Since Evanescence released its multiplatinum debut, Fallen, in 2003, band leader Amy Lee has taken her time in crafting successive albums. Her determination to make quality-driven music has resulted in a limited studio output that includes 2006’s The Open Door and 2011’s Evanescence. It’s a risky approach, but it doesn’t stress her too much.
“I really don’t worry about it. Maybe that sounds crazy, but I feel like too much emphasis is put on the time and maybe not enough on the products,” says the songwriter-performer. “I just want to make something great. If I can’t make something awesome that I’m not ready for or don’t believe in … I won’t make it.”
The dedication of Evanescence’s followers lets her take whatever time she thinks is necessary. “Our fan base has proven to me that it doesn’t really matter how long how it takes. They keep coming back. It’s such a beautiful thing. I hope that continues.”
So when the band dropped 2017’s Synthesis, it was a surprise that instead of delivering all original music, Lee had reconstructed material from the aforementioned albums with an orchestra. After introducing Synthesis with new track “Imperfection,” Evanescence launched a North American tour that ran October-December to support the project. To do it justice, a full orchestra backs the quartet. The run has been captured for the upcoming Synthesis Live CD/DVD that’s due Oct. 12 on Eagle Vision. Lee calls the experience so far “extremely educational and interesting.”
Below, she discusses the tour, which started an amphitheater run on July 6 that’s being co-headlined by electric violinist Lindsey Stirling.
Bringing a Dream to Life
Playing with an orchestra fulfills a lifelong ambition for Lee and completes the vision she held for Evanescence when she formed it in the 1990s with Ben Moody, who departed in 2003. The conceit was to blend heavy rock, electronic sounds and orchestration, for some of her earliest influences were “Mozart on one hand, and then Soundgarden and Nirvana on the other.”
“It has shown me that so much more is possible than I realized it was,” she says of the endeavor. After 20 years of performing, “you get used to what your role is onstage. It’s such a different thing this time around, because instead of it being about running around with the wireless mic and keeping the crowd engaged, never letting there be a moment of silence, and making sure everybody’s screaming on their feet the whole time — this we wanted to be a stark contrast.”
It’s a Musical Reclamation
Lee has previously expressed her unhappiness that when Fallen was released, label Wind-Up Records insisted that a rap be added to breakthrough single “Bring Me to Life,” so she killed that part when she re-created the track on Synthesis. She also revamped Fallen’s “My Immortal.” She calls the latter song a “beautiful redemption to sing it again,” partially because she feels she’s a better performer now than when she first recorded it. “It’s this piece of this soundtrack to my life and a lot of the people’s lives that are standing out in the audience,” says Lee. “It’s cool to be able to get to that point where I don’t actually think of all the songs as mine … Instead, it’s like, ‘This is bigger than me, and I’m really grateful to be the one standing here singing it.’ ”
There’s Comfort in Being Uncomfortable
The orchestra is neither a touring company nor a local ensemble. Instead, a contractor coordinates handpicking the instrumentalists for each tour stop. Evanescence doesn’t meet them until sound check. “When we do the show, you’re hearing us all do it together for the first time, for the most part, in front of you, which is awesome!” enthuses Lee. She admits that was initially daunting because so many things could go wrong, but she looks forward to such challenges. “I don’t want to be comfortable. I always want to be able to take it to a place where it’s a little bit scary. Something might go wrong, but you’re challenging yourself potentially to do something cooler than you’ve ever done, or at least you’re doing [something] different than you’ve ever done.”
Synthesis Opened Doors to New Venues
Evanescence began the tour in theaters, and Lee appreciates how they differed from rock halls “because they were [old-fashioned with] red velvet curtains and ornate,” she explains, noting that the band usually wouldn’t be able to play them because its typical music isn’t the right fit for locations like Australia’s Sydney Opera House, where the group played Feb. 13-14. But she’s just as grateful to play in familiar settings: “I was thinking I was going to miss the theaters because that was so fitting for this music, but now we’re going to play to twice the amount of people every night and have the opportunity to do some big, beautiful production. It wouldn’t have fit into those places before, so it’s fun to be able to make a show bigger.”
Lots of Love for Lindsey
Stirling previously teamed with Evanescence for original Synthesis track “Hi-Lo,” whose official video arrived Aug.1. (Watch below.) “It’s awesome every night to be able, when I’m not playing, to step out there and watch her really shred on her instrument while doing all kinds of high kicks and stuff. I don’t know how she does it,” says Lee. “I honestly don’t know how she moves around like a humming bird, jumping all over the place and still playing in tune.” She also loves that multiple women are on this tour and gives a shout-out to conductor Susie Seiter: “She’s a new mom and also training [people] and conducting. She works all day long on two shows. She’s a superhero too.”
Lee’s Stage Wardrobe Is Hot… No, Not That Way
The singer-pianist favors goth-inspired outfits like gowns of layered material. While she prefers weather that’s “super humid [rather] than freezing cold” for the sake of her voice, she questioned her fashion choices when she returned to the road this summer. “I actually have the heaviest thing that I’ve ever worn on tour,” she confesses. “It kind of occurred to me as an afterthought as I was leaving for tour, like, ‘Hmm, maybe that should have been a winter thing.’” She describes it as a sequined 12-pound skirt that changes colors when she moves. “It looks awesome. I’m like a human disco ball.”
For a list of remaining dates, go here.