Amy Lee is the front woman of Evanescence, and the only original member still in the band. She has always been the main force behind their music, with all the creativity and clear vision needed to craft musical masterpieces. Evanescence’s last album, simply titled Evanescence, came out in October 2011. It had been a long time since their 2nd album came out, 5 years before, but the fans had been patiently waiting and eagerly snatched up the new music. Their third album Evanescence was true to form, though perhaps more consistent in sound than their earlier records. There wasn’t a dull moment among the 16 tracks, and fans were happy to have their favorite band back.
For a while it had been uncertain whether Evanescence even would make a third record. After The Open Door came out in 2006, band members left, Amy Lee got married, and the band seemed to drift apart into separate spheres. Amy Lee talked about doing a solo album in 2008, but nothing came of that. Instead, the band finally reunited around 2010 and began working on what would become their self-titled album.
However, nearly three years after Evanescence came out, Amy Lee finally decided to go solo – for real this time. Amy Lee released her first solo album, Aftermath, on August 25, 2014. This is how it came together:
2008: Amy Lee’s First Solo Attempt
A couple of years after Evanescence released their 2nd album, The Open Door, Amy Lee started talking about going in a different musical direction – alone. In October 2008, she spoke with Spin about her new “folky and Celtic” music:
I need to show that I’m more than a one trick pony. I’m writing here at the house by myself and it’s been really good. But I’d really like to do something different next. [The new songs] are definitely different. I feel like I’m going back to my really old roots. They have more of my folky and Celtic influence than ever before. And it’s not all sad — it’s nothing I would categorize as Evanescence.
That certainly sounded like a new sound for her. Whereas Evanescence had a very distinct Gothic rock sound, mixed in with Classical motifs and choirs, Amy’s solo work seemed to take an opposite influence. Fans were intrigued, and months passed as the curious excitement grew. Unfortunately, Amy’s folky solo album was not to be.
In March 2010, Amy spoke with Spin again, this time about the new Evanescence album that was coming together. When asked about the Celtic inspired solo music she’d previously discussed, she affirmed that it would not be included on the Evanescence record. She said:
I was in a very different creative space then, before hooking up with Will “Science.” I wrote a couple of songs that are good, but in a totally different direction. Nothing from that period is making it to the new record.
She also talked about how she’d tried out film scoring for movies, as that was “where [her] head was at” during Evanescence’s break. But by 2010, she was writing electro-pop music for the new Evanescence album – though the record ending up sounding more like their goth-rock than electro-pop once it came out in late 2011.
The Self-Titled Record and Another Break From Evanescence
Evanescence was released in October 2011, and basically continued in their unique blend of metal and classical elements. After a few singles and an extensive tour, the album cycle eventually closed in late 2012 after the tour ended in England.
In September 2012, Amy talked to NME about writing new songs for a 4th album, taking another hiatus from Evanescence, and how long breaks between albums aren’t so bad after all:
I’m always playing the piano and harp because I like to, but I haven’t been purposeful in my playing. I haven’t been sitting down to write. I’m thinking we’ll take a break first. I’m really not sure what I’ll do next. At the end of any really long tour you need to get your head in order. I think at the end of the run we’ll go on a break for a while and figure things out.
Taking long breaks is seen as a bad thing, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. People have the idea that you have to keep putting stuff out while people remember you. But I’d rather make something that’s awesome and then make people remember again. I hope it doesn’t take five years, but I don’t want to put a timeline on it either.
Speaking about her and her bandmates, Amy said, “We’ll all be doing our own thing for a while. They’re very talented and they’ll all be fine.”
After that, Evanescence kept quiet for a little while as they did their own things.
“Find A Way,” War Story, & Dave Eggar
On November 7, 2013, Amy Lee performed a full set at the Wellspring House Benefit Show. It’s a striking song, and has an exotic flair that is complemented by cello. Check it out below:
Amy later spoke with MTV News about the song:
I originally wrote that for another film, and I love it. It’s a really cool song, it’s epic. The acoustic version we recorded isn’t the full idea, but I think it’s beautiful, and I was excited to show it to my friends at the Wellspring concert, which had a real living-room environment, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the YouTube response too.
