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The Lowdown: Interview with Amy Lee of Evanescence

The Lowdown: Interview with Amy Lee of Evanescence

"...I think in a lot of ways, being a female, Iíve used it to work to my advantage..."

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Last Edited by: Jack Stovin October 19th, 2012.

Recently nominated for an MTV EMA in the ĎBest World Stageí 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, itís 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 BjŲrk, Tori Amos, plumb and Danny Elfman as your musical influences, but then also MozartÖ

Amy Lee: To me itís just about getting a feeling across. I mean when I hear BjŲrk's music its very symphonic and passionate as well, I hear a lot of similarities. You know, for me itís not too much of a stretch to what our music is.

AltSounds: Youíre 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 wasnít so much a decision. Ever since I can remember; I have been overflowing with love for music. I love music. Iím into all types of art, I love animation and film and paintings and music and food and all types of things, but itís music for me more than anything, itís 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 lifeís path. In some type of way, I knew I wanted to make music and as one of my first few inspirations Ė 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? Itís 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 itís 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. Itís interesting. I mean itís definitely a male dominated industry - everybody knows that - itís not so much anybody's fault but itís just what weíve come to expect because itís been the majority for so long. I think in a lot of ways, being a female, Iíve used it to work to my advantage, you know, because it makes us unique and I donít try not to be female, I donít try to prove that Iím hard.

AltSounds: But you are a feminist, and then also completely feminine and kind of delicate with that...

Amy Lee: Well thatís 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 donít even consider us just a rock band I think we are all kinds of things, but I just think itís about embracing independence and originality and just being yourself.

You know I think thatís the biggest message I want to give to Ė especially our young fans Ė 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, thatís made a lot of challenges along the way. More than anything, itís just about being taken seriously as a string musician, as an artist and not as a gimmick.

But I feel like Iím past that point, so its been a cool cycle this time around on our third record, its been pretty cool Ďcause I feel like Iíve already earned the respect.

[Photo by Josh Hartzler]

AltSounds: On ĎFallení youíve penned Going Under, Bring Me to Life, Everybodyís FoolÖ 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 Ďdonít try to fix me Iím not brokení, it reads as a kind of diary... How have you evolved as a band and personally since that very first album?

Amy Lee: Hmm thatís 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 meanÖ even more. I donít 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 Iím writing it, no matter what Iím going through, no matter how big of a secret, no matter what it is, I canít lie when Iím writing music. Itís 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 Iíll 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 whatís 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 Ė thatís just part of the world.

AltSounds: Your music has definitely helped a huge following of fans realise that theyíre 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 Iím not trying to say Iím saving the world, Iím not. Its just music, but the idea that even if just one person somewhere has been helped by itÖ So many people feel those feelings, its like wow, I got through this and your music was the soundtrack, thank you. Thatís awesome. That drives me forward.

AltSounds: I was listening to your 2011 third album ĎEvanescenceí this morning and I just think it definitely has a kind of narrative there. Like Ďthis is what Iím going through, but this is how Iím going to overcome it...

Amy Lee: I always hope that people can see - and I wonder if they do - that Iím searching for a better place even though a lot of the time youíre talking about experiences that are pretty dark, itís never without the hope for a change.

You know itís always searching for happiness. Thatís why I hate when people call us Goth. Iím not sitting around wallowing in unhappiness, not at all Ė Iím just processing these problems so I can get better.

AltSounds: We saw a slightly different tone from you in ĎThe Open Doorí 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 weíve been touring ĎFallení, Iíve seen so much. Itís hard to explain.

I had so many experiences which were like, huge first time life experiences in the time between releasing ĎFallení and releasing The Open Door. And you know, releasing ĎFallení 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 Ďhereís the problem and I need to overcome ití. 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 ĎFallení. So you know it was like, hereís 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: Itís been an amazing adventure this past year. I didnít have a plan, thatís how I work best. I didnít have a plan to make another Evanescence album, but I didnít 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 couldnít leave until it was finished.

AltSounds: Tell us about future shows and tours?

Amy Lee: I really donít 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 thatís 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 Iím 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 youíre on this, what feels a lot of the time like a never-ending train, when youíre on tour for, you know, like a year its hard because you get a little disconnected from nature and Ďquietudeí. The type of peace that I feel as though you need infused into your week. Iím tired of working until I crash and think ĎI canít do that any moreí (laughs) - until you re-energise and think Ďokay!í Iím ready to do something like that again!

Iím open minded for the future as always, and this last year touring has been an incredible adventure. Weíve loved touring the world as we always do, but this time we got to visit more places than weíve 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 Iím never going to stop appreciating it.

[Photo by Josh Hartzler]

Evanescence's tour, which is already on itís way to being sold out, kicks off at Nottingham Arena on 5th November, finishing up at Londonís Wembley Arena. Support comes from The Used and LostAlone.

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