Frontwoman says Ben Moody held her back, new songwriting partner lifts her up.

This summer’s going to be an impossible one for Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee.

If she ruled the world (or at least ran her band’s label, Wind-Up Records), The Open Door would be on shelves by week’s end. But instead, fans will have to wait until October 3 for the follow-up to Evanescence’s 2003 breakthrough, Fallen.

“I’m just totally dying to get it out,” she said. “It seems like it’s been forever since Fallen,” which has sold about 6.5 million copies in the United States. Plus, Lee’s just flat-out psyched about The Open Door.

“I feel like with Fallen, a lot of those songs sound like I was trying to prove myself and establish what we were and our sound,” she explained. “I was trapped having to feel a certain way. But with the new record, I sort of went with everything. I am not afraid to feel happy sometimes, and I think there’s moments on the album with sensuality, which is really fun and beautiful, instead of the last time, where I felt like I was only getting out part of me. This record embraces the whole me.”

It’s been a hell of a three years for Evanescence. The forthcoming disc — which will feature 13 tracks including “Good Enough,” “Weight of the World” and the first single, “Call Me When You’re Sober” — will be the Arkansas band’s first since the departure of lead guitarist and principal songwriter Ben Moody, who jumped ship in 2003, in the middle of Evanescence’s European tour.


Moody, who was Lee’s longtime writing partner, was immediately replaced on the road by former Cold guitarist Terry Balsamo, who suffered a stroke caused by a torn neck artery just five months ago. Balsamo was made a permanent band fixture more than two years ago (see “Evanescence Name New Guitarist”).

And then there have been Lee’s recent legal travails with former manager Dennis Rider. In December, Lee sued Rider, accusing him of “breach of fiduciary duty,” sexual assault and battery and professional misconduct, among other claims (see “Evanescence’s Amy Lee Sues Former Manager, Alleges Financial And Sexual Misconduct”). That matter, she said, is still pending.

But Lee didn’t let the ups and downs of the last few years disrupt the creative process.

“The big amazing thing is I went through this spectrum of emotions,” she said. “We started off feeling really free and amazing and good, because I felt like I’d been liberated as an artist. [After Moody’s departure], I didn’t have somebody — I don’t want to be mean — holding me back. Instead, I had [Balsamo] lifting me up. Terry is just an amazing instigator. He’ll push me to do something I wouldn’t have done maybe, because I’d be afraid to or something. He’s a great writer, and it was just like we were just having fun with it for a change. It was like, ‘Let’s stop taking everything so seriously and have fun,’ and we wrote a lot of songs that I’m just totally in love with.

“Life happens,” Lee continued. “We were writing for more than a year, and even during the recording process, there were all kinds of stuff like relationship problems, and then there were all kinds of drama with [Rider], which was really stressful and straining. Terry’s stroke was the most difficult part. All the things that happened were really inspiring, because it was frustrating. But for me at least, every time we get really frustrated and you’re hitting a wall and everything is chaos, it just makes the music that much better, because you have passion — even if it’s negative. That’s sometimes better, actually. At the end of it, we all felt like we could take a new breath and start anew. We wrote great songs, and I love them. But at the same time, you need the trials to really be able to put something out there that’s genuine and real.”

Lee started writing material for the forthcoming LP more than a year ago (see “Evanescence’s New Sound Is Reminiscent Of … Evanescence”) with Balsamo, who she called “the perfect writing partner.” The effort was recorded at the Record Plant in Los Angeles earlier this year with producer and former Ugly Kid Joe guitarist Dave Fortman (Mudvayne, Superjoint Ritual), who also produced Fallen.

Lee said she forged a strong connection with Balsamo right off the bat.

“I was finally creating in the same room with someone,” she said. “When Ben was in the band, we never wrote together. I would write my music, and I’d go as far as I could with it, and we’d come together and he’d write guitars and stuff. More commonly, he’d write stuff and bring it to me and I’d do lyrics and melodies and pianos and vocals. We could never really sit in the same room and create. I always felt my writing was too personal and too hard to share. But it was also that we didn’t jell perfectly as writing partners. With Terry, I knew I liked his writing style, but I didn’t know what the process would be like. But what we’ve come up with as a team is definitely better than what we could have done on our own.”

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