Harpist Lee still rocks
Amy Lee is driven by the need to share her love of music, , writes USA Today’s Brian Truitt
AMY Lee is a harp nerd. Or at least one in training. ‘‘I’m a nerd in that I own and play the harp,’’ the Evanescence frontwoman says, laughing. ‘‘I think that’s enough.’’ Adding to her instrumental repertoire is only one of many musical changes on the goth-tinged alt-rock band’s new selftitled album.
Lee, Evanescence’s sole remaining original member from the band’s 2003 breakthrough debut, Fallen, has added more edge, synthesisers and programming to the mix, making ‘‘an even heavier version of Evanescence’’.
The singer had to learn ‘‘really hard’’ piano parts for the just-launched tour.
‘‘I always want to do something that’s bigger and better and more interesting than before,’’ Lee says. ‘‘It’s like playing a harder level of a video game.’’
Released when Lee was just 22, sold 17 million copies worldwide, buoyed by hit single Bring Me to Life and won two Grammy Awards, including best new artist.
But 2006’s follow-up album, The Open Door, sold only 6 million.
All the while, Lee weathered a bandmate merry-go-round, the key loss being the resignation of fellow founder Ben Moody.
The current line-up features ex-cold guitarist Terry Balsamo, rhythm guitarist Troy Mclawhorn, bassist Tim Mccord and drummer Will Hunt.
Lee acknowledges struggling with the attention from media and fans.
‘‘Sometimes it feels like you just can’t ever be alone. And other times, it feels like you can only be alone in a weird way,’’ she says.
With her 30th birthday approaching next month, Lee looks back now with a sense of humour.
‘‘I did a little bit of growing up in front of everybody,’’ Lee says.
‘‘I needed to be an adult without being on stage – I needed to do this because I had music that I was so in love with that I couldn’t stand not to share with the whole world.’’
Lee began working on new songs after Open Door, first just for fun and later deciding to turn them into a proper record. The song Swimming Home came out of that tinkering with ambience and different sounds and feelings, she says, while Made of Stone was a fully electronic song that Lee turned into a ‘‘big, rocking Evanescence song’’.
Her personal life was changing in that time, too. Lee married Josh Hartzler, a New York therapist and ‘‘awesome dude’’, in 2007, and she also started taking harp lessons on a lark.
She liked it so much, she began using the instrument in her songwriting and played it on the new record.
Lee studied music theory and composition at Middle Tennessee State University before leaving for Evanescence, but she’s maintained a love for learning, which crosses over into passions including painting, cooking and being a harp master. OK, well maybe not a master. ‘‘My instructor is incredible. I’m like a level 2 – she’s like a level 10,’’ Lee says.
‘‘When I’m writing music, I like to sit at the piano and put my fingers on the keys and not think.
‘‘Even though it’s difficult to execute perfectly, there’s still some cool freedom in just rocking the harp without a lot of thought going into it.’’
Evanescence play Soundwave festival at the RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane, on February 25.
Amy Lee and Evanescence