SANTA MONICA, California — Amy Lee is the first to admit her sources of inspiration lately have been "kinda silly."
"I saw 'Van Helsing' in the movie theater last week," the Evanescence singer recalled recently. "Oh my God, it was so cool. I love vampire movies, and that was like the best one I've ever seen. I went home and I was so inspired."
Like a vampire, Lee stayed up all night searching for fresh ... songs on her piano.
"I just wait until I get inspired, which has been a lot lately, and I just sit there and let it go and I turn on the recorder," she explained. "You go back the next day and you try to weed through it and find the big parts and put it together."
With less than a month to go before Evanescence are due back on the road, Lee plans to see a lot of movies and write a lot of songs for the group's next album.
"Just because there's still singles coming off from the last album doesn't mean we're not working on this new one at the same time," Lee said. "It's just kind of buying us time, I guess, more than anything. And we're taking our time and I'm having fun writing. It's my favorite part."
Lee has a hard time describing her own music, but she thinks her new songs are darker than most of the material on Fallen.
"It still sounds like me, but I've been in a spooky mood lately, so I think it's gonna be kinda spooky," she said. "I'd like to use more organ. I wanna make it heavier and softer at the same time."
"I want to go in a lot of different directions we didn't go on Fallen," she continued. "I want to get different emotions across. Obviously I think there's a spectrum of emotions on Fallen, but I think it's still limited in a lot of ways."
Lee hopes to build on the extraordinary success of the band's debut, but she has no expectations of topping it saleswise. "I don't think it would be possible ... to be honest," she said. "If that happens, I'm gonna be shocked and happy, but it's not really the goal. What's cool about Fallen is it really worked as a springboard, and we have the opportunity now to branch out and grow and do something different. I really don't want to put out the same album again."
Lee originally planned to broaden her horizons by collaborating with other musicians, including former Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland (see "Wes Borland Puts Eat The Day On Hold, Hopes To Hook Up With Evanescence").
"We talked about writing some stuff together, which I think will be fun, but the more I've hung out with my band in the past six months or so, and the more that I've heard what they've been writing, the more inspired I am just to work with the band," Lee said. "We're actually having a lot of fun as we are and I don't really feel we need the help, but I think it could be fun just to experiment with a couple of collaborators."
Lee has been writing with boyfriend Shaun Morgan of Seether (see "Don't Expect Many Collaborations From Amy Lee, Shaun Morgan"), but not necessarily for Evanescence's next record. "It's like he hears me in [the piano room] jamming and he'll jam with me," Lee said. "It's really fun, actually; it's one of my favorite things that we do."
Lee and Morgan will be together plenty this summer when Evanescence and Seether hit the road (see "Your Bus Or Mine? Evanescence And Seether To Tour U.S. In July"), but Lee doesn't anticipate many songwriting sessions.
"It's hard for me to write on the road 'cause I don't carry around a big piano," she said. "We have keyboards and stuff, but it's not the same. And it's hard especially to find a free moment between doing interviews and getting ready for the show and doing meet-and-greets and all kinds of stuff."
In what little time she does have while touring, Lee likes to sightsee and work on her other hobbies, like clothing design. "What's cool about fashion — I hate the word fashion, it's so cheesy — but it's cool because it's just another form of art," she explained. "I love to paint. I love to sculpt and make things. And my favorite subject is the human body. So to actually use the human body and make it into something, it's just like painting a picture."
While it would certainly be easy for Lee to follow in the shoes of P. Diddy and other musicians-turned-fashion-moguls, that's not on her agenda. "I don't wanna say no, but I don't think so," she said. "It's hard for me to imagine making a [clothing] line, which means making clothes that people could wear day-to-day and making it affordable and using cottons. I like leather and lace and I couldn't possibly go down beyond that. I think it might be fun to have a show and have one of each thing — just have pieces, like pieces of art, that's the way I feel they ought to be. That, I might do someday."
Evanescence launch their summer North American tour July 7 in Vancouver, British Columbia.