“That song has been misunderstood at times. It was written during a time when I was hurt (thankfully) by someone whom I had relied upon to give me my self-worth. When you give someone that power, the biggest favor they can do for you is to give it back. That is what this person did (although not in the kindest way) and I was broken. The song helped me honestly release how I felt without censoring myself in order to get it out of my system. The acoustic version taps into the original emotion that inspired the song in the first place. It was much easier for me to be angry, than openly sad.“
One and half year touring, an unexpected worldwide success, a brand new world opening at her feet.. and she crashed. There had been a moment when she didn’t want to write a next album. It was time to take a break and think about the big amount of events that had broken into her life.
“My aunts, mother and two girlfriends were with me from the first part of the trip to India–my girlfriend and I continued on when they left to go back. We started off in Calcutta and did some volunteering for a few days, traveled up north, then into Nepal and eventually down to the south of India. What I remember most about having gone to India was the openness that was required to go there, the letting go of control. I was able to look at our western culture with a sense of objectivity and be humbled by immersing myself in another culture that is drastically different from the one I was born in. It enabled me to step away from a lot of things and look at my life in a way that I had never been able to before. There was a richness and simplicity that was paradoxical and inspiring. I also realized that the Eastern world and its philosophies are often idealized. Being there prompted inquiries about myself, God, illusion, conditionings, death and materialism, among other things. I realized I didn’t have to look outside myself to see who I was. I also enjoyed the eye contact with the people there. It was a very introspective trip.“
Trip in Cuba:
“I saw this as the last trip that I would take before the writing of this record. A group of us went on what was a cultural exchange. We went to different schools and hospitals, art galleries and restaurants. We also visited a music boarding school. I was alone in a music room there and I started to play piano when a woman with whom we were traveling started to dance. I was playing a very modular, stream of consciousness song. When I finished, I looked up and there were other people in the room. I was so deeply inspired, I knew that it was time to write again.“
So, once she had taken enough time off and allowed herself the freedom to not “have” to, she was ultimately left wanting to write and even produce the next album together with Glen Ballard.
“Producing, for me, is very intuitive in that the emotion takes precedence over “sonic quality” or “perfect” pitch, etc. I was able to better communicate what I wanted. The moment I feel the songs truly reflect that particular time in my life is the moment that the record is done. In the case of this record, we were technically “done” at one point. But I felt intuitively that we weren’t and I wrote “Sympathetic Character”.
When we completed recording it, there was a resounding “you’re finished” in the air for me. I had never expressed what I’ve written about in the way that I did on this record. I enjoyed playing with my voice and feeling how it had strengthened from having heavily toured and rested. Playing flute, new instruments, producing formally, stretching, less structure, writing more about other people. More responsibility, less fear, exploring.“
Getting off of a treadmill..
“It was liberating, exciting and terrifying. I’ve begun laughing again, making up for a lot of lost time on emotional levels, on traveling levels, on relationship levels, physical levels (sports), exploring my own spirituality. I felt humbled, inspired, afraid and grateful. I feel younger now than I ever have in my whole life. When I was 14, I felt 40 years old and now I feel both eight and 80. I discovered the world on many different levels with the energy that had always gone solely into my career"
In 1998, Alanis finally released her second international album, “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie“: debuted at number 1 on the Billboard album chart in November. Alanis wrote all the words and composed the music with her jagged little pill collaborator Glen Ballard, with whom she co-produced the album this time; four other songs were written solely by Alanis. While still holding true to her style of “honest lyrics”, this album rooted itself away from the anger that had pervaded the first release, replaced here with a deep consciousness in religion and faith. This new-found focus Alanis gained during the spiritual journies she took during the downtime after “Jagged Little Pill”. The album was greeted with moderate success.
New album, new tour but also new bandmates! For the upcoming world tour, Alanis had been joined by her band: Chris Chaney (bass), Nick Lashley (guitar), Gary Novak (drums), Joel Shearer (guitar) and Deron Johnson (keyboards). The first leg of the trek visited venues in cities in the United States before heading overseas. Joining Alanis on the American dates were Liz Phair (for the first eight shows, January 30-February 13) and then Garbage (for 25 shows, February 15-April 7). Ultimately, the tour lasted through December 1999 and encompassed Europe, the U.K., Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Far East. Highlights of 1998 for Alanis included a warm-up club tour of North America — documented on a November hour-long MTV in-concert special taped at New York City’s Roseland — as well as two special overseas performances. The first was December 10 at Bercy Stadium in Paris for Amnesty International’s concert to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She was on a bill with Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, Youssou N’Dour, Tracy Chapman and Radiohead. Alanis followed this performance with a December 11th appearance in Oslo at the Nobel Peace Prize concert, which honored this year’s Peace Prize Laureates and drew attention to their respective causes.