home / interviews
KBCO, Boulder (US, radio)
KBCO, Boulder, Colorado (97.3 FM)
June 28, 2007
Tori Amos interview
Tori: Hello, Brett. How are you?
Brett: I'm fine. How have you been?
Tori: Oh, I'm doing well. I'm running around Europe, doing this tour, having a blast.
Brett: Yeah, you promised last time we talked when the boxset came out that you would give us a call when the new CD was done, American Doll Posse. Now, I know you've been in Austria - is it Austria or Australia you've been in?
Tori: No, Austria last night. I played Groz. So I've been in Eastern Europe. Bratislava, Prague, Ljubljana, Budapest, and today I'm in Zurich.
Brett: Do they have uh, like, Applebee's there?
Tori: Uh, no. I just, no. Käisekrainer. So I got the crew last night, I got thirty Käisekrainer for the crew. So that's sausage with cheese infusions--
Brett: I'm sorry. What is that again?
Tori: Sausage, big long sausages, with cheese infusions. That's what the crew got last night, and they were very, very, very happy to get it, trust me.
Brett: I don't think they have that at Applebee's. Yet.
Tori: No, I don't think so. No. Applebee's is nowhere to be found here in Switzerland, or in the eastern part of Europe.
Brett: Now, I've been spending some time with American Doll Posse, and this is some of the information that came with the CD. It's a very ambitious project, and it's hard to break it down into just a few lines, but what I have here is 'Five distinct characters who combine to make a complete woman. After centuries of being dismembered literally and figuratively by a ruling patriarchy, the feminine essence has reassembled to take back the power'. What can you add to that?
Tori: 'Said by a preacher's daughter.'
Brett: That's right. Preacher's daughter.
Tori: That's right.
Brett: So, this, it's interesting because you take on various personas. There's a persona named Tori, and there's Pip, and Isabel, and Clyde, and Santa.
Tori: Santa. That's right.
Brett: Now, how did these characters come to you? How do you channel them?
Tori: Well, each one is really built on one of the female character types of the Greek pantheon. So Santa holds Aphrodite, Artemis is held by Isabel, Persephone is held by Clyde, Pip holds Athena, and Tori holds Demeter-slash-Dionysius. So, very simply, each night when I play live, one of these women that isn't Tori opens the show, and then Tori comes on, because we need that big back catalogue. Or else, the other girls would fight her, they would fight her for that second slot, I'm telling you. They would kick that redhead off the stage.
Brett: So ultimately commerce has to win out, with the back catalogue.
Tori: Well, it's not just commerce. It's that, you have to see the audience and at a certain point they need those recognizable songs. I mean, it's a two-hour show, and at a certain point, if they don't get "Cornflake Girl", or "Fairytale", or "God", then they, you know, you have to give them some of those. So Tori can do that.
Brett: Which of these characters do you enjoy writing for the most?
Tori: Well, you know what, it's funny you asked me that. Because it's changing. Originally, when the songs were coming to me, I was developing this all at the same time. So the musical styles were incredibly varied. I would get something such as "Teenage Hustling", which Pip does, inspired by The Damned from the old punk days. And then I'd get something like "Roosterspur Bridge", which is very James Taylor-inspired. And you can't get more, I don't know, polar opposites than that. So I was either making many records, right, or one record with many different voices. And that was really the inception. But now Brett, now that I'm getting to know them, well, the songs are coming like mad, and Pip has decided she wants her own solo record. And I've told her to take her rubber and get lost.
Brett: It's very interesting, Tori, because all of these characters have taken on their own personas in cyberspace. And I find it a good move for you that you're using the 'Internets' - as the President calls them - for more than just selling memorabilia. All of these people, all of these characters, these personas, have their own space on the Internet in which to vent, in which to provide their viewpoint for the world. This takes up a lot of your time, doesn't it?
Tori: Oh, my god. You should talk to my daughter about this. She came up to me and said "Mummy, there is no Tash time. There is Santa time and there's Pip time, but there is no Tash time!" And so I thought, you know, that's fair enough, Tash. It's true that writing this work while I'm on the road... yeah, it does take up energy, but I have to tell you, it's unbelievably exciting for me. Because I don't know where the story's going. I don't - you know, I wake up and I think I know where the story's going, but for example, Pip just played Groz last night. And the response that she got, the letters that she gets backstage, it's changing the story. And so, when I started this project, if you told me "Yeah, but you're going to be writing this kind of 'Internet novel' to go along with the music, and it will change as you go," I would have looked at you and said, "I would never do that to myself." And here I am, doing it!
Brett: So how much does this affect - this is a serious question - how much does it affect Tori Amos, psychologically, to inhabit these characters and spend so much time splitting up your own personality with these personalities? Or is it ultimately a great thing for you to have these different outlets?
Tori: I think all women are complex creatures. For the most part. There are some vapid, vacant, you know, not-so-much-between-the-ears kind of girls, but most of the women I know are pretty complicated. And they have more than just, say, the 'girl at work' persona that you run into. There's another side to them. So, maybe, I have not been so open to letting Santa come into my life all these years. I've been a bit harsh on the Aphrodite character type. But I have to tell you, it's a winner with Husband. Santa's a winner with Husband.
Brett: How's that?
Tori: Oh yeah.
Brett: How is it a winner with husbands?
Tori: Santa's a winner.
Brett: Oh, Santa's a winner with husbands. I see.
Tori: She's a winner, yeah. Yeah, thumbs-up for Santa. I see these people happy backstage. It's funny. Even if I'm not choosing to have her perform that night, she'll just run around in her wig and see everybody - she's a social butterfly - before the show. And it's strange how these characters, you think, well, they're taking on a story of their own.
Brett: To me, it also seems that American Doll Posse, apart from the music itself, is almost a deliberate attempt to take on the short attention span. Because I think about iTunes, and how that's kind of taken over a certain aspect of our media culture. But this is something that - I mean, you can break it up into specific songs, but it really is, the sum is maybe greater than the parts, huh.
Tori: Well, I loved double albums when I was growing.
Brett: I want to ask you about that, yeah.
Tori: I just loved them. They meant so much to me. And when you mentioned the word 'iTunes', that's where a lot of people are focused on: a song, a tune, instead of a sonic novel. And for me, I just remember loving to take those journeys when those double albums came out. So I thought - my philosophy is always "If it's too loud, turn it up." So if everybody's focusing on tunes, I'm going to focus on a double album.
Brett: So what were some of your favorite concept albums when you were a kid?
Tori: Well, I'm a big Ziggy Stardust fan, obviously. And when you talk about double albums, I loved Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and The White Album. It's one of my favorites of all time. So over the years, I'm one of these people that really wanted to take an adventure without having to leave my stereo or leave my car.
Brett: Well, again, American Doll Posse is the new project from Tori Amos, and it's very ambitious, and I think that you make a lot of people all over the world - you andyour various personas - you make them pretty happy with what you're doing. Because nobody's doing what you're doing right now.
Tori: Well, thank you. You promise you'll come see me when we play. We'll be playing there in the fall. The tour goes till Christmas, and we start touring in the States in early October. So we'll be coming your way.
Brett: Yeah, please come by and play at our KBCO Studio C again. We'd appreciate that.
Tori: Yeah, I'd love to do that.
Brett: Alright, Tori. It's always nice talking with you. Thanks for giving us your time this morning.
Tori: Okay, hon.
[transcribed by Paul McCulloch (SweetOnes from toriphorums)]
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos