just the voice of people. As a song writer you have to be observant and you have to still be very grounded and when you get caught up in whats going on backstage and its sort of the illusion of the side of the music business. Then you stop writing good songs I think... you just start writing things like -- WHAT?! Like, if this person wasn't famous would we REALLY care about this? And Idon't even care if they are! ya know, I think people forget-you can't lose touch with just ya know, hangin around.
Bill: Lots of people relate... blah blah blah... how do you think being married is going to change any of your songwriting...?
Tori: Well, he's inspired stuff ya know, already. We won't get into it-He does NOT like to be talked about-that's another deal
Bill: I don't mean to delve in there... [talks about Smithereens writing great broken hearted love songs, then got married and was happy -- Tori seems really really bored]
Tori: Guess we'll see won't we Bill? Hehehe. No, nobody wants happy musicians, we all know that. I think the thing is, you uh, there's a certain point where, as a songwriter, I never answer questions-not even to him, he knows it. I do not explain the songs. I have to have sort of anonimity. So, you just imagine if you were married to me, and I come on with something about me snakin' around and you might go "hey, is this based on -- do I need to like um, be uh, worried about anything, ya know, checking to see if there are another coat or pair of socks around the house. You know what I'm saying? I can't answer these questions as a songwriter to anybody. Like my friends will say "well what is this about?" I can't-you can't really go there-because you, you get in really big trouble if you start answering those questions...am I making any sense?
Bill: Absolutely... I haven't seen you in a year and I said jokingly "how are you you old lady?" Not to emphasize old of course-
Tori: No, no we can emphasize that. I'm proud of it... I'm proud of my hehe, Geritol.
Bill:It was funny, I guess I saw it on MTV and you were talking about when you got married and you were surprised cause you never thought you would and I just, was it difficult for you, to date? Just being who you are? Did you find that men were intimidated to even approach you?
Tori: Yeah... I would say that. Uh, Hmmm, Well, See it can get very competitive, in a sad way. Like with, if guys are creative. Or it can be really a wonderful exchange. Passionate and you know, all that stuff going on. But then, it gets scary because you've got two of you that might might be, uh, not playing with a full deck. You know? And so, that gets a bit dangerous and I think that musicians are, notoriously immature. Which is fine on some levels, but I've always been into techies anyway. I've always been into that side of guys. I'm really into... tech guys. And I think that's because being a musician, I'm just, I don't want to date another me.
Bill:well i was thinking the man/woman thing in general a lot of men are very intimidated by a woman with a strong presence. And then someone like yourself... blah blah blah... I think a lot of guys might be afraid of ending up "Mr. Tori Amos" if you know what I mean.
Tori: I think a lot of guys were. But this one, just, Johnny, you say it... he just isn't-he's just not that kind of [?].
Bill: Congrats are in order... one of Glamour magazines women of the year. Congrats...explain to everyone... do you get a tiara and a sash with that?
Tori: No, no you don't.
Bill:Is there like, a secret club you get to go to and hang out?
Tori: Well, hmmmm... OK. There were some cool people. There's no question there were some really cool women there, that you got to meet and that was interesting... like the woman who brought down the Navy -- she was there. 1992.
Bill: blah blah blah. Is it just me or is this just so far removed from what you're all about?
Tori: What the Glamour award? Well I think the thing about that is um, you get to meet other cool people. I think that's why you go. It'd be insulting if you didn't go... and so, you go. At least I was on time, not mentioning anybody else's name. But you know there are just sometimes that you get a sense of other people when you you don't even need to speak to them. Going to the MTV awards, you really didn't need to go to the party afterwards which I did and it's really not my thing. But I had to go there cause I was summoned. YOu know you do get summoned sometimes as we know, and you just show up. And uh, so Beck is there looking at me going I think he said something to the effect he said "hey Tori did you know that this was going to be amateur night?" Bit funny. Bit of a funny lad.
Bill: How are things with RAINN these days?
Tori: REALLY good. Um, the good news and the bad news is they've had over 220,000 calls. And its up and running and it's, I really like the people that run RAINN... they're good thinkers. And they're always trying to find ways to make it run a little better.
Bill: Is this something that you've had to sort of let go of now that you're touring?
Tori: Yeah. The DC Rape Crisis center is really the hub for that. And there are people that just exclusively work on RAINN all the time. Making sure that the phone bills are paid, that people when they call and get connected to one of the 600 Rape Crisis centers in the country. We're really a networking system, making sure that the people get to the counselors-that's what we do.
Bill: Would you like to favor us with another song?
Tori:OK. Let me just have a sip of water... say something first.
Bill: Sure, its Tori Amos live here at WBCN. We could do the play by play but I don't think most people would be all that interested. She's put the cap back on the water and gingerly put it down on the floor.
Tori: OK. This is uh, this is another B-side. I think this was out on the Jackie's Strength thing. This was supposed to make Boys For Pele and it didn't. Then it was supposed to make this record and it didn't so -- it's making BCN today!
[Tori performs Never Seen Blue]
Bill: Tori Amos Live here at WBCN. blah blah blah. [lots of talking between the deejays, tori and the people right out side the studio. mega confusing unless you hear it.] So whats up with BT? The rumor is he's going to produce the next record... is that true?
Tori: Hehehehe... I don't know where that comes from. I mean, BT's a really nice person but I haven't spoken to him in a year.
Tori: Yeah, I mean, I'm on the road. No. No he's not producing the next record. I'm doing a live and b-side record. So, we're recording every night and there'll be a few new tracks. And um, I don't think BT -- he might pop by for a cup of coffee or something but no.
Bill: I love the thing you did with Leah Andreone. It was genius.
Tori: Oh thank you.
Bill: You look surprised!
Tori: What are you talking about? What did I do?
Bill: I thought you like produced it or something? That "its alright its ok" thing...
Tori: What is that? "It's alright it's ok"?
Bill: I'm misinformed then.
Tori: No, that's ok.
Bill: Wouldn't be the first time... maybe we should play it for you later...
Tori: Yeah play it for me later. I mean, I know that I just woke up and everything but I... yeah see this is why I don't have a computer. I think its a good thing because, because um, I think it -- my life is far more interesting on the rumor stage than it really is.
Bill: Most peoples lives are like that. I want to thank you Tori so much for coming by.
Tori: Absolutely Bill. Thanks for having me.
Bill: Have fun tonight up in Lowell. Greatly rejuvinated Lowell, Massachusetts at the Tsongas Arena.
Tori: It'll be good.
[the Lip Gloss version of Raspberry Swirl is played]
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