Lee is currently enjoying her three-week hiatus from the road. To say the break is much-deserved would be an understatement. Evanescence have been touring behind their latest album, 'The Open Door,' for one year now, and in that time have suffered yet another lineup change with the exit of guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray. It's not all fodder for tragedy, though. Lee married her longtime friend, Josh Hartzler, in May, which she credits for her newfound -- and steadfast -- happiness. "I feel like I've knocked through a lot of walls and gotten to, like, a healthy place," she says assuredly. "I do think I'm in a good place."
It's a welcome assertion from the 25-year-old woman who's both cheered and jeered as a brooding, maudlin Gothic queen -- a reptutation that Lee, no matter how much she smiles, can shake. Ask her, however, and she'll give it to you straight: Nothing is ever as it seems.
Evanescence have been on the road for a year now and are headlining a fall tour. That's a pretty rigorous schedule. Are you tired?
Well, I've done it better this time. When we toured 'Fallen,' I was absolutely exhausted. We didn't take hardly any time off between tours. Touring for a year means a bunch of tours with a couple days or a couple weeks off in between. We did the same thing this time, except instead of taking a day off before going on another tour, we took two weeks here and there. I've actually had three weeks off just now, so I feel pretty ready to go. And I've have enough time to really think about the set list and all the cool things I want to do that we haven't done in a long time. I just really want to make it the best tour because I know it's the last one, and I want to go out with a bang.
The band also underwent another round of lineup changes, with the exit of guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray, and the addition of guitarist Troy McLawhorn and drummer Will Hunt. How has not only this change, but the other lineup alterations in Evanescence, affected you?
People, when they talk about [the lineup changes], make it like this thing that happened over the course of, I don't know, a few months or a year or something. But it's been over the course of five years. But everything is really good right now. We did change a few members this year, and of course it affects me. It's a big deal -- it's not something you ever want to do. It would be so much easier if we could all just get along, and everything would work perfectly and everybody would not grow and everyone would stay the same person forever. But that's just not how it works. That's why you go through so many relationships in your life. We're all happier and we're functional now with Will and Troy. They love playing with us and I absolutely love playing with them. It's definitely a good thing.
Have you already started writing new material for the follow-up to 'The Open Door'?
There's always stuff kind of in my head or coming out. I've written a few things but I don't really know what its place is. I don't want to make a plan, and I don't want to give myself a date or worry about anything. I just want to write music and then figure out what to do. I really want to branch out and continue to move forward. I am writing but I'm not sure what to do with it yet.
You recently got married in May to your longtime friend, Josh Hartzler. Did you find it weird to say "my husband" at first?
Yeah., I'm just starting to get used to it [laughs]. For the first couple of months, you can't say it without laughing. It's like you're joking. It's really weird.
What's married life like for you?
It's good and it makes everything a little bit easier in a lot of ways. It's sort of like, everything isn't the end of the world and it's not all your responsibility. You're part of a team so you have the power from that other person, too, who's working with you. You're not just on your own. I don't know ... it's better than that.
This could take a while. I'll just give you a short answer. He's actually a counselor -- like a psychologist. It's sort of cool 'cause it's a field that I was actually always into. I've definitely learned a lot from him besides that the other stuff -- like what he has to offer as far as mental health and rationalizing, not rationalizing, analyzing what's going on around me and why people act the way they do. I think the most interesting thing is that people hurt you. When people are being mean or cruel, and you're like, "Why would you do this?" it's really just projecting their own pain in a different way. It makes it easier to turn your anger or hatred at whatever into pity and love for other people ... if that makes any sense. I don't know if it even sounds like I'm talking about my husband right now, but he's a really cool person with a lot to offer.
I understand the band's new single, 'Good Enough,' was written about your husband. Was this before the two of you were together?
Well, we met when I was, like, eighteen years old, but we didn't keep in touch very well, and he always just made an effort to find my number from a friend or whatever. When I first met him, I totally had a huge crush on him, but I was in another relationship, and I didn't address it and tried to push it down. But it's funny because it's just like nature -- it's just meant to be.Years later, I got out of a hard relationship with a difficult breakup and was so not ready for another relationship He called me like the next week or the next month and was like, "Hey, we should hang out. I'm in town." We had been living across the country from each other. So I met him at this party, knowing that it was dangerous, and I wrote the song two weeks later. I waited until it was done then I played it for him. I knew I would be really nervous -- way more nervous than playing in front a huge crowd. He loved it.
How did growing up in a small town -- Little Rock, Arkansas -- shape who you are?
We moved there when I was a very impressionable thirteen year old, and I was on the hinge of going through that whole stage of "I hate this." We moved all the time because my dad's in radio, so it was like, "I was happy where I was, and then we moved. Why did we have to come to this podunk town?" There was just all this negativity. And I was different. I used to dress really weird ... not that I don't now [laughs]. I went to the school, and it was like a college prep school, and it was just really strange. It was a weird fit for me. I was kind of a loner there for a while. And I think that's what really informed me later because it was like, I was forced to think and feel, and all the things you do when you're a teenager and a pre-teenager. So, I started getting really into the writing. It became my outlet for all the bad stuff that I was feeling, and it's been a lot of that for a long time. I'm only really more recently becoming a person who can draw from all emotions to make music, not just the painful ones.
Do you remember the first song that you ever wrote?
I think so. I don't know which one counts, because at first I thought I wanted to be a classical composer, so there's one called 'Eternity of the Remorse.' It's really depressing and very dramatic [laughs]. I have the sheet written out from when I was, like, eleven. But then the first real song, I wrote for English class in the eigth grade. We either had to write a short story or a song. I was like, "I'm gonna do something nobody else is doing." And I wrote this song and recorded it on a cassette tape, playing guitar and singing with a friend of mine from choir who did backup vocals. It was strange to me and I kinda became obsessed with it because remembering who I was, I was like the quite girl in the corner and then I played the tape and everybody was freaking out. My teacher showed it to all the classes. It was a really cheesy song. It was called 'A Single Tear' ... "will linger here inside me forever." Seriously, it was so bad, but for an eighth grader they thought it was pretty impressive.
It seems there's always been some preconceptions as to who you are. Are there any you would like to shatter?
This is my chance [laughs]! I'm gonna say this 'cause a big part of growing up in this whole world -- this whole celebrity thing -- is learning that you have to let go of what people care and think about you. You have to let go of worrying about "Why do they think that? That isn't true. They don't know me." It doesn't matter. All that matters are your friends -- the people who actually know you. There's no way you can possibly convince the world who you really are when they've never even met you.