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Campaign (Australia)
December 1994

On the Couch With ... Tori Amos

The best thing to happen to cornflakes since TV advertising, Tori Amos spoke to Phillippe Cahill, revealing that it's not just her lyrics that are weird.

Phillippe: You're on a 160-date tour. Do you like performing?

Tori: I live for it. It's the most rewarding thing I do. It's like there's a relationship happening, and it's better than almost any relationship because its so giving from both sides.

Phillippe: What gets you really going on stage?

Tori: There are times when I'm feeling an energy in the room. I can't see anybody, but I feel the energy pockets and I'm responding to that. It's really interesting. When I'm in the studio I'm very much listening to the song itself because I'm just developing a relationship with it. Sometimes I don't even know what they're on about in the beginning. I'm like, that's not what we're saying, is it? Is it? And it's like, yep, that's it. Okay.

Phillippe: So how are the shows going?

Tori: Wondrous. It's like a total fucking love-in, and very passionate too. I mean, American audiences are very different to European audiences. Europeans are very quiet and reserved. It's funny, but sometimes they just kind of go what's she on about? And yet the girls in America scream their heads off. They know exactly what I'm talking about.

Phillippe: Why is that?

Tori: It's just a cultural thing. It's not like I'm saying the girls in Italy don't understand. They understand oppression of religion, the English understand suppression of emotions. Everybody understands from a different angle. Like New York is absolutely crazy, whereas Washington DC is very reserved. They're afraid to get into their kundalini, you know what I mean? Their root chakra, that whole passion centre. They're all about being politically correct.

Phillippe: What about New York?

Tori: In New York they're so alive. It's not about good or bad. It's about feelings. They just have to express. Some guy even tried to throw himself off the balcony in New York, to see if he could make it to the piano. I was singing Silent All these Years and I hear these screams from the balcony. I was doing this bit, "sometimes I hear my voice, I hear my voice", and this guy's going "waaaaaarg! aaaargh!" And I'm like, what's going on?! And somebody's screaming he's trying to kill himself. And I'm like, I don't know. Lights! Lights!

Phillippe: What about Australian audiences?

Tori: What I found interesting was the guys. Sometimes I had to play it a little cooler because these guys weren't used to being vulnerable. For American guys, it's a little easier socially for them to be vulnerable, because, you know, therapy's a very big thing over here. And with the guys here, well, there's so much violence in this country and yet so much nerdy-ness. I mean a lot of the big heavy metal violent guys were all nerds. Kurt Cobain (of Nirvana) could've told you. He was a nerd.

Phillippe: What do you think of the Cobain rock music crowd?

Tori: Anger is natural. It's part of the force. You just have to learn to hang out with it. I find it all quite exciting, those guys screaming their heads off. But you know (laughing) I think all they really need is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a little blankie.

Phillippe: You're rather irreverrent and politically incorrect, aren't you?

Tori: Yeah. There is a sense of fun in all this trauma. It's a bit of a giggle. I do like to talk about things that nobody wants to hear at the dinner table. You know, like stuff that you think you know you're not supposed to. Because, it's like, my god, what would they think of me if they knew I was thinking this. It could even be something so innocent as I want her to like me and I'm afraid if I act like I want her to like me she won't, and then I'll look really stupid. So I'm going to act like it doesn't matter, when it kind of does, and I'm kind of bummed if she never calls me. And a lot of people just don't want to know you think like that. I guess I sometimes go after that kind of stuff.

Phillippe: Gender is a recurring theme in your work. What's your take on it?

Tori: You know I'm totally into whose knees are dirtier. If the knees aren't a little scratched, you're out. Next player. I mean, there is a bit of diving in there and wanting to crawl inside of you and make camp in there. I mean, if I don't want to like crawl in and start toasting the weenies, then why even begin?

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