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MTV's 120 Minutes (US, TV)
January 21, 1996

Tori Amos interview and live performance

interview (part 1)

interview (part 2)

"Doughnut Song"


"Putting the Damage On"


(part of Silent All These Years video is presented)

Matt Pinfield: Beautiful song that is. Welcome back to 120 Minutes. I'm Matt Pinkfield, that's my name, that's right, and sitting next to me is Tori Amos. Tori, how are you? It's great to have you.

Tori Amos: That's my name.

Matt: Yeah, I know, I love that, it's a good name. And we're gonna talk about a new record that Tori has out, it's called Boys for Pele. What I want to talk about is that this record, you (wrote)??? a lot of songs when you were on tour for this record, on your last tour, and producing yourself this time around after the split between you and Eric, you know, he was not only a personal partner but he was also really involved in the production of the music. How was that different this time for you?

Tori: Well, there were times when I got a little scared, but there were times when I would just look at that harpsichord, and I'd look at that piano and they'd say: 'Come on baby give this ???' and I'd say 'All right then!' ... .. do this I think I've known what I hear in my head, it's been there for thirty years and there were things that I haven't tried before that I really had to try.

Matt: Right. And .... looking over your shoulder, telling this is how you do it, did it pushed your own limits?

Tori: Yeah, I mean always my other records have been collaborative and they were great to make but when you're kind of on your own it's like being on a Formula 1 race car, you're just behind there by yourself and you're going: 'I'm just gonna put this pedal down'.

Matt: And you're in total control, right?

Tori: Even if you slide on the asphalts/ashfelt??? there's something very exciting about that cause you just don't know where you're gonna go and I was willing to go wherever that was.

Matt: Yeah, and you've taken it there. We're gonna get into some of the songs a little bit cause some great subject matter there and intensity so I want to talk about those. ... (Tori, the new album) let's talk about a title: Boys for Pele, a volcano goddess.

Tori: Yes.

Matt: Why you decided to call the album that? And there's a lot of different things and images you can conjure up, you know, boys for Pele offering a sacrifice of men for the volcanic goddess.

Tori: I did consider it actually, Matt. You know, there were moments where, just pushing them in into my mind (?) But I think that's normal, I think when you're hurt and things are falling apart and you're having to change what you thought was gonna be your life for the rest of your life there are things that happen, for me anyway inside myself. And this whole record is a transformation, there is ... I'm a little vampire after my boy blood and then there's a bit of this, a little bit of this, a little bit of that to do my kiss (Tori-vampire gestures) (3:59-4:02 I can't make out). And that's what happens a time makes a good soup (???) there are all these different sides and Pele represented fire and I was trying desperately to find my own fire here (touches her heart) instead of needing to take it from the men in my life for whatever reason I thought I needed to, not as a musician but for my woman's worth. My worth as a woman was intrinsically tied with how the men in my life saw that.

Matt: Right, and speaking of which, I mean, there are different images on the album, we're gonna get into talking more about the lyrics when we come back because there's some things I want to ask you about, maybe you shed some light for me. I wanna just also say really quickly... after break again, always quick segments, but seeing you live is always a really personal, compelling experience and I can say that from your fans point of view to my own seeing you, .... it's just a real personal thing, you can be in a last row and you're still feeling ??? inch of energy coming out of your live, your perform.

Tori: What we talked about, before, you and me...

Matt: Before ???

Tori: ??? The live shows are really like, I try to make them like a fire ceremony, so that when people come they bring their demons and they bring what's hidden there unconscious and it's a safe place, they're not gonna get ??? on. It's a place where we're letting them be alive.

Matt: Yeah, there's a lot of things coming out ??? It's great though, stick around, we'll be talking more with Tori of course and she'll be performing live a little bit later. Her voice will sound much better than mine does right now.

Tori: Let's hope (laugh)

Matt: It definitely will, I'm sure it will...

(part of Crucify video is presented)

Matt: It's ??? getting away from that complete emotion in your voice, in your vocals in a lot of your songs Welcome back to 120 Minutes, I'm Matt Pinfield, sitting next to me is of course Tori Amos. Let's talk about the songs on the new record, some of them. Father Lucifer is one track, what's interesting is when you talk about looking and exploring the dark side of life or dark things in your life people merely would always think of a reference to what they think is ??? or satanic as opposed to just ??? Where were you going with that in the lyrics, when we talk about them, ???

