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San Jose Mercury News (US)
July 9, 2009

Tori Amos does things her way

By Shay Quillen

Over 10 albums and nearly two decades of hard touring, Tori Amos has cut a singular swath through the world of popular music. Eccentric, emotional and uncompromising, the North Carolina native was like no one else on the scene when she emerged, yet now her influence is seen in a generation of quirky piano-playing female singer-songwriters, from Regina Spektor to Evanescence's Amy Lee.

Amos, 45, comes to town Tuesday, to perform at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts with longtime drummer Matt Chamberlain and bassist Jon Evans. We caught up with Amos for a quick chat on the phone last week as she ate a bowl of ice cream at her husband's house in Cornwall, England.

Q: Your 8-year-old daughter, Tash, will be on the road with you. A lot of your music involves pretty adult subject matter. Do you shelter her from some of your more intense material?

A: Some of it, I think -- the violent stuff. ... She's in our world, so you try and have a routine and all those kind of things, and limits for certain things, but we're not heavily censored people. I mean you're talking to me (laughing). She knows Mom cusses probably better than anyone on the planet, she knows that, but she also knows that when it's time not to use that kind of language, and to use other language, that can be done as well.

Q: Has the digital revolution changed the way you listen to music? Are you an iPod enthusiast?

A: Not really, because I like things coming out of beautiful speakers. I like the room to shake -- that's what I enjoy. I mean, yes, they're there as a necessity to reference things, but to enjoy listening to music? I don't enjoy it. Because I think it's like having training wheels on, for me.

Q: After years of recording for major labels, do you feel more freedom now that you've moved into a joint venture with Universal Republic?

A: Well, when you're working with people that you have a relationship with, that you know love music, and also respect what you do and get what you do, then it's a very different kind of environment than when they're people that are just business guys, devoid of creativity. ... It's very tricky having conversations with people who don't have a creative bone in their body. It's really tough, when you're a creative force. It's probably as frustrating as if a mathematician started talking to me, but the difference is I know I can't talk that language. I recognize that, so I'm not trying to tell a mathematician what to do.

Q: When it came time to make the new album, did you have particular themes you wanted to explore?

A: I started writing on the road in the last tour. The world changed as we both know, so some of those songs are talking about the effects of that.

Q: Are you talking about the economic crisis?

A: That's sort of the tip of the iceberg. It's what happens to people once that happens, when people lose their jobs and their whole lives change, and their relationships break down. That's when your poets come in. You have analysts talking about the economic side. But then you think about how that affects people's lives: kids not being able to go to college anymore, when they thought they were going to go, and their whole dream is just gone. That's when you start writing and recognizing.

Q: I've read a lot of reviews that complain that your CDs are too long (the new one is 72 minutes). What do you think of that critique?

A: That means they must need to only have 12 songs because they can't make love for longer than that. ... All of them are stupid, because they're not recognizing that it's a double-album form. And if you don't like the double-album form, then you shouldn't be reviewing a double album. Then just shut your ... mouth.

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