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Interviews   

Evanescence’s dynamics


Amy Lee is a ray of sunshine, one of those people whose joviality is contagious. When you meet her, or talk to her on the phone, she immediately makes you smile and puts you in a good mood. She is polite, friendly, voluntary and sincere in her answers.

On the occasion of the release of Evanescence’s eponymous album (11th of October), we had a chat with the band’s singer and discussed, among other things, the genesis of this album, which took no less than two years to be released. She for instance describes a very new group dynamics, denying the received idea that Evanescence is Amy Lee’s solo project. As to the lyrics, they represent a therapeutic outlet allowing her to make peace with the darkest moments of her life.

Realised two days before the sad anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy, this interview allowed Amy Lee to express her great emotion regarding this event.

To the interview.

« It’s very possible that I’ll do something either solo, or some side-project kind of thing in the future »

Radio Metal: How are you doing?

Amy Lee (vocals): I’m good, how are you?

I’m fine, thank you. It’s the end of the week so I’m good!

Yeah, mine too! I’ve been doing this promo tour for almost two weeks and today is the last day.

It must be boring!

Yeah, my brain is fried! I’ve said the same things so many times, I don’t even know what it means anymore! [she laughs]

Yeah, I can imagine that… So I apologize in advance if I ask some question you already answered…

Oh no! Thank you for help promoting the record. I’m very, very proud of it.

Ok, so let’s go. According to what we can read on the web you entered the studio in February 2010 with Steve Lillywhite, but apparently the more electronic orientation didn’t please your record label who asked the band to restart the album from scratch. Why did you accept to comply with their requirements?

That’s not how it went. You shouldn’t get all your informations of the internet, you know? [she laughs] Here’s how it went: it 2007, we finished touring with The Open Door and I didn’t have a plan. We didn’t settled down to make a specific record. I was just getting married and took time completely away and even considered the possibility of not making a record at all. But then, you know, I love music, so I started writing agai, and I didn’t know what it was for. It was just for me. Naturally I wrote some songs that I really love, but some of them were more for Evanescence and some weren’t. I think that if it is gonna be Evanescence, it has to rock. So I couldn’t do it all by myself, it has to be the band, then the band became more and more on focus. But when we got into the studio for the first time, it just wasn’t finished. It really has nothing to do with the record label. It wasn’t the right fit with the producer. It was really nice, but it really wasn’t the right fit and even more importantly than that, I really learned that we were in too early, we weren’t finished writing. And we didn’t start from scratch. We still have some songs we had at that time on the record. We just kept working on that and kept the band more on focus.

Do you have some more electronic-sounding songs that aren’t on this album and that will be out someday?

Yeah, I think so. Some of it leans in a little bit different direction, sort of more like Björk I guess, but different also… It’s hard to describe. Overall it was more simple, just me at the piano because I write a lot like that. I don’t know what exactly I’m gonna do with the songs but there’re some of them that I really, really love… They didn’t suit this record at least. I think it’s very possible that I’ll do something either solo, or some side-project kind of thing in the future.

You have stated that with this album, it was the first time the band worked collectively. Is this the reason why this album is self titled? As if this was a new start for the band?

Yeah, that’s the main reason that it’s self-titled, you got it [she laughs]. It’s a band driven record. That became the focus more and more for us, and I think we sound as a band stronger than we ever have. This is the same line-up we had when we were touring and everything back during the Open Door tour, and I remember at the end of that tour thinking “wow, this is the best tour we’ve ever done. This is the tightest the band as ever been musically.” I grew up a lot as a musician too, so that’s a part of it. I’m a better musician than I was when I was 21 and we were touring for the first time for sure, at least I hope so! But that’s exactly the group that I wanted, and I’m so happy that everyone’s still here and everyone being even more a part of it because each of the guys are really good musicians. They all bring something real and unique to the table and I love that in this record, you can actually hear each band member, you can hear their style coming through.


« We sound as a band stronger than we ever have »

When looking at your previous albums, do you think they have suffered from not being a collaborative effort?

Uh… Well I don’t think they’ve suffered… It was just a different time.

The lyrics and the song titles are generally very sad on this album. You’ve got songs like “My heart is broken”, “End of the dream”, and then songs like “Erase this”, “Never go back”… It looks like this album is about rising above the darkest moments of our life, like break ups or the decease of close relationships and about turning the page and moving forward. Do you agree with that analysis?

Well, you’re right about those songs. It’s funny, I did another interview today and the guy said: “I noticed this album is a lot less depressing than your others albums. It’s so upbeat!” And I was like “Really?”. I think we hear that in a very different way, which is good. It’s got a little bit of everything. I think that album is very dynamic. It definitely has these deep, dark songs just like you said, like overcoming the darkest moments in your life, that’s right, because that’s what inspires me to write. I feel like it’s generally the biggest and sometimes the most painful things I’ve ever felt that make me wanna write a song and free myself. You know, I feel like everytime you can turn something that you’re going through when it’s difficult into a beautiful song. It kinda makes me feel at peace with that situation.

Are you talking about your own life in this album? Did you experienced some bad events before you wrote this album?

Sure, yes, of course, but not all epic events. You know, life is full of ups and downs of emotions. There is no “happily ever after”. I’m married and I’m in a very good emotional place, I’m very happy, but life can be hard sometimes, and I keep that in mind.

Is this album just a way for you to explain what you experienced or is it also a way to give to the listeners some advices to rise above their problems?

