As if there was any doubt that Lee is all woman (have you seen those hauntingly light eyes – both eerie and beautiful at the same time?) with a set of lungs to match, rest assured that Evanescence hasn't gone anywhere. In fact, they're still evolving. And, at the risk of sounding unintentionally insulting, perhaps they've even devolved – in a good way, of course.
"We've become a lot more underground again," says Lee. "Even more so than back before Fallen came out. Those times were great, it was awesome. They were playing us on MTV, which was surreal. Our music doesn't really fit the mold."
While it's been quite a few years since those days, Evanescence never permanently stopped making music. Sure, they had more than their fair share of lineup changes – some ugly and emotional – and a brief hiatus, but they've been at a constant, settled place for more than half a decade now. And Lee wasn't willing to give up on the band, something so vital in her life, without a fight anyway. "I feel like that's a lot of hard decisions you have to make in a band," she says. "Evanescence is a huge relationship in my life. It's a huge, living, breathing thing in my life."
Having toured like warriors, put out a new, self-titled record in 2011 and completely balanced the band roster, Lee and Evanescence have revitalized themselves – and things are looking as positive as ever. (And contrary to their sometimes dark, foreboding sound, "positive" is the ideal word to use in describing the current state of the band.) "I feel like this is the strongest lineup we've ever had," says Lee. "We're really passionate about playing music. It's something that we badly needed an injection of. We're just all about wanting to do what you do, to have that drive."
Forging epic music has never been a challenge for Evanescence, no matter what roster was taking the stage or hitting the studio. Lee has the vocal power and creativity to belt out anthemic rock tunes like no other. "I love strings and I love great, big, heavy guitars," she says. "And when I sing over that, it lets me get all of those things out of my soul."
With a legacy that's nearly a decade old, and an epic-ness that has never truly subsided, no matter what the musical climate may have changed to around them, the band has continued making big, big songs. "Even the name of the band lends itself to that epic-ness," says Lee. "It sounds like a band that should have five instruments playing at once."
Besides being a crafter of monstrously beautiful rock tracks, Lee comes across as an individual with a lot of creative energy – not surprising, considering she has been putting her heart and soul into the band since 1995. She's just as zealous and creatively eager in her non-musical life, as well. "A lot of my dreams are more humble," says Lee, who then goes on to describe ambitions that can only be considered humble by someone of Martha Stewart or Richard Branson's manic echelon. "I want to start a family, have kids – although I don't think I'm ready quite yet. I love to cook, be with my friends, make food – so I've toyed with the idea of opening a restaurant. I've also been working on a series of paintings. I love designing clothes – people are always asking if I want to design a line for them. But I don't want to cheapen it by making it for Wal-Mart or something. I feel my best when I'm making things, when I'm being creative. I want to live up to my full potential, so I have a hard time not doing things."
Looking back at the music industry as a whole around the time when Evanescence first hit the scene – their first full-length came out on Wind-Up Records in '03 – things were just on the cusp of changing. Fortunately for the band, they were able to establish themselves as a superpower (Fallen sold 15 million records, mind you) before the digital age took firm hold and changed the dynamic of the up-and-coming artist forever. "There are some things that are good, some that are bad," says Lee of the industry changes of the past decade. "I feel extremely lucky that we came out when we did, and to score the fans – to earn the fans – that we did." | RDW
Carnival of Madness with Evanescence • 8/24, 5 p.m. • DTE Energy Music Theatre • 7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston • palacenet.com • 248.377.0100 • Pavilion $35-$59.50; Lawn $25