songs | interviews | photos | tours | boots | press releases | timeline

Tori talks about the fans

Well I meet them all. I meet them at every show. I just don't do signings. I mean, let's put it this way - I will never get to Australia, if I'm doing signings in Cedar Rapids. It ain't gonna happen, because I'm gonna collapse. You can't get up at seven o'clock in the morning, do interviews, radio all day, and fly to the next town, and eat your one big meal a day, and do your soundcheck, and get ready for the show, then I'm a one-woman show for an hour and a half kickin' ass, then go and do a two hour signing, then get up and do it all again - you couldn't fucking do it for two weeks, I'm sure - don't take this personally. But my guys, people that come out and hang with me, from the record company or whoever, after five days, they're exhausted, they're like "I have to get out of here." Even groupies - groupies will come and hang for a week, and then they're like, we've gotta go home and sleep. And I'm like, "You didn't even do anything, you just sat there and listened." I mean, I love them, but give me a break... you know I'm not like a plug you can just plug into the wall and say, "okay, do this now." I love music. I just had to make a choice, was this going to be a signing tour or a music tour. And I mean, maybe it's a tough decision, but I think music's a little more important than a signature. [July 1994 - Beat]

There's usually some person who walks out of my show dragging a kid every night because it dawns on them what I am. It dawns on them that this nice, redhead lady who plays the piano is challenging traditional thought - and they don't want their daughter to be challenged... Guys aren't dragged out of the theatre - it's the 15-year-old girl. I'm like, 'Mom, if you drag that 15-year-old girl out of the theatre, guess what? She's going to listen to me more than she ever did. Get smart. Sit there and choke on the popcorn for an hour.' If my father said to me, 'You're not going to see him again,' I was there before midnight. [Illinois Entertainer - August 1994]

Before a concert on September 16, 1996, Tori gave a spoken message to her fans on the internet:

I want to say hi to everybody on the web... we're winding down the tour, and it's kinda really sad, and I'll be gone for two years, but just... know that you've really sometimes made me feel good when things have been really bad (sobbing), and just know that I really respect you, not as... I hate the word fans, I... I'd like to call you Ears with Feet, and never use the word fan again because you're Ears with Feet. [September 1996]

I'm calling them ears with feet now. I think the word "fan" is a degrading term. When I thought about ears with feet, I just went, Well, my instincts say that quite a few of you are going through what I'm going through, which is trying to find your own power. And I have to trust that some will want to take the journey. Or some are already in the middle of the journey, and this would be like the glass of red wine --- which, as we all know, is just a necessity once in a while... We're all progressing; we're not where we were four years ago. So you need to be current. You have to keep having an adventure. And hopefully your heart's open when you put yourself on the line... When you stop putting yourself on the line, and you don't touch your own heart, how do you expect to touch other people? [Baltimore Sun - September 26, 1996]

Um, there has to be a large amount of trust, from my end because um, I reveal a lot more in my songs than I do anywhere else in my life. I've always been that way. I've been most honest in my music. If I feel threatened, I sing very differently. We can go anywhere when I feel safe. When I don't feel safe, then I'm just trying to show you that I used to be seven-foot/three in another life and I'm really five/two now. And so it becomes more about armor instead of really transcending everything and being able to be free. That's why over the years I get to know the people I'm singing to because I sing very differently when I feel safe. They're really amazing. I call them "Ears with Feet" now. And um, when Ears with Feet come, we all know that we can take a journey together. It's really fascinating to me what energy combined can do together. And you can't have disrespect on either side and travel well. [Acoustic Cafe - September 27, 1996]

Especially in the USA, some people travel from town to town and visit 15 concerts in Middle West or they come to each concert in the Western Coast. I don't call them groupies but "Ears with Feet." It's more about interaction. They give me something and I give them something. This is how friendship works. Sometimes there is an audience that only takes. But some female-friends are same kind of black holes - they just take, take and take and the whole thing is about them. Most concerts however are "trades." It's not about slavery. Pissing on somebody doesn't interest me at all. And it would be even less interesting if someone is pissing on me. [Rumba - March 13, 1998]

I trust that they will use their balanced judgment and we will respect each other's rights. As I wouldn't intrude in your home, I wouldn't appreciate it if someone intruded in mine. [Philadelphia Enquirer - May 3, 1998]

A lot of letters are disturbing. People tell me secrets nobody talks about. I'm frightened when I read some experiences, because they happened years ago. One letter told the story of a young woman who, when she was 7, has been raped by her father and brother. I get letters from people trying to heal a deep scar which changed their lives forever. [Best - October 1999]

People just don't know grace, you know, they don't know how to give back. I think music has really been my way of doing that. But sometimes people want me to give them what their human value is. I can't do that; it's a bottomless pit. I could never pay you in fruit, land, money, or blowjobs what your worth as a human being is. And I'm not going to start opening up my veins and bleeding until they cry enough - because they may never cry enough!

