For most of us, Evanescence epitomizes the essence of the rock music we grew up with. The band was formed in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1995 by singer and pianist Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody. In the early 2000s, they became widely known with their first album “Fallen,” which sold over 17 million copies globally and featured hit songs like “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal.” Their music combines rock, metal, and classical elements, and Amy Lee’s impressive vocals are often the focal point.
It was such a treat to chat with the band backstage after their show with Muse at Pechanga Arena in San Diego on April 10th, 2023.
We hope that by sharing their story and music you’ll be inspired to make your own dreams a reality.
Photo by Sydney Valiente
Interview with Amy Lee (Vocals)
Q: You guys have had a long career. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself! What was the tipping point where playing in a band went from being a hobby to being on the path to success?
We all kind of have different journeys because we found each other later on in different bands. For me, it happened when I was really young, but I knew with a crushing pain that I had to be a music creator when I was 9 years old. I was 100% sure. Nothing was going to heal my soul except for making music. I saw the movie Amadeus, and I got really inspired. I wanted to be Mozart. And then also, I discovered Nirvana, and Björk, and Sound Garden, and all this 90’s alternative stuff at the same time. And I was like, “there’s a combo here to be made!” So, it just became this full on music obsession playing with boys in bands and doing the thing. That picture, our now famous cover with my face, was on my 21st birthday. It was weird because we talk about going through stuff, and we weren’t always at the top. That was a time full of turmoil. Emma and I, we were talking about this earlier. It’s funny how it is, because what it looks like on the outside is very often quite different than what it’s really like on the inside. It was a real struggle during that time. It was wonderful, and amazing, and crazy, and, “oh my god, I can’t believe what’s happening,” but also like, “it’s all gonna fall apart at any second.” I was just sure it was always right about to fall apart. In fact, it has become such a stronger… I can’t quite put words to it. We grew into being a band. I picked up these hobos somewhere along the way. Tim is our guitar player as well. He was our bass player for 16 years. He just moved over to guitar for Emma to squeeze in. Emma’s our bass player now.
Q: Talking about that journey and those struggles, do any jump out at you as a moment where you could’ve thrown in the towel?
Every day was like that. For one thing, my brother was sick. My brother had severe epilepsy starting the year I went to college, which is the year before we got signed. It all happened really fast. We were super close. As we were going to the Grammys and stuff he was having his first brain surgery. It was really like this homesick pain for me. But my family, my brother, my dad, my mom, they were rooting for me. That was the really good thing going on. They wanted all that to happen for me. It was just hard not to be with my family in a really difficult time that was scary for all of us. And I had a different band around me, and did not feel supported at all. It was like just internally really difficult. So, it’s hard when your heart is in such a vulnerable place for multiple reasons. For one, I’m worried about my brother. But the other one was just feeling this incredible exposure that happened at such a young age. I had only been out of high school for 2 years. You know what you feel like in high school. And suddenly it’s like you are an object for people to judge. As big as you are, they will judge you that harshly. The better you do, some people just want to tear that down. I feel like that’s human nature. It’s like, “you’re not better than me. I see you standing there with that cool look on your face. You’re not better than me!” Everybody wants to tear you down, and it’s like, “I’m putting that look on my face because it’s my job.” I’m trying to make us look cool. I’m not gonna stand here looking insecure.
Q: How do you deflect negativity like that while staying true to yourself as an artist and person?
