Tori Amos! God bless her, the girl says what is on her mind. “How can I be a sacred being and a hot pussy?” she mused to British rock magazine Q last year. Somehow, she’s managed. Those fans of hers worship Tori with startling intensity, so we can say with some certainty that they will set upon her fine new double album, To Venus and Back, like starving rats in a peach barrel. One CD is live, culled from last year’s tour supporting From the Choirgirl Hotel; the other is a new studio disc, marking the first time she has recorded with her road band. Tori phones from a hotel in Florida, where she’s on tour with Alanis Morissette. Without further ado, here she is, Our Lady of Perpetual Digression.
You have twelve new songs on your live record. What happened?
I was just gonna do a couple of songs, put out the live album and hang out at my beach house [laughs]. It’s just that some days the songs come and visit you and sometimes they don’t. And at that time, they just seemed to want to come visit. I had no intention of touring, and here I am, road dog.
Your song “Glory of the Eighties” is about your early days in L.A.
I was out of my mind at the time. I used to chase Mexicans when they would cut in front of me driving. I’d chase them down, yelling at them – why did they cut me off? I would go on and on, and my best friend would say to me, “I’m not getting in this car if you’re going to start chasing Mexicans.” I loved chasing Mexicans; I’d get off on it! They were kind of cute. They thought I was just ready to check into an asylum.
“Juárez” was inspired by an article you read about women being murdered in Mexico. Are you often inspired by what you read?
I read the other day that they sent a rocket to the moon, to try and find water, and they crashed into the moon. Can you imagine if they mess with the moon? The moon decides the tides; the tides decide every woman’s PMS schedule! These guys have no idea what they’re in for! Two billion women who are on the rag because the moon is fucked up.
Let’s talk about your tour mate. When did you first hear her music?
I’m trying to remember. I think it was in Ireland – we were doing Boys for Pele, recording. I really wanted to know if she really went down on someone in a theater – that’s what I was caught up in! I was going, “Hmm. I don’t know. It’s all sticky in those theaters, anyway.” That just intrigued me.
What was the last conversation you had with Alanis?
It was at the show last night, and it was really about holding space for each other while the other went on. I was at the side of the stage while she went on; she was there when I went on. It was about inspiring each other. We want to create different things, but it was saying, “You go up there, I’m watching your back.”
Musicians’ lives are filled with people. When was the last time you were completely alone?
I was held by the Germans at the Belgian border. They were grilling my friend, who had marijuana, and I was in a solitary room for hours. They were going to pump my stomach and look at my . . . my . . . I can’t say the word . . . [whispers] my . . . my . . . my bum. And the only thing that got me out of it was Phil Collins. When they asked me what I did, I took a shot in the dark. This guy looked like he would be into Phil Collins, so I said, “I’m a musician, and I’m actually on a recording with Phil Collins” – my record label included a song from Y Kant Tori Read on a promo track of his. And you know how they put a flashlight thing to your eyes to find out if you’re lying? Germans are great, they know how to do all that stuff. He said, “You’re telling the truth!” Phil Collins saved me. But a guard did check me. She, you know . . .
Went down to the . . . bum area?
She did check me. Oh, yes.
What’s the most mystifying thing a fan has thrown onstage?
Themselves. For a while, this guy was running around calling himself Anastasia. He said he had special artifacts from the Romanov family that he wanted to give me. He kept them in a briefcase attached to his wrist. The crew said, “Why don’t you give us the artifacts, and we’ll give them to her?”
You’ve done a few covers in your day. Would you ever do a Madonna song?
I did do a cover of “Like a Virgin” that has never left the studio.
Tori, we need to be hearing that!
It’s never gonna happen.