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Billboard (US)
June 29, 1996

Tori Amos' Igloo Houses A Pet

by Paul Verna

In a business that thrives on long-lasting relationships, few can boast the longevity that Tori Amos and her manager, Arthur Spivak, claim to enjoy. To hear them tell the story, they were married 10,000 years ago in a previous incarnation and lived together in an igloo. It was only fitting, therefore, that when they decided to form a label many lifetimes later, they would call it Igloo Records.

The concept for the label was born a couple of years ago, after Spivak received a tape of a Los Angeles-based rock band called Pet.

"I fell in love with what I heard," he recalls. "I worked with them for six months, and I let them grow in an organic way. Later, when Tori was in L.A. [in February 1995] for the Grammys, I told her I was really excited about this band that I wanted her to hear, and she flipped out over them." Amos says, "Arthur played me a tape of Pet, and soon after that, I saw them live. I looked at Arthur and said, 'Don't you let some ding-a-ling get their hands on them.' And he looked at me and said, 'Well, what are you up to?' And I said, 'What are you saying?' And he said, 'Well, aren't you getting bored of just being an artist?' And I said, 'Well, yeah.'"

At that moment, Amos and Spivak hatched their plans to start a custom label within the Atlantic Group, Amos' home for the bulk of her recording career, including her three hit solo albums, "Little Earthquakes," "Under the Pink," and "Boys for Pele."

Atlantic Group co-chairman/co-CEO Val Azzoli says he was thrilled to hear of Amos and Spivak's plans.

"A label is what its artists are," says Azzoli. "We've always had a great relationship with Tori Amos. She's one of the most gifted and talented people I've ever met. Tori has a way of looking at talent and creative things like no one else does. She's going to spot diamonds in the rough better than anyone."

Amos says she and Spivak have free rein to bring acts to Atlantic, where they will have access to the sales, marketing, publicity, and other support functions of the various Atlantic labels, as well as the WEA distribution system. Spivak will continue to manage the band, which is still without a booking agent or publisher.

Pet will be marketed through Atlantic's TAG imprint, whose roster includes Yum-Yum, Solution A.D., the Bottlerockets, the Lemonheads, Fountains of Wayne, Madder Rose, She, Fuzzy, the Inbreds, Rusty, Johnny Skillsaw, and Ugly Beauty.

TAG VP/GM Darren Higman says "This is a developmental project. It's not one I envision becoming big right out of the box. There will be a lot of continual setup. Press is going to be a really important part of the puzzle. As far as marketing, it'll be a real grassroots effort. We'll start from the ground up. We plan on putting them out, exposing them to the college market, letting people know there's an association with Tori."

Higman hopes the build-up will entice college and modern rock radio programmers to "demand a single from Pet, rather than us cramming a single down their throats."

Pet's self-titles debut is due in stores Sept 3. In the meantime, an album track, "Lil' Boots," will appear on the Hollywood soundtrack to "The Crow: City of Angels," which also features new recordings by Hole, Bush, PJ Harvey, White Zombie, Filter, Tricky, the Gravediggaz, the Toadies, Seven Mary Three, former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry and Grace Slick, Korn, NY Loose, the Deftones, Above The Law featuring Frost, and Iggy Pop (who appears in the movie).

The Atlantic soundtrack to "The Crow"--featuring Nine Inch Nails,the Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, and others--was certified platinum in the U.S. and has sold 1.7 million copies, according to Soundscan.

Higman says, "These days, it's very hard to get press and retail to stand up and pay attention. So it's great for us to be able to send them the 'Crow 2' soundtrack and say, 'Here's our new group. Their record comes out in September.'"

Asked whether TAG and Atlantic have put together a marketing plan for territories outside the U.S., Higman says, "We're working on it, but it's still early. They've just gotten the music overseas. But obviously, one of our goals at TAG is utilizing our group globally. As you know, a great percentage of our sales are generated worldwide."

Pet consists of singer/writer Lisa Papineau, guitarist/vocalist/writer Tyler Bates and drummer/vocalist Alex LoCascio. They formed after Bates' brother Edward heard Papineau singing a tongue-in-cheek Ozzy Osbourne tribute in an L.A. club. Taken with Papineau's voice and presence, Edward decided to introduce the singer to his brother.

Papineau and Tyler hit it off immediately and began writing songs together. They enlisted LoCascio, Bates' longtime drummer, and used temporary bass players to gig around L.A. and record demos.

When Amos met the band members, she offered them a handshake deal to cut an album for her fledging label and invited them to record at her house in Ireland, where Amos recorded much of her latest project.

The centerpiece of Pet's album is the explosive "Skin Tight," which will be the first video and most likely the first commercial single. The uptempo track showcases the full range of Papineau's voice, from a guttural growl to an intimate whisper. Other highlights of "Pet" are the stinging "Lil' Boots," the catchy "Fatherland," and the relentless "Rogan."

Amos says she was bowled over by Papineau's and the band's material. Amos compares Papineau's voice to that of the late Bon Scott of AC/DC. "Lisa can sound like that," says Amos. "And yet she has this wonderful control over her voice. She can sound like a reed instrument. To have that kind of energy and write great songs and have the power of Bon Scott and yet the lyricalness in the voice of a reed instrument and the power of the band--it's just something I never heard before."

Azzoli adds, "They're really good, hard-working people, and they want it. And they're great live, which is Tori's strength. Given my background as a manager, I'm big on the live thing."

Pet's members say they are moved by Amos' commitment to the band's career. "We loved her when we first met her," says Papineau. "She wants to see her artists treated with the respect she didn't get at the beginning of her career. She doesn't assume that musicians are stupid idiots who should be led by the hand."

Bates adds that he relishes the freedom that the band had in making its record. "There was nobody looking over our shoulder. I've talked to other bands who say they had the A&R guy making suggestions at the session."

Bates also appreciates the fervor of the TAG team and the weight that Atlantic can put behind the project."It's awful nice to have the intensity of a very focused team of people but also be backed by the big label, so it doesn't limit our growth potential," he says.

Similarly, Azzoli says, "We figure we'll [work] this band [at the grassroots level] for a year, a year and a half. When the record reaches a certain level, the Atlantic machine can take over."

To set up the album, Pet will embark on a nationwide club and college-campus tour. Papineau says, "We're going to go on the road and be inside a very smelly van for a long time." LoCascio adds, "I'll play anywhere for anybody. bring it on! Our take on things is just to get out there and really play."

Meanwhile back at the Igloo, a little earthquake is rumbling between Amos and Spivak. Referring to their previous life together, Spivak says, "There's some question as to which of us was which sex." To which Amos counters, "He knows full well who was which sex. I was chasing him around the igloo, and he was wearing a little skirt."

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