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WTMX, Chicago (US, radio)
"The Mix" 101.9 FM
September 15, 1999


Tori Amos secret show and interview

Tori performed at a secret location in downtown Chicago, Illinois for the Eric and Kathy radio show. The studio audience won tickets through the station's web site.

Eric or Kelly: Look at the anticipation out there in the audience, would ya. They're like kids on Christmas day. (laughter) Very nice, how are ya, thanks for coming out today.

Tori: Thank you.

E-K: Nice to see you. Is that working, are we rolling there, is that good?

Tori: ( to audience) Hi guys, how are you?

E-K: Now we realize that your schedule, Tori, is incredibly busy so first of f let us thank you for coming in and doing this exclusive studio session. It's very nice of you and we do appreciate that. She gave us an OK sign. Is this still pretty early for ya?

Tori: Um, no, we've been up since 5:30. We were coming in on the bus, we did a show in Cincinnati last night , and I was in my bunk and Johnny said to me " there are cows lined on the street." I said "oh right Johnny" thinking, you know, the wine was better than I thought it was last night. And little did I know he wasn't taking a piss. There are really cows on the street. [NOTE: She's referring to Chicago Art Cows- a public art exhibition of 260 life-size cows painted by artists and displayed throughout the city. To see Tori's favorite cows go to ]

E-K: Yeah, there are cows. Did you get to see them yourself?

Tori: Yeah, they're cute.

E-K: Did you find a favorite?

Tori: I like the one with the three ... it's stacked on the water tower, the one with the papa, momma, baby bear.

E-K: Oh yeah. She's paying more attention to the cows than we are. We're both like ... what? The stacked cows..oh yeah, the stacked cows.

Tori: It's really cute.

E-K: You'll have to take a chance if you have a few free minutes after to maybe take a nice stroll down Michigan Ave., it's just stocked with cows.

Tori: Now, I want to know something. Has anybody stolen one yet?

E-K: Oh yeah.

Tori: They have?

E-K: Frankly, we have one in the back that we're going to surprise you with later. (laughter)

Tori: You know the one I want ...

E-K: Yeah, well, we actually have just sent some staff to go rip it off the water tower. And there has even been an artist creative enough to come up with, um, shall we say, what's the word, dung? Yeah, they thought that would be a nice little addition for the cows.

Tori: That must be Dave Matthews. (laughter)

E-K: He's whacked isn't he, just nuts.

Tori: No, no no no. When I met him ... he's very sweet ... but he looks at me and, um, we were in Belgium doing some kind of festival, and he looks at me and goes, "Hi Tori, I am potty" And you know ... (laughter) ... over french fries, ten a.m. in the morning ... I don't know ... he's obsessed with it, and I'm on his bus. His bus is now our bus on tour. And every time I pass that, um, (whispers) the ladies room, um, all I can think of is Dave Matthews face. (laughter)

E-K: Oh wow, that must be something for ya. He's ruined that experience for you. (laughter) Well, uh, you're going to be playing a few songs for us here if I'm not mistaken, hence the reason for the piano. That's why that's here. The new album comes out next Tuesday, correct?

Tori: Yeah

E-K: To Venus and Back. Are you guys a little excited about that coming out? (audience cheers) Any time a double album comes out we're going to get some new material but we're also going to get some live material.

Tori: Yeah, two discs, one is ,uh, Venus Orbiting and that's the studio album and then there's live Still Orbiting and that's the live album. All recorded last year on the Plugged tour.

E-K: Do you have a particular song you like to do live? Just you and the piano?

Tori: Uh, it usually changes minute to minute, so let me put on my headphones and I'll know what it is by the time I have to go.

E-K: We'll find out what's happening this minute. OK. Live with Tori Amos on The Mix here we go.

Tori: So, um, let's see. This is actually on the live album. It's a b-side that never got on any of the albums and I don't play her that much, but here she is.

[Tori plays Cooling]

E-K: Yeah, it's The Mix, Tori Amos live in the studio, Eric and Kathy. Very pretty. That was great. You know what , uh, and it's interesting to watch you, I thought at one point I might have to grab you there, I didn't know if you were going to fall off because you turn sideways when you're playing and you were right on the edge there.

Tori: Yeah. I've only fallen off a couple times. (laughter) Normally it's, um, it gets a little bit, there's a lot of water and, uh, tea and stuff that I have up there. It's a certain tea for my throat. What is it ... it's slippery elm. It's really good for your throat, for all you singers out there that wonder. And, um, so it gets messy and then my stool slips and there ya go.

E-K: And you wipe right out.

Tori: Dorothy Hamill. No, Tonya Harding. (laughter)

E-K: There you go. Well, I would think that you're pretty used to sitting at that stool, you've been doing this since, you were what, two and a half?

