Amy Lee talks about touring, working with Korn, how the internet is changing the music industry, and much more.
Q. As someone who not only has vocal and piano credit on their album but writes songs too, how do you feel about vehicles like “American Idol” re-inventing the face of popular music?
A. I think so much is changing in the music industry right now for the worse. It’s hard to see far enough into the future that it’s all going to be for good. It’s not just the whole “American Idol” thing, it’s the whole Internet thing. The way things have changed, the mentality of kids today has become about singles and songs as opposed to albums and artists. It’s harder than it’s ever been for artists because you don’t have as many of those die-hard fans who are all about the band and listen to the whole album and know all the b-sides. Most people hear the one song they like on the radio, go to iTunes and download it.
Q. I suppose the whole concept of the b-side has been destroyed.
A. Yeah. You’ve got to put it in a movie or something.
I guess it’s not really about “American Idol” specifically but the whole mentality behind it — “We can make a star.” The fact that everything is so fabricated and ingenuine (sic) just leads kids to believe that nothing is real so why would they buy a whole album anyway?
Q. Rock music, especially harder rock, is still pretty much a boys’ game. How do you break through that kind of glass ceiling?
A. You could look at it like it makes it harder. There have been times where I’ve been angry and I definitely feel that I have to fight for my rights as a woman. But, for the most part, I’ve always seen it as a bonus for us. It makes us different and it gives me an edge because I don’t have to scream or be as hardcore as everyone else. I can actually use my femininity in my art. It makes it more unusual and less common in the rock world. I think that’s a positive thing. I’ve always thought it was pretty cool.
Q. Do you think that it puts pressure on you to be a role model?
A. There’s always pressure. When you’re famous, people are watching you and you need to try and be a good person or you’ll get in trouble for it later. But you know, I’m the oldest of two teenage sisters and a teenage brother. I’ve always been the big sister to them. I sort of fall into the role of big sister naturally, so I just feel like I’ve got a whole lot more little brothers and sisters out there.
Q. How do you take a classical composition, like the Lacrymosa from Mozart’s requiem, and make it relevant as a rock song?
A. I don’t know. I hope we have. (laughs) I was very inspired by Mozart’s Requiem, the whole thing, but especially that one movement. I love it. I’m totally obsessed with it. When I was in college choir, we sang the Requiem and that part just spoke to me. I bought the CD and I listened to it all the time.
I remember thinking. “Wouldn’t it be cool if someone took the song and put drums and loops and programming and weirdness on it?”
I don’t know if we succeeded in making it even cooler … but it’s different and it’s cool to pay homage to somebody who’s inspired me so much.
Isn’t that the movement that Mozart died writing?
Yeah … which is also pretty cool. (mocking tone) It was so good, it drove him crazy!
Q. What’s cool about being Amy Lee?
A. Hmm … I don’t know. There’s plenty of good things. I don’t know how much of it is about the Evanescence deal. It’s hard to know what’s that and what’s just normal because it all sort of happened together as I’ve gotten older.
What’s cool about being me? I can get dinner reservations last minute.
(mocks herself again)
I’m like, “Hey, got any room in there? No? How about for the chick from Evanescence?”
Q. I guess that raises a good point … do you get much name recognition or are you more apt to be recognized as that chick from Evanescence?
A. I’m so not into the celebrity thing. I rarely ever want to name drop. I think it’s the worst, most cheesy, horrible thing. It makes me so embarrassed. If nothing else, after I leave Evanescence world and I’m done with a show and I go home, I don’t want to be that anymore. I really just want to be normal and blend in.
I guess once in a while it pays off because you can get into Nobu or something.
Q. What would fans be surprised to know about you?
A. Everyone asks me that. I think I’ve given away all my surprises. I think our good fans know that I’m a total nerd and I roller-skate and …
Q. Wait, what? You roller-skate?
A. I’m wearing skates right now.
Q. Like the big, chunky four-wheel kind or in-line?
A. Four wheel. Totally. I’ve had these for years now. We decorated them and everything. We were playing all these arenas and you can’t get out during the day. When you’re not working, you’re just sitting there. So we got these roller skates so we can skate around in the arena before all the people show up.
Q. You’ve been everywhere and worked with everyone. What other musical endeavor are you most proud of?
A. I really haven’t done much else. I’ve been working on Evanescence since I was 14. I’m definitely proud of the Korn thing that just went down. (Amy Lee provided harmony on “Freak on a Leash” for Korn’s new acoustic album, “Korn: MTV Unplugged Live”)
Q. That (Korn album) was great. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. But that track really came through.
A. I wasn’t, either. I was really nervous. I’m so used to controlling every situation. I’m always obsessing and creating. I feel like if I don’t do everything then it’s not going to happen. So, I was nervous, practicing piano and trying to figure out what song I was going to do. I had a whole other song worked out. Then I got there and they totally had a plan and they had been practicing for weeks. They had a music director and a string section already had everything memorized. I got there and was kind of like … oh.
Then (Korn) was like “So, you want to just sing ‘Freak on a Leash?’ ” And I said, “Sure.”
It was really fun, easy and natural. I think that’s the best way to make music.