“I’ve been really thinking about feeling,” Amy Lee explains. At her home after visiting a park “just so I could look at different trees” (“I’m so tired of being home,” she laughs), the Evanescence frontwoman is in high spirits. With the band’s first album of new material in a decade about to be released, the enthusiasm surrounding them is almost tangible. “Every time we’re about to do a [single] release, just a few weeks before it’s like, ‘okay, what’s the feeling? What is it that we can share with people on a deep level?'”
A sense of connection is something it’s been all too easy to feel like we lack of late. Unable to get out and play shows, unable to meet up and record together in the same room, the group quickly found that the best way they could communicate and connect was the same way it always had been: through making music. “Through the last year, the music has become, again, this thing that I needed and relied on,” Amy portrays. “It kept me going and kept me sane and gave me a place to run to when I just wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.”
Driven by the innate need to give shape, sound, and voice to their emotions, no matter how many obstacles stood in their way, with their latest record Evanescence accept no compromises. “We just decided we weren’t going to let anything stop us,” Amy states. “That became this mantra – this idea that no matter what, I don’t care what happens, we are not waiting another day.”
Delicate chimes. An intricate soundscape. Soaring vocals and a rippling drum beat. These are the sounds that introduce ‘The Bitter Truth’. It’s a steadfast swell of emotion that builds until it erupts, guiding the listener into album standout ‘Broken Pieces Shine’. “I think something that I’ve learned over time with our fans is that our music represents a free place to allow yourself to fall apart,” Amy conveys. “[‘Broken Pieces Shine’] is a celebration of that. It’s about allowing all the parts of yourself to shine, and remembering and embracing the parts of your life that have been hard so that we can truly appreciate the beauty and not lose the things that we’ve learned.”
After spending two years breathing fresh life into the orchestral elements of their sound with their ‘Synthesis’ album and tour, with ‘The Bitter Truth’, the group stripped everything back to be who they are at their core: a rock band. “It’s not about strings and lusciousness and drama,” Amy distils. “It’s about being real. It’s about heart.” Finding their voice and determined to be heard, this is Evanescence at their strongest yet.
“I was listening to a song that we had written, listening to my own words, and in that moment I felt this heaviness in my heart of conviction,” Amy recalls. “I looked up and I said to my producer, ‘is it… wrong? Am I wasting this? Should I be saying more? Am I doing something wrong by staying quiet?'” She pauses for a moment, thinking over the weight of her own questions and the gravity of their answer. “He looked at me and said, ‘well, you do have millions of people that will hear what you have to say…'”
The song to provoke this re-evaluation was ‘Use My Voice’. Released as a single last year, Amy was first inspired to put pen to paper and words to music for the track after reading the impact statement given by assault survivor Chanel Miller. “I just knew that I can’t say these words in a song and not do it in real life. I have to make it somehow more,” Amy expresses. Born out of anguish and desperation, and driven by determination and strength, this is Evanescence as they needed to be heard. “We were enraged – and feeling powerless, feeling like there’s nothing we can do,” Amy recalls. “We needed to use our microphone to encourage and empower and inspire people that their voice does matter.”
Determined to make a difference and work towards positive change however they could, Evanescence set about doing exactly that. When they released ‘Use My Voice’, the band partnered with Headcount on their campaign encouraging and empowering people to vote in last years US election. “To me, the biggest crime was trying to suppress the vote,” Amy states.
“To make people feel like their voice didn’t count when it was already so hard?” she questions. “To try to keep the people down?! How dare you.”
“For us to be able to use our music simply to help people, to guide people to get out there and vote, it felt like we could do something, you know?” she continues. “It felt like we could be a part of positive change. That meant something to me that a song has never meant to me with Evanescence before.” Breaking new ground decades into their career, Evanescence have never sounded this alive.
Disillusioned and more determined than ever, this is the energy that drove Evanescence to create ‘The Bitter Truth’. “For me, the biggest bitter truth is that life is short,” Amy conveys. “We’re mortal. We don’t have forever.” On paper, these words might sound hopeless, but for Amy Lee, these words are what drive her. “Go for it,” she encourages. “If there’s something you want, if there’s someone you want to be, if there’s something that you are, don’t wait a minute. Do it now. Don’t wait for the pandemic to maybe be over. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just do it. Go. Because we don’t know if we have tomorrow.”
At its core, that’s what this record is about. Inspired by loss, by feeling lost, and the inescapable need to want to have, to want to feel, to want to be better, ‘The Bitter Truth’ is a record seeped in hope. “I hope it’s empowering,” Amy expresses. “I hope people feel that fire lit in them – that no matter what happens, no matter how low and dark it gets, that life is worth living. It’s worth the fight. And it does take a fight sometimes. We have to face that and admit that truth, but it is worth it: the beauty in life, what there is to experience and the love that there is to have… It is worth sticking around and climbing back out for.”
“That’s a much greater purpose than playing music in a band,” she conveys, “to be a light for somebody in a dark place – like music is for me.” Enraged and empowered, with ‘The Bitter Truth’, Evanescence reach new heights, striving to be the change they want to see. “It’s just music,” Amy describes. “That’s all it has to be. We’re not saving the world.” What Evanescence are doing is pouring their heart into the music they make, so that when those songs are heard, when their words resonate, for that person listening they might just have made something that matters. “Those experiences that fans have shared with us about their personal experience through the music have become a big part of my life and my story too,” she explains. “It makes it better when it’s not just about me. It makes it something more.”
Taken from the May issue of Upset. Evanescence’s album ‘The Bitter Truth’ is out now.