Tori: Two and a half.

E-K: Now, is it something the parents encouraged, or did you see a piano and think I want to learn how to play that?

Tori: I think it was ... in my house it was pretty religious so I realized you could wiggle at the piano and not have to pray for an hour. (laughter)

E-K: Hey, good thinking. Really. And you've been composing your own songs and scores since, what, you were four?

Tori: Young, yeah, little girl.

E-K: That's amazing. See, Eric and I, we're not used to being around talent like that. Yeah, we've faked it this far. Don't tell anyone. You know, Īcause I can remember ... did it just come naturally to you to sit at a piano, because I was just telling Kathy before hand that my parents made me take piano lessons for eight years. To this day I can sit down ... no clue what to do.

Tori: Well, I didn't do very well with lessons. I don't read music really well. I had to develop my own kind of language so that I knew what I was doing. For some reason I didn't do well in, um, like at the conservatory. I think sometimes teachers don't make it exciting for musicians so I wrote my own stuff and tried to get around that.

E-K: It got you kicked out, didn't it?

Tori: Yes.

E-K: The rebellious side of you Tori. That's good. Express yourself, gotta do it, right?

Tori: Do you ... have you taken up any other instruments?

E-K: Me ... me? No. (laughter) Like I said we're not very talented. This is like a loaded question, I can see it in her eyes. She's just going to hit me with something. I tried the trumpet once but my mom, as soon as she heard me playing it said put that thing away and do not bring it back into the house. Do you do more instruments other than piano?

Tori: Sure.

E-K: Tuba, that kind of stuff.

Tori: No.

E-K: I feel like a joke is coming. (laughter)

Tori: No, there's no joke.

E-K: She's got that look. Do you guys see it too. She's locked and loaded with something and she's going to fire it off any second.

Tori: So, um, do you guys ... like hi. (audience says hi) any questions or stories to tell?

E-K: Somebody wanted to know where you were from because we thought North Carolina but someone else heard you were born in Baltimore?

Tori: No I was born in North Carolina. But I went to school in the Baltimore/Washington area. And I spent four months a year in North Carolina with my grandparents every year.

E-K: Are they still there now?

Tori: No, they're gone.

E-K: Do you have family, any family in North Carolina?

Tori: Yeah, I do. A lot.

E-K: Say a prayer for them.

Tori: What's happening anyway?

E-K: It's coming.

Tori: Did it miss Florida?

E-K: Yeah. It's headed to North Carolina ... .Myrtle Beach ... .

Tori: I used to play the Hilton, Myrtle Beach.

E-K: Are you kidding?

Tori: Yeah, I did. (starts singing "After the Loving") There was this guy, I swear to god his name was Captain Bob (laughter) and he would come and sit around the piano bar and every night he would put, literally, five dollars in my tip jar ... and I'm sorry ... but I would do this for five dollars. It shows you how easy I am. And every night it got to that part ... I'm sure you know, Eric, what the next line is, right ... .(they sing) "I sing you to sleep after the loving" and then what happens ... well anyway, Captain Bob used to do, and he had to do it (she sings) " I brush back the hair from your thighs" (laughter) And you know, I'm sitting there ...

E-K: Look at the stunned looks around the room.

Tori: Anyway, but hey, he was a republican. I was seventeen and he found it quite appropriate that he, a right wing sixty year old, should be singing that to me and I just said ... give me the five bucks.

E-K: Wow ... well, would we like to hear another song? Lounge song, whatever you like.

Tori: This is off the new record and anyway it's called 1000 Oceans.

[Tori plays 1000 Oceans]

E-K: Tori Amos live on The Mix Eric and Kathy show. Way to go. Now the album comes out next Tuesday and I just wanted to bring something up because I was just talking with these two ladies before you came in Tori. Now if the album comes out Tuesday, when were you guys planning on getting in line to buy it? (audience member "midnight") At midnight. What was your name? ("Amy") So this may be your very first album sold right here Tori if you think about it. (laughter) First on the way to a million, platinum, multi-platinum. Wouldn't that be great?

Tori: I ... I don't study the charts. I just ... it makes me happy that people just want to take, um, to me the songs, I call them the girls, because, um, I'm really ... I transcribe them, I take dictation. And when they come and visit I meet them and sometimes I have a good margarita with them, a bit of a dirty joke with one of them, and a little cry with another one of them ... and usually they all have their own kind of life about them and once you put a record out sometimes I wave goodbye it's like ... I see them leaving the studio with their lunchboxes knowing that my girls have Barringer in their lunchboxes going off to school. And you say you know bye ... see you one day.

