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Toronto Sun (Canada)
Monday, January 29, 1996

The Book of Amos Continued

By Jane Stevenson

Tori Amos has some frank, been-there, survived-that advice for Alanis Morissette.

Stick to your guns and ignore the critics.

Amos at the age of 22 was called "a bimbo" by Billboard while she was fronting the big-haired, hard rock L.A. band, Y Kan't Tori Read.

"My only problem is I can't fit into those snake pants anymore," she said yesterday.

She has since re-invented herself as a London-based, multi-million selling, confessional singer-songwriter and piano-bench straddling diva.

Morissette, on the other hand, has come under fire at the age of 21 for becoming a chart-topping, alterna-rocker after spending her childhood in Canada as a teen disco sensation.

"My God, you guys, she's 21. Let her fit into tight pants," said Amos, her voice starting to rise as we talk at the Four Seasons Hotel.

"Let her explore and grow. I did. What is this you're not allowed to explore? Look at me now. I'm breast-feeding pigs."

Ah yes. The controversial photo of Amos suckling a baby porker in the liner notes for Boys For Pele, the current follow-up to her two previous best-selling albums, 1992's Little Earthquakes and 1994's Under The Pink.

"It's the metaphor of embracing the hidden, the ugly, the shameful," said Amos of the pig picture.

But has she received flak for it? "Everybody talks about it, sure yeah. But you know that's a reflection on them because if you really look at this picture, this is mother and child. I'm very aware of what this is going to bring up, but that doesn't mean this is wrong. That means the oppression of this thought is wrong."

Amos, who kicks off a 200-date tour on Feb. 23 in Ipswich, England, which brings her here in late April or early May, hasn't exactly shied away from thought-provoking career moves thus far.

A piano playing child prodigy, she was expelled from Baltimore's prestigious Peabody Conservatory when she was 11 and cut her professional teeth playing Gershwin in gay bars.

Later on, she wrote and sang about her own rape in the Little Earthquakes song "Me And A Gun" and confessed in interviews about having past lives.

"You know I'm a Viking," she said at one point yesterday like it was common knowledge.

Loopy image of its creator aside, Boys For Pele has garnered mixed reviews -- thumbs up from Billboard, thumbs down from Rolling Stone.

"This is about a relationship with a few men in my life, mainly because I've looked for my woman's worth through the men in my life," said Amos, now 32.

"My male worth was quite good. Chemically I'm not interested in women in that way. The smell of men seems to make me want to merge physically, but again I've always had a real problem embracing the feminine."

The Pele of the album title, in case you were wondering after all that, is the Hawaiian volcano goddess.

"I went to Hawaii when I was at my lowest," said Amos, who split from her producer-boyfriend Eric Rosse before writing, recording and producing Boys For Pele in a church in Ireland and a studio in New Orleans.

"I was desperately trying to find passion," she said.

But was she also considering offering up any of "the boys" of the album as human sacrifices?

"I had five minutes of wanting to push them over the edge," said Amos with a smile. "I think if we're all honest ... If anybody said they've never thought about just roasting their lover, they're a liar."

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