Evanescence, ‘Fallen’ | The Album Story

Evanescence’s classic debut album ‘Fallen’ is celebrating its twentieth anniversary with a deluxe reissue. We caught up with Amy Lee to reflect on its success and developing the band’s signature sound.

You can read the full interview inside the 2023 Rock Sound Awards Issue as Evanescence accept the Hall Of Fame award.

Get it now over at SHOP.ROCKSOUND.TV

RS: Listening back, it is striking just how bold and ambitious it is for a debut album. Not many bands come out with a full choir and string section on their first album. Did you have to fight for those elements at all?

AMY: “You know, it helps when you have something that you really want to do that you’re gonna fight for. But that you have the ability to do. If I had a crazy idea of Gregorian chants or an all-boys choir, something that I couldn’t actually make happen, it would be a lot harder, because we’re gonna spend all this money on finding somebody to create the sound and then find the team. At least with choirs, specifically, in high school I was the choir president. I loved choir, I was  inspired by a lot of that old Celtic and Latin hymn stuff. And I took Latin. So I was like ‘I’ll write it, I’ll do everything, all you gotta do is help me put together a small team of vocalists, it’s not gonna be that expensive’. We can make this happen. I think just having the moxie, or whatever it is, to go ‘I’ll put this all together, all you have to do is just trust me artistically’. It’s still a fight. It was harder to fight for real strings, because that’s just expensive. That’s just something that cost a whole lot of money. But to me, that was so key to what our sound was. The whole idea was that it was if a heavy band with riff-driven, pop hooks could get in a head-on collision with a dark film score. If it didn’t have that film score part of it, it would have felt like so much was missing. I do remember having a discussion with the label about ways we can make it sound real with pads and stuff – they’re better than they used to be. But I just always said ‘No, whatever it is, we’re on the hook for it. In the end, I promise we’ll get the money paid back. We have to have real strings. It has to be real’. And then we ended up with David Campbell who is one of the absolute best in the industry for that, and we’ve had a lifelong, career-long partnership now that I’m so grateful for.”

RS: The ‘Bring Me To Life’ demo was the first taste people got of this reissue. It’s remarkable how fully formed that track already was even at that early stage.

AMY: “There’s probably 10 demos of that song. The label had fixated on it and decided it was going to be the single we were going to focus on. So it was just constantly changing, we felt like we were in this demo forever. But they all happened over the course of just a couple of years. So the very first demo, before the chorus was what it was, I don’t even know where that is. I don’t even have that. It started without the rap but also the ‘Wake me up inside’ part wasn’t there. It was the verses and the chorus was like…I could sing it for you but that’s not going to translate into your magazine. But the one you heard that’s on there was sort of in the middle. That wasn’t the last one.”

RS: It is still the song we know, it just needs a few tweaks. It’s interesting to be able to see the process behind that.

AMY: “I always remembered that little sample in the beginning that became the piano part. That was always still in my head because we listened to it so many times before making the song. We wanted the piano so it would be like a film score starting out.”

RS: How big a role did your cinematic influences play in creating the album?

AMY: “We were really inspired by film and would go to the movies all the time. Part of that is just the age we were in high school. But it also felt like research – ‘Donnie Darko’, ‘Edward Scissorhands’. It was like I was really learning from it. My favourite part about film was the music, not so much the soundtracks, that’s great too, but the score is what makes you know how to feel. There is a whole sub story going on underneath. You are feeling things that are deeper than just the words and actions of the characters. So that’s when I started getting really inspired. I wanted to be in a band, but I would really like to score film and was going to school for that when we got signed.”

RS: ‘Everybody’s Fool’ is a track you have discussed a lot in the past. It seems to express some frustrations around the idea of fame and success but, again, it was written so early in your career. Once you found that success, did the song take on any new meaning for you?

AMY: “At the time, I was the teenager, a big sister, and my siblings were younger in elementary school. My two little sisters, who are very close in age, were in their boyband and pop girl moment. I was like ‘Oh my god, you guys are totally dumb. Listen to real music, I’ll show it to you’. I was always trying to influence them with Green Day, and Nirvana songs that didn’t have horrible things in the imagery. But at the same time, like they were going through this time where it was not just about the stars but school cliques and what you look like seemed like a really big focus. Who liked you, all that stuff, everybody goes through that. I think what I really wanted to say was that what I respect is authenticity. That should be the thing that we’re trying to win, not the beauty contest. Just be yourself. But then, strangely, soon after I found myself in the spotlight really fast in a really big way where you are on a stage for people to just look at you and talk about you like an object and that was hard. That was a weird time for me, because I was really young and really never bought into all that. But when it’s happening to you on a really large scale, you can’t just tune it out and leave the cafeteria. You have to actually face it – ‘There’s my career, how do I be the most of myself and show all the parts of myself that I really want to be seen and not be misunderstood?’ I just felt really misunderstood. But I think the lesson really is that you have to keep on, look at yourself, look at your real friends and the people around you that really know you. Remember who you are apart from it. It’s always been good for me to take breaks from this. I don’t think I need to anymore the way that I did. I know who I am. I know we’re gonna be here. But it was always important for me to step away and go ‘I’m not Amy Lee. I’m just Amy still’. I still have hold of my identity which is ever changing. It still has room to grow. I’m not stuck as that album cover picture forever, even though that is still a perception in probably millions of people’s minds. So you just have to give yourself the freedom to keep growing.”

RS: In terms of what may come next from you, how has looking back and reflecting on your early days affected how you want to move forward?  

AMY: “I think it’s always a positive thing to remember your roots, even if it just means you’re going to branch really, really far away for them and do stuff that you’ve never done. I think you have to know who you are and know where you’ve been, because this is just the next chapter in that story. I’ve been doing that all year to where I just kind of never want to hear it again. Not really, but it’s definitely a little bit of what I said before about recognising those innocent moments where I’m not trying to be ahead of somebody’s criticism or anything. Write something without feeling any fear. That’s really sweet. I don’t know how I could recreate that. It’s hard to say because I dearly, dearly love our band, my guys and now Emma (Anzai, bassist). I’m most interested to hear what her new dynamic brings into the situation when we get together. I’ve wanted to be in a band with her for a really long time and it just finally worked out.”

Read the full interview with Amy inside the 2023 Rock Sound Awards Issue available here.

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