E-K: Well, I'm sure that your songs mean a lot to a lot of your fans and listeners as well because they've touched so many people ... obviously they've touched you too, but a lot of other people. You probably get a lot of fan mail from people that say what an inspiration you've been to them.

Tori: Well, I get letters saying you've no idea what you're talking about, this is what Spark is about. (laughter) And, you know, you go well fair enough ... that's valid.

E-K: Where do the thoughts ... I'm sure they come from a variety of different places when you write these songs but I've often wondered ... songwriters, where they do their best writing, their inspiration. Do you do it like on your bus like you talked about when you came in ... do thoughts just strike you out of the blue and you'll write it at a specific time or does it just happen whenever?

Tori: You really can't determine that. I mean it's usually at the most inopportune moments ... like honey, hang on a minute ... give me a pen ... one that has ink (laughter)

E-K: Now you all know what I was just thinking where I do my best writing. Eric don't say it. (laughter)

Tori: It's a strange thing I think, as a songwriter, once you think that you're writing it by yourself ... once you don't ... you know say hey ... the muse comes and visits and you're lucky she comes ... then I think she stops coming. So, I always, uh, have a little door open for her and bread crumbs, you know.

E-K: That's good. Now, all this talk is making me ... it reminds me of ... we were talking with some of the people here and they say that you like fairies.

Tori: Well, I believe in the spirit world. My grandfather was Cherokee. I think Americans, some Americans, have a real concept of tinkerbell. And tinkerbell is alright, it's a little peachy for me, but I think ... I have a house in Ireland and I've lived there a long time and originally the concept of fairies came from the [?] which is part of their folklore. And when you go down to the pubs in Ireland, like in [?] and you think you're kind of cool and say something about the fairies you might not need to go to that plastic surgeon 'cause they'll just rearrange everything for you on your face. And I think there's a different kind of understanding that they have of the spirit world that, because America doesn't really have that ... it's not real connected to it's Native American culture, then it just becomes a cartoon thing. So I'm a bit cautious how it gets perceived. The fairies were like torching themselves like Buddhist monks on certain journalists doors because they didn't get the proper ... I think ... respect.

E-K: That's pretty deep. I'm having a hard time keeping up that's so deep, that's pretty good.

Tori: As I've said ... you know..if you want to shit on the fairies go have your car break down and cross your fingers.

E-K: Oh my ... there you go. And that said (laughter) shall we hear another one from Tori Amos.

Tori: Oh ... OK. Um ... (starts playing piano) this is also on the live album it's another b-side that never made the albums ... it just wanted to kind of be her own thing. It's called Purple People.

[Tori plays Purple People]

E-K: The Mix ... Tori Amos ... lunchtime in the studio. Let me just say and I know a lot of you guys are thinking you have such an incredibly beautiful voice.

Tori: Oh God ... Kevin Craig ... I hope he lives in Chicago ... Kevin Craig ... I went to fourth grade with ... and he wrote this letter to my friend Paige[?] ... and anyway ... they were having an affair behind my back (laughter) and so in the letter, it got intercepted by my fourth grade teacher named Miss Shavett, and I hope she lives in Chicago too, and she opened it and read it to the class. And I was called Ellen then and it said dear Paige, Ellen sings like a frog I hate her, I love you now.

E-K: That'll sting.

Tori: Yeah, to this day. But, you know ...

E-K: I think they know who you are now so you've got the last laugh.

Tori: Well, it's one of those things where I went home and I was pretty gutted and my brother said to me ... so you're nine and a half, you have a few years, you could turn this around if you wanted to. And I said what do you think I should do. And he said well, part of your problem is you're trying to sing like Robert Plant and you're only two feet tall, and so maybe you should just give it a few more years and listen to those records. So I didn't stop listening to Robert Plant ... I did it and I did it and I did it ... and by twelve years old they weren't laughing as much.

E-K: And you know what ... I bet at your concerts now you could put up a picture of Kevin ... do not let this man in right at the front door. And do an awesome version of Stairway to Heaven.

Tori: I do A Whole Lotta Love ... that's sort of my ...

E-K: That's good. Well Tori, thanks so much for coming in. It was absolutely great.

Tori: Wonderful meeting you guys. See you all later. If you're bored we're playing Milwaukee tonight so you can come visit us.

E-K: The new album comes out next Tuesday and I think I read are you on Leno next Tuesday night too if folks want to watch you?

Tori: Actually yes we are.

E-K: So you can see Tori on Jay Leno next Tuesday night as well. We have time for one more ... do you want to do one more? Can we do one more? We have requests ... Do you have something else in your repertoire before you go?

Tori: Yeah I have something else.

[Tori plays Frog on my Toe]


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