When Evanescence unleashed Fallen in 2003, they inspired a generation. But for Amy Lee, it was the start of a decade-long struggle to control her own destiny
Amy Lee is in a playful mood. Despite talking to press all day, the Evanescence singer and gothic rock superstar is warm and chatty, anticipating our next question with a, “C’mon, what you got, whatcha got?” and giggling. “You’re my last in a looong block of interviews,” she tells us in her throaty, sing-song voice before we begin – but to her credit, it’s clear that when it comes to talking about Evanescence, she’s so fiercely proud of her band that she relishes the chance to set a few things straight.
Over 22 years, Evanescence have continued to defy expectation. From their humble, teenage beginnings in the 90s to the overwhelming breakthrough of Bring Me To Life, the song that became ubiquitous on every music channel for its iconic depiction of Amy Lee as a kind of gothic Rapunzel, to their new record Synthesis, an orchestral retrospective of their career, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Yes, with just three studio albums in 20 years, they’ve appeared to have some long breaks, but Amy is adamant that it’s all part of a process that’s allowed the band to continue. Continue reading Amy Lee on Metal Hammer: “I need to step away and not feel like a ‘rockstar’ any more”
Evanescence at Sands Bethlehem Event Center, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Photo by Brian Hineline
It’s the day after Halloween and Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee is in between shows during possibly the band’s most ambitious tour to date. Out in support of their new Synthesisalbum, a collection that finds the group reworking signature songs like “Bring Me To Life” and “My Immortal” into orchestral versions, the band is playing on a nightly basis during the limited tour with orchestras.
Lee has also her three-year-old son Jack and husband Josh Hartzler on tour with her. It’s a lot to balance, as she says, “I feel like I’m the busiest I’ve ever been.” But it’s also clear talking to her it’s one of the most gratifying times in her life.
The ease and calmness in her voice as she talks about perspective and the joy she found at being on stage but still having Josh being able to take Jack trick or treating in the arena is very clear. It’s a prosperous and creative time for Lee and Evanescence.
Even she is not sure where this orchestral period will lead for the band. But as she also tells me, “I’m absolutely positive I’m gonna remember these performances and this very special experience for the rest of my life.”
Steve Baltin: How was your Halloween?
Amy Lee: I didn’t dress up, I was on stage. I was working, but I love my job so it was good. Jack, my son, is three and he and my husband Josh are actually out on the tour with me, so they dressed up. And we did go around to band and crew right before the show and all put candy in all their pockets and asked them for candy, which was very cute, funny and different. But he had a blast. Halloween was always my favorite holiday in a lot of ways, so I felt happy again cause I wasn’t expecting to be able to celebrate at all. But it kind of all came together. Thank god for three A.M. Walmart runs to find last-minute costumes.
Baltin: What was your best Halloween costume ever?
Lee: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I always made my own costumes. So it’s usually just the funniest thing on earth to look at my old costumes because they’re hand-sewn things where everybody would have to ask me, “What are you?” I remember one year in particular I was an angel on one side and devil on the other. There was like a line down my face and down the whole outfit. It was white on one side and supposed to be red on the other side, but actually turned out pink cause I was trying to dye things and I was 13 years old. I actually want to say that was my worst costume ever (laughs).
Baltin: How gratifying is it that you can do what you love and be on stage and Jack still gets his Halloween?
Lee: I am extremely grateful. It takes a lot of people to make everything that’s happening happen. We have our friends out helping us take care of Jack. A lot of people are helping me, and my husband too, he works non-stop to make the Jack thing happen. So I feel super grateful. I’m the busiest I feel like I’ve ever been, being on tour and being a mom. And also the fact the tour is totally new territory for us. It’s a lot, every day is completely packed from start to finish. But I feel really happy.
Evanescence at Sands Bethlehem Event Center, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Photo by Brian Hineline
Baltin: Does it make it easier to try the new stuff musically because you now understand no matter what happens being a mom comes first? So there is less pressure on the music.
