Where Evanescence were once propelled solely by a pair of songwriters, the creative process has become a lot more democratic since the departure of guitarist Ben Moody. And yet Amy Lee continues to get the ball rolling the way she always has: behind closed doors.
"I write by myself initially," the band's singer explained. "That's the way I've always written, just working on pure thought by myself. Then I bring it to the table with whoever I'm collaborating with."
After Moody split in late 2003, he was replaced on tour by former Cold guitarist Terry Balsamo, who permanently joined the band's ranks a few months later (see "Evanescence Name New Guitarist"). Having spent several months together on the road, where new ideas were tossed around often, the two developed a strong creative partnership.
"[Terry and I] have been writing together for the past couple of weeks," Lee said. "We're working really well together. I'm just very excited because [the new songs] already have a new sound. It still sounds like the Evanescence everybody knows, but at the same time it's going in a new direction, and I love that direction."
Lee attributed the band's new course to the band's maturation. Much of Evanescence's breakthrough album, Fallen, was written nearly three years ago, when Lee and Moody, still living in Arkansas, were barely beyond their teens. The globetrotting that comes with selling nearly 6 million copies helps a band grow up quick.
"We've definitely grown up a lot," Lee said, "me, as a lyricist and a musician, all of us as music writers. We have so many new ideas that have just been building up for so long. It's already so different, just because everyone's writing and Ben's not involved. It's just this new thing."
While Evanescence get ready to hit the studio, their departed ex-guitarist is getting reacquainted with the pop charts, having co-written Avril Lavigne's new single, "Nobody's Home," and two songs on Kelly Clarkson's forthcoming album, Breakaway. The confessed metalhead's move toward the poppier side of the song spectrum may have surprised Evanescence fans, but Lee said she never really flinched.
"I was like, 'Oh, that makes sense,' " she explained. "Most people assume just from looking at us and our music that Ben [being the guy] is responsible for all the rock music, and all the sappy stuff comes from me. That just isn't true. Ben's the one who wrote 'My Immortal.' He's more about the pop influence and being commercial and selling albums. That's the part that we also disagreed on. I want to do the more artistic, weird thing, and he would want to do the thing that people would want to hear.
"A lot of the reason it's been so much fun writing this album is that we're not thinking about that," she added. "It's like, 'What do we like? What's fun?' "
While fans await the band's "fun" follow-up, they can get their fix with the two-disc DVD/CD package Anywhere But Home, due Tuesday. Besides onstage and backstage footage, the set also includes concert bloopers just to show that the band isn't perfect.
"I thought it would be cool to have a whole section dedicated to us messing up," Lee said. "It's stuff we think is hilarious. I think it's important to realize that we're all just human. I mean, nobody is supernatural."
Lee has also been working on music for the upcoming film "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe," inspired by the children's book by C.S. Lewis. The dark and morose tale, about four children who discover a magical land in the clutches of an evil witch, not only was a childhood favorite of Lee's, but its aesthetic suits the gothic-leaning singer perfectly.
"I love the kind of stranger children's stuff," she said. "I think that's very much what our music is inspired by. Not only death and the morbid stuff, but that it comes from the perspective of a child and things relating to childhood, because that's what I went through."
Lee was offered a small role in the film, currently in production in New Zealand, but considering the role she requested, the film's producers may have been too freaked out to give her a part.
"They were like, 'Do you want to do a cameo?' And I was like, 'Hell yeah! Let me die. I want to be somebody who gets murdered.' So I don't think that's going to happen."