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MTV's Alternative Nation (US, TV)
February 8, 1994

Tori Amos interview


Tori Amos and Kennedy

Tori is in a gray T-shirt with a low neckline beneath a black vest, wearing a pendant, with black tights. She's wearing pink lipstick and silver pendant earrings.

Kennedy: ... talking about the album?

Tori: No, I just get nervous when I'm talking. I'm much, okay - I'm better when I'm playing.

Kennedy: I hear you.

Tori: When I'm playing.

Kennedy: Pretend you're Schroeder. Pretend you're playing the piano.

Tori: Okay. [Tori plays an imaginary piano a la Schroeder.]

Kennedy: [chuckling] No, in your head. Think of the answers, and now, let's begin.

Tori: Okay.

Kennedy: Your album went number one in your, in your adopted home in England.

Tori: Yeah.

Kennedy: 'Cause you were a tarheel...

Tori: Yeah, I was, I was a tarheel. And I am in my heart. Especially when I'm eating biscuits.

Kennedy: And grits!

Tori: Yeah, and grits! I love grits!

Kennedy: See, but you still got that tarheel, that North Carolina in you, but you did, you did move to England, and uh, did that surprise you when the album skyrocketed to Number One?

Tori: Yeah, it just happened this week, so um, I'm kind of, um, I didn't know what to expect. I try not to think about how people are going to react to my work, um, 'cause I don't want that to change what I'm going to create. And if everybody hates it, I still don't want that to change...

Kennedy: Well...

Tori: ...what I made.

Kennedy: Well, that brings up a good point, because you've gotten some really good press, and you've become, um, this press darling, now, um...

Tori: Somet - not everywhere!

Kennedy: Well, not everything can be...

Tori: No, but I mean, when it's vicious, it's really vicious. And when it's good, it's really good. I seem to have the extremes. Um, that makes it interesting, I think, it's better than if it's just, like, [extends hand along in a straight line] no reaction.

Kennedy: Yeah. You're lucky! I mean, you're, you're very lucky! It's better to have people have a strong reaction to you than just think you're Muzak.

Tori: [little kid voice, little hands by head kid sleep gesture] He's sleepy!

Kennedy: You know? Well, that's very cool. Um, we're going to talk about more - we're going to talk more about North Carolina, and your record, and your songwriting, and all that. Tori Amos and the Alternative Nation march on, so stay here.

Kennedy: What does that title mean?

Tori: Under the concept of girl.

Kennedy: Um-hm? 'Cause you've got a lot of themes about women and...

Tori: Yeah! Lots of different things, things I... especially violence between women.

Kennedy: Between women?

Tori: Between women! Something I really hadn't wanted to look at, maybe, because I put women on this pedestal, that women wouldn't do things that men would do. And that's not really true, that's not fair, I think we're all capable of, um, really being scummy to each other.

Kennedy: Yeah.

Tori: So 'The Waitress' and 'Cornflake Girl' -

Kennedy: 'Do you believe in peace, bitch?'

Tori: Yeah! [Kennedy chuckles.] And when I had her neck in my hand, up against the wall, and I was going, "Okay, Tori, this could be three to five, with a broomstick up your butt..."

Kennedy: Ow.

Tori: I was like, "Yeah, get out of here, quick."

Kennedy: Wow, because it is, it is politically correct to believe that, uh, women are, are the end - all and the most perfect beings, but...

Tori: That's funny! Especially some of the ones I've met, I mean, I get - naturally I get disappointed when a woman doesn't stand up for another woman's rights.

Kennedy: Um-hm.

Tori: I've really dealt with a lot of female journalists, believe it or not, that don't want to talk about healing from violence and working through ... certain things, they just say, "Who's interested in talking about Jesus, masturbation, and rape?" and it's like, "What else is there to talk about? Of course we're going to talk about these things." And I've found that the women are the ones that block these issues a lot of the times, not the men, and that's the betrayal, it's like, "You're not a woman. You're ... you're a lizard walking around with a stolen ... genital."

Kennedy: Wow! That's heavy!

Tori: Well, it's, you know, you ... Tori and

Kennedy: ... feel that way ...

Kennedy: Um, that's, that's so interesting, though, 'cause I, I was actually persecuted in an article for not being enough of a feminist because I stood up for individual's rights.

Tori: [rolls eyes] Well, you know, the whole thing is, is ... if you're a growing person, it's about human rights, it's not just women's rights. You know, that's silly.

Kennedy: Yeah.

Tori: That's fascism. And, we've, we've got to think as a group, "Hang on a minute, guys," think about how we treat each other. Before we, uh, can really become powerful and effective, we have to look at how we're stabbing each other in the back ... what's going on in the ladies' room.

Kennedy: [addressing audience] No kidding. It's not just tampons and hair spray, okay there? All right.

Tori: That's right.

Kennedy: That's right. We're going to talk to Tori Amos some more. Uh, stick around, Alternative Nation: we'll dig deeper.

Kennedy: Hey, it's Kennedy talking. Tori Amos still, and I want to get into this thing a little bit deeper. We were talking about women in the press, um, turning a deaf ear to what you had to say about women's issues and issues in general.

Tori: Yeah, I mean, some of, uh, the strongest blockages has come from women who don't want to stand up for other women, which has just been like, you know, gets - it gets my blood boiling.

Kennedy: I hear you. But you, I mean, you've taken a stand. You went to Washington recently, and, um, did something for a rape crisis center?

Tori: It's coming up. It's going to happen in two months.

Kennedy: You're receiving a Visionary Award.

Tori: Yeah. Happening in two months. I'm going to sing 'Me and a Gun' and just talk about healing. It's really about healing, it's not about staying bitter.

Kennedy: Yeah.

Tori: That just - what does that do? It doesn't, doesn't do anything.

Kennedy: It's funny, I read a quote you said in Spin, and you're like, "Get to know Sad. She's got some pretty little dresses!"

Tori: That's right! That's a good shirt.

Kennedy: I thought that was cool! You personified Sad. Henry Rollins has a very funny thing about that in his Spoken Word, uh, nah, never mind...

Tori: I thought about making Henry Rollins peanut butter sandwiches. I don't know why that thought came to me, but I just had that thought some time.

Kennedy: Because he's such a manly man!

Tori: I don't know.

Kennedy: I, I thought about moving into [Tori mimes knifing peanut butter on a bread slice] a, a lighthouse and, with Henry, and having him wear J. Crew sweaters and, and big glasses, and having Labradors run all around the house. Why not?

Tori: Why not?

Kennedy: Why can't I write my album and have Henry fall in love with me? [Tori laughs.] Okay, well, now we're going to check out your video, 'God', your first video off Under the Pink, directed by?

Tori: Melodie McDaniel.

Kennedy: Anything you want to say about it, besides the rats?

Tori: It's about rituals, different rituals. The rats' ritual is East India, where the rats are considered sacred, so when they run across somebody, it's the god Dharnish traveling on the rats, and that means you've been blessed when the rats come to you. And it actually happens: we tried to document it correctly.

Kennedy: Wow! Hey babe, here you go: Rituals. God. It's Tori's.

[The 'God' video plays]

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