Evanescence’s first big year out in 2003 was a whirlwind rush to the top for the band. Their debut single, “Bring Me to Life,” landed on the Daredevil soundtrack and subsequently made deft parkour moves up to Number Five on the Billboard singles chart thanks to the way the band blended nü-metal aggression with frontwoman Amy Lee’s gothic leanings. Within a few months, their first album, Fallen climbed to Number Three on the Billboard 200 (eventually, it would be certified seven-times platinum), thanks to the similarly dusky hard-rock single “Going Under” and the classical-leaning ballad “My Immortal.”
I had just graduated college and moved to New York City to intern at a music magazine around the time Fallen came out, and I remember hearing those songs everywhere. I was living off my earnings at the Virgin Megastore, which played “Bring Me to Life” hourly, and Evanescence took full control of my life when I was offered a gig that summer as a video-game brand ambassador for the Nintendo Fusion Tour — ostensibly a roadie schlepping arcade-sized GameCubes all around Evanescence’s first headlining trek around the U.S. I slept in a coffin-sized bunk on a tour bus, hung out with the opening bands and “real” roadies, and generally tried to stay out of Lee’s way since I knew she was the most important person on the tour. Every night, I watched her transform from the chill woman I’d see in catering into a nascent rock star, leading thousands of fans in sing-alongs. She had a natural charisma.
“Over the course of that year, our show sizes went from clubs to big outdoor arenas,” Lee says in the latest episode of the Rolling Stone Interview: Special Edition video series. “That tour was one of our first tours ever. We were all just a bunch of kids.”
By the time the tour was done, though, I was tired and homesick for New York and new that touring life was not for me. That’s when I recommitted myself to music journalism. In the nearly 20 years since then, though — as Evanescence scored Number One albums and multi-platinum plaques — I never interviewed Amy Lee until now.
It’s an interesting time for Lee, since just this past spring Evanescence released The Bitter Truth, their first album of new music in a decade and fifth record overall. And since the Covid-19 pandemic forced her and every other artist off the road for the past year, she is especially looking forward to Evanescence’s upcoming run of dates with Halestorm. So it was an especially good time for her to look back at her earliest days on the road — remembering trips to Disneyland with the opening acts and overcoming her own group’s interband tensions — and compare them with who she is now.
“This [band] is a good thing in my life,” Lee says, putting her career in perspective. “I can look at my life and see all of the joy it has brought me and brought others. It has been such a life-giving thing to have this. I have had to fight for it against a lot of different entities across the span of time, but it has all been worth it. To be here in this moment and to be here with my band who I really truly love, making music that I feel is such a true and real representation of who we are. It’s bigger than myself. I couldn’t do it by myself. I love it so much. I’m so grateful for all of it.”