The People That Come to the Shows. I relate to a lot of them. I get letters from kids who are just so exhausted from trying so hard that they don't even know what they're trying for anymore. They don't know where to find their essence - they're not getting anything from drugs or parties. And they realize where I go with my music.

I do love playing for the People That Come to the Shows, but it's very intense, and people are emanating all over the place. And there are also those who come to wound - I've seen people actually bite each other. So I have learned how to simultaneously protect myself and be the person onstage who loves to give. It's a paradox that lives within me that I'm just beginning to understand.

I don't have any illusion about what my responsibility is. I understand that when you write emotional work, it can bring things up, and I genuinely have time for people when they are opening that heart-space. [Spin - November 1999]

The Spin article was an opportunity to capture the people that are in that video [Bliss], there are thousands of them. And they chose to write about a professional doll maker. She's very talented, but she's a professional. That's fine, but that's not the story they say they were telling, to follow some of those shadowy creatures that go from one gig to another, who've left school. They've left college, they've taken their tuition, they're gone.

I'm not advocating that or not, but as a writer that's wonderful. This isn't fabricated. Some of them were being tracked down, some of them were hiding in cars with other people because they had to go to college and do a degree they didn't want to do. They're very much out of control and in control at the same time. It's a very dangerous line they're walking and yet the one thing they say - and I love the ballsiness of it - is "What I'm doing now has absolutely no passion, so I come to the show to remind myself that I'm going to do something with a lot of passion. I don't know what it is yet, so I'm buying time," and that's a huge element that comes out.

With any luck, perhaps these fans will come to have a more mature appreciation of you once they've dealt with their own issues.

Some of them don't stick with me and some of them do. I've had women come up to me and say, "I want to thank you for getting me through a difficult patch in my life and I can't go to any of the shows or listen to the music now because it throws me back to that patch." [ - December 1999]

The words that people use, 'followers', 'fans' -- they're people, and a lot of them have an intriguing story. But many of them don't feel it's as worthy of being told. Why is that? The ideas people have, observations they have, and because they might just not be extroverted or command attention, they don't get to share their gifts... Over the last few years I've become a better listener and my woman friends have had a lot to do with that. [Red Direct - September 2001]

What's the strangest encounter you've ever had with a fan?

Oh, dear. Well, imagine being on an airplane with your daughter and husband in the shmoozy class. And you sort of figure that nothing odd will happen, at least for that few hours. But little did you know that someone would come up to you and decide to tell you what you should have done with your songs for the last seven or eight albums. For nine hours! I was held hostage in first class. Also, a policeman pulled me and a friend over. I was in the navigator's seat. And he said: "If I wasn't a policeman, I'd be a stalker. I'd be your stalker." [The Wave - April 10, 2003]

What's the strangest gift you received from a fan?

I have to let go of the tattoos.

Do you mean the tattoos fans have of your image?

Yeah. I had to let go if it. People project their relationships with the songs in a certain manner. By the end of the day I'm a librarian. At the beginning, you get seduced by [fame]. It's a lot to deal with. Some woman are 98 percent Aphrodite. I'm sure you met some of them. They will eat you alive. What I've come to terms with is that the fans are tapping into an archetype. They're pushing me into that mother role. That's a bit much.

Your fans can be a bit, ah, intense. What's the craziest thing one of your devoted followers has said to you?

Some people have said that they are reincarnated. They're coming back to give me a message. Men who have said this tell me that they had a sex change.

Do you ever check out some of the crazy Tori fan websites?

I threw my Mac out the window years ago.

There was one website that went on about how you have orgasms while you play the piano.

How do they know what I'm doing? That's my point to you. If I didn't love the music I wouldn't do this. Fortunately, I don't think there is a better drug out there than what I do. Do your vitamins, Viagra or vodka. There is no greater drug out there. Patti Smith believed that. Jim Morrison believed that. [Cleveland Free Times - August 13, 2003]

t o r i p h o r i a
tori amos digital archive