Amy Lee is one of the most influential women in rock music, having broken down barriers at the start of the 21st century. As the lead vocalist and chief songwriter for hard rockers Evanescence, Lee emerged at a time when women were scarcely heard on mainstream rock radio.
Now, Evanescence are back with The Bitter Truth, the band’s first album of brand-new music in 10 years. Following their orchestral Synthesis release and world tour with a full orchestra, The Bitter Truth finds Evanescence getting back to their hard rock roots with blistering guitars and pounding rhythms.
With The Bitter Truth set for release this Friday (March 26th), Evanescence have already released a string of singles from the effort, including the empowering song “Use My Voice”. Along with the new music, the band is also unveiling a graphic anthology series titled Echoes From the Void, with issue No. 1 focusing on stories centered around the songs “Better Without You” and “Wasted on You” from the new LP.
Lee sat down with Heavy Consequence to talk about The Bitter Truth, how artists such as Billie Eilish inspired her during the writing process, and the legacy of the band’s breakout hit “Bring Me to Life”, among other topics. Read the full interview below, and pick up the new album here.
On The Bitter Truth being Evanescence’s first new album of original material in 10 years
I don’t work well if I go forward with too much of a plan, when it comes to being creative. So, every time we do a project, I just pour my whole self into it and give it everything I have and love it, but only when I’m inspired to do it. I had a child in 2014, Jack, and he is just the most wonderful, happy spot in my life. We have a lot of fun together. He’s 6 years old now, and he keeps me on my toes. But, that time away definitely made it so that we had that much more fire and passionate energy to use this time when doing The Bitter Truth.
On the work she’s done the past few years with Evanescence and branching out with other projects
I think it’s good, creatively, to let yourself just go down different avenues and follow the spirit. I’ve been working this whole time, but it’s just been more free. We’ve been working with Evanescence for the past five years doing the Synthesis thing and touring with an orchestra for the first time. I love all the cool bucket list things that we’ve been able to accomplish. It’s just really cool to be here in the perspective of having it been such a long time. We just passed the 18th anniversary of Fallen. It’s amazing, and I’m really proud to still be here.
On how Billie Eilish inspired her during the writing process for The Bitter Truth
I listen to all kinds of music. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t listen to rock, mostly. It’s not that I don’t like it. Of course I do. I really love the new Bring Me the Horizon album a lot. That’s my favorite new rock album in a good while. But, my tastes are all over the place. I really do love good pop — like good, dark pop. So, with Billie Eilish, even more than her style, which is very dark, what I really love about her is just her authenticity. She’s just being completely herself. I see a lot of things in her that remind me of myself, especially when I was younger. I get inspired by all kinds of things, even if it’s just in the way that somebody arranged the songs. Like, “Oh, they didn’t end on the chorus. Why don’t we do something like that?”
On the song “Use My Voice” and Evanescence’s work to get out the vote in 2020
My heart was just heavy with all the lies, and it still is. I just feel like there’s a lot of frustration that so many Americans share. There can’t be two truths. There has to be one. If we’re all going to unify, we have to simply start telling the truth. None of us have ever seen anything in our lifetime that felt so wrong in our own country. Lyrically, I get really inspired by stories of overcoming and people being brave and stepping forward after they’ve been through something major. I was really first inspired by a sexual assault survivor named Chanel Miller. She was in this long court trial that was degrading and messed up. At the end, she just stood up and spoke the truth of what happened to her and what it felt like and what her experience was. It was so powerful. It just dawned on me that using your voice is powerful.
And throughout last year, we kept being told that our voices didn’t matter and didn’t count and that we should just shut up and fall in line. I thought, we have a platform. We should use this to encourage people and inspire people and empower people to go vote. I tried not to make it super in-your-face or political and divisive, but I’m proud that we stood up and said what was going on. I’m very happy that we have experienced some change this year, and change needs to keep coming.
On the album cut “Broken Pieces Shine” and the inspiration behind that song
We all really love that song. It was a tricky one to write. There was so many versions of that chorus, and that’s kind of a recurring theme for me. From a lyrical standpoint, it’s empowering for me, because it really kind of sums up one of the big themes on the album, which is about not glossing over or burying or hiding from the brokenness of ourselves and the world or our flaws or the things that we wish weren’t weren’t happening. To ignore it and to not face it would be to miss out on the beauty of life. You need the dark to have the light, and we all try to project our best selves, but there’s something really beautiful about just opening yourself up and letting the “Broken Pieces Shine.”
On what inspired Evanescence to get back to a guitar-driven sound following their Synthesis orchestral release
It was just about letting the music happen and not having a big plan. Coming off Synthesis, we knew we wanted to take it to a raw place. We had the classical influence with Synthesis, which is a total part of our band and always has been, but I knew that we would want to have the tables turned for this album when it came out and really let the band shine. This lineup and this time and this era — we wanted to show who we are as a band.
On Evanescence appealing to young fans 20-plus years into their career
Maybe it’s because I’m kind of a kid! (Laughs) I’m definitely in the mindset of please, let’s just be kids forever, but I’m also a big sister. That’s a big part of like my identity, and it actually helped me transition to fit into my role. With this band and my relationship with our fans over the years, it’s always been kind of like, oh, you’re my, like, younger siblings. I think we’re at the point where our fans have now shown that music and introduced this band to their younger siblings and maybe even children at this point. But, I just make music I love, and I speak from the heart. Maybe that’s something that isn’t really about age.
On the number of women in hard-rock music today verses when Evanescence first started out
I think it’s a lot better. It’s not like there are tons of women in rock now. It’s still a huge difference between women and men. But, I think what has changed, at least for female artists in rock, is that people are starting to see it as less of a gimmick. They’re taking women in rock seriously. It’s always kind of frustrating when people talk about female-fronted bands as a genre. It’s not a genre. There are so many different styles of music, whatever your gender happens to me, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with the style of music. But, I think that people’s minds have been opened up to a lot of things. It is better than it was. I don’t feel lonely here in rock anymore. There are a lot of awesome women in rock who have been successful, and that just makes me feel empowered and happy.
On if she thought “Bring Me to Life” would be such a celebrated song decades after its release
I don’t know what I thought. It was just that I had all this passion and inspiration and was pouring everything into it and believing it could do anything. But, the fact that it’s become such a huge part of my life, no. We couldn’t have anticipated that. Not at all. It’s become something much more than it was. It has a life of its own. When I think of that song, my memories aren’t just from the time when we made it but of all the times and all of the adventures that had with it on tour. I think of going around the world, seeing people that don’t even speak English as their first language singing all of the words — all of those experiences. It’s a beautiful thing. So, the short answer is no. We couldn’t have expected any of this.
On what’s next for Evanescence considering the current state of the world
Well, we’re just going to have to keep thinking creatively on how to engage with our fans. I think that will be a little bit easier now that the actual creation of the music is finished. Now, the focus is on, okay, like how do we keep this going? How can we stay with them and try to create experiences that feel like we can be together and experience the music together somehow without having a show? That’s definitely a challenge. So, I don’t know exactly what it means, but we have a couple of ideas. But, for the rest of the year, we’re going to be just living in this new album release. It’s a weird time, but it’s the perfect time. This makes total sense that finally a new Evanescence album will be out during the end times! (Laughs)