Amy Lee and Co. are commemorating the milestone with a special 20th anniversary edition of the smash album, which spawned gigantic rock hits like "Bring Me to Life," "Going Under" and "My Immortal," and gave Evanescence the kick-start to the thriving career they're still carrying out today.
Revolver recently caught up with Lee to look back on Fallen. We asked her to assess what she loves and doesn't love about the album, pick her favorite and least favorite songs, open up about fighting hard to see the band's creative vision through, and much more. She even teases the prospect of new Evanescence music.
WHEN YOU SEE THE COVER OF FALLEN, WHAT'S THE MOST VIVID MEMORY THAT POPS INTO YOUR HEAD?
AMY LEE It's just so intertwined throughout the fabric of my life, our time onstage, so much. I see the cover and I guess I think of myself as a kid.
It's a kind of innocent picture of the beginning. Things happened for us pretty young, pretty early, when we were still kind of hammering it out. It's definitely a different picture, but it's still my heart. So it's a beautiful thing.
WHAT ARE YOUR HAPPIEST MEMORIES OF THE WRITING AND RECORDING PROCESS?
I remember being emotional and so excited when we got to fly to Seattle and record the orchestration. David Campbell did the strings for all of our albums. It's more than strings...
And it was just such a beautiful thing that I've always dreamed of coming to life. Because from the beginning of the vision, of the idea for this band, for me, a big part of it had to be like a film score.
And in my mind, you couldn't do that right without it being real. Keyboards didn't cut it for me, and it was something that I really, really dug my heels in about.
I was like, "It has to be real strings. Please let us do real strings — we're worth it. We'll pay you back…somehow! Believe in us." And we were just so lucky to have it be David Campbell because he's a genius.
So to sit in a room and hear it all pop into amazing technicolor with him and watch it happen by this professional team of musicians was amazing. That was a moment when I just had tears streaming down my face, [I was] so happy.
HOW MUCH CONVINCING DID YOU HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO GET THE FULL ORCHESTRATION?
It was just one of those things where it cost money. That's a big expense. So it was just something I really had to fight for. I fought for a lot of things. [Laughs]
WHAT ELSE DID YOU FIGHT FOR?
Oh god. I don't want to get in trouble… We fought for a lot. We were supposed to have auditions and have a rap-rocker put into our band full-time to rap on eight out of 11 songs on the album, and that was our biggest fight.
'Cause I just flat-out [was like], "Absolutely not. We'll go home. We'll drop the deal. I'm not doing that. That's not our band." And we did go home for three weeks. I moved back in with my parents. It was very humbling.
And the compromise was having a guest vocal on "Bring Me to Life." And you know, how could I complain about that right now? It turned out to be a great thing. So I'm happy.
ON THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF FALLEN, YOU GUYS HAVE THE DEMO OF "BRING ME TO LIFE," WHICH IS QUITE DIFFERENT COMPARED TO THE FINAL. DO YOU LIKE THE DEMO BETTER?
No, no! Because that was before the strings. It's funny because somebody was saying to me, "It's very interesting to hear because it's very electronic."
I'm like, "Oh, well, that's all of our demos." The process then and now — the band's changed, a lot — but my process is kind of the same.
My most comfortable way to start a song is in at the keyboards, playing with sounds and drum loops and machines to create an idea. And the electronic stuff is part of it in the end, but it takes a backseat almost always to the band.
So it's just the way that we demo. Having the synths and the sounds be cool sounds is important because you have to have a vibe enough to love it the way that it is. So you end up going down a lot of fun weird electronic paths that half the time don't even really make it to the end product.
THERE'S ALSO A LOT OF GUITAR LEADS ON THE DEMO THAT DIDN'T MAKE IT TO THE FINAL.
Well, we didn't have that bridge yet. So a guitar solo is kind of your fallback when you don't have a bridge, I feel like. So in that regard I think it actually improved a lot.
LOOKING BACK ON THE TRACKLIST, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG ON THE WHOLE ALBUM?
"Going Under." That was the song that I really wanted for the first single, and [the label] really wanted "Bring Me to Life." And the movie thing [the Daredevil soundtrack] came up and we had that opportunity, and it was like, "This is what's happening."
We were like, "OK, not gonna fight about it. But please let 'Going Under' be the second single, because we need something to really grab people."
We wrote "Going Under" after "Bring Me to Life." A lot of times when you're writing an album you keep trying to top your last thing, and it felt in the moment to me like, "OK, we did it." And that was the last one.
It's usually the last song you write, half the time, that ends up being your first single because you finally got to that place.
