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Arizona Republic (US)
July 14, 2009

Q&A: Tori Amos

by Ed Masley
photo by Karen Collins

Nine albums down the road from "Little Earthquakes," Tori Amos is still going strong despite never really having had the kind of mainstream breakthrough that would take her from cult icon status to the realm of household names. In May, she hit the charts at No. 9, her seventh Top 10 entry, with the sprawling "Abnormally Attracted to Sin," an album whose deluxe edition features "visualettes" to accompany each of the songs on the album.

Here's what Amos had to say about her latest album and the tour that makes its way to Phoenix on Saturday.

Question: The new record sounds great. That first song really draws you in.

Answer: Oh, thank you. That was one of the first songs that came for the record. I was on tour and that sort of laid down the beginnings of the project. I guess when I heard it, to me, it's kind of skeletal and so things had to work around it in order to make the complete picture.

Q: You have a DVD of visualettes that accompany each of the songs in the deluxe edition. Could you talk a little bit about those?

A: We were touring and making a live DVD, which we have yet to edit because I got distracted by this record. But I saw the montages that the director, Christian Lamb, was making every day when he was on the road with us. And I started to put some of the songs, like "Give," to these montages, which aren't exactly what you see now. But it was a beginning. And that was when I knew that the next project would be joining together new music with these moving pictures.

Q: How important do you think it is to see the visualettes to get the full effect of the album?

A: Sonic works have to live on their own, I think. And then, if you have something else, it just gives you an extra dimension. But it has to hold up on its own, unlike certain soundtracks. Certain underscoring is just that. It's underscoring. And it doesn't necessarily work, whereas John Williams' work, I'm able to listen to some of his compositions and I don't necessarily need to see the picture to have my own imagination activated.

Q: Will there be some element of Christian's visualettes at the show?

A: No. They live in this form. Christian was really committed to this form of filmmaking. And cutting it up and using it in a different way, I felt, would then be playing with his vision. So I decided to leave that there and bring the music live. The catalog is very big now. When I was first touring, it was not so difficult to come up with a show because if we're honest with each other, you only have enough material to get through a show. But when it's 19 years later or whatever it is, that's a lot of years and a big catalog so you have to make choices and there are gonna be choices that I know will make some people wish, "Well, why didn't she place this from that album or this instead?" But you can't play everything in one night.

Q: Are there songs you feel you have to do?

A: I will tell you that I think there are certain songs that give people that magic mushroom moment. I think "Precious Things" is one of those songs. People like it to be there. And if it's not somewhere in the show, they walk away and really miss that moment. And the reason is your whole body is moving with those pounding drums and you walk away feeling as if you've had this hallucinogenic trip - without doing something that gets you arrested, hopefully (laughs). But other than that, I'm pretty open to changing the show every night.

Q: How do you find time to actually work on new material while you're also doing shows and working in new songs at sound check?

A: Being a mother, I ask myself "What did I do with all my time in the '90s, before I was mom?" Once you're a mom, you realize that you have to organize your time. And you become much better at it as a mom. You sleep a lot less but you party less, too.

Tori Amos
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Dodge Theatre, 400 W. Washington St., Phoenix.
Admission: $38-$48.


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