Exclusive: Amy Lee on the New Evanescence Album

SPIN Interview

Evanescence's Amy Lee
Evanescence's Amy Lee

Evanescence singer Amy Lee is over the drama.

"There's a lot of bullshit related to that band name for me," Lee tells SPIN.com, "but I'm ready to move past it. I've realized that Evanescence is who I am."

She's not kidding about the bullshit. Since their 2003 Grammy-winning, multi-platinum debut Fallen rocketed the Little Rock, AR, natives to world stardom, the group have been plagued by in-fighting and lineup changes, beginning with the departure of co-founder Ben Moody. In a very public 2006 spat, the last remaining original members -- guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray -- left or were fired, and soon joined Moody to form We Are the Fallen with ex-American Idol finalist Carly Smithson on vocals.

Evanescence is also moving on. The goth-rock outfit will release their first album since 2006 this September, with a new lineup -- and a new sound.

Lee, guitarist Terry Balsamo, bassist Tim McCord, drummer Will Hunt, and the band's newest member, producer, songwriter, and studio whiz Will "Science" Hunt (that's right -- the band has two guys named "Will Hunt"), are recording the album in a New York studio with producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Rolling Stones). And they're taking Evanescence's characteristically heavy, goth-rock sound in an electro-pop direction inspired by Lee's favorite bands: Massive Attack, Bjork, and Portishead.

"The album has sounds that are distorted, changed, reversed," says Lee. "There's a lot of that fun stuff going on."

Below, she tells SPIN.com more about the record, her former bandmates, and her favorite hobby: painting.

How did you get a second guy named Will Hunt in your band? That's freaky.
[Laughs] Well, part of getting back to Evanescence was the new Will Hunt. I met this Will -- I call him Will "Science" Hunt because he does a lot of programming and beats -- when we recorded "Sally's Song" for Nightmare Revisited.

Evanescence took about two years off. Why return now?
For a long time I didn't know what I wanted to do. I really love scoring film and that was definitely where my head was. I took a few stabs at doing that, but then I started writing more songs. I had such a good time in the studio with Will "Science" Hunt recording "Sally's Song" -- it was a cool, free, creative space. So we thought, "Why don't we just try writing an original song?" He has a studio in Forth Worth, TX, and we spent two days down there writing and a new song came out that was so different -- it was dark and inspiring. It was a groove that I hadn't found in a long time. So we spent all of last year writing like crazy and somewhere halfway through I said, "You know, I think we're writing an Evanescence album."

Tell us about that first song you guys wrote
"Hi-Lo." It's a working title. It's going in an electro-pop direction -- there are no organic instruments. It's a Portishead or Massive Attack direction, and lyrically it's about moving on, but in a very non-confrontational, non-angry way. It's just, "Hey, everything that happened, I'm over it and I'm not mad at you."

Will fans of Evanescence's heavy sound be surprised?
Well, it's definitely still heavy. Like The Open Door, the new songs are a rainbow of sounds. But this album spreads out even more. There are moments that are amazingly heavy, but then there are moments that are completely stripped down.

Did you write the entire album together?
Most of it. He was definitely my big inspiration and co-writer. Some songs I wrote by myself, and I wrote a little bit with Terry [Balsamo, guitarist] and Tim [McCord, bassist] as well. I have a studio in my home and I flew Will "Science" out here a lot. And we'd work by ourselves then email each other ideas to play with, sort of like a Postal Service method. The songwriting and sound is inspired by a lot of our mutual loves -- Bjork, Nine Inch Nails, and music with a lot of programming and sounds that feel larger than life.

How did you hook up with producer Steve Lillywhite?
We decided it would be good to have another brain in the room to provide some perspective, since we've been living with the demos for so long. Steve Lillywhite randomly called my record label said, "Hey, what's Amy Lee and Evanescence doing? I'd really like to work with her." I thought that was really interesting. I honestly wouldn't have thought of him if he hadn't called. So we went to lunch and I showed him some of the songs. He really loved them and wanted to do it!

It's an interesting fit, considering his work with U2 and the Rolling Stones.
True. And this album isn't going to sound like either of those bands, that's for sure. It's not an organic record. Our idea is to take synthetic and atmospheric sounds and find a way to blur the line between organic and synthetic.

Is this direction a byproduct of listening to any new music?
I think so. There is something really cool happening in music right now. There are bands that sound like they're from another time -- it's like '80s throwback music with analogue synthesizers and Moogs. I love it. I've been listening to a lot of La Roux.

Is there a lyrical theme?
I write about what I'm going through at the time. There are moments of, "Hey, I'm over it and I'm good" and others of fun sarcasm like, "Hey, everything's not the most dramatic thing in the world." But it gets really, really, really deep in places, too. That's probably why it's been really hard to pick an album title. [Laughs] But lyrically, it's a more real version of myself. I'm saying things that I would've been afraid to say before. I'm more confident and more comfortable.

When we last spoke in 2008, you were writing Celtic inspired songs for a solo album. Any plans for that?
I was in a very different creative space then, before hooking up with Will "Science." I wrote a couple of songs that are good, but in a totally different direction. Nothing from that period is making it to the new record.

Other than music, what does Amy Lee do in her spare time?
I love to paint. I've been working on this one painting for a year and a half. It has a lot of tiny sea creatures and I keep going back to it, but it has become this daunting project. When I need to free my brain, that's one of the things that I do. I have also been playing the harp. When Evanescence took time off, I bought a big concert harp and started taking lessons like I was in high school again, which was really, really fun. I felt like I was learning again. I'm definitely going to use it on this album.

What are your thoughts on We Are the Fallen?
I don't have any. I doesn't have anything to do with me or Evanescence.

Would it be safe to say that you haven't talked to Ben, John, or Rocky?
Oh yeah, that's very safe to say.

It sounds like you've over the drama and revitalized.
I am, definitely. I'm in a new headspace. I'm good with me and I don't need everybody else's approval.

117 Comments

Click here to comment
Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 12:21 PM

You are crazy!

"The Open Door" is soooo much better than "Fallen".

Read the Rolling Stone opinion: www. rollingstone. com/artists/evanescence/reviews

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 12:14 PM

Evanescence I lOvE YoU :x

Posted By pfft

03.07.10 12:11 PM

i love evanescence and i've always loved there music, but i must say im a little skeptical about the new 'electronic twist' (was that the phrase they used?' because one of the reasons i loved fallen and the open door was because they had this old dark musical touch that no other bands these days have. i hope they do a good job anyway! i can't wait!!!

Posted By True fan speaking

03.07.10 12:04 PM

... I don't see why u put this comment.. The reason why Ben LEFT the band, (Amy did not fire him) was because they both thought it was the best. They'd been arguing and they were pulling in different directions, and if he hadn't left, the whole Evanescence would be destroyed. Both Ben and Amy felt depressed after he'd left, but they knew it was right and they have gotten over it. In interviews, Ben has said he don't miss the band, so don't try to beg her to say sorry. He also said that he once tried to invite her to the cinema, but he didn't get to contact her. "Maybe someday we'll go to a movie together" - Ben.
You have the right so say that The Open Door sucks and you think We Are The Fallen is better. Yet, I don't agree. Fallen were more life, but not more powerful. I feel that the songs of The Open Door are better, more stronger, powerful and more feeling, yet I know that the Fallen songs are better, since it was original, and it was a full Ev. John got fired of unknown reasons, maybe as the same as Ben. Rocky did not get fired or "abandoned". He left the band, to focus on family. In a interview he said: "I don't hate Amy, i love her (not in like he wants to marry her), I just wanted to take a break from everything and focus on my wife and children." I don't know if he wanted to go back to Ev, but he didn't.

Pretty many bands go through line up changes. Once ALL original members of a band has left, only then I won't say they should keep their name. Yet, I have to agree that to reduce original members from 4 to 1 is on the line. Amy is one of the 2 first members of the band. She is the leader, the songwriter, the awesome singer =). Amy also said that she had thought of going solo, but then She and Terry started playing together. Amy is a good talker with good arguments. Yes, she wanted to do the best for the band, maybe it was because JOHN didn't want to compromise, not Amy, have you thought of that? Amy would never let fame consume her, all Ev fans know that. Haven't you heard "Everybody's Fool"? About people who DO GET consumed by fame, and do everything to keep it? Amy don't sell her body, take naked pictures or anything like that, which makes someone a bitch. She's a loving, beautiful, talented woman, who stands up for her rights. She won't let We Are The Fallen just rush over her without a fight. To be honest, I think Carly is not a rock singer. her voice don't suit rock songs. Besides, you just can't tell someone to do something because YOU want them to. Amy is the leader of the band, yet it does not mean she can do whatever she wants to. She's smart, or else she wouldn't let a fight get between her and her best friend, if it wasn't necessary. "I SPEAK THE TRUHT", you should learn how to look things through others eyes, not just being blind in your own...

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 11:25 AM

I'm so happy... I'm loving this new direction!

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 11:21 AM

EVANESCENCE!

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 11:20 AM

Im sorry, but without Amy Lee there wouldn't even be a band called Evanescence. SHE IS THE BAND. get over it.

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 9:40 AM

Ben Moody is the real Evanescence. Not Amy Lee.

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 8:30 AM

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESS!!
I LOVE YOU!!
I WANT BY YOUR CDs!!
I HAVE ALL YOUR CD!!!!!!!!!!
LOVE,
Sara

Posted By BlueSkies

03.07.10 8:10 AM

I am going to start by saying that I am dumbfounded by many of these posts. I had no idea all this conflict was occurring. I was just enjoying the music. From the first time I heard Amy Lee sing, and listened to the music made by Evanescense, I was hooked. I also like many other performers. I like some Christian music, clasical, soft rock, and well most music. I grew up with a father who is a singer/songwriter and guitar player. My mother plays guitar and piano. They do it because they love the music, they love to perform. If people want to listen, then they listen. If they don't want to listen.....fine,they don't listen. If you don't like something, move on. There is no reason to say ugly things that hurt people. No matter how much you think you know about a situation, you really don't know anything unless you are direcly involved. Listen to what you like, and enjoy it! It sounds so simple to me.

If you read the first book in a series, and it was pretty good, would you read the second book? If you like to read, you probably would. So, now you have read the second book. Well the second book just wasn't your cup of tea, would you read the third? Some people do. Then they go to book signings just so they can complain to the aurthor and tell them what a bad writer they are. Wouldn't it be easier to just not read the book? Some people like drama, even when it hurts others.

Sorry for the long post. Opinions and objections are great. I feel that is how we grow. Some of these posts are just hateful. Seriously, did Amy kick your dog? Then you might have something to spout off about.

I can't wait to hear the music that both bands create. I haven't been too excited about what I've heard from We Are the Fallen, but I also don't like every song by Evanescence either (can't think of many, well maybe only one LOL). Carly is a new singer, maybe the band will grow together.

Enjoy life while you can. I struggle every day to find happiness. I can't imagine trying to find that happiness while tripping across posts like the ones in this forum.

I hope this post makes sense, for some reason I haven't fallen asleep yet and now it is morning. Ugh

Thanks to Amy and the members of Evanescense for going back to the studio!

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 5:52 AM

go to hell, Amy Lee rules, without her there'd be no Evanescence.

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 2:31 AM

sounds like clarkson?? r you kidding!!! have you actually heard the new band...gah, you are deaf. it sounds so much like lee, but if anyone knows you can tell it isn't. but clarkson, no way.

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 2:10 AM

um, i read a few comments and one struck me...why dish we are the fallen for trying to sound so much like evanescence when practically the whole band was formed by the originals? of course they are gonna sound like it when they had the same tastes and the idol chick probably had that sound they were looking for...so, it fit. evanescence has always been a fave through all the drama, and not one person ever makes up a band. but, amy lee is a part of evanescence that will always be there,and if her old band mates make a new band you can't expect them to not have the same sound since they were also ideas behind the first evanescence cd. people change, grow, and things happen. don't dish another girl for trying to sing in a band who has already been inspired by other artists. i have heard it, and yes it is very similar, but amy lee is amy lee, her old band mates have moved on, and a new face is on the scene. its not competition, it is a love for all music inspired by the same ppl.

Posted By Suck Me

03.07.10 1:46 AM

Amy Lee sucks! She killed Evanescence. Stupid fat diva bitch!

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 1:33 AM

No matter what people say...

Amy Lee is back and We Are The Fallen will NEVER reach Evanescence!

This new album will be amazing, different and original!

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 12:41 AM

Personally, I'm a major Evanescence fan! have been since the very start and have even back-tracked and have every single song ever produced whether or not it is still released. I LOVE Amy Lee, she is truly majorly talented. I'm very proud of her for her mature response. That was a very good way to handle that question.
I'm anxious to hear her new album. If it is electro-pop I wonder if it will sound like her song "anything for you" from forever ago. I have yet to hear more of her songs sound like that one and it is a very good one. Good luck Amy! And keep your head up! Way to be the bigger person! I couldn't have handled that better myself.
In my opinion, We Are The Fallen sounds good, but I think they should come up with their own original and new style. If they want to go far, thats what they will have to do. Thats how the music world works. As a musician/vocalist myself, I know that it is not always a good idea to try to sound like another band let alone claim to sound like another band. I do like the only song I've ever heard by we are the fallen, I just think it is too similar to an Evanescence song and that Carly is trying way too hard to sound like Amy Lee when she should just be herself and sing her own style of lyrics. Perhaps people will like the real her better, I don't know. Thats just my opinion. I hope it doesn't offend anyone. As I said, I like both bands, but I LOVE Amy Lee. Evanescence always has been and always will be my absolute FAVORITE band. Good luck Amy Lee! You are truly amazing LIVE AND PRODUCED.

Posted By Anonymous

03.07.10 12:28 AM

FAIL! Sorry but the band's new music is going to suck

Posted By Anonymous

03.06.10 11:27 PM

you guys need to STFU and get ur asses off the internet and stop getting into dumbass fights over drama between people that you have never met and probably never will. cant wait for the new cd; and AMY LEE is EVANESCENCE; she is the face of the band, she is what makes it work, that other chick in the we are the fallen thing, is just another copy, its not gonna work.

Posted By Anonymous

03.06.10 10:53 PM

like all bands fronted by hot women, the rest of the band gets fired. but thats how it works...sex sells. at least she is talented unlike all the other attractive pop singers who dont write their songs.

Posted By Barbara Fatcheecks

03.06.10 10:53 PM

We Are the Fallen's first album is going to be amazing!!! I suggest you buy that album instead because its gonna win 5 grammys and it is BETTER than FALLEN of Evanescence. If you liked that album, you're gonna love we are the fallen.

Even ben moody has said, We Are the Fallen has more energy than Evanescence could EVER muster. Ben Moody is the real Evanescence. Amy Lee was just the face and the voice. Carly Smithson has a way better voice than her. SHe sounds like Kelly Clarkson while Amy Lee sounds like a dying moaning whale.

Posted By I SPEAK THE TRUTH

03.06.10 10:49 PM

Amy Lee is a liar and a bitch! She betrayed her BEST FRIEND. He was in a depression too. Then Amy took Evanescence towards a crappier musical direction. By the way, The Open Door SUCKED BALLS!!!!!! That **** was BORING! Fallen had much more LIFE into it. We Are the Fallen is way better than AMYescence. Also to prove further that Amy Lee is a FAT bitch, she fired John LeCompt and abandoned Rocky Gray. She did not want to compromise. "I'm doing the best for the band" Well bitch, how about you do the "band" a favor and quit and go for a solo career. Stop using Evanescence's name to put your ****TY music out there.

Carly Smithson has her faults as well, but at least she won't fire or betray her friends. Amy Lee, fame has consumed you. How about you take a longer break. Say... FOREVER? Thank you. Let We Are The Fallen take over now. That's the Evanescence people fell in love with. Do you honestly think The Open Door would've made you all rich and famous if it were your first album???! Honey, please.

Posted By AMY FAN *1

03.06.10 10:31 PM

***** AMY LEE QUEEN OF ROCK IS BACK *********

Posted By Anonymous

03.06.10 10:09 PM

NO Amy Lee is being mature and not running her mouth. Its a smart and professional move on her part

Posted By Anonymous

03.06.10 10:05 PM

Thats true but we are the fallen are performing evanescence songs which sounds terrbile so has Ben really moved forward NO

Posted By Anonymous

03.06.10 9:40 PM

You know, We Are The Fallen sounds a lot like Evanescence back when "Fallen" was released.

It shouldn't matter anymore, Amy isn't mad and we shouldn't be either. ]

All that matters is that Evnescence and Amy Lee are back with confidence. Whomever was a Evanescence fan before...will ALWAYS be a Evanescence fan.

\m/ LOVE LOVE LOVE...Evanescence & Amy Lee♥

Posted By Anonymous

03.06.10 8:44 PM

Ben Moody is no longer relevant. Amy said that Ben Moody and his new band have nothing to do with Evanescence. What Ben Moody speaks today about Evanescence shouldn't be cited and his new projects doesn't matter to Evanescence.

He left the band for a long time and Evanescence has proven, with "The Open Door" (better that "Fallen" for the largest music magazines), he's a very distant past and he's not important to the band's success. I don't understand the insistence on quoting him.

"The Open Door" is my favorite until now too. I think this new Evanescence album will be my favorite.

That's all I ever wanted: Evanescence with a more electronic sound, strange, unconventional, experimental. I am very happy!

Posted By Anonymous

03.06.10 8:34 PM

Ok, Amy's a bitch and America LOVES bitches!

Will be the most important Evanescence album! Can't wait to buy it!

Posted By Ophelia

03.06.10 5:28 PM

Guys..get ovet it!You actin like ****in child..
Heres the solve..
If you think Amy's bitch than you dont listen to her music!
But it is really ugly that say bitch,fat bla bla bla..Get over it dude!And if you think Amy is untalented;we want to see you on stage like her..Gosh..

Posted By Anonymous

03.06.10 5:24 PM

.......... Amy Lee is hot.

Posted By hamidreza yousefi

03.06.10 3:29 PM

thanks

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