Tori: Well, first of all, the album is really a novel and it's the descent that this red-headed girl kind of takes, right, to claim her womanhood. The whole idea that there are things that have been hidden and I really had to go and visit Lucifer to get my talisman so then I could go and find the black widow so I could go find these parts. It's funny because if you think about, in truth, Christianity it never passed on a blueprint of the Mary Magdalene, there was the Virgin, there was the Divine Mother, but where was the woman? The woman, just on her own. Passion, compassion, wisdom, claiming that dark side, the light side, the shadow, whole, no there wasn't that passed on. And so I went back to reclaim some of those sides and Lucifer, I had a nice little cup of tea with him.

Matt: Right, and speaking of the religious side of things, Muhammad My Friend, there's a reference to female God or female Jesus, or female...

Tori: The female side of God, yeah.

Matt: The female side of God, which is kind of you're asking in the lyrics to kind of own up and admit as opposed to God, you know, on the last record, you talking a bit about ??? you said you need a woman after you, you know, so you can take care of the business correctly, I think that reference is really interesting. How would you say, you know, talk about two different issues on both songs?

Tori: Well, I was going after the Christian God in God because that's definitely patriarchal, I mean 'he' is a 'he' in Christianity, yes. And Muhammad My Friend, all the religions, you know, they've got the men as the prophets no differently than the creative forces,??? the Mozarts, the Newtons, it's always come through the men and the women have been the muses, or the mothers or whatever, or carried the prophets and I just said, you know, this is what to me the whole ??? was people were looking for the female part of God: the vessel, the womb. In truth, many ??? believe that, I've been reading quite a bit. And I said, you know, I had a cup of tea with Lucifer, I need to get a cup of tea now with Muhammad. And we've got to get this female thing happening in balance, we like the guys, guys are ??? but that's not all there is, you know.

Matt: Right, absolutely not. Now, we're gonna play the new video for Caught A Lite Sneeze. Now, people have been talking about, you know, I've read that there's references in there to Trent Reznor you worked on (can't make it out, I believe it was about Past The Mission and the next sentence seems to be cut at the beginning) .... and there's a lot in there about 'pretty hate machine' in the lyric as well. Can you elaborate on that at all or would you rather not?

Tori: I think, you know, my work speaks for itself, I let people discover what they want in it. I had some wonderful friends, influenced me, they show up in the record.

Matt: Yeah, I hear that, I can totally find and hear that in the lyrics of the songs. We've gonna play that first video of the new record, Boys for Pele. It's called Caught A Lite Sneeze, here it is on 120 Minutes.

(Caught A Lite Sneeze video is presented)

Matt: The artwork, the imagery that people are gonna find when they pick up your new album, because on sale tomorrow, there's some amazing stuff I have to talk to you about. The album cover with you sitting in the old chair, kind of ???, the mud on your feet like you've been out, the gun, sitting with it, protective, you know, and the hand ??? hang it up. Let's talk a bit about that imagery, why did you decide on that for the cover of the album?

Tori: To me, it's very much, it depicts the South, the South that I knew growing up. It's a crossroads, this album, and there is the dead cock on my right side and the live snake on my other side. And, um, I think I'm turned around, I think it's my right (laugh). And I know that it's a moment where with the gun I'm bringing up Me And A Gun of course which is part of the first thing that I've ever put out. And this whole record claiming my, you know, my past, coming full circle, (the things that are),the anger that needs to go and get screamed about and then released and the joy that comes, and it's all in there. Plus, I think I'm Granny Clampett, you know, so I have to have my look (???) Then on the back, of course, I put the gun down and I'm holding a pig, so yeah, it's a full circle, all the artwork, it's the shadow and what's in the consciousness too, yeah.

Matt: That pig on your breasts is a really strong image and the one inside, there's one inside, with you, it's like a big gas station and your piano is on fire in the middle of it, you're standing like exposed in front of it (???) I just want to say how important, how credible I think it is the RAINN that you've put together in 1995, it's just a really important and great service.

Tori: Well, I hope that people are getting something out of it.

Matt: I'm sure they are.

Tori: I hope that it's helping them, that's the main thing. It's all about healing, I mean, it's not about 'We're victims' here. I think, you know, people come up to me and go: 'God, I'm so sorry', it's like 'Oh, stop!'. This is not about 'I'm so sorry', this is about 'I am dancing!' And I have taught myself with some wonderful teachers and people in my life and wonderful men in my life as well as women that have just made me feel free again.

Matt: ??? I think it's a beautiful thing. I wanna thank you for the great songs you've done when you've touched other people's lives and your fans, or just really ??? People are going to see a live performance in just a couple of minutes and get to feel that themselves. Thank you so much for coming by today, it was just absolutely brilliant. (Tori hugs Matt) It's good to have you, she likes me, see, we're gonna get along, ???

(Tori performs Father Lucifer and dedicates it to Matt)

[transcribed by Karolina Kucinska]

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