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Rolling Stone (Australia)
June 2, 2015

Tori Amos Opens Nineties Treasure Chest

By Dan Stapleton

After a commercially unsuccessful stint fronting Eighties rock band Y Kant Tori Read, Tori Amos locked herself away in an apartment with a piano. She re-emerged in 1992 with Little Earthquakes, one of the most vivid and influential albums of the era. That record and its follow-up, 1994's Under the Pink, has now been reissued, with live cuts and many of Amos' classic B-sides. Here, the redhead talks about half a dozen important tracks -- from her a capella recount of rape in "Me and a Gun" to the Trent Reznor-assisted "Past the Mission" -- and looks back at her early days in the music business.

All words below by Tori Amos.

Take to the Sky

"That song came out of the failure of Y Kant Tori Read. I began to see how the record industry really operated -- how it worked when you were successful and how it worked when you weren't. I saw the buddy system, and the networking, and I just said, 'You know what? Fuck that. I'm going to take to the sky, and all I have to do is be true to the muses. That is all I'm going to do from now forward.' So the song was my prayer, and my answer to the music industry."

Me and a Gun

"One thing I've learned over the years is that you have to focus on what you're good at. You can't be something you're not. You can't be Marilyn Manson if you're Tori Amos. However, what you can do is know what you're good at and then choose how you're going to put that out there in the world -- and my strength was structure. I had to get the suits to see that structure was powerful -- that it could be a scream, that you didn't need a screaming electric guitar to grab them by the throat and shut them up. And that was achieved with 'Me and a Gun'. The suits had absolutely nothing to say."

Smells Like Teen Spirit

"The early nineties was a very special time. It seemed almost magical but also feral, dangerous and yet healing -- all those things. The sense that there were possibilities -- sort of a Wild West idea -- was very much orbiting in the Nineties. There was a resonance, an understanding that we were rebelling against a corporate music industry: that their idea of the boys' club and their idea of success was something that was being rejected by a generation."

Past the Mission

"I collaborate very sparingly, but with Trent Reznor there was an affinity. He had heard Little Earthquakes and we began communicating from there. What always spoke to me in his work was the rawness, and such deep emotion. It was sometimes expressed in a violent way, but there was a beauty to it, too, which made sense to me because of my classical background. And both being keyboard players, I think there was a language that we could speak."

Cloud on My Tongue

"It's a song that's very close to me. That emotion can happen at any time in your life -- when you have such deep feeling for someone and yet it doesn't work out how you want it to. And so that song has stayed with me, even though the faces of who it's about change. It's been burned underneath my skin from the inside out. I don't even see the physical tattoo, but I don't need to, because it goes deeper than the skin."


"I kicked it off the album at the last minute because of a preference that someone else in the studio had for a different song. But I made the wrong decision, because 'Honey' was like the blood of Under the Pink. By taking that out, I took out something that had brought the other songs together. And I've since learned that it's not about a vote. Making a record is not a democracy. To be an artist, you have to make decisions, and it's not always about being the most popular person in the room."


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