Evanescence and the therapy of confronting 'The Bitter Truth'
A full decade has passed since Evanescence last released a full length studio album of completely original material. Though the band crafted a very ambitious orchestral effort in 2017's 'Synthesis', the creative tangent served as a means to expand their musical horizon - reimagining existing songs with immersive arrangements. Still very much an endeavor aligned with the spirit and identity of the band, the album was a turning point en route to their next musical destination.
While 'Synthesis' was a project that served well in satiating the fans, it's real merit was the groundworrk it laid for what would ultimately be Evanescence's eventual return to form when the band commenced working on their fourth studio album in early 2020. Evolving as musicians and songwriters, the lessons learned in 2017 would stick and equip the collective with an even better understanding of their full creative potential.
What the band could not have anticipated, what no one could have anticipated, was how the course of 2020 would forever alter the landscape of the world in which we live. Even prior to the upheaval of the never-ending year, the extended family of Evanescence were navigating their own personal bouts of love and loss that come requieste in life. Combining that emotional weight with what felt like a world coming apart at the seams, it would seem counterintuitive that a such a pointed, focused record would result - but such is 'The Bitter Truth'.
Establishing the framework of album four just prior to the pandemic in four emphatic tracks, "The Game Is Over," "Use My Voice," "Yeah Right," and "Wasted On You," the mission statement of 'The Bitter Truth' had well established roots. In true Evanescence fashion, the record would be confrontational, empowering, and always unapologetic. Yet as the world continued to shake underneath our feet with political turmoil, social upheaval, and the uncertainty of pandemic, the ethos of 'The Bitter Truth" became even more poignant.
What began as a reassertion of the artistic prowess of one of rock music's most exciting units evolved into a sort of emotional reservoir - a stockpile of all of the feelings that the world was collectively dealing with, channeled into collection of Evanescence songs. It's a reality that bears with it the added significance of a record that would have already been hugely important during the most ideal of times - an Evanescence record, an Evanescence record a decade in the making, and now an Evanescence record completed during one of the strangest, most stressful times in history.
However, while 'The Bitter Truth' may have been completed during 2020, it's narrative reaches much further than that. It's an album that explores a full spectrum of emotion in much the same way it showcases such a broad musical range - Evanescence at their creative best nearly two decades in. The band's drummer Will Hunt details how an already important release became even moreso below.
Given the span of time in between albums, do you feel like the band needed to fall in love again with the process of creating an album?
Hunt - No I don't really think that was the case for us. We had done the 'Synthesis' album, and although that was a very different venture for us, it was still the same process in terms of making a record - just minus the writing part. I think we all really love the creative process that goes into making a record, so I think we were all really excited and didn't need anything to prompt us to get started on the new album.
As an extended family, Evanescence experienced significant trauma prior to beginning work on The Bitter Truth. Was there an element of therapy in making this record?
Hunt - Absolutely. Even prior to 2020 things were really weird. The riots at Knotfest in Mexico and the complete destruction of our gear in late October now looking back on it, seems like a precursor to the mess that 2020 would become. And then of course we had some things internally in a couple of our members private lives that were really tough, and then the pandemic started. So when we started the process of creating this record we were definitely influenced by the things that were going on around us. And of course it wasn't just us that these things were happening too. The whole world was now dealing with a pandemic and it was such a mind-fuck for the entire world. Let's say that we didn't have to look too far past our own backyards for inspiration. So yes, making this record was incredible therapy for all of us.
There has been plenty of discussion about how confrontational this record is but songs like Far From Heaven are incredibly vulnerable. How daunting a task is it to find the instrumental companion for songs that are so emotionally-driven?
Hunt - I think that's one of the things that this band thrives on and has always done very well. I think Amy has a gift for being able to pick songs that she knows speak to her on a level where she can write a melody and a lyric. We have several songs that we worked on that were almost completed, or were completed musically for this record but we didn't completely finish them because at the end of the day Amy just couldn't get in the headspace with the songs on a melodic or lyrical level. It doesn't mean that we won't come back and revisit them, it just means that at the time we had plenty of music that was speaking to her. I think the record as a whole is an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. It's definitely a record that I think is best listened to from front to back, at least once! (Laughs)
How much of the album was conceptualized prior to heading into the studio? Was there a clear creative direction from the onset did that develop during your time recording?
Hunt - I would say musically we had an idea where we wanted to go with this, which was there were no rules. We weren't trying to make part II Fallen, or the 2011 self titled or whatever. We really wanted to take what we had done with synthesis and use what we had learned about sounds and sonic creativity and bring that into the creative palette for this album. From a vibe and lyrical standpoint, as time carried on, those things became really tangible. We started making this record in February 2020, pre-pandemic, and did four songs- "The Game Is Over," "Use My Voice," "Yeah Right," and "Wasted On You". We felt like at the time that those songs really represented the four corners of where this album was headed stylistically. And then of course the pandemic happened, the Black Lives Matter movement, and of course the political climate in the U.S. All of these things definitely played a large role in shaping the rest of the record when we got back into the studio to finish writing and recording in August.
How much did the course of 2020 affect your focus? Was working on The Bitter Truth a respite from the world or did the chaos hinder your headspace?
Hunt - I would say if anything that the course of 2020 made us hyper focused on what we were doing. I feel like it was a situation where we couldn't ignore what was going on around us of course, but at the same time it was a therapeutic way for us to deal with the feelings that we were all having which lent it self to the sound and vibe of the record. We became hyper focused on what we wanted to say musically and lyrically because of that. So I think that working on this was definitely a respite because it allowed us to focus on something other than the shit show that it was happening in the world around us, and at the same time gave us a therapeutic way to deal with all the feelings that we were having about said shit show as well.
There is an emerging generation of women in rock that really are changing the landscape of the category. From heavy bands like Spiritbox to more radio rock bands like The Pretty Reckless - Does it ever resonate with you how formative Evanescence has been in challenging that status quo?
Hunt - I don't think it resonates in a sense of we look at it like we've changed the way the world looks at women in rock. I think that what we try to do is just to continue to be an inspiration to women that are looking for something to help them feel empowered, not just in music or our genre, but just in general as a community, as human beings. It’s the bigger picture.
Evanescence is approaching a two decade tenure in the space of rock. What do you attribute to that kind of longevity and prompts you to add to your legacy rather just relying on it?
Hunt - It's pretty incredible when you think about it. I think any band that has this long of a career, and still finds relevance, can all agree that it stems partially from an incredibly loyal and amazing Fanbase, and we’re really blessed to have that. When we've taken time off, long periods between records, long periods between tours, completely flipped the script and done an orchestral/electronic record and tour, our fans have always been there. They come to the shows and they support us 1000%. That's certainly huge part of it. The other part of it is that we as a band continue to push our boundaries. We continue to push our art and our creativity, we continue to push each other as artists, musicians, and people. We're not afraid of challenges and to keep moving forward.
Every artist will tell you their current project is their best but something about The Bitter Truth translates as very definitive in the Evanescence catalog. Do you feel like this is the most complete iteration of the band thus far?
Hunt - Absolutely. I agree, every band tends to say that this is the best record they've ever created, and when you're in the moment of creating it and you've poured your heart and soul into it certainly feels like that. But we've had some time to sit with this for a minute and really compare it to other things that we've done whether it's been in this band or other projects that we do, and I can honestly tell you that we really feel like this is probably the most pointed, timely, relevant, and musically and lyrically heavy record this band has ever made. We're extremely proud of it and we hope that the old fans and new fans alike feel it the way that we do.
'The Bitter Truth' from Evanescence arrives on March 26th and can be pre-ordered - HERE