On Monday, February 22nd, Evanescence started recording their upcoming third album in New York with famed producer Steve Lillywhite. Singer Amy Lee tells Rolling Stone the new disc is going to be a mix of "sarcastic aggression" that will show a new side of the band — a distinct electro influence. "A lot of bands I've always been inspired by are just coming into play a little more," says Lee, citing the future-shock sounds of Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Portishead, CSS, La Roux and MGMT. "There's a lot of stuff that doesn't sound like Evanescence, but the heart of the band of still there. This is a really, really, rhythmically driven record. So there's tons of drum-programming fused with live drums; drums we're renting a day at a time, like Japanese taiko drums."
Lee is co-writing the album with old friend and new collaborator Will Hunt, a producer, programmer and drummer from Fort Worth, Texas. The pair decided to start writing together after arranging "Sally's Song," Amy Lee's addition to 2008's Nightmare Revisited album and spent all of 2009 writing together in New York and Texas, crafting a handful of already-recorded electronic programming that will end up on the forthcoming record. "The sounds and influence he brings to the table — programming outer-space awesome sounds you can't even recognize. I went through a phase where I didn't know if it was solo time, or go write score music, or what," says Lee. "And then once we wrote together, I realized this is totally Evanescence."
The album is also the band's first with veteran producer Steve Lillywhite, who's produced for the Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band and, most notably, worked on eight U2 albums. Lillywhite, who approached the band, is co-producing the album with Hunt, and has been working with them since day one. "He's not the kind of producer that would leave during the day and then come back to see what we're doing," says Lee of Lillywhite. "He's part of the team, a big part of the team."
This is Evanescence's first record since 2006's platinum The Open Door. In the time off, Lee got married and started taking harp lessons — and she assures that the plucky fruits of her labor will definitely appear on the LP. As for the rest of the band, guitarist Terry Balsamo and bassist Tim McCord are back on board; Dave Campbell will once again handle string arrangements; and live guitarist Troy McLawhorn is tentative depending on his schedule with his band Seether. Hunt will be doing most of the drumming, but Lee doesn't rule out an appearance by Evanescence's last live drummer — coincidentally also named Will Hunt. "This is going to be really hard to get across without people getting confused because they have the same exact name," says Lee. "But we're actually doing a two-drummer thing for the next tour. Basically Thing 1 and Thing 2 — we're gonna have figure out some kind of plan for just knowing who's who."
As for the change in direction, Lee says it's more of an aesthetic homecoming. "I'm just at a place where I know who I am," says Lee. "I'm not trying to prove anything this time. Last time I had a lot of weight on my shoulders. This time I'm just having fun with music."