Evanescence are in a happier place ahead of Dubai concert

We talk to Amy Lee, the lead dinger of Evanescence, about a changed line-up, a new album, a different sound and a Middle East debut in Dubai on Friday.

Amy Lee of Evanescence. Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP
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Saeed Saeed talks to Amy Lee, the lead singer of the goth rock band Evanescence, about a changed line-up, a new album, a different sound and a Middle East debut in Dubai this Friday.

Since the Arkansas goth-rock band Evanescence emerged with their 2003 mega-selling debut album Fallen, the searing drama of their records was matched by the turmoil offstage.

By the time the group arrive at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday night, the singer Amy Lee will be the only one left standing from the original line-up.

Festering tensions between Lee and the guitarist Ben Moody resulted in the latter leaving the band in 2003 due to "creative differences".

Four years later, as the group were touring 2006's successful follow-up The Open Door, the bassist John Le Compt was fired and the drummer Rocky Gray quit.

Both went on to join Moody to form a rival goth band We Are The Fallen whose 2010 debut Tear Down The World sold modestly.

With all that upheaval, no wonder Lee wondered whether opening up a little restaurant back home would be a safer bet than being in a big rock band.

"I remember just wanting a big break," she recalls. "I just felt like being somebody else right now and perhaps open a restaurant and do something artistic but not music."

Ironically, it took the most non-rocking of musical pursuits to stoke the fires once again.

It was through Lee's daily practice of the harp, a gift from her husband, that she reconnected with her music and began writing songs again.

"It was a whole different kind of music," she says. "It allowed me to express myself in a different kind of way and helped me learn that although I love all different kinds of art - visual, musical, edible - music is my number one passion in life."

But being Evanescence, recording the new album became another ordeal.

The next person to face the chopping block was the producer Steve Lillywhite, his pop-orientated sound (U2 and Matchbox 20) deemed not a good fit for the darker territory the group were intent on exploring. The band found their groove with the Deftones producer Nick Rasculinecz and the resulting self-titled third album is their most compelling yet.

While previous albums were defined by Lee's explosive bouts of anguish, the new songs have Lee trading the pity for a new-found sass best exhibited in the strutting lead single What You Want and the sweeping I Am Broken.

"It is coming from a more confident and fun kind of place, vocally," Lee says. "There are still those feelings of yearning in the songs but there is more going on here. It makes the dark darker when there is light in between."

But did the fans still care? Lee feared the five years off between albums was too much of gap to sustain interest. Thanks to the album being leaked online, Lee's concerns were allayed during a promo tour when the crowd sang along to the new songs a week before the album was officially released.

"We are really lucky to have a wonderful fan base around the world," she says. "I think with technology and the media and everything else going on with the music world right now, it is very hard to find new music if you are not looking for it specifically. The cool thing about such a strong fan base is then they know to look out for the new album."

This is part of the reason why Evanescence's latest world tour is their most far-reaching yet, making stops in new territories including Morocco and their Middle East debut performance in Dubai.

As well as the adventure, Lee says the tour is a thank you to fans for staying the course.

"We love the fact that we don't know what to expect and to play to fans who never saw us before," she says.

"Dubai is definitely one place we are looking forward to and I know we will get at least a full day there so that should be fun."

Evanescence are playing on Friday at the Sheikh Rashid Hall, Dubai World Trade Centre. Doors open at 6pm. Tickets start at Dh295 from www.timeouttickets.com

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Annette Olzon

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Shirley Manson

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