We meet the rock icon to talk about the band’s new album, working with women and the beast that is fame
For those among us who were watching Kerrang! religiously in 2003, there likely isn’t a more memorable image than that of Evanescence’s Amy Lee scaling a giant building in a flimsy nightie while screaming save me from the nothing I’ve become into the night. “Bring Me to Life”, with its huge chorus, guitars, and rock-rap went quickly platinum, brought Evanescence to global relevance, and ensured that they wouldn’t ever be forgotten. Even if that’s the only song of theirs you know, the opening piano is probably more than enough to get you amped up enough to start screaming (badly) along.
Evanescence followed 2003’s Fallen, their most commercially successful album, with The Open Door in 2006. After a hiatus and another change in line-up, the band returned in 2011 with Evanescence before going back on hiatus. Now, in 2017, the band are very much back – and while their continued legacy is thanks in part to their huge, dramatic sound and that one, timeless banger, it’s more than anything thanks to their one remaining original member: Amy Lee. In a scene and genre full to the brim with men, Amy Lee, with her outrageously impressive voice and dramatic gothic decadence, was instantly iconic.
Amy Lee has been busy in the last few years with solo work including film scores and a children’s album. But now, Evanescence, with new guitarist Jen Majura, are well and truly back. This November they’ll release Synthesis, a reworking and re-recording of some of their biggest hits (yes, including “Bring Me To Life”) with a full orchestra and electronics. It also includes brand new songs, and is the precursor to more new music and a full tour from the band. We spoke to Amy Lee, eternal alt icon, about Synthesis, why it was the right time to revisit their old work, and being a very famous woman in music since she was just 21.
The new album sounds and feels very Björk-esque, that mix of electronic with strings. Not identical, it’s your own thing, but similar.
Amy Lee: I’m a huge Björk fan, I’ll take that as a huge compliment. I think the difference might be taking that traditional Evanescence sound which has those indulgently dramatic and epic moments. Going full on with them, sometimes I feel like the drama is all a little bit too much these days. I guess part of that’s just growing up as your tastes change. This album was an outlet to go, ‘You know what, we’re just going to go completely nuts with it and let the orchestra do all of that stuff we were hinting at before and go ahead and be a little bit more classical and dramatic and make the piano parts even more Mozart inspired. Just kind of tricky crazy old school.’ It was just really fun, it’s a fun project. I’m looking forward to doing it live. I’m a little bit nervous, it’s definitely different and asking a little bit more of myself and everyone. But I’m excited.
Why did you decide to rework your old songs on Synthesis?
Amy Lee: Our music from the beginning has always had the elements of very intricate and beautiful arrangements by David Campbell, but it also has this other side of the electronic programming that I really love. In fact, most of what I listen to is in that world. Once we put everything on there; the guitars, the big rock drums, you go through all the different levels of production to the point that you have the finished product of the song but a lot of that beautiful intricate stuff gets kind of buried. Many times I’ve left the studio and wished I had a mix just of the string arrangements and the programming together with vocals because there’s something really beautiful about that. I think that was my initial thought but that snowballed into something a lot bigger, because going back in with David Campbell he completely rearranged these songs in a way that takes the whole orchestra and lets it fill in all this space that isn’t taken up by the full band at full power all the time.