home / interviews
Sunday Express (UK)
December 16, 2001
by Chris Goodman
Tori, the mother of all rages TORI AMOS has long perplexed and challenged the world. Famous for hits like Cornflake Girl and with 12 million albums sold, she has just been voted Q magazine's fourth best female artist of all time. Her 1991 debut album, Little Earthquakes, dealt with her rape. She is a methodist minister's daughter who is more interested in faerie lore. The sleeve of her 1996 platinum album, Boys For Pele, pictured her suckling a pig. But now, after three traumatic miscarriages, she is experiencing a very normal joy - motherhood.
Back with the album Strange Little Girls, Tori overhauls songs written by men and gives them new life from the female perspective. She remakes Eminem's 1997 Bonnie And Clyde, the story of a man who kills his wife and then takes their daughter along to dispose of the body, from the point of view of the dead woman. It adds to Amos's reputation as a rager against injustice. The tiny 38-year-old, a flame-haired American with intense green eyes, immediately launches into her horror of how cold her 15-month-old daughter, Natashya, gets on the tour bus as they work their way around America and Europe. Her husband of three years, a sound engineer, is also on tour with them, and shares the burden.
Today, sitting in her suite in central London, Tori recalls that this is the same hotel she came to after miscarrying for the third time. It's a haunting memory made bearable by the patter of tiny feet that occupy the room above her. She is distressed, but very open, in approaching the subject. "Now I have Natashya it's much easier," she begins in the same stream of consciousness that defines much of her music. "Those were my darkest days. There's just a grieving process that you have to go through. It's a tough journey because it's so intangible." She is visibly strained, searching for words, but she expresses herself honestly and bravely, another feature of her confessional songwriting. "It's all very thief-in-the-night. No one really knows what to say. You go into the emergency room, you think you're going to be a mum and you walk out empty. It's all neat and tidy, there's this potential being in your life and you're empty - all cleaned up and put back together, but completely shattered." The first miscarriage inspired her 1998 album, From The Choirgirl Hotel. The second came when she didn't even know she was pregnant. The third was the final straw. "November 11, 1999. I was on tour with Alanis Morissette in Paris, came to England on the train," she gulps softly and her eyes sparkle with tears. "I didn't know I was miscarrying, I was just scared to death that I was hemorrhaging. The nurse looked at me with tears in her eyes when the heartbeat wasn't there. The doctor was great, everyone was great in England..." She trails off.
Just when she had given up, Tori contracted stomach flu. Nine months later, that flu turned out to be her daughter. The singer has decided to stop after Natashya. She doesn't want to put herself through it again. Now happily settled in the peaceful surroundings of Bude in Cornwall, Tori and the locals are getting used to the lifestyle. "It's embarrassing when record company executives land at the Bude rugby club in their chopper. I think people find it amusing. It's a good story for the pub," she laughs, with the toothy grin that regularly explodes across her impish face. But she admits that "husband", as she calls him, has to explain English jokes to her.
From North Carolina, with a Cherokee Indian mother, she says she feels connected to her homeland from afar. She decided at the age of five that her father's religion wasn't for her. "I just decided to treat it as a course that would last until I was 21. I tried to understand the mind control. The one thing my father was very good at was dealing with people who've lost someone. Everyone is impossible to find when you've hit rock bottom. That's when you know who the real quality people are. Dad wasn't just doing it to drum up business. I could see him and he really had a passion. He did get me to play at funerals, though - I was cheaper than the organist."
When it's time for her to leave, it strikes me how strange it is to hear a star being so honest. "Thanks, I enjoyed that," she beams enthusiastically before charging off to a TV interview. Well, people will always ask, and Tori Amos never has been one to hold back.
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos