Not many would have predicted the pairing of Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling as partners for one of the more unique tours this summer.
At first glance, the goth rock band and electronic violinist wouldn’t seem to be a perfect match. Evanescence is arguably best known for lead singer Amy Lee’s brooding lyrics and virtuoso voice backed by loud guitars, with live performances taking place on stages where the primary color is unquestionably black.
Meanwhile, some of the music videos found on Stirling’s YouTube channel — which has 10.8 million subscribers — are brighter than bubble gum. She first gained attention on Season 5 of “America’s Got Talent” in 2010 and then attracted even more fans on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” last year, when she finished second on the dancing reality competition.
Perhaps what Lee and Stirling have most in common is the ever-present fight many female musicians face when it comes to gaining credibility among critics. Some have placed Evanescence in more of a lighter-rock category, as Lee’s near-operatic singing voice prompted many to think the band would go pop after the smash success of their 2003 debut single, “Bring Me to Life.” Fifteen years later, the band remains true to their hard rock roots and still struggles for that critical acceptance.
On July 21, they’ll share the stage at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh as part of a co-headlining tour.
The News & Observer talked with Lee only days into the tour. Evanescence is unique in the music world of 2018, as they tend to stay off the road more than on. For many acts, touring is one of the last areas of the music business where decent money can still be found. We asked Lee why the band has never had a perennial concert calendar presence.
Q: So, how did your unique summer pairing with Lindsey Stirling come about?
A: This particular moment for Evanescence is about the orchestra. We did this album last year, “Synthesis,” where we took a collection of songs from throughout our history — not just the hits, but songs from our catalogue that really lent themselves to the project — and surrounded them with a deeper, more dramatic orchestration. I’m a big fan of that, anyway, as Evanescence has always been a combination of those cinematic orchestra elements and the hard rock thing.
We made an album that is both past and present, while also stripping away the really heavy guitars and big bombastic drums, and replaced that stuff with other instruments. I redid the songs from scratch in a whole new way, so part of building that within the studio was figuring out how to recreate it live, and create a tour that is totally different from anything that we’ve ever done before. Last fall we began touring with a live orchestra, and it’s so awesome! It’s like having a film scored behind us, and just feels really special, but it definitely feels like a different tour that lends itself to different things for us.
Lindsey guest appears on one of the new songs off the album (”Hi-Lo”) and just did a great job a shredding on the violin the way a great guitar soloist would. It just seemed like such a great idea to bring her along, and just make a bigger show out of the album. I like the fact that (the tour) is very different. We’ve never toured with an act that wasn’t another rock band of some kind, but this is the first time for us where there are two very different shows happening, and it just goes together so well. We both use the full orchestra for our shows, and we collaborate multiple times throughout the night, so it just creates this very interesting thing that happens all night long. Her show is a very big production, with dancers and costume changes, and our show is this very heavy rock thing. My favorite parts (of the show) are where the two entwine, where these two very different acts mesh together.
Q: Was Lindsey an artist you were aware of before she guested on the new album?
A: Definitely. I was very familiar with her song “Crystallize” (the 2012 single off of Stirling’s debut album), which I think was one of her first big songs, and it was such a cool fusion of electronic music and almost classical violin. That is so much the heart of the project we’re behind right now, with the electronic and orchestra thing, and it just clicked in my mind; she’s a person who doesn’t do just one genre, and has such a range of colors in her palette.
She just felt like a perfect fit for our project, and we both were familiar with the others’ music for quite a while. It’s a little amazing that this is the first time we’ve worked together, because it really makes so much sense that we would want to.
Q: Has adding Lindsey to the tour as a support act made life on the road a little more fun this time around?
A: Yes, it has, but I always complain when the tour feels like it has gone on a little too long and everyone (on the tour) is just ready to go home. It’s never been (performing) — the show is the fun part — but there are 24 hours in a day, and the traveling and living on the road, and packing up your show each night to carry on your back every night drags you down. The show and the fans are always the highlight.
I’m in a new place, as far as how we’re doing it, because my almost-4-year-old son and the rest of the family are out on tour with me almost the entire time. Especially now that he’s old enough to love life on the road: He gets to sleep on a bus every night, experience a new town every day, and swim in hotel swimming pools. (Touring) is his new favorite thing, so it makes me happy to be able to have him out, and gives the road a whole new feeling.
I’ve learned how to put a lot of time in between touring, as well, so we’re not making ourselves sick with travel. We create something, take it on the road for just a little bit, and then go create our next thing.
Q: Speaking of creations, let’s touch on the solo children’s album you released through Amazon Music in 2016, “Dream Too Much.” How did that project come along?
A: My husband and I sing a lot, especially with the baby, when we’re transitioning from one thing to the next; kind of like (to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell”), “We’re going over here, we’re going over here,” just making up stupid little songs. They make us laugh, and kids love that, because the repetition helps them know what is going on.
In addition, my family is very musical — my dad plays more instruments than I can count — and we were raised playing music together as a family. And on my dad’s 60th birthday I told him we should just go into a recording studio and make something. When we walked in, we had such a good time that I thought I should share the experience with everyone. I reserved more sessions of studio time, invited my siblings to come in and sing on it, and it ended up being this fun family project.
I couldn’t be more grateful that we did that when we did. I actually just lost my brother this past year, so to have captured the sound of us all singing together during the time we spent in that studio, it’s just precious. More than I can really explain to you, it’s something I’m really proud of.
Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling with full orchestra
When: 7 p.m., July 21
Where: Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, 3801 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh
Cost: $25.00, $49.50, $59.50, $79.50, $104.50, $108.50
Info: 919-831-6400 or LiveNation.com