It's almost been a decade since two of the most famous women in heavy rock met for the first time. In a backstage greenroom during 2012's Carnival of Madness, Evanescence's Amy Lee and Halestorm's Lzzy Hale ignited an immediate friendship, recognizing in one another a kindred spirit and talent. Even with their significantly differing styles and approaches in singing, it wouldn't be hyperbole to say that Lee and Hale are among some of the planet's very best vocalists. And when those two magnificent tectonic forces eventually came together, they made a volcano.
Last year, fans were given a taste of the pair's combined power when Lee joined Halestorm for a collaborative version of the band's single "Break In," and Hale returned the favor when she joined a chorus of some of rock's best leading ladies for Evanescence's pre-election anthem "Use My Voice." Now, after 10 years of friendship and mutual admiration, the two bands are about to embark on a joint arena tour, beginning November 5th in Portland and spanning 15 cities across the States. Notably, it will be the first opportunity for Evanescence diehards to experience in-person songs from the group's first album in a decade, 2021's The Bitter Truth.
Not long before the kickoff, Revolver spoke to Lee and Hale about their friendship and collaborations and the adventures that lay ahead.
DO EITHER OF YOU HAVE PRE-TOUR RITUALS?
AMY LEE I think it's definitely important for people to break bread. We spend a lot of time together before tour, getting ready for it and starting to live a little bit like a family. We do a lot of rehearsals.
LZZY HALE It's mainly just practicing and trying to remember all the new stuff.
DO YOU TWO LIVE CLOSE TO EACH OTHER?
HALE We do now actually. My bandmates and I have been living in Nashville for a second. We moved there on a whim and then fell in love with it. Then all of a sudden we were like, "Woah, Amy's moved here, too!" It kind of felt like an all-roads-lead-to-Nashville moment.
LEE It's been a blessing to be here, to be near Nick Raskulinecz [who produced Evanescence's latest album, The Bitter Truth] so we were able to still work together over the pandemic. Nashville has been Evanescence's hub for practicing and getting together and recording for quite a long time.
ARE EITHER OF YOU NERVOUS ABOUT RETURNING TO THE TOURING LIFESTYLE AFTER BEING IN SUCH AN INSULAR AND CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT OVER LOCKDOWN?
LEE Lzzy's been out a bit. She's played some shows and festivals, so she's dipped her toe in the water. For me, it's been two years since we've played a show, so that alone — you get the nerves coming back. Every time that it's been a long time between shows for us, five seconds after stepping into the light, it just washes over you and everything's awesome and it feels so good to be back onstage. But to what you said, we've been so locked down and so isolated, and there have been so many things to worry about, so it's going to be very interesting getting back out there and being social again. I watched the movie What About Bob last night just randomly — I love that movie — the whole intro is about him just trying to leave his apartment, and I was cracking up because I was like, "That's how I feel coming back after COVID."
HALE We've all become Bob. Halestorm and I had a two-week run, which was our first time out, [and] we had a strict manifesto. Everybody stayed safe, nobody got sick so it was a trial run, but the biggest difference is the nerves. For years and years, I hadn't necessarily gotten it totally under control — as soon as someone says, "10 minutes to show time," I freak out a little bit. I like that, and I like that fire that's still there — but those nerves have intensified. It's not like I ever took anything for granted before, but now I just appreciate every single moment, from walking onstage to looking at people's faces and reacting to the crowd. It's just so important to me now. There's this space that I'm able to live in and there's not a moment that goes by when I'm not giving everything, because now I know at any point in time it can be stolen from me again. You're just living in the now and playing every show like it's your last. In that way, it's actually kind of beautiful. This is going to be a very intense tour.
SINCE YOU WERE FORCED TO GET TO KNOW WHO YOU WERE WITHOUT A STAGE DURING THE PANDEMIC, WILL YOU BE RETURNING TO IT DIFFERENTLY?
HALE I hadn't spent a whole lot of time with not Lzzy but Elizabeth, on my couch in my home, as a normal person in a long time. I had to get to know her a little bit and it was kind of scary. Like, what am I without this? Who am I without the stage and the people I see every day, my road family? I got reintroduced, I guess, to my former self before the band ever started. We joke about that a lot, once we started the band, I kind of stopped growing in a lot of other ways, like, just being a young adult. Now I'm not a young adult anymore so I'm like, Wait a minute! I still need to mature! So, I'm using that as a weapon. I've gotten a little bit more open with who I am and how I feel as a person versus just the rock star onstage. So now I'm bringing her with me on tour. I'll use it as a superpower. It's given me a gift to take with me into this new world.
LEE I'm echoing a lot of that. It's interesting for us because we hadn't put out a full new album of new music in a decade, then when we finally did put our album out it was during 2020. But again, it forced me to really look in because there was nowhere else to look, and taking that and putting it into the creation of new music is just the best. It really allows you to make it the deepest, the most honest and the most vulnerable and true. Going out on tour again now after that, it's the first time we're going out with an arsenal of new music that is extremely close to all of our hearts, and a recent representation of who we are right now. That's what all of us are looking forward to — being a true and recent and raw representation of ourselves.
HALE That's just the power of music, isn't it? I think with Amy and I, it took the music to save us again, and to be like, this is where we're supposed to be.
