Following the release of the 2006 ‘Open Door’ album and tour Evanescence seemed to go into a period of self exile. After such a lengthy period of inactivity, during which band founder member and lead singer Amy Lee got married, there were doubts whether another album would actually be created. October 2011 saw the first new recordings from the same line-up that finished the ‘Open Door’ tour and this self titled CD would go on to hit the number 1 spot almost worldwide. Amy took some time out from the current US tour to give Dave Bott a ring for a short chat about how her time had been spent during the last few years and the making of the new album.
How have the reactions been to the album so far?
It’s been really good. This is the first time we actually started touring ahead of the album being released. I was a little nervous because of all the Youtube videos and everything. I wanted people to hear it in its best form the first time but we also wanted to start the tour. There was no way we were gonna go back out after all this time and play just old songs, right? So we went for it and unfortunately the album leaked a little bit ahead of schedule. The thing that was cool about it was even a week before the show everyone was totally singing along to the new songs and loving them. So, that feels really good. We’re proud of our old material, it’s always fun to sing ‘Bring Me To Life’ every night, but it’s really inspiring and exciting when people are getting excited about who you are now and the music you’ve made recently. I think that the reception has been awesome, more than I could have hoped for. It’s been really cool being able to play a set including lots of new material and still have everybody totally into it, not seeming like they wish we were playing something else.
It seems the band has been out the spotlight for quite a while, so I was just wondering if that period away proved invigorating in terms of creativity? Were you constantly writing songs during that time away with another record in mind?
No, not at all. We finished touring in 2007 and I’d just gotten married. We had a talk at the end of the tour and the guys knew I was like “hey, I don’t know what the plan is, let’s just go with our lives for a while”. I wasn’t even sure if we were gonna make another record. It had been an all encompassing thing, you know? Once the Evanescence train left the station it just never stopped rolling. I had to step away from it for a minute. That was really good for me. For a while we just spent time in New York. My husband and I worked on our house, I went and saw a bunch of concerts, I went to see some art, ate food, went and travelled for fun. One of the things that brought me back to writing was my husband bought me a harp. I talked about wanting to learn a new instrument and I talked about the harp a little bit for my birthday one year. He rented it actually. It was like “hey it’s expensive so you have to tell me if you don’t want it then we can take it back!” (laughing) But we ended up buying it. I took harp lessons and started to enjoy learning again. I missed the music education of my youth when I was like taking piano lessons and in the choir. It’s so good for me just to be in part of something fresh. I had all these kind of new inspirations just playing a different instrument. So I learned to play the harp. I’m not awesome at it but there is some harp on the record and did some of the writing with it. I don’t know, it got me going. I started writing randomly for a new record but there was also a period of writing purely for fun, without a plan, whether it was for Evanescence, solo, or something else. I guess over time I just started to realise what a big part of my life Evanescence has been. It sounds the way it sounds largely in part to me being myself. I guess I’d been in it for so long I started to feel like a character I was playing. After stepping away and then coming back it was completely natural and I was like WOW! This isn’t just a gig, this really is who I am. I guess I went through a little bit of a self discovery period.
Some of the more up-tempo songs on the album I really love like ‘Erase This’, ‘Oceans’ and ‘Never Go Back’. The mix is certainly to my liking. It’s great to hear the guitars pushed forward so much. Obviously the guitars have always been there in the past but I think they are a little higher in the mix this time, is that right?
That’s right, due to working with Nick (producer Nick Rasculinecz) and Randy Staub, the mixer. They are great rock people. Nick is amazing. He’s a giant rock fan and he was definitely pushing those elements forward which is what we wanted, that’s part of why we chose him. We knew he would push us to be a stronger band and to make a heavy record, to make something that would just slap people in the face. It’s sort of after all that time hibernating I had some major energy to get out, I think we all felt that way. We wanted to come back stronger than ever. I think that the mix is pumped up, the band elements are definitely pushed up, not relying on a lots of production. There’s still plenty of that beautiful epic Evanescence stuff there, the orchestra and weird programming and keyboards and stuff going on. I think that the heart of the record truly is the band, that’s something we wanted and I think it was accomplished very well.
‘My Heart Is Broken’ is the next single. Is that a band choice or does the record label get involved in selecting what singles will be issued?
Yeah, they’re involved. We always talk about it together you know and try to figure out what the best one is. It’s kind of tough to choose singles especially on this record. ‘What You Want’ was easy, we all agreed on that. We always thought ‘My Heart Is Broken’ would be a single too, we didn’t know when. The video will be out soon. It’s really cool and we are really excited about the video. Now we are starting to talk about a third single it’s getting a little bit complicated because there are literally 7 different songs that the band sees as singles. It’s hard having to choose the songs for the people that don’t own the record and possibly the only songs they will hear. It’s our chance to reel people in and get them to hear the whole record. It’s hard because a lot of times when you’re choosing singles the really important thing the record label will look at is what will be a hit, what’s the most commercial or what’s gonna be, you know, easy for people to swallow. Obviously our music is a little different you know. I think that ‘My Heart Is Broken’ is definitely one we all wanted, it’s got the hooks for sure. It’s a good representation of us, a little bit more of a classic Evanescence track than ‘What You Want’. I think ‘What You Want’ was perfect for the first single because it was showing some of the different things that are on this album, kind of showing the new us. ‘My Heart Is Broken’ is a bit more of a classic beautiful Evanescence track and then the next thing, I don’t know, I think we’re gonna go for something heavier.
The special edition of the CD has 4 bonus tracks. I think their quality is just as high as those on the standard version. Aside from the 16 songs that made the final cut are there any others left over?
Yeah, totally. Those are all that we recorded. We have a lot more written and demoed out. Some of them are just partial unfinished ideas. I think most of them are unfinished. We wrote for so long that I think it’s really important to put the time in and find what you’re going for. What we went with weren’t just the best songs because there are other songs that nobody’s heard yet which I think are really, really great. We went with the songs that made the best record if that makes sense. They’re all really strong and they go together. There are some other songs that are in a different place or just not finished. It’s awesome because we have a great head start for whatever the next thing will be. It was so hard even to whittle it down to 16 songs. We had 20 songs we really wanted to do, that’s part of the reason we had the deluxe edition. I was like, OK we can do this but we have to have a deluxe version and put all these other songs on there. Then choosing which ones were gonna be the 12 was murderous, it was really really hard.
It’s not going to be another 5 years before the next record is it?
I really don’t think so. I never want to say for sure. I don’t know what we’re doing yet. I’m really focused on what we’re doing now and the tour. I don’t see me needing to run away again anyway.
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