Posted On 22 Oct 2014
The band released their first full-length album, Fallen, in 2003 which sold more than 17 million copies and earned the band two Grammy Awards. In 2006, they released their second studio album, The Open Door and then in 2011, they released a self-titled album.
However, these days, Amy Lee is showing off a much different side than her fans may be used to with the release of a new electronica song, “Push the Button”. This track is featured on Aftermath, the soundtrack to the movie, “War Story”, which is available now. Lee teamed up with composer Dave Eggar to create the music for the film.
On a very sunny Wednesday morning, I called Amy Lee to learn more about what this project was all about and where life finds her. Hint: It may or may not involve Evanescence.
Read on to find out more!
First of all, congrats on your baby boy, Jack! How are things going?
It’s really, really tempting to post photos of him everyday. We are getting to the point, where my husband and I were like, “Ok, we might need to back off. We are taking 100 pictures a day!”
You are a first time mom. So what’s that like?
It’s like falling in love. It is exactly like falling in love. It’s awesome. I feel like we were really prepared. We wanted it really bad. You know, everybody prepares you and tells you you aren’t going to sleep for the first couple of months and have everything you need to calm them down because they are going to be crying all the time. That just hasn’t been what it’s like. It’s not that he doesn’t cry, but it’s the way when we had the baby there’s this incredible love that came out and that has been the overwhelming thing. No matter what’s going on, if I look at him I just feel really good.
I mean, he’s a really good baby. I mean, he’s the only one I’ve had but he sleeps like a rock star. We can hang out in bed together till like 11:00am!
I can assume that he is your biggest accomplishment to date?
How do you think that becoming a mother affected your view on the world and music and making music in general?
Wow. It definitely has inspired me. Like I was saying right away, it’s like falling in love. I’ve always wanted to have kids but I used to feel like when I have kids, I’d have to make a total change. I’m not going to want to work anymore and that’s absolutely not what it feels like. I’m still me, I’m the full version of myself. I feel enhanced. There’s something indescribable about bringing another human into the world. Its awe-inspiring. My mind was blown! I instantly had a lot a of new feelings. It’s weird to be 32 and feel new feelings.
I mean, you’ve been married, you’ve fallen in love, you’ve had your heart broken, just been through the things you are going to go through. And it’s not true. I feel like I’ve experienced something so new and huge. I feel like my heart is pouring out and I feel like I have a lot more to express. So, that’s definitely a good sign. And funny enough, all through pregnancy, I was writing and working the whole time on this new record. So it definitely hasn’t taken anything from me. It’s made me more.
Backing up, can you remember the first moment that you wanted to be a performer? Were you grow up with musicians in your family around you?
Gosh, I was probably a really little girl. My dad is a musician. My dad was in a band when I was born and I think once they had me, they decided to leave the lifestyle and leave LA and my dad went back into radio. My dad went back to being a DJ, a morning show host for 30 years. Still today, he plays multiple instruments- he plays the ukulele, the drums and the guitar. There were always musicians at our house. My dad would always make me and my siblings perform every time we had company over. Which as a kid, it was so annoying and nerdy, but then as I got older, I realized this is actually really special. I guess I was performing even then, in that capacity. I always say this but I saw the movie, Amadeus, when I was like I think 9 years old or something and I got super inspired and decided that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be Mozart, I wanted to be this crazy genius which obviously you can’t program yourself to do. It inspired me to be a composer and so I started taking piano lessons and going down that whole classical road. There’s definitely that variation of my music with the rock and the modern music and the classical stuff too.
You spent nearly a year working on War Story. How was that experience different then making an Evanescence record?
Oh a world apart! It’s funny to say that we worked on it for a year.. I know that we worked on it that long but we weren’t working on it every day. It wasn’t like we had some big crazy deadline. In the end, we did. I feel like we worked on it and then we’d be good for a month and they need something. Like they needed some music for one scene so we would work on it till we nailed it. And then there would be something else later on that they would need. So it was constantly bubbling away in the background of our lives.
