Harpist Lee still rocks

Amy Lee is driven by the need to share her love of mu­sic, , writes USA To­day’s Brian Truitt

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE ’N’ LOUD -

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.

Fallen

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

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