by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
I'd always imagined Tori Amos to be sophisticated, intelligent, articulate and graceful. When I spoke to her recently, she was all these things and sweet as honey - it was like speaking to a teacher who covets you as their student. An outspoken ally of the Gay community since the start of her career, Amos was fired up when the topic of same-sex marriage surfaced. The multi-Grammy nominee will launch her forthcoming "Sinful Attraction Tour" at Seattle's WaMu Theater on July 10 (www.wamutheater.com), promoting her 10th album Abnormally Attracted to Sin. To many Gay men, she's way up there with Madonna, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner - the greats - and she deserves to be, as an artist who writes her own unique songs that have sparked controversy ("God") and inspired the wounded ("Silent All These Years"). There's no denying it, Tori Amos is a true original.
On this celebrative Pride weekend, as you frolic with friends and zip from bar to bar, remember our friends who're cheering loudly on our side of the bleachers - think Tori Amos live, in the flesh. But before she goes onstage, it's my pleasure to have her here in The Music Lounge on this most festive occasion. Here's what the diva had to say.
Albert Rodriguez: Are you keeping tabs on the Gay marriage issue?
Tori Amos: Yes, I am.
Rodriguez: Having been exposed to the Gay community at an early age, do you see us as being an extension of your family?
Amos: Yes, I also think there are a lot of women who might be Gay, or not, that are a part of that family too, but in a different way for different issues, perhaps. Why I spoke out about this whole Prop. 8 thing was because the whole idea that a portion of our country is asked to pay taxes, and is said to be protected by the Constitution, yet they don't have the same rights as everybody else? I cannot support that, I cannot support that a portion of our society would be treated less human with less human rights than somebody else, yet forced to pay taxes as if they are a citizen. And if you are a Christian, a real Christian who walks the path of Christ, you cannot support that. You're subjugating another group of human beings, and Christ would never support that. As a minister's daughter I had to say, "Hang on a minute. If you really hold the love of Christ in your heart, you cannot subjugate another group of citizens and call yourself part of Christ's consciousness." If you're going to use the whole Christian ideology, then let's look at the path of Christ - and of our Constitution, which says, "all men are created equal." It doesn't say, "Except homos." So I wasn't just speaking against it because I've got some buddies, I spoke out because it's just wrong.
Rodriguez: I remember an interview you did years ago, in which you said Gay men and drag queens taught you how to become a woman.
Amos: I worked in clubs where the waiters were all Gay and some of them took it upon themselves to make me aware of what was vulgar. You know, when you're trying to find your womanhood, and wearing your sexuality sometimes in a way that you just don't know how to wear it yet. Being a minister's daughter, sometimes your version of sexy is top-shelf porno. [Laughs.] So the Gay guys would sometimes have to say, "No sweetie, Dior, not West Coast rock chick." Although, we all know that it's hard to keep me away, especially in the late '80s, from retail slut. But the Gay guys always seemed to bring me back, over the years, to other ways of expressing my sexuality with my femininity. A style, a chicness.
Rodriguez: For many Gay men, myself inclusive, since that time we huddled together and listened to Under the Pink we've always had this attachment to you as a big sister.
Amos: Well, that means a lot to me. You know, that means a lot me because - that really does.
Rodriguez: What do you remember from Seattle on your previous visits?
Amos: Quite a few different things. There are some Native American women there that opened up their home to me, and were really supportive on the last tour - and they did that at a time when I was tired, on the road. We'd been out for a long, long time and through friends, they just said "Hey, we want you to come and spend the day with us." And we did, and they made food and were incredibly supportive as if I'd known them my whole life.
Rodriguez: How many songs from the new album can we expect to hear at the show?
Amos: My philosophy is that there are going to be songs from the new record for sure, but I always like to have the catalog represented, as well as some covers. We start rehearsals in two weeks. Matt Chamberlain, John Evans, and I will be out - it'll be a three-piece this time, keyboard heavy. That lends itself to different kinds of arrangements.
Rodriguez: So, for those of us who missed the last tour, there's hope we can maybe hear "A Sorta Fairytale"?
Amos: Yes, you can hear "A Sorta Fairytale." I'm sure it'll show up.
Rodriguez: Can you talk about a song on the new album that stood out for me, "Curtain Call"?
Amos: I've been playing that quite a bit, "Curtain Call." I've been doing radio shows in Europe, and there's a desire to play that. I think it works so well, and it's a piano as well as a full arrangement. I feel very close to that song because even though this is my 10th album, and I have a lot to be grateful for, I think we all have those days when you feel marginalized - but it might be one day a month. I have no complaints, I feel very, very blessed. I think the song speaks for itself.
Rodriguez: You always seem to choose cute guys to tour with, like Jason Mraz and Joshua Radin, but they're also talented opening acts.
Amos: Well, thank you. I mean, we try. Sometimes people ask, "Why don't you have women open up for you?" You have to look at this holistically. People are going to be pounded with an hour and a half to two hours of my perspective, which no matter how you look at it is a woman's perspective. And so, I try to give people a complete evening, and that way they can reflect and say, "Okay, I've had different points of view - male point of view and female point of view." I find a balanced evening in that.
Rodriguez: I'm thinking of a young circuit boy who's just heard of you, and is going to buy his first Tori Amos album. Where's a good place to start - Little Earthquakes, Boys from Pele, or this album?
Amos: It really depends on where they are in their mind, because different young men are jumping on and off all the time. Sometimes they've jumped in the more darker phases, in the more produced work, or sometimes they hear something that's more piano-generated, or they come to a live show. It's such an individual thing, you'd have to recommend based on where they were in their personal life.
Rodriguez: Will you arrive in Seattle a few days prior to the show?
Amos: Oh yeah, we're going into production rehearsals in Seattle. We're in two big rehearsal phases - we have musical rehearsals, where things are hammered for a couple of weeks at a time because we spend hours and hours a day going over the rhythms and everything like that. Because it's a trio this time, the three of us know in our brain a lot of the repertoire from the past, but in order to really play you have to practice morning, noon and night for a two or two and half week period. And then we'll all re-convene in Seattle for production rehearsals with lights, sound and the whole ball of wax. And clothes, I have to make sure I don't fall off my heels and legs up in the air. [Laughs.]
Rodriguez: Well, we welcome you with open arms, open hearts and are looking forward to it.
Amos: I'm thrilled to start there. It's Matt's home, and of our family.
Rodriguez: I speak for all Tori Amos fans, in that we can't wait for this tour to lift off the ground.
Amos: I hope to see you there, Albert! Get your requests in now, it's a long tour.
Rodriguez: "A Sorta Fairytale" and "Taxi Ride" are my requests.
Amos: All right, noted. Okay, bye, sweetheart.
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