It was different in that there was no pressure. But also, I wasn’t just writing for me. There was a project and there was a bigger thing and I’ve always been into score and wanted to score a film and it’s really cool not just to make it about expressing the depths of my soul which I love and need in my life. But it wasn’t about painting a picture of my heart, it was about illustrating a character and meeting the demands of what the director wanted to feel emotionally while also making something that I loved. So it was a cool thing to do. It was beautiful being able to watch something visual and seeing how it makes you feel and then create something based on that kind of road map. So it was a completely different experience cause we were writing in a different way but at the same time, I listen back to the music and I still hear myself in it which makes me feel really good too.
How would you describe the film? And why was it one that you wanted to be involved with?
It’s definitely dark and very introspective. When I think about it, and I thought this a long time ago before the film was edited down to the length it is now (it was much longer) I think of it in terms of, there’s not even much dialogue. It’s very much like you are inside this women’s head and it’s a dark place.
She has been through a horrible tragedy. She is a photojournalist and lost her partner and watched him killed in front of her. And it’s just her going through that. You don’t even see that event. It’s about the, not to use the word, but the aftermath of that event and her life. So she is going through all these emotions and all this pain and it’s hard. It’s one of those things where you want to sit down and be in for the night so you can just cry yourself to sleep afterwards. But it was perfect for me because in all those ways, it just felt like sort of a playground for music. If anything, it needs more, more, more and the director was like less, less, less.
So obviously, the music on Aftermath is a definite departure from Evanescence. Was that intentional, or just the result of working on a film like War Story?
It was definitely different. And also the fact that we made it here, we made it ourselves. I didn’t do it all by myself. It was me and Dave Eggar who is really, he was the leader or I should say, the music director of the score, the film music. Aftermath is our favorite stuff of that music plus a lot of stuff that we made that didn’t make it and I’m the spear-header of that.
So when I think about doing an Evanescence record, it has in the past been a really big deal and we have a big budget and we go into a big studio and we hire a full string section and do everything to the nines. And I love that, that’s really fun, but there’s something really empowering about having made this. Me in front of my own pro-tools rig, with my own keyboard and instruments and Dave is such a crazy talented musician. He also has a whole bunch of crazy awesome talented musician friends who would just come over and he’ll literally be like, “oh how about this”, and he’ll play something on the cello. It’s cool the way technology has changed in the way we have the ability to do so much ourselves now. It doesn’t sound bad, it sounds beautiful to me and it makes me feel really empowered and I am really happy that I did that. And I have the ability to do that without a giant machine and I didn’t have to rely on somebody else. We really did do it ourselves.
So two singles that are standing out right now, is “Lockdown” and “Push the Button”. What’s been a favorite of yours and what’s been the inspiration for these singles?
Well those two are the most like songs. In a lot of ways, they are my favorites too because those are the ones that I really put the most work into. I mean, maybe I shouldn’t say that. There are a couple more that are on that level too. I love the way the record flows from one track to the next.
“Lockdown” is definitely one of my favorites because it happened the way I wanted it to happen. It started with a loop, we started building stuff and I felt myself get into a vibe and I just started making it by myself in my studio. And it’s not that that’s different, that’s the way a lot of my songs are born, a lot of Evanescence songs are born. But usually, we get a demo, change it completely in the studio, so that’s the place that I’m coming from a lot of the time. I feel like I’m creating something like that in the studio, and we go down a bunch of different roads with it, get a big producer and get the band and everything goes and it sounds awesome and it sounds huge but I still find myself listening to the demo because there is something special about it. So it’s cool to be able to have that pure thought. I love “Lockdown” because it has a lot of freedom, it doesn’t stick exactly to the structure of verse, chorus, verse chorus. I feel like the chorus has a real departure from the rest of the song. By surprise, it takes a left turn and I love when that happens. I love listening to it because you kinda get two songs in one.
