The singer of everyone’s favourite goth rock band schools us on two of life’s most unavoidable and mysterious concepts.
Evanescence are omnipresent, kind of like oxygen or a general sense of dread. Whether you’ve stuck with them over the years – or the introductory tinkle of their 2003 hit single “Bring Me To Life” still sends you back to afternoons spent in your childhood living room recording music videos on Kerrang! to a VHS – this unassuming rock band from Arkansas have come to define an era where everyone in the charts had a chinbeard or a corset on.
Their operatically-charged rock – complete with what we can now describe as an ICONIC video in which vocalist Amy Lee dangles perilously from the window of a high rise building like a brave civilian in a Marvel film – has bagged them multi-million album sales, two Grammys, and a meme-like status in modern society. Most recently, “Bring Me To Life” was reinterpreted by Jon Sudano – man, YouTuber, saviour of 2016 – who gave it a lease of life by singing the lyrics to Smash Mouth’s “All Star” over the top. Considering he’s done the same with more recent pop smashers like Adele’s “Hello” and Taylor Swift’s “22”, it’s telling that a cover of a thirteen-year-old nu metal single is, by a landslide, the most popular thing he’s ever done. But why? What is it about Evanescence that makes people feel so warm and cosy inside? As Sudano said when I put that very question to him in an interview recently: “Once two hits from the late 90s/early 2000s collided together, it triggered something in everyone’s brains reminding them just how cool shockproof CD players and JNCO jeans were.”
As usual, Sudano is absolutely right. Their band name may mean “quickly fading or disappearing”, but appreciation for Evanescence has only increased over time. Evanescence are an emotional safe place. They are a soothing bedrock in a scary and unpredictable world. In light of recent events, their compositions have the requisite level of drama we need to emote vicariously through. Having fully embraced her recent motherhood, Amy Lee just released an album of lullabies so children may also experience this sense of existential comfort, lending the vocal chords that brought you “Wake me up inside!” to ukulele-driven songs with lyrics like “There’s a monkey in the band, the muffins are sleepy”.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know shit about anything. I can barely scan an onion through a self-service machine without setting off three alarms calling for assistance, let alone figure out what a functioning relationship is. I need help and guidance to get through this thing called life. So, with a celebratory boxset and a new (yes, new!) single called “Even In Death” on the way – plus a tangerine hate-monger about to enter The White House and cause everyone a lot of stress – we figured now would be an optimum moment to call Amy Lee and ask her a bunch of questions about two of the worlds most unavoidable and most mysterious concepts: love and death.
Noisey: Hi Amy Lee! So, let’s start with the basics, shall we. What is love?
Amy Lee: Ah yes, so simple. “What is love?” People have been asking that question since the beginning of time trying to figure it out. I think love is putting somebody else before yourself.
If you love someone but they don’t love you back does it still count?
When did you first fall in love?
I was obsessed with this boy Wade in the first grade. I don’t know if you could call it real love, but I thought it was at the time. His mum once brought cookies or something to class, and she walked out of the room and I burst out of my seat and chased her down the hallway and said, “Hey Mrs… (I don’t remember her last name) I just have to tell you something. It’s important. I just need you to know. I really like your son.” And she looked at me and said, “Aww, thank you for telling me!” And I was like “Ok, that’s all, don’t tell him, bye.” That was the height of my bravery in love.
Have you ever tried to make someone fall in love with you?
Sure. But usually it was by being the girl in the corner. My way was never to come on strong, it was to be the opposite of all the people doing that. Like, you know what, everyone else is gonna be all up in your face, I’m just going to sit here and do some awesome sketch until you notice how amazing I am on your own.
If music is the food of love, what is the food of death?
They both could be music? It would have to be a literal thing to make you die, but whether it’s the most wonderful or terrible emotion I think music aids and soothes it all.
Are you scared of love?
No it’s wonderful.
Are you scared of death?
I’m not scared to die but I’m scared of the separation that death causes.
Do you believe in live after death?
Do you believe in life after love?
Why do we obsess over these two aspects of life more than any other?
They’re both beyond our understanding. Death especially. It’s not like you know anyone who’s ever been there and come back. It’s terrifying in a lot of ways. It’s this thing that happens to every single person who has ever walked on earth, but we don’t know what it’s going to look like. One of the most fascinating things about life, I think, is death. And love can completely change you. It can make you physically ill, it’s such an amazing force. It’s also something we can’t see or control.
Is it possible to die because you love too much?
I think your actions can definitely lead you to do things that will take you there.
What is the greatest love song of all time?
“All is Full of Love” by Bjork.
Have you ever died in a dream you’ve had?
Yes. People have all these rules about dreams like you can’t die or if you die you wake up, but none of them apply to me. I’m a very vivid dreamer, it’s the weirdest thing. I’ll dream that I woke up, brush my teeth, picked out my specific outfit that’s right over there on my suitcase – and then I’ll wake up, like “None of that happened? Ugh. I have to do it all over again!” Usually if I die in a dream the rest of the dream is darkness and I’ll hear music or something…
Have you ever written a song in a dream?
Yes. You know how in dreams you can kind of dictate what you do? Like you’re about to walk into a room and you know there’s something scary in there and you start thinking really hard about it. It’s the same thing with this. It feels in the dream like you’re listening but you know to some degree that you’re creating. I’m subconsciously writing but it feels like I’m just listening to music. It doesn’t happen very often, but I wrote a song called “Secret Door” that way. I heard the music and woke up and I drove to the studio, didn’t get changed or brush my teeth or anything, and recorded it so I wouldn’t forget. The cover I did of “With or Without You” happened that way too. I heard these big synths and the melody being different…
If you were a character in an action film which would you be?
Do you believe in the soul?
Do you believe in soul mates?
I don’t know… I think love is bigger than just this one person that you can’t control and you don’t have to work for it you just automatically love each other. Love is something you have to actively do.
Does love feel different as you get older?
Yeah. It goes deeper, it means more, especially when you develop history with someone it’s something you can’t replace.
In Titanic, a film about love and death, Rose drops Jack into the sea. Should she have made room for him on the door? Don’t you think they both could’ve fit?
No! She had to drop him so she could survive, because that’s what she knew he would want.
Yeah, screw Jack! Thanks Amy Lee.