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Evanescence accomplishes "comeback" mission

for Journal Register Newspapers

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Amy Lee and the rest of Evanescence have allowed themselves a slight sigh of relief since the group released its self-titled third album 10 months ago.

Acknowledging that she "didn't know how people were going to react or if there was still an audience there at all," Lee is nothing but pleased that "Evanescence," the band's first new album in five years, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It also received a pair of Loudwire Music Awards, for Comeback of the Year and Rock Song of the Year ("What You Want"), and Lee was named Best Vocalist at Revolver magazine's Golden Gods Awards earlier this year -- as well as the #1 Hottest Chick in Hard Rock.

And that success has Lee and company treating its current headlining spot on the Carnival of Madness tour as a something of a victory lap -- though in Lee's mind she's not the only star of the show.

"I have to be honest, I've become a huge Halestorm fan" -- and especially a fan of that group's Lizzy Hale, Lee notes. "It's always a rare treat to be on tour with another female in the first place, but on top of that, she's extremely fun to watch and super down-to-earth. So that's been really my favorite part of it so far, and the shows have been great."

Carnival of Madness catches Evanescence well into the "Evanescence" campaign, which has turned into a global concern thanks to the album's Top 10 debut in many other countries. "We've just been touring our asses off," says the classically trained Lee, 30, who co-founded Evanescence in 1995 and continued it after an acrimonious 2003 split with songwriting partner Ben Moody.

"We've been around the world now, gone to a bunch of places that we'd never been to before and hit a lot of places on our wish list -- Lebanon, Morocco, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Korea. We really have done a lot of interesting things on this tour and had quite an adventure."

That, Lee adds, has made "Evanesence" "a really positive thing in my life," especially since its long gestation included abandoning a batch of material she initially wrote for it and switching producers, from Steve Lillywhite to Nick Raskulinecz, along the way. "It was a long road getting there," Lee acknowledges. "To some degree it always is. I've never made a record without a fight -- and it's always worth it."

She does, however, acknowledge that the definition of success has changed since Evanescence last released an album. While "Evanescence" has certainly made an impact, it's doing so without the kind of sales the group previously enjoyed -- more than 17 million worldwide for 2003's "Fallen" and more than six million for "The Open Door" in 2006. Both of those albums were multi-platinum in the U.S., while "Evanescence's" sales are currently at about 421,000 domestically, but Lee says those figures don't feel like the true measure of success anymore.

"I almost think how many followers you have on Facebook is a more true read than how many records you've sold -- which is kind of hilarious," she says. "You don't have to buy music as much anymore, so as an artist we just have to keep our minds open. There's no set way to do things anymore. It's more about creativity.

"But we're really lucky in that we have a very large, very passionate fan base. So I feel if we make something, our fans are going to hear it...one way or the other."

Evanescence plans to give those fans more to hear from "Evanescence." Both "The Other Side" and "Lost in Paradise" are being promoted as singles from the album, with a video planned for the latter "in the next break of time off we have." The band is headed back overseas for a U.K. run after Carnival of Madness ends in early September, with plans to finish touring in time for the holidays.

And at that point Lee says she'll start thinking about more new music -- though, she adds, "my first order of business is going to be to soak up some good family time.

"I only get into that (creative) mode when I'm home and finally separated from the chaos of public life," says Lee who married in 2007. "But this has been good. This has been a lot of going out there and seeing ne stwthings and being able to have some new inspiration. So the writing will come. I'm not worried about that."

The Carnival of Madness tour, with Evanescence, Chevelle, Halestorm, Cavo and New Medicine, takes place at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $59.50 and $35 pavilion, $25 lawn with an $80 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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