You know, it’s funny. I think this album does both naturally but I’m really writing to myself. I don’t mean to do that, but sometimes when I’m writing as a lyricist I’m just trying to describe how I feel, but a lot of of time at the end it sounds like a kind of motivational speech, like I’m saying “hey, this is what you should do with your life”, and I’m talking to me. I’m telling myself how to get better, consoling me, just healing myself and pushing myslef and trying to always find happiness. That’s always what I’m doing when I’m making a song. What’s cool about it is that I think that our fans hear that and have the same healing feelings through the music too when they’re going through a hard time.

So it’s like a therapy?

It is. It really is that for me.

« Everytime you can turn something that you’re going through when it’s difficult into a beautiful song. It kinda makes me feel at peace with that situation »

Calling this album Evanescence, is it also a way for you to say “this is pure Evanescence music” and to prove that Evanescence can exist without Ben Moody?

Well, I think we proved that a long time ago. I really do. I think we proved that with The Open Door.

By curiosity, did you listen to the songs of his new project We Are The Fallen?

I actually didn’t listen. I’m sorry.

Your drummer Will Hunt is kind of a hired gun, he always had a bunch of different projects at the same time. Does that bother you?

No! No, I love him, he’s so talented. If we’re doing something, he’s gonna be here for us. He is in Evanescence for real. He plays sessions drums for a lot of different bands because it’s fun! His mind runs a million miles an hour, and he’s gotta stay occupied, he’s gotta keep playing, he loves to play. So especially in the time between records for us, I encouraged him to do everything that he wanted to do, like all the guys. But he would always say that this is his home, this is the band that he really feels like is his band, his home.

The video clip of the song “What You Want” kind of tells the story of the band and shows you in small clubs. Do you miss that kind of intimate shows?

I do sometimes. When we shot the video, it felt very real. Real fans came to be in the video, and it really felt like a show, like one of those small gigs again. And I did have some really nostalgic feelings. I love that, the energy of that is really amazing when you’re that close up to the fans, but I also really love a big stage, where you can set more instruments and gear up there and pull out the grand piano. When we were playing back in those days, we either would have to play without the piano at all or I’d have to play a keyboard, and… It’s just not the same [she laughs]. I like to have the space to run around and to have the whole production that we like to have and that suits our music so well.

Do you want to play again in small clubs ? Recently the band Muse said that they were missing that kind of shows and that for the next tour they would like to play in small clubs. What do you think of this idea? Would you do something like that?

I think that’s very interesting. We play a variation of sizes. The first tour we’re gonna do in October and November… they’re not arenas! I mean, I don’t even know if we could do that. We’re doing small places on purpose to get a sort of intimate feeling for the first time back in interaction with the fans before we hopefully do the bigger shows next year.

Evanescence has made a lot of cover songs, especially on stage. Can we expect new cover songs for your upcoming tour?

Actually right now we’re really focusing on our stuff. Now, we have so much music… We would be playing all night [she laughs] if we even tried to play all our favorite songs from Evanescence. So I think for a while we aren’t gonna play any covers.

(About 9-11 events) « We just maybe don’t see it in our own backyard that much and don’t think that it could happen in New York like that. It was just kind of unbelievable. I remember when it happened. It just didn’t seem real »

At the beginning of your career, you released a record called Origin. The status of this record is unclear and people on forums are still asking if you released 3 or 4 albums. What is Origin for you, is it a demo or a full length album?

Yeah it wasn’t a real record, we made it at home. It was the record we used to sell at our small shows back in the day in Little Rock and around. So it’s funny, people are like “so, is it your fourth or your fifth album?” and I’m like “no, it’s our third!”. But yeah, people first knew our music from the internet. I think there’s a lot of copies, of old demos and stuff around there that people put a logo on and made it look like a cd when it truly isn’t!

Ok, last question. It’s been 10 years since 9-11 events. Do you have some thoughts to share about it?

Wow. It puts me on the spot… It’s very real. It’s something that changed everything. Horrible things happen all over the world all the time. I guess we just maybe don’t see it in our own backyard that much and don’t think that it could happen in New York like that. It was just kind of unbelievable. I remember when it happened. It just didn’t seem real. It seemed like some horrible movie. It was an incredible loss, and totally terrifying, devastating. And I think as a whole, America at least, has been in a state of fear ever since. I hope we can continue to try and heal a little bit and not be afraid for ever. It sucks. It’s terrible, because I don’t understand the point. Why would you go and kill a bunch of people that you don’t even know? It’s just a total waste.

It sounds like that event really hurt you at the time, you sound very emotional about that.

I guess I’m a very emotional person in general [she laughs]. Get me started on something serious and I’ll write you a song about it!

That was my last question, that’s kind of a sad ending for an interview ![laughs]

I know! [she laughs] On that note: IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK!

Ok, so will you have some rest after all those twelve days of interviews?

You know, I will, but tonight, there’s another party… I went to a party last night…

So that’s why you’re so tired!

Do I sound tired? No, that’s ’cause I said that I was… Last night there was a label party, so I went to that and I stayed way to long and had way to many drinks. Then today we’re doing all this press and tonight there’s a fan party which is my favorite. I’ll be able to meet a bunch of our fans again and listen to the new music with them. They’ll get to hear some new songs for the first time, so I’m really really excited about that.

Interview conducted on september 9th, 2011 by phone.
Transcription: Chloé & Stan

Evanescence’s Website : www.evanescence.com



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