Just weeks after announcing their first ever gig in Israel, two members of the rock band Evanescence left the group. Front-woman Amy Lee relays that local fans have nothing to worry about and that she and her musicians will be here for the June 26 gig in Ra'anana.
"The way things were going, things were actually just not fun anymore," she tells The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview. "I felt we were a little bit trapped. They [guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray, who left] weren't happy and instead of working together we were working against each other. The new guys [drummer Will Hunt and guitarist Troy McLawhorn] play it from the heart. Now it's more rock'n'roll."
Taking a line from one of her famous songs, she adds: "I feel like I've been brought back to life."
These latest changes to the band's line-up actually go well with Evanescence's characteristic chaos.
Originally hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, this American alternative rock band was founded in 1998 by singer Lee and former guitarist Ben Moody. The two met at summer camp, formed the band, released two private EPs and a demo CD named Origin, and dreamed of making it big. That wish came true in 2003, with the release of their first full-length album, Fallen, on the Wind-up Records label. Fallen sold more than 14 million copies worldwide and helped the band win two Grammy Awards.
While most bands might fall apart at the departure of a significant bandmate, Lee proved that she has what it takes to be a rock star when she kept her band together. Moody, who co-wrote all the material on Fallen, left the group in the middle of a tour in support of the album. Lee found a new collaborator and guitarist and in 2006 released Evanescence's second studio album, The Open Door.
"The music took a new direction on the new album," she says. "On Fallen, it was all angst, fear and loneliness and things I was struggling with at the time. On the new album there's empowerment, and hope and love. I'm not afraid to be happy."
Another change in the 25-year-old Lee's life of late is her marriage to friend and therapist Josh Hartzler last month. "It definitely changed everything for me. I feel like my life has a greater purpose now. I have a lot of help and support. I'm really happy. No matter what happens I feel that I've got Josh and everything is going to be fine," she says. "We're touring until November and then I'll probably take time off for a couple of years. I want to take time off and be a wife."
Asked if children are on the horizon, Lee replies that she does "want to have kids some day," but not in the near future.
EVANESCENCE'S stop-over in Ra'anana is part of the group's European tour. Lee says our little country was included on her concert schedule due to repeated requests by fans. But despite her devoted fan base, it turns out that she doesn't really know much about Israel, its people or its history.
She had no idea that Israelis could speak English or that this country boasts a modern lifestyle. Moreover, because her lyrics are often said to have allusions to Jesus, this reporter wrongly assumed that Lee might be interested in seeing some of the Christian sites here, like the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem or Tabgha in the Galilee. Instead, Lee says: "I'm not sure what we're going to do yet. We're dreaming about what we're going to do, maybe we'll go see the pyramids."
Being that she's on her way to the pyramid-deprived Jewish State, Lee reiterates that Evanescence is not a Christian band (though it is often categorized as such) and never has been one. "It's surprising that I'm still answering this question," she says. "I sing from the heart and sing about my life."
Music critics have noted that on both albums she seems to be singing haunted romances to God. "I want every fan to interpret the songs as they want to. I never want to tell a fan that their interpretation of a song is wrong," she says, trying to explain her being labeled a Christian singer.
"It's passionate music. I hope people can take inspiration and passion from show. I love Evanescence music, it's all from my heart," she says. "I'm not trying to sell something. I hope fans can come to the show and forget about everything else and just enjoy the music."
The band's name comes from the word, evanesce, which means to disappear. Asked if that isn't a bad forewarning of disappearing from the rock world, Lee says, "It doesn't just mean to disappear, it also means vapor. We chose it because of the sound of the word, it's a beautiful word, mysterious and interesting...like our music."
Evanescence's concert in Ra'anana will include material from both albums.
"It's not going to be a ton of sets, there are no acrobats, it's a straight up rock show," says Lee, of what fans can expect. "It's cool to be able to play a live version of what's on the album."
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