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Evanescence’s Amy Lee: ‘Musical Experimentation in a Label-Free Zone is So Healthy’

The American rock band’s famous vocalist-composer talks about their new song ‘Wasted On You,’ her recent livestream performance and more

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Anurag Tagat Apr 29, 2020

American rock band Evanescence. Photo: P.R. Brown

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Usually, any band would celebrate a new release by getting together. American rock band Evanescence are no different, considering they have special reason to do so.

The latest single “Wasted On You” is their first new material since 2017’s Synthesis, which brought out “Imperfection” and “Hi-Lo” alongside reworked orchestral arrangements of hits like “Bring Me to Life,” “Lithium,” “My Immortal.” Vocalist and composer Amy Lee tells Rolling Stone India that releasing “Wasted On You” – whose music video premiered in the country exclusively on Vh1 India on April 23rd – was a “little bit of a different feeling” considering they can’t throw a band party “like we normally would.” Over an email interview, the band’s founding member adds, “But in this midst of this strange time, it’s such a salve to the feeling of being stuck that we are all going through right now, to be able to create and put out our art. I’m really grateful and we’re all very proud.”

The song – part of their upcoming album The Bitter Truth – brings together everything anyone would love about Evanescence. There’s piano parts, Lee’s evergreen voice reaching operatic highs, delivering melancholic hooks and the band providing grandiose goth rock treatment. In this interview, Lee talks about her solo project, how they’ll go about finishing and releasing The Bitter Truth and India. Excerpts:

As someone who’s also worked on her own material in the last decade, how much of that feeds into Evanescence at this point?

It’s very good for me to work on different projects that let me focus on different styles and aspects of my personality. Musical experimentation in a label-free zone is so healthy. I need to be able to riff sometimes without worrying if it fits the band. In fact, the more I go down those roads the more happily I run back into the arms of Evanescence. Because I’m free to and happy to be home there, not trapped.

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Considering the coronavirus pandemic, this album is going to be mostly released song by song right? Will there be any more music videos for forthcoming songs, perhaps shot remotely?

We actually were already planning to release the first half of our album one track at a time, as we continue to write and record it. We still have more than halfway to go on the work. I want to live more in the moment with our music. To let each song have its own moment to be felt simultaneously by us and our fans. To connect us more. My original plan was to do a video for every individually released track, but I have no idea what to do next now. Fingers crossed we think of something!

Your performance for #TogetherAtHome was really interesting, because it gave people a glimpse into your home setup of synths and the ukulele, plus your song choice. How did you choose those songs?

Thank you. I really enjoyed it despite the internet disconnecting me twice! My home studio setup is mostly keyboards and software programs for writing and demo-ing songs. I love just playing with sounds till I start singing an idea. I wanted to do something that wasn’t acoustic piano or guitar, because I’ve seen a lot of (amazing!) people doing that in their home music projects already, and honestly this setup was a lot more like what it really sounds like when I’m working on music at home.

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Whitney Houston was one of my very first favorite singers that I completely idolized when I was a pre-teen. I came up with that cover version of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” one night after reflecting on her life and watching her videos, just really moved by the tragedy of it and grieving her as a fan. I played it once, live on her anniversary and it was fitting my mood lately.

My dad plays the ukulele, and my brother played it a lot.  Most of us can strum a few chords and “Stand By Me” is a cover I did with my family on my children’s album Dream Too Much (2016). I think I chose that one because I’ve been missing my family while in quarantine!

Since I’m writing to you from India, have you ever interacted with fans from here or even been to the country as a tourist? Have there ever been any show offers in the past that just didn’t click and was there something being planned for 2020/2021?

I have never been to India, and always wanted to see it. My grandparents traveled there several times when I was young and I was fascinated by the pictures, stories and little things they brought back. We have wanted to come play a concert in India for a long, long time and really hope we can make it happen soon!

Watch the video for “Wasted On You” below. 

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