BMG Interview
March 1999

Added December 2, 1998

Several people have told me about an interview with Tori that appears in an issue of BMG's catalogzine. These catalogs are sent to people who subscribe to the BMG music service, which offers CDs through the mail. This issue was sent out in March 1999 and is the one with Madonna on the cover. Toriphile Mairie sent me the article and Autumn sent me a scan of the article which includes a photo. The scan is below beneath the text of the article.

Since she emerged in the early '90s with the confessional "Little Earthquakes" and the impressionistic "Under the Pink," Tori Amos has been renowned for her idiosyncratic piano style and challenging lyrics -- but 1998 finds ger ready to rock with her first band-oriented album, "from the choirgirl hotel." Rolling Stone writes, "Amos comes clean with the rock & roll that's always driven her," while Spin praises, "She's that rare rocker who can build a racket not out of dissonance but through euphonic intensity." BMG Music Service recently had the opportunity to speak with this fascinating songwriter about the new experience of playing in the band.

BMG: On "from the choirgirl hotel" you chose to play with a band for the first time. Did playing with a band change the way you approach your material?

TA: The new songs were written with a band in mind, but it's interesting because some of the older tunes are getting different arrangements now that I have a band. There were certain songs like The Waitress and Precious Things--ones with clear rhythm--that became easiest to adapt to a full band, others were a little more difficult.

BMG: Is playing in a band an evolution for you, a step up from playing solo piano onstage?

TA: No, not a step up, just a step. I think that knowing I was planning to bring rhythm with me into these songs, I wanted a real band behind me--not a studio entity--to jazz them up. I didn't care about being polite or politically correct, that's not my style. I thought, if I'm going to do this, the piano has to be integrated, and yet not lost in the mix. I didn't want to do a folkie read on anything either because I'm not a folk artist. I knew when I did a noisy record like this, that kick drum was gonna have to be in your stomach.

BMG: Now that you're playing music with a band, the comparisons to musician Kate Bush come up even more frequently. What do you say to those comparisons?

TA: Those comparisons have come up since before I was 18. She's always been there. She came before me. You respect those who've come before you and she was great at what she did. I feel I took control of my record this time like she did too. When I walked into the studio the first day, I asked the engineers about all the buttons they had on their machines. "Do they do stuff?" So "stuff" was something I was ready to do. After "Boys for Pele," when I took the piano and harpsichord to the church to record, I knew I was ready for this bigger experience.

BMG: You've said that your miscarriage proved to be a powerful tool in the writing of the new record. How so?

TA: After my miscarriage, I was in shock. I had been in Mommy mode for three months, I thought I was "out of the woods" with the pregnancy, before it was all taken away. I started asking questions at the time about whether I was paying a debt to someone for this. People would say, "It's God's will," or "Things like this happen for a reason." Then I started wondering, "Where do souls go when they leave the planet?" I'd chase down any deity to get some answers. It was at that time when I was asking all those questions that the songs just started to arrive on my doorstep.

BMG: How do songs come to you? In complete form, or piece of piece?

TA: Sometimes I get one bar or two bars, then I have to spend nine months chasing the rest down. I believe that the songs already exist and you pull them down from the sky when you're in a position to see them. Because of my experiences--the ones that make up me--I'll use different symbolism to make those songs distinctly my own. After that, the rewriting and editing are constant. Jackie's Strength and Hotel came to me as siamese twins. The chorus of Jackie was really the chorus of Hotel so I had to pull them apart. Hotel actually came with three choruses (as hotels do). It took a whileto realize that Jackie was a different (song). [Mairie's note: I think she said "girl" and not song, but the editor of the catalog thought that was abstract or obscure, or just downright quirky, and it was editted to (song).]

BMG: You've been touring constantly since the release of the album last spring. What's next for you?

TA: I think there will be a live and b-sides compilation, with nine or ten years of material represented in one kind or another. Some of the things aren't fleshed out enough. I wanted a break from having my work, my writing, put under the microscope one more time. That can be exhausting.

Please give me feedback, comments, or suggestions about my site. Email me (Michael Whitehead) at