Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Mar 10th 2009 8:00AM by Jessica Robertson
It's just weeks away from Amos' scheduled performance at SXSW, where she'll unveil new tunes from her tenth studio album, 'Abnormally Attracted to Sin,' due May 19. In addition to debuting the album cover and tracklist with Spinner, Amos discussed her new work, how to divvy up the Democrats and Republicans, and what she considers to be the greatest sin of all.
What was the impetus behind this new collection?
I'm drawn to questioning what traditional authorities have defined sin to be. As a minister's daughter, I've been exposed to the traditional belief system. [Sin] has been used to shame and control people. If you're controlled by a religious structure, then you're going to have a very different outlook on life and what you're open to than if you're not controlled by these old, crumbling concepts.
The new album, 'Abnormally Attracted to Sin,' takes its name from a line in 'Guys and Dolls,' said by the character Sarah Brown. Do you feel a kinship with her in any way?
No, because I'm not torn by my religious beliefs. A lot of the problems we have right now in our world are because of intolerance dictated by the big religions.
Do you feel it's your duty or obligation to expose these truths in your work?
I find that right now, in this turbulent time where there's so much strife all around the world, there is an opportunity for religions to open their doors and their hearts -- to become compassionate for someone else's beliefs instead of intolerant. That's always really disappointed me about people who talk about being religious, and yet they're the most judgemental, usually. Right now, we're at war, and I wrote quite a lot of this album while I was on tour last time. I traveled the world, I played in Israel, I traveled through countries where the major religions exist -- and the one thing that I started to do more than ever was to really ask questions about "What do I believe in?" Traveling and seeing how women see themselves in different cultures ... how the community thinks of them becomes so important for some of them, more than how than how they even feel about themselves. And some of them are dying -- they're dying in their lives. You might be approved of in your community, but your heart is completely breaking. And I don't find that a tolerant society -- that is not the compassionate Christ path to me. I began to see that kindness and tolerance were not found in institutions, but found in individuals who seemed to be breaking away from the old patriarchal viewpoint.
Did you have a similar experience growing up in a Christian household?
I was brought up in a home that was ... we were brought up in the Christian doctrine, and that's just what it was. We believed in it, and I think the question is: What is that doctrine? Because it's not about the open heart. Maybe it takes times like we have right now, times of so much upheaval, where you allow yourself to really find out what it is that you feel about something. My daughter has all kinds of questions all the time, and if she were brought up in a less tolerant household, she would be broken, no question about it. But she has a grandfather who was a Methodist minister and she has a part of her family who are very much practicing Christians, yet she loves them. But she is not interested if they agree with what she thinks because she is allowed to believe in what she wants.
One of the current arguments at large in America is whether or not gays should have the right to marry. Religion is often used in the argument against gay marriage. Why do you think that union is so threatening?
We go back to that word -- intolerance. That, to me, isn't what America ever was. It wasn't about telling another person how to live their life. I always said in a perfect world, you keep the Democrats out of your bank account and the Republicans out of your bedroom. But in life, why do you have to have anybody else in your bedroom if you're a consenting adult? That is the need people have right now, it seems, to dictate to another person how they should live there life. I find that the greatest sin of all. The record explores all kinds of feelings and depending on your state of mind, your set of circumstances could result in a very different outcome.
What can you tell me about the visuals that will be accompanying each of the songs on this album?
I'm calling them "vignettes" because it's more akin to a mini-film. This all started on tour last time, when we were filming the live shows. The director was putting together montages, and as I saw the montages, new music was already coming. I started to put the new music to the mini-films that were being made out on the road.
When I travel I get all kinds of ideas. I'm forced to see things that I wouldn't and question. When you asked me about 'Guys and Dolls,' I guess I was never a Bible-thumping Christian; I was always trying to question because I had so much religion in my upbringing. I was drawn to those people and those ideas that weren't accepted necessarily, and it's not because these ideas in reality are "evil" -- that's just the perception that's being given. The reality I was brought up in was, "Anything that doesn't work within the Christian doctrine is sinful." And that's a lot of stuff.
'Abnormally Attracted to Sin' Tracklist
2. 'Welcome to England'
3. 'Strong Black Vine'
5. 'Not Dying Today'
6. 'Maybe California'
7. 'Curtain Call'
8. 'Fire to Your Plain'
9. 'Police Me'
10. 'That Guy'
11. 'Abnormally Attracted to Sin'
12. '500 Miles'
13. 'Mary Jane'
15. 'Fast Horse'
17. 'Lady in Blue'