Amy Lee from American gothic rock outfit Evanescence turned 30 years old in December 2011. Her band formed in 1995, and so if you do the maths, she was just in her mid teens when she put together the outfit that has gone on to sell records in the tens of millions, win Grammy Awards and gain all sorts of other awards, accolades and successes since. However, she tends not to view this in such pragmatic terms.
Something like that," the friendly and chirpy vocalist agrees, from on tour in South Carolina, "but it's weird to put a number on it like that, because the 'band' was really just me and Ben (original guitarist Ben Moody) writing together, and working in our parents' garages and basements, and working on whatever weird recording gear we could find and recording ourselves. It was a band, but it wasn't like we were running around playing gigs and developing a big following at that point. So yes, that was when it started, but it wasn't a 'usual' band thing at that point."
And it wasn't like she envisioned the success that they were to have within a few years at that moment, but there was definitely a strong feeling that something was 'happening' in those early days, "I wouldn't say I had a 'vision', like I knew it was gonna happen," she recalls, "but I definitely dreamed of it, we definitely dreamed really big from the very beginning. I don't think that if I hadn't been dreaming so big I would have put all those strings in our music, and I never thought it was going to be just keyboard stuff, it was going to have to be a full orchestra, that was my vision. Not a 'cheap' thing, not a thing that any band could afford. So yeah, we were always dreaming big," she states, "and when it really happened it was very surreal, I don't think I could really understand it all when it was happening, it took a couple of years. And then it was like 'that's crazy, that really happened!'" she laughs.
Not only has her band succeeded to her wildest expectations and dreams, she herself has become a role model for young rock and goth chicks the world over, and while it's tough to handle at times, ultimately it's a responsibility that sits quite comfortably on her slender but strong shoulders.
I think it's awesome," she concurs, "you know, it's a lot of responsibility for anybody who's 'famous' on any level, where there's people watching your every move. And it is hard sometimes, I went through a time when it was really hard for me actually. Not to just feel like everyone was criticising me, coz people naturally for some reason, when you're doing well especially, they're super interested in what is wrong with you, or whatever they can see in you that's a flaw. It's just human nature. That's why people love crappy reality TV, it's like 'well I'm better than them!'" she laughs again.
But I got over it in a big way," she continues, "I love our fans, and they've always been there for us. We have fans that started being fans even pre-2003, that are still coming to shows, and inventing fan clubs. We have relationships with people around the world who just have a deep connection with our music, and it's a big part of their lives...that's all deeply inspirational for me, I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. So I think it's cool to be a role model, I don't know if I've gotten off track, but I think it's cool that people out there can see what I've done and say 'I can do that too.'"
The band recently released their third full length album, simply titled Evanescence. Once again it's a record chock full of epic, emotional goth rock anthems, and it's sure to please their legion of fans worldwide. As has been the case with this band it was a long time coming, being five years since their previous album The Open Door, and Amy and the band could not be happier with the final result.
We love the record," she enthuses, "I would hope that that's the case for me always, I never want to say something different from that! Really really proud of the record, in many ways I feel it's the best thing we've ever done. I don't think it's completely typical of us, I think there's some really new feelings, and new things we've been inspired by since the last record...I think it's a bit of both. I think it's a classic Evanescence album, but it's also for 2012. And it's been fun playing the new songs live, that's for sure. I'm not bored with any of them yet, so I guess that's a good thing!"
Evanescence make their long awaited return to Australia very shortly, and Amy can't wait to get Down Under and show the Aussie fans the new songs and their brand new show, which promises to give punters an even bigger band for their buck.
"Yeah, absolutely, it's been a long time," she gushes, "it's been a long time since we've been anywhere crazy. We're doing a big Asian tour and then heading to Australia. Those are the most fun, because it's a special rare experience. And Australia's a place that we all love. It's beautiful, and everyone speaks English, so we can be independent and walk around, and read signs! And everyone's so friendly too.
"We're playing the longest set we've ever played," she reveals, "so I think people will feel they've got their money's worth. We've been like 'I hope people don't get bored! Are they gonna want to leave by the end?' It's an hour and twenty, and the songs are really demanding. It's a great show, we're doing songs from all three albums, so get ready to rock!"