"...I think in a lot of ways, being a female, I’ve used it to work to my advantage..."
Recently nominated for an MTV EMA in the ‘Best World Stage’ category, Grammy award winning band Evanescence have sold over 23 million records worldwide, and with their last single clocking up more than 8.5 million views on YouTube, it’s clear to see that this kick-ass quintet who epitomise rock success despite being a band with blurred lines around their genre, are still very much speaking to their millions of fans worldwide.
Having spent the summer playing European shows to sold out crowds, Evanescence are also set to play a UK Arena tour, which will mark their first visit since the success of their self titled Billboard number one album Evanescence back in November 2011.
Renowned for their pure and orchestral rock arrangements, as well as the hauntingly beautiful vocal component from their lead singer, they truly are deserving of their cult following and lasting respect from the industry as a whole.
As designed by nature, AltSounds had the opportunity to speak with the perpetually beautiful and equally captivating lead singer, Amy Lee...
AltSounds: Amongst others, you cite artists such as Björk, Tori Amos, plumb and Danny Elfman as your musical influences, but then also Mozart…
Amy Lee: To me it’s just about getting a feeling across. I mean when I hear Björk's music its very symphonic and passionate as well, I hear a lot of similarities. You know, for me it’s not too much of a stretch to what our music is.
AltSounds: You’re a classically trained pianist by design, when did you make the decision to convert and use your love of music in such an alternative and demonstrative way?
Amy Lee: It wasn’t so much a decision. Ever since I can remember; I have been overflowing with love for music. I love music. I’m into all types of art, I love animation and film and paintings and music and food and all types of things, but it’s music for me more than anything, it’s just my passion. And I remember, when I was very young I saw the movie Amadeus and got so inspired. It was sort of a big moment from me where I felt I saw my life’s path. In some type of way, I knew I wanted to make music and as one of my first few inspirations – because it was so epic and full of passion and drama. I think that it makes a lot of sense in many ways that this was the direction we went in. we went to a very passionate, epic, almost symphonic place because of that original Mozart inspiration. Later on, you know my inspirations? It’s like I love classical and I took classical but just because I loved it and I wanted to get inside it. But then I fell in love with grunge.
AltSounds: You have become quite a prolific influence in the rock industry; how do you view the industry in 2012 in terms of female power and prowess? Do you think it’s still quite difficult for females to break through? Or do you believe its becoming easier? Will men always have the monopoly within the rock mega corp?
Amy Lee: I was just talking about this to Lizzy from Halestorm. It’s interesting. I mean it’s definitely a male dominated industry - everybody knows that - it’s not so much anybody's fault but it’s just what we’ve come to expect because it’s been the majority for so long. I think in a lot of ways, being a female, I’ve used it to work to my advantage, you know, because it makes us unique and I don’t try not to be female, I don’t try to prove that I’m hard.
AltSounds: But you are a feminist, and then also completely feminine and kind of delicate with that...
Amy Lee: Well that’s part of the rebellion. You know, against the rock industry at least. I believe it needs an infusion of femininity because for me, music is music. Its not about changing rock or anything. I don’t even consider us just a rock band I think we are all kinds of things, but I just think it’s about embracing independence and originality and just being yourself.
You know I think that’s the biggest message I want to give to – especially our young fans – is to be yourself and be confident. No matter what you do, just be confident. And I think that, of course, being a female in this industry, that’s made a lot of challenges along the way. More than anything, it’s just about being taken seriously as a string musician, as an artist and not as a gimmick.
But I feel like I’m past that point, so its been a cool cycle this time around on our third record, its been pretty cool ‘cause I feel like I’ve already earned the respect.
AltSounds: On ‘Fallen’ you’ve penned Going Under, Bring Me to Life, Everybody’s Fool… These singles seem to originate from quite a cold/hurt/dark mindset of betrayal, and then ultimately the transmission to renewal. You seem very much open with your emotionality, and extremely connected to human suffering in love and all that comes with that. I love the line ‘don’t try to fix me I’m not broken’, it reads as a kind of diary... How have you evolved as a band and personally since that very first album?
Amy Lee: Hmm that’s a good question. A lot! In both. I mean the band has evolved tremendously since then and the sound, even, of the band.
Me personally, I mean… even more. I don’t even know where to begin there; you just grow a lot between the ages of 15 and 30 (laughs). Yeah part of it, um, for me it really is a diary when I’m writing it, no matter what I’m going through, no matter how big of a secret, no matter what it is, I can’t lie when I’m writing music. It’s all from my heart.
