Alanis Morissette must be great. 28 million record buyers can’t be wrong!
After selling 28 million CD’s, Alanis Morissette took some time off, about a year and a half actually.
Some of that time was spent in India.
By the time she got back to recording, near on four years since the “Jagged Little Pill” sessions, she had evolved her sound to a new level.
A lot of fans will be surprised by her new album. Alanis is very comfortable with her sound and a lot more laid back and calmer than last time around.
Once again, she worked with producer Glen Ballad to create a follow-up to the juggernaut “Jagged Little Pill”.
Alanis Morissette spoke to Paul Cashmere in 1999.
Paul Cashmere: You’ve worked with Glen Ballard once again on this album. Could there have been a “Jagged Little Pill” or the new album without him?
Alanis Morissette: I think it’s a freedom that we have, to work together or to work apart. He’s done a lot of things without me and I’ve done a lot of things without him. I think that will create our longevity together. Glen and I have a synergy together that I don’t have with other people and at the same time I love. So I’ll probably bounce between the two.
PC: On Jagged Little Pill, who were portrayed as the angry young woman and on SFIJ you are singing “Are you still mad”. Who was that guy who made you so bitter to start with?
AM: I’m actually asking him if he’s still mad at me in that song. There are many people. The last record I feel I was reacting to a lot of situations of people. I repressed what I was feeling for so long that inevitably it was an explosion of sorts. It was really important to do that I think. In this album, I still express myself in that way but I take it a little further. I take a responsibility for my role a little more.
PC: Did you have a dry patch with your songwriting just prior to this album?
AM: Yeah, I didn’t really want to write. It was like I went to write and then couldn’t. I just wasn’t inspired to. I had so many things that I needed to process before I felt inspired again. So many things that I had to put on the backburner during the tour. So many things that I had to process because I didn’t have any energy to. It took me a year and half to understand a lot of it, which brought me to a place where I wanted to write again and get back into the lifestyle again.
PC: What sort of musical influences did you get from your time in India?
AM: Over the last three or four years I’ve gravitated towards minor chords much more so and augmented diminished chords. Spending time in Asia confirmed that it was all around me and I loved it.
PC: Did you learn some of the local instruments or play with the local musicians?
AM: I didn’t play with them, but I watched them, whether it was on street corners or hotels or wherever they would wind up playing which was pretty much everywhere. It was very inspiring.
PC: You’ve been accused on South Park of stealing one of the chefs songs. Are you a South Park fan?
AM: I’m a huge fan. I didn’t see that one. I have a tape. A friend of mine sent me a tape with 19 different episodes. They are all bleeding into one for me. I don’t remember specific episodes. I just love that show. I love the cook. I think he’s hysterical.
PC: When “Jagged Little Pill” started to take off and kept selling million after million, were you sitting back and monitoring that and soaking in the success of that album as it happened?
AM: We were touring and traveling so much that I just insulated myself from everything that was going on. It was a little overwhelming. It was only during that year and a half off that I started to understand it. It was a pretty overwhelming time.
PC: So when did the fame element sink in. When did you first notice you were famous?
AM: I don’t know if it has really sunk in. I can still spend time in Bulgaria and get away with it. There’s some sacrifices. I probably could have listed off a hundred of them a year ago, but these days I’m pretty comfortable with it.
PC: Are you familiar with comedian Ed Burn who has this sketch where he dissects the lyrics to your song Ironic and goes through the lyrics of Ironic and does this very funny thing about how there is nothing ironic in Ironic?
AM: Oh yes there’s not a lot of irony in that song. Glen and I were just laughing when we were writing different situations down. We weren’t really thinking too much about it really.
PC: Are you a Beatles fan and what was it like recording with Ringo Starr?
AM: I had just finished watching the Anthology the night before they called. I was crazy coincidental really. I love him. He’s a sweety.
PC: Ozzy Osbourne was in that session too, wasn’t he?
AM: He wasn’t there while I was there. The room was no bigger than this room. (small) A friend of mine from LA, Mark Hudson was recording or producing it. They called, I walked in. It was very simple.
PC: You just broke Lauryn Hill’s record by selling the most copies of an album by a female first week on the Billboard charts. Were you aware that there was this contest going down with you and Lauryn with the American media?
AM: I wasn’t aware. I wasn’t aware there was even so much focus being put on records in their first week. I didn’t really encaputure that first time round. So, it’s just unfortunate that everything is based on charts in certain circles. A lot of artists I listen to I’m not even aware if they are on the charts.
PC: Do awards mean anything to you?
AM: There was a period of time where I had a very conflicting relationship with awards in general. The concept of competition being at all present in the world of art seemed really confusing to me. If I take it into account, it’s that I connected with a lot of people and that being recognised is beautiful to me. It’s one of the best parts of this.
PC: You have the big show in Paris coming up with Peter Gabriel, Radiohead and Tracy Chapman for Amnesty. How did you get involved with that?
AM: I had done a few a Public Service announcements for Amnesty International over the last while. Anything to do with human rights or human choice I will be an advocate of. I love taking part in these events by playing music, as opposed to hitting people over the head with what you want them to believe. Music gives them a choice to take part in all that. It was as simple as them having asked me and me saying yes.
PC: Will you sing Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees at that gig like you have in the past?
AM: No, but when I was touring with them for a month in America, I played there song a couple of times. It was great.
PC: You chose a very interesting way to introduce yourself to the general public via the soundtrack of “City of Angels”. Why was that and did you write that song for the movie?
AM: I had been going through something at the time that I wanted to write about and I saw a screening of the movie and it applied very much to the lead characters. I think it was as simple as that really. I just wrote it and I didn’t really think about it. I knew that I didn’t want it to be a single. I just wanted it to be part of the movie and it was.
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