songs | interviews | photos | tours | boots | press releases | timeline | stories

Q (UK)
March 1996


Interview: Tom Doyle

You walk down the street. A wind-battered housewife grabs your arm and asks you about your fish-buying habits. Hard cheese: you are not famous, so the only list of Questions thrown your way is lamentably poisson-centric. Unlike...


What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Wee. But I've already been doing that all night because I have a bladder the size of a peanut. It's OK having to get up in the middle of the night, though, because it gives me a chance to call people in other countries. My bladder makes sure I keep in touch with my friends.

What was the first gig you went to?

Elton John in about 1973. At that time Elton was quite controversial in the States -- his drugs, his clothes, being gay. I got there really early with my girlfriend. She was 15 and I was 11. We were very mature for our age though; we had a little lump of hash in our back pockets. We snuck ourselves down to the front, we just pushed our way through, and when he threw his water, if fell on me, and I felt like I'd been baptised by the piano king. Obviously, it hasn't hurt me.

Which song do you wish you had written?

A Day In The Life, which doesn't sound like it's from this planet, or Living For The City by Stevie Wonder, which I think changed America.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

"You can't judge another man until you've walked in his moccasins". That was from my grandfather.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My two Bosendorfer pianos. One is on this continent and one is in America. They're hand-made and it takes them five years to make each one. Both of mine have different personalities. The one in the States, she's been a battered wife, she was at one of the Catholic churches in New York City and they knocked the shit out of her. She's been through it, that girl. She's wary, and you can feel her experiences in her wood. The one in Europe, I found her when she was a few months old and took her on the road, and she had no character, she was boring, but I took her every night and moulded her. She's now really flirty and open.

Who was the last person you slept with?

My boyfriend. He's a northern boy from Lincolnshire.

When did you last cry and why?

Watching Tin Pan Alley the movie, last week on TV. That moment when the soldiers are ready to march off to war, and Betty Grable and Alice Faye are racing to find this American soldier who was a bombed song writer... when Faye runs to him and tells him that she'll wait for him, I was bawling my eyes out.

What do you think of Bob Dylan?

I respect what he's done but I was never a fan. He's a poet through and through, but as a musician, he has me falling asleep.

What characteristics do you think you've inherited from your parents?

My father is Scottish and he's so tight, I hope I'm never like he is with money. At the supermarket, he'll stand there and weigh the tomatoes until they're exactly 53 cents, not 54, and there's a whole line of people waiting behind him. It's embarrassing. He says it's a principle, and I say, It's not, you're tight. I've inherited a lot from my mother. She's part Cherokee and she's a spiritual, spiritual person. She looks for the good in all life. My father is relentless and I think I've taken that from him: from the beginning of Little Earthquakes, I've done 400 shows without a cancel.

What is the biggest myth about fame?

That it's gonna take the pain away.

What are you like when you're drunk?

Really funny. I'm a happy drunk. I don't get drunk, I get lightly pissed, like a cat licking my milk.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Shirley MacLaine.

Pick 5 words that describe yourself.

I'll give you five phrases. Butter not margarine. One-and-a-half E-if you were looking at me, I would be a one-and-a-half E trip: I'm not a five E trip, I'm not that interesting, if it's cut good... by the Hells Angels. What else? Happy fella. Loads of garlic. Loads of toilet paper.

Do you belive in God?

Within the Christian/Muslim/Islamic/Jewish/Buddhist/Hindu structure, there are truths that I believe in. But I come much more from the Native American matriarchal thing. I don't belive in God in the way it works all over the world.

Is there one piece of criticism that sticks in your mind?

Yes. another woman called me "a shivering waif in a forest" after I'd written Me And A Gun. I found that interesting coming from another woman. It shows the women's relationship with women. There's a misconception that women support other women. Polly Harvey and I have talked a lot about that - she's very supportive of me and I'm supportive of her and it's not competetive. It isn't always like that.

What is your most unpleasant characteristic?

That I can't let go. I beat it to fuck. At the same time, that characteristic has got me out of some really tight spots. I know when there's something unresolved. I can smell it.

What is you greatest fear?

I don't think I'm going to tell that to anybody. I reveal a lot in my songs; some things I don't have to reveal.

What ambitions do you still have to fulfil?

Being a mother, I want to have a little being in my life and I want to learn from them. I think I'm getting to a place in my life where I wouldn't have to mould my child for me, but just be a caretaker. Just be there for them.

Are you afraid of failure?

Of course. Are you kidding? That's been my worst hang-up. Some of my contemoraries don't have that and I'm glad that I do. When I was a kid learning piano, it wasn't OK that I just played a piece, it had to be at a certain level because I was supposed to be a concert pianist by the time I was 11. I'm not blaming anybody, but it has created some traits in me that aren't enjoyable for those around me.

What do you never leave home without?

Lipstick and lipgloss, always always. I was in hospital recently and I had my lipgloss in the operating theatre.

Who is you best male friend and your best female friend?

My best female friend is Beanie, and she's just the best. My best male friend is my boyfriend.

Who would you most like to meet?

I met the person I really wanted to meet - Jacques Cousteau. I met him in a elevator and I told him what he meant to me. He blushed and it was so cute.

What music would you like to have played at your funeral?

Happy Phantom from Little Earthquakes. When I die, the only sad thing is that I will really miss some of my friends. But I have a lot of friends somewhere else, where I'm going, and that'll be groovy too. If I cruise off, don't mourn, 'cos I'm gonna be somewhere bitchin'.

When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see?

More than I used to.

Do you have anything to declare?

My shoe collection. I'm Imelda, but much sexier.

original article

[transcribed by jason/yessaid]

t o r i p h o r i a
tori amos digital archive