EVANESCENCE frontwoman Amy Lee recently spoke to Metal Edge magazine about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the group's follow-up to their multi-platinum major-label debut, "Fallen". Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Metal Edge: This is the first time I've talked to you since the member change — Have you started writing with Terry [Balsamo, guitarist, formerly of COLD] yet?
Amy Lee: "Yeah, he's here, actually at my house right now — I got a house that's big enough for the entire band to crash at, so we can write there. So far Terry's the only one that's come up, but I'm planning on everyone coming up, eventually, but I've been good with writing solo so far. We've been writing together for the past week-and-a-half, just for demos, and we've come up with four demos that I really like — Nothing ready for the album yet, but I'm really happy, because it's really coming together, and we really click. We're actually doing this, we're moving in a new direction."
Metal Edge: How has the music changed? What's the new direction?
Amy Lee: "It's really hard for me to explain! It's not like anything I've ever heard, to be honest — It sounds like EVANESCENCE, but it's creepy, it's kind of sexy, it's groovy, it's not so . . . It's sort of PORTISHEAD, A PERFECT CIRCLE, bands that take more artistic freedom — PORTISHEAD because they have more groovy, weird, sultry vibe, very similar to that. We're literally at the very beginning of this project, though, and it can all change . . . It can be a completely different record."
Metal Edge: So, for all we know, it could come out like a Gwen Stefani record.
Amy Lee: "I will never — It's not going to be an '80s record! [Laughing] I know the goal is — the heavy stuff will be heavier, and the soft stuff will be softer, we just took extremes and pulled them apart."
Metal Edge: What were some of the things that bothered you about the last album, looking back?
Amy Lee: "Well, a lot of the times — and I'm not sure if it's better or worse — the original version of the songs we had were packed down and condensed, and the chorus came around more often, and that sort of thing, to where, in some respects, it felt like it was pulling some of the artistic integrity out of the piece. I listen to the album and I very much hear verse-chorus, verse-chorus, verse-chorus, and that's so boring. I know the normal ear doesn't hear that, but that's what I hear, and I don't like it as much. I think there's something to be said for the most pure form of the song. That's part of the reason why I want to make this album without that part of the 'formula.'"
Metal Edge: Who brought that into the song?
Amy Lee: "The commercial? That was Ben [Moody, ex-guitarist] — the Kelly Clarkson writer, the Avril Lavigne writer . . . Put it together! [Laughing] The piano felt like part of the formula . . . I don't want to get super-weird, lose everyone — I don't want to make a weird record, I want to make a record that I like, and I liked our last record, so it's not going to be completely off the wall . . . At the same time, I don't want to feel like I have to do it that way. If the label says, 'We like this, but we'd like the chorus to come around more often, and we'd like to hear more of this' — which I'm sure they will — I think I would just rather do it our way, and see how it works."
Metal Edge: What was the process of finding Terry — Ben left in the midst of a tour, right?
Amy Lee: "Yeah, right in the middle — of a European tour, nonetheless. It was a difficult time, because it was just the hardest tour, it was so stressful, we are all hoping he'd leave. He was so angry, and didn't want anyone around him to be happy. He was just an unhappy guy, he was so hard to understand, I just don't have a fucking clue!"
Metal Edge: Like being in a relationship for too long, and knowing that it has to end?
Amy Lee: "Mmmm, hmmm — then you're stuck together . . . We'd get onstage and he hated everything and everyone — he hated being onstage, he hated not be on stage. He hated when fans wouldn't talk to him, he hated when they would. It's like, 'What would make you happy?' It got to the point where we were all miserable and fighting all the time, so when he left, it was a relief — 'Good, we can continue with the band, it's not going to be driven into the band . . .' And we had one day between him leaving, and the next show. So we got up at eight in the morning, rented a practice space, John relearned all the lead parts, and sat there all day and tracked his rhythm parts, and there was one guitar player for the rest of the European tour, and we played as a four piece. It sounded great, he did the leads wonderfully, and now Terry and John split the leads."