And “Push the Button” was really fun. The director was trying to get this love scene happening, and couldn’t figure out what to do. He said, I almost just wanna just put some crappy pop song on there and I said, “don’t make it crappy, let’s do something cool, that fits, let me try to nail it”. And we went in there and went into the rhythm of the lovemaking, and we got that beat and really started having fun with it because it was such a different platform for me that’s not normal and I had to be brave. And it felt good to do, it really did and I was in a safety zone. If it didn’t work out or I didn’t like it or it was stupid, I could just throw it away and not show it to anybody. But I ended up loving it and a lot of times, I do love branching out and trying new things. So the fact that it was different was part of the reason that I love it.
I hope they like it. It’s funny, I don’t have a huge goal for this. The goal of doing the film’s score was already met and I think it turned out great. I’m really happy with how it worked out. This project was just pure fun. We had all this music because some of it didn’t even make it to the film and we thought, we can’t waste it, let’s just make a CD out of it, an album out of it and give it to fans. I don’t really know. I mean, I want people to like it. I like it already so I guess in the end, the goal is already met. It was fun releasing it a week ago and I’m starting to see the fans react to it. I know that it’s different though so I’m not really sitting around watching every response. Because anytime you do anything, whether it’s the same or different but especially when it’s different, you are going to see people that don’t like that it’s not the same. And that’s fine. I honestly just don’t want to be the same. I am who I am and I think that when I listen to it, I do hear similarities to who I’ve always been but I hear new things too and new growth and I think that’s the way it ought to be. I hope they like it but I don’t expect every Evanascence fan to think this is their favorite record.
What artists are currently inspiring you? Any new artists in particular?
Oh wow! I have to think about it.. I really enjoyed that Lorde record. I really really like her sound and I love Lana Del Rey. They are both haunting women. I really do love listening to women, more and more. I’ve gotten that way as I’ve gotten older. What else… I was just listening to a band downstairs called The Colony House. I was jamming out while rocking the baby to sleep!
Yeah, you are probably listening to a lot of lullabies now?
I know, that’s so funny, I was actually just thinking maybe that’s next. Maybe I should go record some stuff for him and see where that goes.
That’s really hard. There’s a lot. It’s funny, I feel like if I wanted to work with someone, on a lot levels, I would want them to not be like me because I want to bring me to the table and have them bring what they do awesome to the table. This is gonna sound really hilarious but I’ve always wanted to sing backup for Stevie Wonder one time. I love Stevie Wonder! He’s always been my go-to for karaoke, one of them anyway. And I know all the words so if Stevie is hanging out and if ever needs somebody to jump in, I’m there!
What’s your song?
“Signed, Sealed and Delivered” That’s my go-to happy song and my favorite song when I was about 6 years old. My dad had it on vinyl at his work. I’ve always wanted to at least meet Michael Jackson. I would give anything to be able to jam with Michael Jackson.
Can fans expect to see you on tour anytime soon? Next year, perhaps?
Not anytime soon. I think right now, I’m definitely just super into being home with my new little baby. But I definitely see myself making music for the rest of my life. It’s who I am, I love making music and I love our fans and I love seeing the world. I’ll definitely be out there playing music again.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
That’s so hard! Hmm.. I see myself with a 10 year old son! Haha For the first time, I know something for sure!! I don’t know… I know that I’ll be making music.
Will Evanescence again be making more music together in the future?
I don’t know. I really don’t know. A big part of the philosophy I’m creating is having a totally open mind, because I find myself going down a thought path too early and then changing my mind constantly. I gotta go with what I’m inspired by in the moment. And right now, this feels really good but I have no idea what I’m going to be feel like a year from now. I’m a fickle person as far as that goes but when I get inspired by something, I just usually go for it. Guns blazing.
What message would you like people to take away from this album?
For me, it’s been about this whole new era of my life. It’s been about freedom and kinda about trusting yourself. You have to trust yourself, you have to make yourself vulnerable. I guess that doesn’t sound like a new theme but I’m going to bring it over here again. And I’m in a place of love and that’s a really really good place to be.
If there was a message, I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot in the past year or so in different experiences. Love the people you love now while you can because life is short and that’s what we are here for. To love each other and I think you learn all too soon, that you didn’t get as much time as you thought you would and there’s no point in waiting till tomorrow because we don’t know if we have tomorrow.