LEE And to remember that it's worth fighting for. It wasn't easy to do. It's been hard through this time to keep it going and to find a way to get together safely and to find a way to push it forward when it's without all of the typical comforts that we have. It made me, and I think all of us, remember how much it's really worth and how much we're willing to work extra hard to make it happen because it's just truly such a special thing.
LZZY, YOU JUST CAME OUT OF RECORDING HALESTORM'S FIFTH ALBUM, RIGHT?
HALE Yep. It's been very intense, we started writing for this record shortly before lockdown happened. It was a long time before we were actually able to get into the studio, and once we got in, we were constantly wondering whether we were going to be locked down again. So it feels like it's been a lifetime making this record. The fact we're at the end of it is just such a relief. Same thing with what Amy was saying, this is going to be a very intense record because of all of this, but I think it needed to happen that way. I don't think there was any other way around it. I'm just so excited for people to hear it and to gift it to the world because I think there are a lot of songs on here that our collective fan bases need to hear. Now I just have to be patient for it to come out even though I wish I could just leak it to the world!
KNOWING THAT YOU WERE JUST ABOUT TO EMBARK ON A BIG ARENA TOUR, DID THAT AFFECT THE ENERGY IN THE STUDIO AND THE SONGS THEMSELVES?
HALE Absolutely, because there was no other outlet. Usually when we make a record we do some small runs during the time that we're making the record. We like doing that so we can try and keep up with the energy, then when we went onstage we found that we'd be thinking about these new songs and it would help us go back into work mode. But we didn't have that luxury this time, so all of the energy and everything we put into these new songs was more or less a replacement for the stage. We had to kind of pretend and really visualize how these songs were gonna be onstage. In that way, we ended up creating a lot of moments within the songs that normally we'd have to be out on tour to work out, but now they're built in. It's just gonna be a different record cycle for us — we're gonna come out swingin'
AMY, COLLABORATION IN GENERAL SEEMS TO BE A RELATIVELY RECENT DEVELOPMENT FOR EVANESCENCE. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BRANCH OUT?
LEE I've definitely become someone who loves it more as I've grown up. I was a little bit, or a lot, resistant to that stuff in the beginning because I felt like everybody was trying to jump in and write my songs for me. There were a lot of people around who didn't have my best interests at heart, so I had to be defensive in the really early days. But then the more I started branching out and doing more things, the more I realized that collaboration can lead you to do something much bigger than yourself, which is something I've always wanted to do — it's why I started a band in the first place. I've learned that I can see and tap into different things in myself and see the beauty from others that I work with. You get something that you couldn't do on your own. You can make something bigger and better and new. During the pandemic in particular, right at the beginning of it, I think we all were really craving connection, everyone creative was missing each other. So, I did little collaborations all over the place with Lzzy and Lindsey Sterling and Body Count and Bring Me the Horizon, and found ways to tap into different kinds of creativity that were just remote. It was really beautiful and fulfilling and helpful for me to know that i wasn't completely alone.
I love touring with Lzzy, and I love touring with people that I admire, people that make great music first of all, but also people who are great to be around. Lzzy's a great professional and we like hanging out together. I think when you find that thing — which is the same way we go about putting our teams together — when you find someone that's good at what they do and great to be around, that's the person you need to net. You need to grab them!
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ENJOY SO MUCH ABOUT SINGING WITH ONE ANOTHER?
HALE With Amy, she's an otherworldly talent. Alice Cooper once told me that you can't teach charisma, you can't teach that intangible thing that makes you great, and Amy has that, she was born with it. You can teach people how to sing, but you can't teach people that. When Amy sings she reaches into your soul and squeezes it and doesn't let go until the song is over and you're like, "What just happened to me?!" For me, from a technical standpoint, it's effortless.
LEE It is not. [Laughs]
HALE Now that being said, as a singer myself, I know how hard you work, but you make it feel effortless, and that obviously takes paying attention to your craft, knowing your breathing techniques and your resonance areas and how to navigate through them and also how to take care of yourself, especially on the road so you're not tiring yourself out. That takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of discipline and getting to know your body and knowing when and where to hit it or lay back on it, how to get yourself through a show night after night after night. Both Amy and I don't mime. We're not up there lip-syncing to tracks, so there's a whole other skill set that goes with that. I absolutely admire Amy for never straying from that over the years. For me, I know I'm really proud to get up there and actually sing, to know how to use my voice every single night. Collaborating with Amy is so much fun because I know that she's on that top level and that she cares.
LEE I'll put it simply, when we're singing together — our voices are different but similar in range — I end up not hearing the difference between us. We're singing different notes but when we both lock in it feels like being a part of a choir. You feel something happening and you know you're a part of it. You wonder if it'll keep going even after you stop. It's just very cool to be so in sync with a live singer. I think both of us are just used to locking in with our own vocals on a track and syncing up perfect background vocals to what we just did, but to have that happening in real time with two different voices is just really special. It's not something I get to experience often and it's just a complete pleasure.
HALE It's kind of like a dance, too, we're waltzing together and we have to be listening to each other and the dynamics, the ebb and flow. Can you dance with your partner?
LEE And that takes trust. We both trust each other. We both know that the other person has got it, so you're able to lose yourself in it.