Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Amy Lee, Evanescence

In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee

1
Which pop star performed a karaoke version of Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me to Life’ at her 25th birthday in 2018?

Ariana Grande?”

CORRECT. She sang it with her then-boyfriend Pete Davidson. She also did a rendition on Snapchat. 

“Yes! So we’re done, right? I got 100 per cent and we don’t have to do any more? (Laughs) A friend passed me the clip [of Ariana singing] and I thought it was funny. I’ve never met her but it was a cool tribute. It used to be a tour tradition for everybody to go to a karaoke bar, and the bands on the bill would cover each others’ songs terribly. I remember doing some good karaoke with Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Static X’s Wayne Static.”

2
Which rapper mistakenly walked up onto the stage when you won the Best New Artist Award at the 2004 Grammys?

“It wasn’t a mistake, but it was 50 Cent. He was jealous. (Laughs)”

CORRECT.

“I think in his head he wanted to do something like the Kanye West stage invasion of Taylor Swift [at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards] but chickened out before executing it, so he walked on by like a Zoolander moment (Laughs). That was a weird night. I didn’t expect to win. I had these painful high heel shoes on and had them off under my seat, so when they called our name, I remember quickly slipping them on and going: ‘Oh shit! Are we doing this? Is this happening? Is it real?!’ It’s funny look back on it, especially because a lot of people wanted to steal my thunder!”

3
Name any two of the three Marvel superhero movie soundtracks that Evanescence tracks appear on.

Daredevil was the big one, and Elektra?”

CORRECT. ‘Bring Me to Life’ appears in Daredevil, ‘Breath No More’ features on ‘Elektra: The Album’ and you only missed The Avengers – the soundtrack includes ‘A New Way to Bleed” (Photek Remix)’

“Really?! I’m going to have to check that and make sure I’m getting paid! (Laughs)”

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4
You guest on Bring Me the Horizon’s 2020 EP ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ on the track ‘One Day the Only Butterflies Left Will Be in Your Chest as You March Towards Your Death’. But which track from their 2019 album ‘Amo’ do you receive a writing credit on?

“‘Nihilist Blues’. It’s a cool song!”

CORRECT. Bring Me the Horizon frontman Oli Sykes told NME last year that your management filed a lawsuit over its similarities to the Evanescence track ‘Never Go Back’…

“Oli and I talked about that after that interview. Maybe it came out in a little bit of a sensational way, because the real story to me is so much more powerful and cool. On the internet, people were talking about that part of the song sounding extremely close to a melody in one of our songs. They then contacted us and said: ‘We want to make this right’, and offered me a writing a credit which I wasn’t even asking for. Have you ever heard of such a thing?! It made me respect them more and go and listen to all their music which my drummer [Will Hunt] had already turned me onto earlier because he’s a big fan. That conversation ended with us saying we should collaborate sometime.”

What was it like working with Bring Me the Horizon?

“At the time, I was feeling stuck in my own music so to be given the opportunity to be part of something beautiful and have it be finished in a week, I needed that to help un-stick myself. The collaboration felt like this secret thing I wasn’t supposed to be doing, which is how music feels when I’m doing my best work. When I was writing some of our debut album ‘Fallen’, I would stay up late with headphones on a school night banging on a keyboard and it felt like this extra time. I write a lot at night because the whole world is sleeping and it feels like my secret thing I’m not supposed to be doing as opposed to a job.”

5
Which products do you promote by the fictional company ‘Lies’ in the ‘Everybody’s Fool’ video?

“I’ve probably watched that video the least amount of times. OK – soda, a doll of myself, and pizza?”

CORRECT.

“I’m nailing this! That video was fun. I’d only done two videos before that – ‘Bring Me to Life’ was my first time getting a passport and leaving the country to film on a soundstage in Romania. The director, Philipp Stölzl, encouraged me I was a good enough actress to pull off playing different characters and we worked on the ‘Everybody’s Fool’ treatment together.”

The song was inspired by pop stars at the time like Britney Spears whose real lives were different to the perfect images presented. Do you have any sympathy now for the misogynistic way she was treated?

“I do. I remember watching her and having mixed feelings, but especially as I started going through some of it, I was feeling for her. I can’t imagine how hard it would be like to live like that, with the constant paparazzi and harsh words. I recently watched Framing Britney Spears and what she went through was wrong.  I don’t envy that kind of pop star attention at all.”

6
Which cover version appears as a B-side on the UK of Evanescence’s 2003 single ‘Going Under’?

“Phew! ‘Father Away’?”

WRONG. It’s Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’.

“Ah, OK! It was from the acoustic radio performance.  I met Dave Grohl once at a festival and he was really nice to me. But he’s awesome to everybody!”