She also talked about the benefit show overall:
After doing that benefit concert with Paula Cole for Wellspring House, it really inspired me. We did a whole show, really outside my comfort zone, like six covers, and they were all different for me. But in my heart, it reminded me of playing in my living room with my dad, growing up. Doing Beatles songs and Carole King and Neil Young. It was really freeing and fun.
At the time she wasn’t sure when fans would be able to hear a full recorded version “Find A Way.” Rather, she was focused on another project involving film scoring and a certain cellist named Dave Eggar…
On December 1, 2013, Amy took to Twitter to announce a new movie project she worked on:
I'm very excited to tell you that @daveeggar and I scored an independent film coming out in January! Its called War Story by Mark Jackson
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) December 2, 2013
Amy composed the music for the independent film along with Dave Eggar. You can hear Amy’s new song “Lockdown” in the War Story trailer below:
Amy told MTV News about working with Dave Eggar for the War Story music. They tried to create an atmospheric sound, concentrating on “walls of sounds … blaring cellos and trombones and synthesizers … a lot of ominous tones.” War Story includes an electronic song she composed called “Push The Button,” along with the aforementioned “Lockdown.” Note that “Find A Way” is not for War Story, but rather another film.
She often shared bits about making the new music via social media:
January 19, 2014: “Me forcing the mystery man, War Story director Mark Jackson, to take a picture with me! Haha gotcha ;)”
Whew! Long day in my little studio! 🙂 Workin on one more song for the movie. It feels good!!
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) January 30, 2014
In March, Amy Lee performed with Dave Eggar at Bluegrass Underground. You can see a video of the full set below; it includes new compositions that may appear in new films such as War Story.
Surprise! Amy + Hubby + Baby Makes Three
In May 2007, Amy married her longtime beau Josh Hartzler. They have been a happy couple since, and on January 18, 2014, Amy announced some very big news: Their little family was about to grow!
Ok I can't keep it a secret anymore-I've been working on a very special new project for 2014-A BABY! Josh and I are expecting! I'm so happy!
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) January 18, 2014
She did not divulge the gender of the baby or when the baby was due, but it was clear that she would likely give birth that summer.
Their son Jack Lion Hartzler ended up being born in July 2014.
Amy & Evanescence Free From Record Deal
On March 18, 2014, Amy was very excited to announce that her record deal with Wind-up Records had finally ended after 13 years together. They are now independent artists!
After fans expressed concern, Amy assured that it was freedom from the label, not the band. She is free to make music with Evanescence or solo.
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) March 19, 2014
.@gayllaghers "free from your record deal or free from evanescence?" Free from my record deal. I'm free to do anything, Ev included
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) March 19, 2014
In January she confirmed that she and the Evanescence guys are all doing different things now, with her focusing on her own music, indie films, and her family.
Hints of New Music – And a Solo Album
Over the first few months of 2014, Amy had been subtly hinting at new music, and not just for the movies.
On March 8th, she shared the following picture on Instagram:
In July, Amy enthused about her studio groove on Twitter:
I swear every time I get into a really good groove in my studio it starts pouring. I love it
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) July 2, 2014
Finally, on July 15th, Amy teased that new music is coming “real soon” –
New music coming out real soon. That's all I'll say for now, keep your eyes open 😉
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) July 16, 2014
Announcing Amy’s First Solo Album: Aftermath
On August 5, 2014, Amy took to Twitter that an official announcement was coming soon – the very next day!
New music announcement tomorrow!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) August 5, 2014
She kept her promise. On August 6th, Amy confirmed that she had a new album coming out: Aftermath would be out in just a few weeks, on August 25th! The record would include 10 songs from the film she worked on called War Story.
