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May 18, 2001

Tori Amos on Maynard James Keenan

In preparation for his SPIN cover story on Tool, writer Chris Norris was able to wrangle an exclusive interview with Ms. Tori Amos on the subject of her good friend, Tool's Maynard James Keenan. While portions of the interview did appear in the story, we thought the entire piece was worth reading. And so, please enjoy the unexpurgated thoughts of Tori Amos on Tool, religion, Eminem and more . . .

What do you think Maynard's like, day to day?

"I think he probably wakes up wondering if he's going to wig or not wig." "I think he really is this beautiful guy. And he has a deep spiritual currency. Where he believes that you can't separate yourself from what you create. He and I are very close friends and I feel that he's under no illusions that if you put it out there you cannot separate yourself from it, when the heat gets great. When people disagree or if you stir it up. You can't just collect the publishing check and not collect the controversy that you create with it."

You both grew up in a fairly intense Christian backgrounds. Do you talk about religion much?

"We both have a real fascination about comparative religions. And we spend a lot of time talking about that, and what's been hidden. We talk about this one book sometimes, the Hidden Lineage of Jesus, and how we've been very manipulated through the ages about the information that's been withheld. I think that if we had the time we'd both be students somewhere. It fascinates the two of us, mainly because of the maniuplation that's gone on and the power of it. Music also can have that manipulative power. And I think that's where we both sit on the same side of the table. We both believe that whatever you put out there, the phrase, 'Oh, I'm just kidding... Oh, I didn't mean that,' is fuckin' weak. That is a limp dick if I've ever heard one. 'I don't mean it.' 'You guys are overreacting.' Man, that's childs play. I just don't have a lot of respect for people that don't stand by their work, whatever it is. Then you're a hypocrite."

So neither of you are too into what you'd call "post-punk irony"?

"Wait a minute, I don't know what punks you know, but the punks I know are very serious. They had real issues. They thought Buckingham Palace should burn. They weren't kidding. I don't think punk was a joke for a lot of them. It was a revolution. It was about the classes, it was serious." "I think, look, if you're gonna talk about beating women and then you turn around and say, 'I'm just kidding,' then all I can say isäWeak. Where are your fucking balls? If you're gonna talk about beating women, you better beat 'em. Or I'm not interested in you at all. I'll kick your ass. Cause I've got no problem kicking the ass of people who say that. You're just less than fumes from a fart."

I was struck by Maynard's sense of humor. I expected the seriousness and intelligence, the funniness suprised me.

"Humor is such a subjective thing because what you think is funny and what I think is funny could be very differnet things. What I like is he doesn't have a cheap sense of humor. And it doesn't compromise his beliefs. Whereas I don't think it's funny if you're hypcritical. I just think you're less of a man or less of a woman if you are. And that would be tough stuff to wake up with. That should make you want to rethink you're whole being. Maynard really stands where he stands. His beliefs aren't something he negotiates with. He doesn't change from one day to another so that he can get along with Spin or Raygun or whatever else the popular thought that week is. And that's why I respect him. There aren't a lot of musicians who are honest enough with their dark side and humble enough. And he knows his shortcomings and that's part of his beauty, and strength."

What are his shortcomings?

"Well, his main fault is that he hasn't sent me a bottle of Sassakia yet. He's gotten into red wine. And he hasn't sent me in a while. That would be his main shortcoming."

He a good email writer?

"Oh yeah. After you get one of Maynard's emails, you giggle."

What makes his voice so unique and striking to you?

"He has this melodic voice, this voice that can really sing. And he has this screaming voice. With a lot of people, one compromises the other. He really has, I guess you'd say, a forehand and a backhand."

How does he stand out in hard-rock today?

"Well, the thing about Maynard is that he doesn't believe in violence against women. Which he really stands very apart from a lot of these guys. I think a lot of these guys are very intimidated by women. And he isn't, clearly. I think he'd rather drink them than beat them. There are a lot of people, especially musicians, where they can be bought. They'll sell you up the river. You don't really know who you're real friends are. But he's a real friend. If he's your friend, he's a real friend."

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