Ever received any feedback on your covers from the original artists?

Bananarama shouted-out the cover we did last year of ‘Cruel Summer’. That happened because I’d had the song in my head joking to myself during summer 2020. I listened to it and thought: this really applies right now! I really want to cover Björk – she’s my Number One hero forever, but it’s hard because I can’t sing better than her, so I end up thinking, ‘What am bringing to the table?'” (Laughs)

7
Name the other frontwomen who appear on your 2020 single ‘Use My Voice’.

The Pretty Reckless’ Taylor Momsen, Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel, Halestorm’s Lizzy Hale, Deena Jakoub [Veridia] and Lindsey Stirling.”

CORRECT. Music’s far more collaborative now. When you started out, did you have a support network of other frontwomen in bands?

“I was a lot more protective back then, especially with writing. I felt I had a lot to prove and people wouldn’t take me seriously as a creator and a writer, so it was important to never be ‘fake’ or let anybody help out, which I’m now so happy to have grown past, because there’s only gain in working with other people.”

Last year saw you using your voice more politically. Did you face any backlash?

“I’m sure I did, but I’d reached a place where I had to. It was about right and wrong. It felt empowering.  If I’m singing a song about using my voice and not making it clear what I mean, I’m lying. I made a Facebook [post] explaining we need change, then mic-dropped it and didn’t look at the comments. I’m not somebody who blabs every stupid angry thought in my head – and there’s lots of them! (Laughs) – but this platform is something I’m grateful to have.”

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8
Which track on Evanescence’s CD/DVD ‘Anywhere But Home’ resulted in legal action against US supermarket chain Wal-Mart in 2004?

“Our cover of Korn’s ‘Thoughtless’.”

CORRECT. A Maryland couple tried to sue the Wal-Mart for $74,500 damages for each of the people who bought the CD there because the song contained an obscenity yet didn’t feature a Parental Advisory Sticker.

“But I said ‘Fuck!’ so fast! C’mon!” (Laughs) “Whenever that stuff happens, it’s frustrating because you want to get your music to people.”

9
How many weeks ‘Bring Me to Life’ spend at Number One in the UK singles chart?

“Oh man! If I over-guess this, it makes me look vain and if I under-guess, that makes it look like I’ve got no confidence! Five?”

WRONG. Close! It’s four.

“Dammit! I’m vain! (Laughs)”

Guest vocalist/rapper Paul McCoy was added by the label against your wishes supposedly to make the song more ‘palatable’ to rock radio. Do you think it would have been a hit without him?

“I’ve always thought that. Our music was already different and interesting with enough of a hook. They tested the song and there was resistance; I was told you can’t put a song on rock radio that starts with a chick and a piano. It was a compromise, but still a victory because I said no to what they really wanted which was to hire somebody [a male vocalist] to be in the band full-time. The cost of saying no that was we got shelved and I moved back in with my parents for a few weeks. Then we got a call saying: ‘OK, you just have to do it on one song because we have an offer from Daredevil and it’s a scene involving a guy and a girl’. Fortunately, we survived what I was afraid of, which was people would think of us as this weird guy/girl duo, but we proved we had other songs and fans’ stuck with us.”

Did you face a lot of instances where you had to stand up for yourself and say no?

“It was mostly about not having faith put in me as a writer from certain people around me back then, and I had to say: ‘I’m not a puppet. This is my art’. I had to fight that fight longer that I should. I’ve gotta be honest, I always felt it had to do with being a woman – and I don’t say that about stuff very often, because I don’t want it to be an issue. But it was assumed the men around me were doing the creation work and I was the one selling it to you.”

“That bothered me and why I was resistant to collaboration because I had this hater’s voice saying: ‘Everybody’s going to think you’re a fake’. I wanted to be Mozart before I wanted to be a singer, so nobody was taking my writing from me.”

10
You covered  Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ for Gears 5. What is the game’s main character called?

“Kait Diaz.”

CORRECT.

“Thankfully I knew that or they might have taken some of the money back for not properly promoting the game! (Laughs) I’m an old-school Nintendo girl. I play video games to go to sleep instead of reading a book. Lately, it’s been Animal Crossing but the Legend of Zelda is my favourite game ever.”

Ever turned down any unusual offers?

“I was asked to audition for the Spider-Man musical on Broadway, but I can’t imagine committing to doing something like that for six days a week forever. Years ago, Bon Jovi asked if I wanted to do a song together, but I felt that wasn’t right for me.”

The verdict: 8/10

“Hell yeah! I’m impressed! I was afraid there would be more questions about chart numbers and dates.”

– Evanescence’s new album, ‘The Bitter Truth’,  is released  March 26 via Sony Germany/RCA UK

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