Lee: Totally, absolutely, it’s all about perspective. And the perspective it’s given me is really healthy because it makes everything else a little bit less scary. If it doesn’t work out, okay, whatever and then I go and grab Jack cause being a mom first definitely is the most important thing. So it lets you rest a bit emotionally in that it’s not like your entire day is only filled with your job. Perspective is big thing on this album actually. There are a lot of different angles, things that make the arrangement and songs different. The way that I’m able to perform, especially some of the really older songs is from the perspective of having been through so much, having had a relationship and history with these songs, and also things like becoming a mom makes me look at the entire world differently. And there’s a new depth in some of the lyrics for me that couldn’t have been there for me when I was 17 years old.
“As to the songs they selected to give the orchestral treatment, there are some of the hits from their three albums, but they are not one I wish they would have done is”Going Under.” It’s interesting to hear “Bring Me to Life”as a classical track without the male rap parts.” “My Immortal” and “Lost in Paradise” are a couple of their well-known songs that are included in this set.
“Some of the songs that work best in this format are lesser-known tracks like the heartfelt “Imaginary” from Fallen and The Open Door‘s “Lacrymosa,” which features a great performance from Lee that goes from reserved to all out belting. Her performance is outstanding, with her powerful pipes never overshadowed by the orchestra.
“The two new songs are the subdued “Hi-Lo” that features a guest appearance from violinist Lindsey Stirling and the album closer “Imperfection.” The latter has been released as a single, and its classical base has a lot of EDM and hip -hop influences.
“The production on the album (handled by Lee and Will Hunt) is excellent. It’s great and bombastic in parts, quiet and subdued in others, and working with so many instruments when recording and mixing an album is tricky Evanescence are currently on tour playing the album with an orchestra, and having had the chance to see them, this reviewer highly recommended checking it out. As dynamic and compelling as Synthesisis on record, it’s even more so live, especially with Lee‘s charismatic performance”.
On the other hand Maddy Glenn of Noizze UK anticipates that “the live performance of this epic album is going to be an opportunity not to miss”, giving 9 of the total of 10:
“Synthesis is the first studio album Evanescence have released in the last 7 years and they are undoubtedly back with a bang. The quintet are well known for their impressive soundscapes and big numbers, but this new album redefines the term ‘epic’. The record sees the band collaborating with a full orchestra. With only 2 new songs on the album (Imperfection and Hi-Lo), they have taken old songs from their four studio albums and reworked them. They will be touring the new album in March and April 2018, accompanied by a full orchestra.
Amy Lee spoke with Music Week about the music industry and Synthesis. Read what she said:
In the new issue of Music Week, we speak to Amy Lee about the return of multi-million selling rock phenomenon Evanescence and their highly-anticipated new album, Synthesis. Only their fourth studio release in 14 years, the record sees Evanescence – completed by bassist Tim McCord, drummer Will Hunt and guitarists Troy McLawhorn and Jen Majura – present new material alongside re-recordings of some of their most defining songs, all with orchestral accompaniment.
Lee told Music Week that while Synthesisexplores the group’s latent orchestral potential with long-term collaborator David Campbell, it was also a chance to show how far their musical skills have developed.
“There’s a lot of musical skill that I personally didn’t have,” said Lee. “When we were writing Bring Me To Life I was 19! So just the musical ability that I had when I was 19 as a writer, as a singer, as an everything, I can do all that stuff better now because we’ve had all this time and experience. In addition, living inside those songs live for all these years, it just forever gives you ideas.”
Lee also opened up about the prospect of following the blockbusting success of her past, with Evanescence’s 2003 debut selling 1,324,026 copies to date in the UK according to Official Charts Company data.
Two totally different magazines reviewed the second Evanescence show from the current tour of Synthesis at Greek Theatre in Los Angeles which took place last Sunday, October 15th.
The first one, is from Variety magazine which titling the show as a “Amp Up the Drama With 20-Piece Orchestra” and the second from RockRevolt Magazine describe the perfomance as a “live performance created a cinematic and momentous sound, melodies that resonated across the entire venue”, adding that “this did not deter a single fan, however, as the audience was absolutely blown away by the performance”.
Concert Review: Evanescence Amp Up the Drama With 20-Piece Orchestra at L.A.’s Greek Theatre
CREDIT: PHOTO: ANABEL DFLUX
Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee made the leap from goth-rocker to opera diva last night, as she and the band led a 20-piece orchestra through a sold-out performance at the Greek Theatre Sunday night, previewing the group’s fourth album, “Synthesis,” which comes out November 10.
