One of Evanescence’s first live performances opened with frontwoman Amy Lee sitting at a piano, her fingers gliding over the opening notes. There were no fancy props, flashy pyrotechnics, or elaborate choreographed dances; just five musicians rocking out in heavy black eyeliner and combat boots, with fans headbanging in the front row.
The band took home two Grammy awards back in 2004, including Best New Artist, for their debut record, Fallen. A lot has happened in the 12 years since then — two more albums, lineup changes, a lengthy hiatus — but the band finally plans to reunite on October 26 in Dallas and kick off a fall tour.
Their tour set list is TBD, though as Lee told MTV News, there’s one song they couldn’t do without: “Bring Me to Life,” their most recognizable hit. The single skyrocketed Evanescence to mainstream fame and inspired countless “wake me up inside” references.
“It is definitely kind of a weird thing to be most known for something that you’re so — at least time wise — so distant from,” Lee told us over the phone. “I was 21 when we filmed the music video for ‘Bring Me to Life.’ It was my very first time leaving the U.S. to film the video in Romania. It was all just brand new ... I’ve grown so much since then, but I’m still extremely proud of it.”
Lee, now 34, has pursued multiple projects outside of Evanescence over the years. Her upcoming solo record — her second after 2014’s Aftermath, the soundtrack to War Story — is a far cry from her usual alt-rock style. Dream Too Much, out September 30 on Amazon Music, is a feel-good children’s album inspired by Jack, her 2-year-old son with husband Josh Hartzler.
Title track “Dream Too Much” is a modern, whimsical lullaby about monkeys in beds and jellyfishes building watermelon towers. These animals and more — once figments of Lee’s imagination — come alive in a series of stop-motion music videos, one for each song off the record. Each will have its own story, she said, but recurring characters and themes connect them.
“There’s so much amazing CG out there and that’s so much of what we see in animation, but I’m still a sucker for seeing the art that was actually formed with somebody’s hands. It’s also perfect since it’s kids’ music and the way the construction is, it’s very crude. It’s broken down.”
Each song is Jack-approved as well. He was Lee’s “test audience” while she wrote the album with her dad and sisters. Dream Too Much was the result of the musical family creating music specifically for Jack.
“As soon as we’d start going down a road,” Lee explained, “I’m thinking, hmm, I might try this little idea I have for donkey and chicken, whatever it is. It’s usually me singing it to Jack or me making a demo in my studio and coming downstairs and playing it for him and seeing how he reacts and tweaking it to fit.”
Besides impressing her son, Lee strived to create something an entire family can enjoy together. Although Dream Too Much is labeled as children’s music, she hopes adults will appreciate it, too. The songs aren’t as intense as Evanescence’s, but her voice — what fans love her for — hits every angelic high note you remember.
“It’s not about pulling from the depths of my soul and finding a secret place that I can only describe through music,” Lee revealed about her songwriting process. “I feel like a lot of what I do with Evanescence is on such a deep level, and it’s so important that I get all of myself across. This wasn’t about all that crazy emotion. We were allowed to just be musicians and be free and have fun with it.”
This playful vibe comes through in the album’s promotional photographs. Lee traded her all-black Evanescence wardrobe for colors on colors and a rain shower of rubber duckies — not exactly the stuff you’d see at Hot Topic, once a hot spot for teens copping Lee’s mid-2000s fashion.
Yet the G-rated tunes and lack of eyeliner don’t mean Lee’s quitting adult music. She promised new Evanescence songs are coming — “It’s not right around the corner, like it’s not tomorrow, but ... we have some cool ideas in mind,” she said. You can also hear her solo work in two forthcoming films: Voice from the Stone, starring Emilia Clarke, and Blind, starring Alex Baldwin and Demi Moore.
Today, however, Lee’s focus is on Dream Too Much’s release. But for the Evanescence fans in the room, she has a little something extra to entertain you: a viral video of “Bring Me to Life,” composed of animal noises.
YouTube user Insane Cherry originally created the “really, really ridiculous” clip, which got passed around the internet until eventually finding its way to Lee.
“I’m like, Why is everyone sending me this?” Lee laughed. “My favorite part is where the cat hissing is separated. It sounds just like the programming in the background at some point. That’s what cracked me up.”
This is only one of several popular “Bring Me to Life” parodies — Goofy’s cover is a must-see — all of which prove just how enduring the song’s legacy is. No, Evanescence aren’t the exact same band they were on that stage years ago. No, Amy Lee isn’t the same 21-year-old girl staring you down from Fallen’s album cover.
But growing up won’t stop them from rocking their future shows. “We’re in a really good place as a live band,” Lee said. “I think everybody’s playing at the top of their game, so I feel like we can do anything.”
Hopefully Lee remembers her own advice to Jack and the many kids listening to her latest single: There’s no way you can dream too much.