Amy Lee finds songwriting therapeutic. Whatever emotions the alluring lead singer and pianist of Evanescence is feeling in real life, she transfers out of her system and onto paper. For Lee, it’s her way of coping with the stress created by life’s everyday disappointments and distractions.
Lee’s words are eventually turned into dramatic songs that carry her siren-esque voice over an ethereal hard rock and classical backdrop.
When fans find the same music and lyrics comforting, it brings out an entirely new emotion for Lee.
“When fans come to us and say they connected to our music, that it helped them through a hard time, that’s the ultimate compliment,” Lee said last month on the phone from Australia, where she was wrapping up a tour of the island continent.
Evanescence, which will headline a concert featuring openers Chevelle and Finger Eleven at the Pan American center Monday, has won two Grammys, but Lee said she finds more personal satisfaction in the reaction of fans to that of award committees.
“We’ve performed all over the world, sometimes our fans can’t understand what we’re saying, but they’re moved to tears,” she said, “and that’s a very gratifying experience.”
Evanescence’s second full-length album, “The Open Door,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 when it was released on Oct. 21. The first single, “Call Me When You’re Sober,” reached No. 4 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart and No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Lithium” has also charted, although not as high.
The group went through a turbulent couple of years â€” dealing with breakups, both professional and personal, and a band member’s stroke â€” after it won a 2003 Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Hard Rock Performance for the group’s breakthrough hit, “Bring Me to Life” on 2003’s “Fallen.”
In October 2003, lead guitarist/co-songwriter Ben Moody abruptly left the band, citing creative differences. Lee and Moody formed Evanescence after Moody heard Lee playing Meatloaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” on the piano at a youth camp in Lee’s hometown of Little Rock, Ark. Moody was replaced by Terry Balsamo from Cold.
Balsamo and Lee clicked right away and co-wrote 11 of the 13 songs on “The Open Door.” Then, in October 2005, Balsamo suffered a stroke.
“He was only 33, it came out of nowhere,” Lee said. “It left him paralyzed, which is obviously really scary for someone who’s a guitar player.”
Balsamo entered rehabilitation and now performs with the group, a feat Lee said is “nothing short of a miracle.”
Shortly after Balsamo’s stroke, the band fired longtime manager Dennis Rider. Rider sued Lee for more than $10 million in damages, claiming breach of contract. Lee countersued, alleging “breach of fiduciary duty,” sexual assault and battery, professional negligence and currency conversion, among other claims. Neither suit has been settled.
In January of 2006, Lee confirmed she had split with longtime beau, Seether frontman Shaun Morgan. Lee recently told VHI that they separated because of Morgan’s fight with substance abuse and alcohol and the song “Call Me When You’re Sober” was written mainly about him. (Morgan was released from rehab in August 2006 and is reportedly engaged. Lee announced in January that she is engaged to her boyfriend, Josh, whose last name was not made public.)
Lee said a lot of material featured on “The Open Door” was pulled from the distractions she has lived with since “Fallen” was released.
“It feel goods to be on tour again,” she said. “Right now, I’m really happy.”
So, will an emotional high represent a change in sound for the often forbidding Evanescence? “No, thank you,” Lee responded when asked if a happy, upbeat song is in the works. “I love the sound of our music. I just don’t think I could write a happy record.”