I am so excited to finally share this! Available 8/25. Preorder now. http://t.co/0T52v50ke2
— Amy Lee (@AmyLeeEV) August 6, 2014
That’s not all! She also released a short instrumental preview of Aftermath – listen below:
Here is the album’s full track listing:
- Push The Button
- White Out (featuring Dave Eggar)
- Remember To Breathe (featuring Dave Eggar)
- Dark Water (featuring Dave Eggar)
- Between Worlds (featuring Dave Eggar)
- Drifter (featuring Dave Eggar)
- Can’t Stop What’s Coming (featuring Dave Eggar)
- Voice In My Head (featuring Dave Eggar)
- Lockdown (featuring Dave Eggar)
- After (featuring Dave Eggar)
Fans had previously heard “Lockdown” – it was featured in the trailer for War Story.
A noticeable omission was the song “Find A Way,” which Amy Lee debuted live in November 2013. That song had a great reaction from fans, and it is unfortunate it’s not included on the album; hopefully it will be released officially in the future.
Exclusive Interview: All About Aftermath and the Future of Evanescence
In July 2014, Amy sat down with Rolling Stone to talk about the inspiration behind Aftermath and how much she enjoys being an independent artist – and when fans can hear Evanescence next. Part one of her interview was published on August 11th:
You spent nearly a year working on War Story. How was the experience different from making an Evanescence record?
This process was unique even for the film industry because it was super indie. [Dave and I] had a relationship with the director Mark [Jackson], and he’d come over and listen to stuff and tell us if we were on the right track, and we’d jam and we’d feed off of each other’s work. It was a really cool starting-off point; it’s different than going “How do I want to express myself on my new album?” He’d provide this framework, a map, of “OK, I want you to make the listener feel these certain ranges of emotion, make the character feel broken or feel isolated.” You have these starting off points, and it’s cool because it forces you to write differently. I felt like I was exercising a different part of my brain.
How would you describe the film?
For me it’s very dark. We’re calling the album Aftermath in part because film itself is about the aftermath, it’s not about the war. It’s called War Story, but you never see any war. It’s about the aftermath of her dealing with the tragedy that she’s witnessed. And then the album is us playing with the aftermath of doing all that music. Probably half of the music isn’t in the film, we’re just working in this big, black open playing field. And I hope you can listen to it and feel that.
What was it about this project that appealed to you?
I’ve always wanted to do a score, it’s just hard to find the right opportunity when I have this baggage of already having this known persona. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining and I don’t view it as anything but positive, but when anybody wants to use me, they just think of me as either a rock singer or a goth singer, but I do a lot more than sing! It’s hard to go “I want less, I don’t want to be the center of attention, let me show you what I can do as a programmer and producer and arranger. ” You know, rather than me coming in and singing the title track. So it was hard to find the right gig, but this has been it.
Do you feel that you are defined by your past?
Personally? Not at all. I don’t feel like I’m two separate people. I never felt like I was playing a role, you just change. It’s funny, people still talk about “My Immortal,” and it’s wonderful, it’s so cool, but I was like 14 or 15 when that was happening. When I wrote “Bring Me to Life” I was 19 [laughs]. Imagine the things that you thought and the way that you spoke and things that you did when you were 19 years old. Even the way that you process relationships and everything, it grows from there. I’m a lot more mature and complex and I have a lot more to say.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there’s stuff on Fallen or the one we did before that, Origin, that makes me cringe. It’s embarrassing. Mainly the lyrical content, oh my God, it’s like my old diary. But I can embrace that innocence because I’ll never have that again, it’s special.
Earlier this year, you settled your lawsuit with Wind-Up Records. What can you tell us about the factors that led to legal action?
I can’t say anything negative; I had to sign a non-disclosure, so that’s the only way in any sense that I’m still bound. There’s always frustrations when you’re not in complete control of your project. Everything’s a collaboration, like, really it is, even this project, we had someone to please, something we needed to work towards, somebody who needed to like it before it worked. But, what’s been different about this project is how it was such a creative process…the director was a creative person, he wanted us to be as weird and creative as possible, let us do things our own way and respected and appreciated that. Instead of having a set plan that a million people have done before and try to force us down that path.
What were the ramifications of the settlement?
Everything’s still the same for me; it’s not like I no longer get paid any money when someone buys Fallen, but they sold it to somebody else. My back catalog is owned by this company Bicycle-Concord, and they’re great, so there’s nothing different there. But my future is mine, so anything I do from here forward is up to me, and it’s awesome.
Amy also spoke about her band Evanescence:
So what does all of this mean for Evanescence?
The situation is we’re not doing it now. I don’t like to make predictions about the future, because I’m honestly open-minded, and I would never want to say I’m done with any of it, because it’s a huge part of me. I’ve loved my time with Evanescence, I wouldn’t want to just throw it away, but, for the foreseeable future, I don’t have any plans to do anything with the band. It’s really important to me to take some time to show some different sides of myself.
I’ve said this all the way through Evanescence, especially on the second and third record: “I have the freedom to express myself completely within the band, so why would I want to do anything else?” And that’s true only to an extent, because as much as I could go through a range of emotions, there’s a certain expectation there. With the fans, with myself, I know what Evanescence is; it’s an entity, it’s bigger than just myself, which is awesome, but I can write a song and go “That is or isn’t an Evanescence song,” and they both happen. So there does need to be other outlets for me to make music.
Amy ended the interview by talking about her own future making music and her excitement about releasing Aftermath:
I’m an artist, I’m never going to stop being me and I don’t think I could ever stop making music. You don’t change that much; I’m still going to be me and life is just going to be enriched and fuller and busier. But I do think that the days of living on the road and an album cycle be this giant daunting thing of working in the studio for six months then going on the road for a year or two, they’re behind me. And it’s not just being a mother, I just don’t want to live on the road. I have the ability to just make something and put it out and it doesn’t have to be 12 songs. It doesn’t have to be a complete album, like the old-fashioned model. It’s cool to think about things in a new way. I just wrote a really cool thing, so how can I just give it to the fans right now? It doesn’t have to be a huge, daunting thing.
It seems like you’re willing to sacrifice commercial gain for happiness.
Oh, I have been for a long time. I guess like I’m not like everyone else. Even the music that I gravitate towards…I’m not listening to the most popular thing. I guess that’s always been me. I put a lot of value in great work, great music, things that really touch me. So much more than success or fame on a monetary level. Always have.
To that end, what do you hope to accomplish with Aftermath?
Honestly, it’s going to sound weird, but I’m just looking forward to sharing it with the world. It’s that simple. I don’t have huge expectations, because it’s an unusual project. Anytime I release something new, it feels really good, and I know I have supporters out there that will like something about it. I’m excited about “Lockdown.” I’m excited to hear what the fans think about that, and I’m excited about “Push the Button,” and I’m excited about all the score music, for my fans, and to show people something that they’ve never heard before.
That same day, on August 11, 2014, Amy released a second teaser from her upcoming album:
Amy shared this message along with the new clip:
More From the Rolling Stone Interview
A few days later, on August 14, 2014, part 2 of the Rolling Stone interview came out. It found Amy going more in depth about the new songs on her upcoming record – including “Lockdown,” an Arabic tune, and the only song not on the new album, “Find A Way.” She also spoke about whether she will go on tour in support of Aftermath:
The music on Aftermath is a definite departure from Evanescence. Was that intentional, or just the result of working on a film like War Story?
I wanted it to be completely different. I didn’t want it to be like Evanescence just because I’ve flexed that muscle so much, I wanted people to see different sides of me. I’ve written music all along the way that’s just been mine that nobody hears but my friends, and I still want to do something with that at some point. But it’s one of my first chances to show another side and this definitely plays with a lot of the same emotions I played with in Evanescence, but instrumentally. It’s not trying to be mainstream; I feel like I’ve always made a point to make sure that Evanescence was true to my spirit and my heart and I wasn’t just trying to make hits. But at the same time we were on a label, there needed to be a single, radio play, all those sort of things. It was cool to be free from all those things and make a piece of art, because the songs that are on this, I’d call three of them like song songs, most of them are scores. It’s a lot more like music I listen to now. One’s like an Arabic, weird thing, one’s a sexy dance song and the other is – I don’t even know what it is, it’s electronic.
