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New York Post (US)
April 17, 1998

Tori Amos Preaches to Girls in the Choir

by Lisa Robinson

BECAUSE of her super-edgy, intense persona - and dramatic songs with references to fairies and goddesses - Tori Amos has a reputation as a kooky, New Age nut. But the singer-songwriter-pianist, the child prodigy daughter of a North Carolina Methodist preacher and his wife, has produced some of the most sexually provocative, powerful work of the last 10 years. And with the May release of "From the Choirgirl Hotel," she just might be one of the few artists who has managed to sell four platinum albums in one decade without the benefit of major radio airplay.

Amos, 34, has built a fan base of almost religious fervor. They flock to her concerts as if they were worshipping at a shrine, analyze her lyrics on dozens of web sites and send her albums to the top of the charts. It took less than two hours for her to sell out her "Sneak Preview" show next week at Irving Plaza; her fans undoubtedly will fill Madison Square Garden when Amos appears there for the first time this summer.

Lisa Robinson: Your image has always been slightly wacky and la-la. How do you react to that?

Tori Amos: I think anybody who meets me doesn't think I'm la-la. I'm really comfortable knowing that I'm razor sharp. My life has changed in a way that I'm becoming more comfortable with the fact that I'm just not nice music for the apartment. I am a bit wicked.

Lisa Robinson: To what do you attribute the intense connection you have with your audience?

Tori Amos: I don't think about it too much, but what I try to do is always go after the rumbling subtext. For example, when I get to a city, I'm like a sonic hunter; I just try to feel all the different voices of the people coming in to the concert. I really feel there's this force that exists that knows a lot more about what's needed that night than I do, and I have to try and figure out what it's saying to me. Once I was in a city where a young girl was murdered, and there was a hunt for the murderer, or I've been in cities where the ball team lost and people thought it was really unfair and they were angry about it. I'm always trying instinctively to be in touch with the internal universe of the concert.

Lisa Robinson: Why did you record - and are going on tour - with a band this time?

Tori Amos: I've played three world tours with nothing except me and the piano, and I knew that having written such a rhythmic record this time, I couldn't go out and just be alone with the piano. So now the other songs from the other records are saying, "Oh, can we do a little something on me? What about me?'"

Lisa Robinson: Do you think of the songs as people?

Tori Amos: Some of them are very big people with very expensive Visas. Some are more charming than others.

Lisa Robinson: You recently got married...

Tori Amos: Very, very recently to her sound engineer, Mark Hawley. Just four weeks ago. But I don't want to talk about it - I'm shy about it.

Lisa Robinson: Because it's too new or too private?

Tori Amos: Too private.

Lisa Robinson: There are several references to babies on the album...

Tori Amos: I was pregnant and I miscarried at almost three months last Christmas. But people thought that was a subtext to the record, and they were getting this so wrong that I decided to talk about it. I just wanted to really have the pregnancy and not rush into doing more music, but when the miscarriage happened, the songs just started to come. I went through many different stages. I couldn't be the person I was before I carried life, but I'm not a mother, so I was in no man's land. But there was still a deep connection to this being; the soul and the love doesn't go. This record is about life force.

Lisa Robinson: What was your response when Fiona Apple referred to you last year as the "poster girl for rape"? Amos, a rape survivor who has written songs about it, sponsors an anti-rape phone line.

Tori Amos: You know, I don't read the music press, and I don't feel competitive with these women. I feel inspired when the music is good, but no more inspired than when Maynard Tool's Maynard James Keenan does something good or when Trent Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor does something that's inspiring. It's not about gender, it's about being a good musician. I like the kind of support that musicians have when you're good and you keep striving; you don't need to feel like somebody else is taking away your place. At the same time, Kate Bush did come before me, Joni Mitchell did come before me; I wouldn't be here without the pounding on the door that they did, and I can honor that. Some of the artists coming up seem to understand that, and some seem to fight it. One thing I had to learn was that you respect the ones that have come before you because, let's be brutally fair here, it opens doors.

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