I felt that way about "Going Under" but I [also] love "Bring Me to Life." I love the expression [of "Going Under"]. I was going for a place of, "I've had enough and I'm standing up for myself." Instead of "Bring Me to Life," which was a little bit more of a cry for help.
"GOING UNDER" HAS SO MUCH RIGHTEOUS RAGE. WHAT WAS INSPIRING YOU TO BRING THAT OUT?
I was in a really rough relationship. It was very complicated and that was me… So much of our music is me working it out. Just working out where I'm at and what I need and what I'm going to do.
It's interesting how it works because a lot of times I'll end up saying things as I'm writing that I wasn't quite prepared to think out loud.
You just start going for it and there's something about when I'm writing music where I have to be totally, brutally honest, even if it hurts.
It's very therapeutic for me, but it's one of those things where, even talking to a therapist, I think I go deeper when I'm writing words.
I think that song was in real time, for me, coming to the realization that I was going to stand up for myself and make a change.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE SONG ON FALLEN?
Probably "Tourniquet." I don't hate any of them, though. I don't listen and feel [sighs aggressively] about anything. I do that with the demos.
Like, there are songs pre-Fallen that fans can ask for 'til the end of time and I'm never going to officially release them because they got tossed out for a reason. They're not as good!
I really am able to listen through Fallen and enjoy it all. I'm proud of what we did, still.
ARE THERE ANY SONGS ON THE TRACKLIST THAT YOU FEEL ARE UNDERRATED?
It's hard to say that anything's been underrated when Fallen has had so much attention, so no. But I always felt like "Imaginary" was supposed to be a single.
I love that song, it's the one song that's never left our setlist. And it really does a good job of capturing something really to the core of our sound, and our theme.
I really love that song a lot. For me, that would've been the single over "Everybody's Fool."
YOU SAID THERE'RE SOME PRE-FALLEN DEMOS THAT YOU'LL NEVER RELEASE. WERE YOU REALLY RELUCTANT TO RELEASE THE "BRING ME TO LIFE" DEMO, THEN?
To be honest, I don't know how, but pretty much everything we've ever done is in the world somewhere. So it's not about them not hearing it. They can get any old recording that exists — almost!
But yeah, it's out there. So it's just a matter of, am I going to put this on a streaming platform so that when any random maybe-not-the-biggest fan turns on Evanescence they hear a bunch of garbage mixed in with our good stuff? No, not gonna do that.
IF THERE'S ANYTHING YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE ON THE RECORD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I don't really have that. There're elements that exist in the way that I hear things in my head that aren't in the mix on the album.
I spent a lot of time honed in on the string arrangements and the electronic elements. And some of those things are more in the background, to make room for the band. It makes sense. That's why we did Synthesis, though.
So I feel relief after going, "OK, let's do this thing where we really strip out the guitars and the heaviness and show this other side that's to me equally huge in our music. All this other atmosphere and detail that you don't hear that well."
Synthesis wasn't a remix — we redid things. But to take the orchestra side of it, the film score side of it, the electronic side of it, and really push that forward was really satisfying for me. So I don't have to feel that way about Fallen.
MANY FANS WOULD SAY FALLEN IS THE BEST EVANESCENCE ALBUM. HOW WOULD YOU RANK YOUR DISCOGRAPHY?
I don't know if I could put them all in order because they're all different. I definitely don't think Fallen is our greatest work. Because it's our youngest work.
I was still learning how to write songs. Some of those were written when we were really young, which is amazing and beautiful and I love it. But you grow and you have more experiences.
I feel like I have more to express than I did back then, just literally because I was younger and hadn't been through as many things as I have now. But also, through live performance and through writing with lots of people, through the whole experience of having all this time.
And I'm always writing for me. We write for us. I know that people are going to love it if I love it. I'm never thinking about, "Oh, how can I please the fans?"
I truly love [Evanescence's most recent album, 2021's] The Bitter Truth better than any other album. And I hope that I feel that way only until we write our next album.
SPEAKING OF THE NEXT ALBUM, DO YOU HAVE A TIMELINE IN PLACE FOR THAT?
I don't have a timeline in place — I try not to do that, and let it happen. But we're there. We're at a place where we're just finished our tour.
We've been touring pretty solidly for two years. It's been great and we just had the last show two weeks ago in South America. And we've all just been really looking forward to [getting] going.
All these ideas stack up in your phone notes. The pieces of things. The starts. But we're all itching to get in and have some writing sessions together. We have plans to do that soon, but not too soon. We're going to take a little break.
We're excited to make new music soon. We're in a really good place.