Wait, there’s a song in Arabic on the album?
I don’t sing in Arabic. They were like “We need a song with a little bit of a world-music type thing,” but ultimately, it didn’t get used in the film. It’s me and Dave Eggar and the other collaborator, his name’s Chuck Palmer he did a lot of the percussion, engineering and producing a lot of the stuff. Anyway, he made this drum loop beneath this whole thing and we had a guy play an instrument called an oud, kind of like an old-fashioned lute or mandolin or something. And Dave, he was the leader of the whole thing, he’s like “OK, we’ve got this world singer Malika Zarra, she’s really cool and I’m going to go in the other room and you just get something cool out of her.”
So I’m with this girl who has no idea who I am, and I’m like “I wrote some lyrics in English, and I know you speak Arabic, can you use these as a basis, just go in there and change the order, scat for as long as you can, just sing.” So she goes in there, she’s got a beautiful voice and she sang for like 20 minutes. We did it two times and I coached her on a few parts, to get more material, and then I took it home and let it live in my studio. I never saw her again, but as I just listened to her voice, I heard these really amazing moments, so I’d clip them out and move it down to the track. It was like cherry picking. It probably makes zero sense, it might as well be Sigur Rós. But to work with an artist in a capacity like that was really, really amazing.
Did you take inspiration from any producers you had worked with previously?
Just myself. I’m so used to mixing my own vocals and producing and picking the takes, so it was very natural. It was fun, it was just such a weird process to create this melody out of a bunch of pieces of her voice and build a song around it. The whole experience was just thinking outside the box and that’s why I love working with Dave, because he’s always like “I know a guy who plays…” and he’ll just name some instrument I’ve never heard of.
So when you were creating something like this, did you think about the past at all?
It comes to mind in a positive way, like when I was writing “Lockdown.” At the end I was like “You know what this needs? Drums and guitars.” So I thought of my past in the creative stages, because I was solely focused on pleasing myself and doing the right thing for the film. That’s always got to be the root. My mantra is “If I make something that I love, other people will love it.” I can’t think about what everybody wants because there’s always going to be people that criticize whatever you do. And you just have to be OK with that because if you’re trying to please everybody you’ll end up pleasing somebody, but if you don’t please yourself then you’ll be mad about it later. I’m proud to say I can listen to all the music I’ve made from the beginning and enjoy it. I always enjoyed it.
Do you have any plans to play these new songs live?
I haven’t thought about it. I totally would and I probably will. There’s a lot of little songs that I’ve done for different reasons and played live, like “Find a Way,” that was really fun to do. I can do things from my entire career, from all along the way, because it’s all part of me. I’ve played to my own fans a lot; I really enjoy the opportunity to win people over for the first time. It’s the coolest thing in the world.
To that end, do you care what people think of your music?
Do I care? Well, it’s always nice when they like it. But I never make music to that end. I think that our industry’s flooded with that, and it always leads to something that comes off as less-than-genuine. The one thing I always want to be is real, and so if I make something that I love, I know there are people like me who will love it too.
On August 22nd, just days before Aftermath was set to be released, Amy shared a third and final preview from the album. It was of the song called “Lockdown,” which also appeared in the War Story trailer, released earlier that year.
On August 25, 2014, Amy Lee released Aftermath. It was her first solo album, and her first as a newly independent artist. It was largely written for and inspired by the independent film War Story, which also came out that summer. It featured 10 tracks, with only 4 containing vocals; the rest were instrumental pieces. You can hear the full album below, and can buy it on iTunes. You can also read our full review of the album here.