The things which come out a lot of the time, whether I want them to or not, if it needs to, it just comes out. And the music is the one place I’ll be brutally honest with myself.
AltSounds: And also your fans? They clearly listen and identify with you and your innermost angst, so I think you have to be honest in that context?
Amy Lee: You know, it started out for me; the reason to pour all of that into those lyrics, was for me a catharsis. And then what’s been really cool is, other people around the world use it in that way as well and have used it to process emotions and experiences and even heal a lot of things that are hard to overcome. I think we have all been through really difficult things – that’s just part of the world.
AltSounds: Your music has definitely helped a huge following of fans realise that they’re not alone and that others also suffer negative experiences, how do you feel about this?
Amy Lee: That has been such an amazing and fulfilling gift in my life - the fact that I’m not trying to say I’m saving the world, I’m not. Its just music, but the idea that even if just one person somewhere has been helped by it… So many people feel those feelings, its like wow, I got through this and your music was the soundtrack, thank you. That’s awesome. That drives me forward.
AltSounds: I was listening to your 2011 third album ‘Evanescence’ this morning and I just think it definitely has a kind of narrative there. Like ‘this is what I’m going through, but this is how I’m going to overcome it...
Amy Lee: I always hope that people can see - and I wonder if they do - that I’m searching for a better place even though a lot of the time you’re talking about experiences that are pretty dark, it’s never without the hope for a change.
You know it’s always searching for happiness. That’s why I hate when people call us Goth. I’m not sitting around wallowing in unhappiness, not at all – I’m just processing these problems so I can get better.
AltSounds: We saw a slightly different tone from you in ‘The Open Door’ three years after that. It was sort of more gothic and a lot darker and there was clearly more strength there behind your lyrics. Even your musical arrangements were stronger and kind of gritty. Was this a natural progression, sound wise?
Amy Lee: Since we’ve been touring ‘Fallen’, I’ve seen so much. It’s hard to explain.
I had so many experiences which were like, huge first time life experiences in the time between releasing ‘Fallen’ and releasing The Open Door. And you know, releasing ‘Fallen’ and ending that first tour, my whole world changed in a lot of ways and I had a lot to write about. So there are new scenes. And I see in all of our albums, that its so much still about ‘here’s the problem and I need to overcome it’. But it was a new set of obstacles and there was a lot of freedom there because I had actually gotten through and survived and overcome a lot of the problems I was going through on the writing of ‘Fallen’. So you know it was like, here’s the next batch!
AltSounds: So I need to ask, what have you guys been up to in the 5 yr pause, and are there any current plans?
Amy Lee: It’s been an amazing adventure this past year. I didn’t have a plan, that’s how I work best. I didn’t have a plan to make another Evanescence album, but I didn’t have a plan not to, I just sort of lived. I'd just gotten married and waited to be inspired and then I was. In a really big way! And then started writing, you know, like I couldn’t leave until it was finished.
AltSounds: Tell us about future shows and tours?
Amy Lee: I really don’t have any plans; I really work best with an open mind. The future plan for us right now? Were currently in Brazil touring in South America and we're going to finish up in the UK with a couple of shows. Hopefully be home for the holidays and spend some time with the family. More than anything else that’s the hardest thing about the road - for all of us - is that you miss out on a lot of home life and family. So I think I’m going to focus on catching up on that for a little while.
AltSounds: Would you say spirituality factors into Evanescence as a band? How about for you personally?
Amy Lee: Yes of course, definitely. Absolutely, and I feel sometimes when you’re on this, what feels a lot of the time like a never-ending train, when you’re on tour for, you know, like a year its hard because you get a little disconnected from nature and ‘quietude’. The type of peace that I feel as though you need infused into your week. I’m tired of working until I crash and think ‘I can’t do that any more’ (laughs) - until you re-energise and think ‘okay!’ I’m ready to do something like that again!
I’m open minded for the future as always, and this last year touring has been an incredible adventure. We’ve loved touring the world as we always do, but this time we got to visit more places than we’ve ever been to before and were just really grateful for the fans.
The people all over the world that have been touched by our music is a dream come true. And I’m never going to stop appreciating it.
Evanescence's tour, which is already on it’s way to being sold out, kicks off at Nottingham Arena on 5th November, finishing up at London’s Wembley Arena. Support comes from The Used and LostAlone.
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