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Aloha (the Netherlands)
October 2001

Ten Questions to... Tori Amos

We expected Tori to be more down to earth since she has become a mother of her first child, but the answer is no. She is vaque and will always stay vaque. A conversation about mermaids, men, Slayer, rebellion and ears with feet.

Last time Aloha interviewed you, you refered to your songs as songbabies. Has that changed since you have a baby made of flesh and blood?

Not at all, they are still songbaby's. I see no diverence between baring a child or a new song. Although I must admit the kick is better having your own baby of flesh and blood. My little girl is 11 months old now. This morning we were on the beach in Cornwall - where I live now- and she tried to grap the oceans in her arms. When she is a big girl she will be a mermaid maybe. When I saw her the first time on the echo she had fins to! In the beginning of pregnancy all baby's have fins between their toes. I didn't know that before. Me and Tash have three languages in which we communicate; english, american and music. She will go to an english school, but I gonna make sure she will learn how to use bad american language when she is old enough!

On your new album Strange Little Girls are only adopted songbaby's because it is a cover album. All songs are written by men. What's behind that? Is it a "Mars album" meant as counterpart for your last album To Venus And Back?

No, it's more down to earth than that. This record is more about our mythology here and now. And that's why the songs should represent the ideas that are popular in our time.

One of your most suprising choices is the cover of Raining Blood (Slayer). In your version it sounds like Radiohead. And You make a very heavy metal song of Neil Youngs Heart Of Gold.

When I heard Heart Of Gold the first time I thought: this is pure hardcore! And I still think Raining blood sounds more like Bartok than Radiohead. Justin Meldal Johnson, the bassplayer of beck who played also on SLG, said to me: hey, the metalheads are not represented on your album and I think that is an offence I found that quite rightly. I started listening to metal records that had changed his live. He mentioned Slayer to me and what they meant to hem. I wanted to do something back for him. According to Justin the album Reign In Blood was most revolutinair metal album ever. When I heard the song Raining Blood I knew it would give woman more power. The line that really got me was: Return to power draw near. Yes! That is excactly of our time. What is power? That's the big question in this whole album without mentioning it explicitly. And it gave me a good feeling. Especially when you consider what is happening to woman in some countries.

Did you get some reactions from the writers of the original songs?

Yes, a few, although I didnt ask for it. It wasn't about them liking the songs. I can be friends with people without having a good relationship with there parents. So I wanted to have the feeling I was friends with their child. I was aware of the danger of it and I had no need to contact them. But I did get a box full of Slayer t-shirts!

How about writing your own songs. Did you take a pause or are there already some new songs waiting?

I just kept on writing new songs. A few songs during my pregnancy, a lot after that and even more during the recording of this album. I always write songs but they change a lot. I ques all writers say that but on this moment I have no idea about how they will develop. Maybe all those male-written songs have a certain influence on me. When you are covering somebody elses song you have to crawl into it and make it your own. I noticed I automatically took over some words and styles. A guitar solo? I do a wurlitzer solo!

When you were a young girl, your favourite artists (Led Zeppelin, The Beatles) were all men. Were you then also playbacking Robert Plant or John Lennon in front of your mirror?

No, in fact it was Debbie Harry. But I didn't do well; she is a woman that can't be imitated. I could do a good Pat Benater, that was a lot easier. Debbie had style. Even if she didn't move it seemed just like she was standing on the catwalk. And she always felt so comfortable with her own body. She looked very self-secure to me.

If you could give yourself a mark (1-10) of your childhood rebellion what would it be?

Look, my rebeliousness would not impress someone like you at all. I am both daughter and granddaughter of a priest and raised by the christian church. Europeans don't understand what religion means in the States. Just like americans don't understand the safety ... in the face of the queen on the Sex Pistols album. You can't hurt american people more than questioning their religious moral standards. It is my father who is speaking on Happiness is a warm gun about his view on the 2nd amendement (the right to own your own weapons). He said: don't change my words to proof you are right. And I said: I am not changing your words. I just have a different view from you. On this moment America is having a war against itself, you know. Violence is just like salt; we keep on throwing it into the wounds.

You are going on tour soon - a solo tour this time - although your husband Mark and your baby are going with you to keep company. I quess you will not have any groupies then, have you?

Oh, yes I have. I sure have! But to me a groupie has nothing to do with sex. They want to be seen with somebody. Especially in the states people are travelling with me from city to city. I call them 'Ears with feet'. They know I am not interested in that kind of ... (pauses)... You know I don't like to piss on someone, but to be pissed on by someone is even worse!

On which level do you still enjoy the aspects of success that made you 'famous'?

I don't worry about that at all. I mean, I'm not Madonna. I have no idea what it is to be followed by hundreds of photographers everywhere I go. When I go out to buy a bottle of milk there is mostly one person saying 'hello' to me and after that I can do further shopping. I am not their possession. Because of my song lyrics many people know what I am thinking about certain things. But about some things, names and places they don't know anything, 'cause I just won't tell.

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