Both the concert and the album — Evanescence’s first since its self-titled 2011 effort — offer a reimagining of the group’s catalog with a full symphony orchestra, arranged by none other than Beck’s father, veteran arranger David Campbell, whose collaboration with the band dates back to its first album. The concert was the second of Evanescence’s current “Synthesis Live” tour, as they team up with a different symphony orchestra (under the direction of conductor Susie Seiter) in each city for an 80-minute, 18-song set. Continue reading First reviews from Evanescence Synthesis Live concert
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.
Amy Lee of US band Evanescence is touring Australia — with a full orchestra — next year. Picture: Sony Source: Supplied
Re-recording their biggest hits with an orchestra means Evanescence’s Amy Lee has been able to remove *that* rap from Bring Me to Life
EVANESCENCE’S Amy Lee is rewriting history on the band’s new album.
Their fourth release Synthesis is the opposite of an unplugged effort — rather Lee has re-recorded the band’s old material an even more dramatic and bombastic manner, with a full orchestra and heavy electronics.
That includes their breakthrough 2003 hit Bring Me To Life. And there’s something missing from the version you know — that rap, by guest vocalist Paul McCoy.
“God bless the rap, it’s part of what got us on the radio I guess,” Lee says. “At least according to all the rules of radio that I don’t agree with or understand. The rap wasn’t part of our original idea or sound, it was a compromise in many ways. So to be able to go back to the original vision for the song was great.”
Here’s Evanescence looking moody, with singer Amy Lee far left. Picture: Sony Music Source: Supplied
It’s not uncommon for an artist to go back and record their songs — Lee embraced being to able to revisit the band’s signature hit after performing it live at every concert they’ve played since it was release.
“The recording of a song that ends being the one you hear the most through history is usually when the song was just freshly written. You’re still learning it yourself and getting used to what the notes are and how the parts go. That’s true for Bring Me to Life for sure. After doing it live for so long there’s different vocal choices I’ve made and different things we got to use in this version.”
And no rap.
“I forget the rap’s there now to be honest,” Lee says. “At the time it was a big issue, it was our first single. I wanted people to understand who we were. That’s a struggle you always fight as an artist. If we only had the one hit, if no one ever heard from us again then nobody would understand who we were. We’ve made it past that point so the rap doesn’t make me angry any more. I’m so glad to put a new version out there without the rap though.”
The band’s founder recalls writing songs in teenage diary entries and tour stop bathrooms.
With a new Evanescence vinyl box set, The Ultimate Collection, out Dec. 9, the frontwoman, 34, reveals the inspirations behind her band’s deep cuts and big hits.
“Bring Me To Life,” 2003
I was in a really dark place when I wrote that. I had just quit school when we got a record deal, but we hadn’t put out any music yet. Josh, my husband now, was visiting us. He was a friend I didn’t really know very well. We went into a restaurant, he sat down across from me and goes, “Are you happy?” My heart sank into my stomach, and I was just so not ready to talk about it. I played it down, but I instantly was like, “How does this person see into my eyes? How does he know what I’m feeling?” I obsessed over that moment on my own and ended up writing that first verse and chorus of “Bring Me to Life” and how he opened doors. Very dramatic.
“Call Me When You’re Sober,” 2006
[Former Evanescence guitarist] Terry [Balsamo] and I were at a campout writing session. We rented a place in Florida near the water and just stayed there for months. I was playing around with this song, and he could hear it from the other room. He was working on a heavy riff, not like what I was doing at all. I was like, “Would it be super weird if these two things mashed up?” I love this song because it has this fun spirit that was new for us as a band. You can still be heavy with a smile on your face. Continue reading Amy Lee reveals stories behind the songs
Surgió un momento único en la historia de la banda ayer durante la gira “Fall Tour” de Evanescence. Después de años de ser lanzada “Bring Me To Life”, el mismísimo Paul McCoy, vocalista de 12 Stones se unió en el escenario del Kink Festival que tuvo lugar en Orlando, para interpretar el single del disco Fallen. Mira aquí la participación durante el festival: