This year has marked a strong return for the popular rock/alternative band, Evanescence. Led by lead singer & main songwriter Amy Lee, the band released their first album of all new songs in a decade, The Bitter Truth (on BMG Records). The album has received praise from both fans and music critics, and it contains four singles (“Use My Voice,” “The Game Is Over,” “Wasted On You” and “Better Without You”) that reached the Top 20 on Billboard’s rock and alternative charts.
Evanescence is best known for their multi-platinum success in the early 2000s. Their debut album, Fallen (released in 2003) sold a massive 17 million copies worldwide, and featured the hits “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal.” Then in 2006, their follow-up album, The Open Door, sold five million copies and had the hit, “Call Me When You’re Sober.” The band subsequently released their albums Evanescence (2011), Synthesis (2017) and The Bitter Truth (2021).
Currently, Evanescence is looking forward to playing live shows again after 18 months of lockdown. In early November, they will be launching a major U.S. tour, co-headlining with rock band, Halestorm (led by Lzzy Hale). This tour presents two of the leading female artists in this genre, who are both powerful lead vocalists. Then in early 2022, Evanescence will embark on their World’s Collide Tour in Europe, headlining in many countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Greece, Poland and Romania.
Evanescence’s lineup consists of Amy Lee (lead vocals & keyboards), Troy McLawhorn (lead guitar), Jen Majura (guitar & backing vocals), Tim McCord (bass) and Will Hunt (drums). Notably, all members contribute to the band’s songwriting.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Amy Lee. She discusses the making of their album The Bitter Truth, and what inspired her and the band to write the songs “Use My Voice,” “Wasted On You,” “The Game Is Over” and “Broken Pieces Shine.”
DK: Your new album, The Bitter Truth, is Evanescence’s first album of all new songs in a decade. Can you talk about the past 10 years, leading up to your new album?
Amy Lee: Gosh, it’s just so much. Starting from 2011, we had life. We were all living our lives. I became a mother in 2014; that’s a really big life event. And after going through that big life change, it was like…Oh Yeah, this is still who I am. I’m not just Mom now. I’m still Amy Lee from Evanescence, and this is still my passion.
In 2015, we picked touring back up, right when we got Jen (Majura). Jen was this beautiful new light and energy in the band. It was the first time having another woman besides me in my band, which has been a cool dynamic change. We’re a little more balanced family in some ways now (laughs).
Then for the Synthesis album, revisiting our older songs, and really pulling it apart by making Synthesis (with new orchestral arrangements) as a group, I feel was an important step towards getting to where we are now and in the new music, because it had to do with diving into the past and feeling it and knowing it and loving it, and pouring new life into it. We were like…Okay, we now know everything about where we’ve been and we know who we are. Let’s take that and put it into new music.
DK: When did you decide you wanted to make the new album?
Here’s the video of Evanescence’s single, “Use My Voice.”
Lee: By the end of 2018, we knew we wanted to make a new album, and we started the writing process. By that time, I learned how to multitask better than I used to be able to. What I mean is, I’ve learned to build our tours in a way that give us time to breathe and live in-between the tours more than the early days. And when we’re together touring, let’s set aside a week, usually after we’re done with that tour, to find a place where we can write. Let’s go get an Airbnb in the woods some place, and see what comes out of us. And we got some great stuff out of those sessions. We spent one week that was really cool, in Montreal. We were in the woods in the summertime…it was off season at a ski resort.
So it was just us and nature, and we came up with the beginnings for “Broken Pieces Shine” and “Part Of Me,” We had productive sessions where we started to feel the sound of the new album happening.
Another time, we had everybody come to my house (in Nashville) and stay here for awhile and work. So that’s how our writing sessions started. And I thought, instead of waiting until we had all the songs, let’s go in with our producer, Nick Raskulinecz, and just record a couple of songs that we have, before we go on tour. We went in with Nick and we did four songs that we were excited about.
Then we had the lockdown, and 2020 turned into a year of creating the album and writing remotely, until we could eventually get together again in the fall except for Jen, who we had to work with virtually. Then we made the album together and finished it by the end of 2020.
DK: One of my favorite songs on your new album is “Use My Voice,” which is a strong song about empowerment, and speaking out. What inspired you to write this song?
Lee: That’s a song that has been brewing for awhile. I began the writing of that song after reading this incredible impact statement written by a young woman named Chanel Miller. She was sexually assaulted on the Stanford campus, and she was unconscious. It was this big horrible thing, but the attacker got off with a really light sentence. It was awful, but [Miller] turned out to be this incredibly articulate, smart, strong young woman. And at the end of the trial, she stood up and read this statement to her attacker. It was so incredibly powerful, and it hit me. I was crying…it was beautiful. She stood up and shared her truth in a way that made me see that there was nothing they could do, no weapon could be stronger than her voice…standing up, speaking her truth and telling her experience. And I was so impacted by her story and her statement. That was the first thing that inspired me about the song.
Here’s the video of Evanescence’s song, “Better Without You.”
That was a couple years ago, and over the past couple years we’ve seen so much in our government, and in our world around us…things that are so wrong, blatant lies, horrible injustice, and the words [for this song] kept coming out, one line at a time. Yeah, with “Use My Voice”, it was very satisfying to get to the end of the writing journey on that one, because it had a long life before it was finished. I couldn’t be more proud of it.
DK: Two of my other favorite songs on your album is “The Game Is Over” and “’Wasted On You.” Can you talk about writing those two songs?
Lee: First, I’d like to say that the writing process for a lot of these songs…they’re coming from everywhere on this album. Everyone had a different genesis. I like to break my rules and open my mind, and let music come from anywhere. Sometimes it starts with the melody, or it starts with the guitar, or with a sampled loop. With “Wasted On You,” it came from lyrics and melody first. I was challenging myself, because I had been stuck in my writing. It was at the end of 2019, and I was feeling…I’m going to challenge myself to not get deep into my home production before finishing a thought. Because I’ll get an idea and I’ll start tracking. I run Pro Tools in here, and I’ve got a lot of fun keyboards and sounds, and plenty of capabilities. So I get in here by myself late at night, and I start going down the road, and then you start to get glued to things, and it becomes less loose because you’ve already locked it in and you like the sound of something. So my challenge to myself was…I have this idea in my head…this melody line and chorus. I’m going to sit here on my back porch and sing it and finish the lyrics, and get it to where I’ve got the lyrics and everything. I’ve got this chorus in my head before I touch the computer. And that’s why I think the song starts with the chorus like it does. Because that’s what I did in my head, and the rest of it was able to take off.
DK: And how did you write “The Game Is Over”?
Lee: That was a very collaborative effort. I was sitting in a circle with the guys in our rehearsal space, and we said, “Hey, let’s try to write some songs.” We were sitting there, vibing and jamming. It was just the bass, the guitars, singing and drums. Everyone was just tapping their feet with our eyes closed, and it was coming to life together. It’s so special when that happens…it feels like catching lightning in a bottle. I remember opening my eyes and seeing that everyone else’s eyes were closed, and we were all feeling the same thing. We were excited about the new album sound that was starting to develop.
Here’s the video of Evanescence’s song, “The Game Is Over.”
DK: Besides the songs we’ve talked about, what are your other favorite songs on the album?
Lee: I’m proud of all of them. “Broken Pieces Shine” has been a favorite for the band. I’m proud of what it became and what the lyrics ended up being about, because it’s so true to my heart. Another song we haven’t mentioned is “Part Of Me’…I love the feeling of that song and I can’t wait to play it live. Another favorite is the ballad, “Far From Heaven.” We wrote it towards the end of our writing sessions. I kept coming back to this same feeling and thought that I needed to get off my chest, about grief and about coming out of it. You know, sometimes you’re not ever going to be the same, and accepting and processing that, and getting it out there. It’s a purifying thing to get it out of me, and it’s satisfying to hear its place on the album.
Overall about songwriting, I have come to believe that an open heart is the most important ingredient. There is no recipe…there is no real map. It’s good to know all of those rules (of songwriting craft), but the heart is the most important ingredient.
DK: Currently, you’re about to launch a U.S. tour with Halestorm. You and Lzzy Hale are two of the leading female rock artists. How did you decide to do a headlining tour together?
Lee: I’m really excited…it’s been so long. Especially going back out with our friends, it’s like a cool homecoming. It is a new era though; it’s not going be the same…we’re not going to be partying. We’re going to be more locked down because of Covid, and we’ll do everything we can to be safe and keep the tour going. I think Lzzy and I, we’ve had to face this idea of…Wow, seize the day. Life is precious. Getting to tour is a precious gift. When we go back out there, let’s make it the best thing we’ve ever done. Let’s make it with people that we absolutely love and make it the best show ever. So I’ve been pulling out all the stops on the production. We chose Halestorm because we love them. We know our fans are a great combo together. And I think it’s cool to show women supporting women. It makes me happy to see so many more women in the hard rock and metal scene in particular. There are more now than when we entered the scene. It’s awesome. And we’re excited about Plush and Lilith Czar joining our tour as well.