I’ve grown into myself. When you’re 21 you’re still kind of trying to figure it out, and not 100% sure and confident about all the choices that you’ve made. How could you be? You’re still making them. At 41 now, I’m sure this is where I’m supposed to be. I’m positive I was born to be up on that stage. It feels amazing. I also can recognize that I’m not up there selling me. It’s about them. The fans. The people that we have met. The people that have been moved by our music. To be all over the world with people who don’t even speak English as their native language singing to the music, and having that be part of the soundtrack of their lives the way it is for mine, it means so much more than it did. When I say that before My Immortal during the show, I mean it. It didn’t mean anything like that to me then. It was just, you know, write songs, write lyrics, talk about my own struggle. And then it has become about something so much bigger. There’s a real comfort in feeling small. Like, I’m a part of something, and I’m lucky to be a part of something big. Something bigger than this band. It’s a universal energy thing where it’s like, “wow, I get to be a part of something just so much bigger than myself.” And be able to take that burden off, too. And trust the people that I’m working with. We love each other. I have a certain trust. That’s part of the confidence as well. I had a night on the last tour where my voice was broken. I came to the dressing room right before. It had started dying throughout the day. It was like slowly happening until right before it was time to go on stage. Nothing was coming out. And you can’t cancel the show. They’re already out there. I came in, and I was like, “this is gonna be really hard. I don’t have a voice, so this is just gonna suck. And I love you guys. I just wanted you to know that.” They all just hugged me, and I totally cried. It was fucking embarrassing. But then I was like, “UGH!” We just like rallied together. In that tour, we had a thing where I would go up behind the drum riser, and just be standing there. This very epic Michael Jackson silhouette moment. I just remember getting up there, and knowing it was gonna be hard, but I truly felt the support of us being together. I know that when I’m not at my best, they’re gonna cover for it and be ever stronger. I just put my fist in the air, and the song just started. It didn’t sound like my best, but the energy of it, I will never forget. How special the energy of that show was because it was hard, but I wasn’t alone.
Q: What do you see next? What’s the next goal you’re trying to hit?
We’re ready to be creative. We did The Bitter Truth during the pandemic, and it was the lifeline. My brother had just passed away, and then the world was falling apart. It’s like, “I don’t know if we’re ever actually going to be able to play live music again.” So, it’s like, well, we’re stuck with nothing to do at home. Who knows? Maybe the world is literally going to end. Let’s just make music. Let’s do what we love like it’s the last time, because it really could be. It just made it my favorite thing. And that’s what the music does. It gives other people happiness, and hope, and light. That’s what was cool through it. That’s what we can control. We can give people something they love in a time where everything sucks, and nobody’s putting out music. So we just started releasing the songs. We weren’t even done with the album. It’s time to make more music. We did that, and then we finally got to go on tour at the end of 2021, and we’ve kind of been doing it every since. So, here we are. It’s 2023. It’s time to take a little less time on the road. It’s hard because the better you do, the more work you get. So we just keep getting cool offers. When Muse is like, “hey, do you wanna come on tour?” It’s like, “fuck! Of course!” So, we have a couple countries left to hit this run, but for the most part it’s time to wind it down a bit so there’s time to get in a more creative space.
Q: For anyone out there thinking of doing something big, taking that jump, and going after a dream, what advice would you give them?
I would say, listening is always good. You’re never going to regret listening to someone’s advice, but at the same time hold the things that are in your heart, that are making you passionate about it in the first place, hold those close and don’t let them go because if you lose the thing you’re passionate about in the first place, the whole reason that you want to do whatever it is you want to do, then what are you doing? I think especially for an artist, there is no math problem that’s going to make you the best at that, so any person that’s going to come in and say this is what you have to do, you should change all these things because it worked for A, B, and C. That’s not really how it works. It has to come from something organic, and from the heart, and from a place of you being obsessed with that thing. There’s somebody else in the world that will feel the way that you do. We’re actually, at our core, similar. So, if there’s something that drives you, like you want to make something because, “this tastes good to me like this,” and, “this song sounds good to me like this, and I know it breaks the rules. I know it goes to the bridge before the second verse. I don’t care. It just feels right.” I think that’s the thing that really speaks to people is feeling that true passion when it’s coming from the heart, as opposed to trying to follow a math problem that’s going to sell you the most albums or whatever. There’s nothing but good that can come from learning, but at the same time be true to yourself and to your art.