Just like one of the gang, Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee emerges from a hotel suite, strides up to a pristinely arranged table of cold cuts and crackers, and declares herself famished.
Garbed in a pixie-like outfit, which sees her sporting a sleeveless heather-grey tee, over a black, pink frilly edge skirt and slightly worn Cons, the 24-year-old California native then joins her handlers in trying to figure out who’d be wearing what to last night’s MuchMusic Video Awards.
Moments later, now fully energized, the fresh-faced singer/ songwriter tucks herself comfortably into a plush couch in her Yorkville hotel, eager to talk about her band’s latest disc, “The Open Door,” due in stores October 3.
“It’s just killing me,” she says with a mock laugh. “I wish we could put it out right now.”
“I mean, who knows what’s going to happen by October? We may all be worshipping polka people by then.”
Three years after their major label debut, the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning “Fallen,” Lee says the new record lets her finally stretch herself in ways even she didn’t think possible.
“The Open Door,” the band’s first album since the departure of lead guitarist and main songwriter Ben Moody in 2003, finds Evanescence rocking out way more, she says.
“I think if people expect this album is going to be softer and more feminine and more wimpy, they’re going to be surprised,” she begins carefully. “It’s not an album full of “My Immortal”-like songs. Every song is completely different and I feel like at times it definitely goes heavier than we had the capacity to do before. But in a way that’s still new and fun and unique and not trying to be like anything else that’s out there.”
Sidestepping Moody’s abrupt departure for a moment, Lee admits that her work on the disc, which was recorded in Los Angeles earlier this year, helped her discover how to be a better artist.
“This time around I was in control completely and didn’t have any real limits,” she says. “I felt like I could do things that I didn’t know I could do before and that’s an incredible feeling. And I realized I could do a lot more things than I thought I could, as a singer, as a music writer, even as an engineer.”
“It was nice to be able to write something and not have it shot down,” she says, taking a mild swipe at Moody, who met Lee at a youth camp while they were teens, before forming the band in Arkansas in the late ’90s.
It was also nice to collaborate with a different musician, she says, enthusing about Moody’s replacement, former Cold guitarist Terry Balsamo.
“I’ve never really written with someone before. I don’t know if Ben and I ever wrote a song together. It was always, I would write and he would write and then we would bring our ideas together.”
“But the writing process with Terry was really, really great and different. We would just sit in a room and make demos. We’d work together and talk to each other and encourage one another. This whole writing together thing is good for me. I needed Terry to make it happen the way it did. I trust him and we trust each other to just try whatever.”
Besides, since she started writing the album more than a year ago until now, Lee says she’s been deaf to the cat calls of people who say she can’t make it without Ben.
“Those I hate the most,” she moans. “But I don’t bother with any of it. It’s not even worth it. All I have to say is, people who don’t think I can do it – I can do it.”
Again teamed with “Fallen” producer Dave Fortman (Mudvayne), the record – which features 13 tracks including the propulsive “Weight Of The World,” the full-bodied, “Lithium,” the haunting “Good Enough” and the gut-spilling first single, “Call Me When You’re Sober” – is everything Lee had ever wanted to try both as a singer and songwriter.
“On this record, I tried things that I couldn’t do before because I’m better now as a musician. And anything that I had wanted to try, but before was afraid to do, I tried that too. Because of that, I feel this album steps out. It’s grown up.”
Curling herself into the couch, streams of the late afternoon sun streaking its way across the room, she says that what’s going to surprise people most about the new record is that the reincarnated Evanescence can do it all.
“You can’t make a record thinking about sales or things like that,” she says softly. “It’s got to be natural. It’s got to be that you’re writing because you want to make music, not because you want to sell records. So, I just thought to myself, ‘I’m going to write songs. I’m just going to write something that I can love. Period.’”
“The Open Door” will be in stores October 3.