It’s hard to believe that Evanescence founder Amy Lee still gets nervous before a show. But opening for rock legends can do it: “We’re actually in Lisbon to play Rock in Rio,” Lee says, over the phone. “It’s going to be a big one tonight, we’re opening for Metallica. Just a little bit of pressure.” That, and new audiences – something Evanescence will experience this month when they play in Dubai and Beirut. “Those are the ones that I get the most nervous and excited for, because I know a lot of people are getting to see us for the first time. And I really want it to be us at our best.”
There’s been quite a gap between Evanescence albums. Why is that?
I’ve always been a believer in quality not quantity. I just feel like it’s not worth putting something out if it’s not great. Some people can knock out five songs a day, but I’m not that person. I’ll spend weeks laboring over the lyrics of a song. I just wait until I need to write. When I get creative, that means it’s time to put out a record. Not, “OK, we just did really well and people still know who we are. Let’s put out another record.” I was just thinking about this recently because Garbage is coming back. And I was thinking, “It’s been seven years since their last album, I can’t believe everybody’s giving me so much shit.”
It’s also meant your records sound quite different.
I guess my tastes are always changing. I’m the same person; I have the same heart. I’m still the same person that was influenced by Nine Inch Nails, Björk, Portishead, Soundgarden and Nirvana when I was young. But it’s not like I’m listening to those bands all the time anymore. Plus, when we made Fallen, I was definitely still trying to figure out who I was – I was a teenager. When I listen to it, I hear a lot of insecurity in myself. I was afraid to do things that could be perceived in any way as not being ‘heavy,’ or not ‘rock & roll.’ As I got more confident, and grown up, I started doing more of whatever I want. Whatever I like. I think that’s actually driven us, musically, in a heavier direction, surprisingly.
Will there be another long wait for the next record?
There’s no plan. I don’t know what to say other than I have to wait again, but I don’t anticipate waiting five years. Between the first two records we went straight from touring the world for a year-and-a-half, into writing, into the studio, into doing it all again. So, I needed a break, and I needed to know myself outside of the band a little bit. I don’t feel that crazy need like I did back then. So no, I don’t think it will be that long. But I’ll stay open-minded. We’ll have to wait and see.
Will you ever get round to the long-rumored solo LP?
I think it’s totally possible. I think it’s probable. When we were writing [for the band] the last time, I was writing songs that I didn’t feel fit for Evanescence. And I’d never felt that way before. There are songs on the record, like “Swimming Home,” that made it through, but were kind of in that place. I was like, “I don’t know if this is an Evanescence song or not. Maybe this is just a solo song.” So I know that there is music in me that is something else. I think. I don’t have a specific plan or time, but I think it will probably happen at some point.
Do you worry that people struggle to separate you from the band?
I hope not. I sometimes feel like, no matter how great I think our new songs are, there will always be people who think of us in terms of “Bring Me To Life,” and “My Immortal,” and they don’t even bother checking out the new stuff because they’ve written it off already. I hate that. I feel like we really grew, as a band, to full maturity after that point. I’m always trying to put us in new places, touring with different bands, playing at different festivals where people might not necessarily listen to us by choice – but they might hear it and think, “Oh. That’s Evanescence now? I like it, I’m going to check them out.”
Do you feel pressure to play those tunes on tour?
I rely on them. I’ve come to realize that there are these golden nuggets that keep people who aren’t even fans interested. When you’re at a show and you hear a song you know, you’re going to get into it because it’s live, and it’s fun. We can play a bunch of new material, but insert “Bring Me To Life” to keep everybody interested if they were starting to lose it [laughs]. It’s also a great show-ender – that’s what it’s really become for us. We can end with a big bang where everybody can sing along.