by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
Evanescence singer Amy Lee is famous for her fiery, impassioned vocals on songs like “Bring Me to Life” and her powerful presence as a front woman for a goth-metal band.
But for an adorable two-year-old named Jack, she’s just “mama.”
This month, as Lee and her band get ready to embark on another national tour, parents everywhere get to enjoy her first children’s album “Dream Too Much” (Amazon Music).
Recently, the Rockmommy sat down to chat with me about her new record, balancing Jack and family life with a full-time music career (who knew watching your wee one on the baby monitor could inspire a song?!), and how other creative moms can keep their musical muse alive.
Rockmommy: When I first read you had made a children’s album, I couldn’t help but think it would be a hard rock album! Did you ever in your life think you would make a pretty, melodic children’s album with your family?
Amy Lee: It definitely is different than anything I’ve put out publicly before, but it really is a true part of who I am and who I’ve always been! This is me connecting my childhood with Jack’s. There is music in here that has been part of our family since as far back as I can remember, and I’ve always loved good, catchy melodies.
Rockmommy: In your recent Rolling Stone interview, you mentioned that the album started as a family project. When did it occur to you to make something bigger that could be enjoyed by the masses?
Amy Lee: Well … I did my first recording session with my dad and uncle in February of this year, and in that same month my manager asked if I’d be interested in doing a children’s album, because there was an opportunity with Amazon. It was kind of bizarre — just meant to be I guess. I not only really enjoyed recording this music for Jack with my family, but I loved the way it was sounding. So we just had to keep going!
Rockmommy: How did you decide on the songs you would include? What was the creative process like?
Amy Lee: We recorded in Ft. Worth Texas at Spaceway Productions with my good friend and collaborator/producer Will Hunt. I would write and make demos from my home until we had four or five that I wanted to record, then we would figure out what the line-up would be for that session and book a week or so. We did that three times. So for the first batch, it was my dad, my uncle and me doing mainly songs from my childhood like “Rubber Duckie” and “Goodnight my Love.” Then for the second batch I started getting into the Andrews Sisters-style three part harmony stuff and made the focus about my sisters and I. My sister Lori, my dad, and my husband Josh all got in on the writing process, which was really fun! Plenty of hilarious emails and voice memos back and forth.
Rockmommy: Can you tell us about how your son Jack inspired some of the songs on this record?
Amy Lee: The lyrics for “Dream Too Much” came right out of his mouth! I was just sitting on the couch with an acoustic guitar, and Jack was running around the room in a circle saying hilarious nonsense (not unusual!). So when he yelled out “monkey in the band,” I sang it back to him. Then, “the muffins are sleeping!” and I sang that too. After a few lines I thought, ‘hey, that could be really cool, to make the verses just crazy imaginative stuff he’s thinking about.’ I’m keeping it that way! Another one— “I’m not Tired” — started as I was watching him on the baby monitor while sitting at my keyboard trying to write. Total rebellion against sleep. ANYTHING but that! I put myself in his mind and sang what I thought he would say if he could, and that became a fun game.
Rockmommy: You are going back on tour with Evanescence in just a couple of months! What are you most excited and concerned about, considering your new life as a mom with a toddler? (And are you bringing him on tour?!)
Amy Lee: I’m excited because it’s a side of myself that I don’t use that much lately. Most of the time I’m Jack’s mom, hanging out at the neighborhood sandbox or watching Curious George while making him dinner. Many days I don’t put on makeup, and if I wear a necklace it’s getting ripped off. I get to strap the boots on, pour glitter all over myself and thrash around onstage with my badass rock band. YES! I’m ready! The hard part is leaving him. It’s insanely painful. We will see each other but with long stretches in between, this will be the longest we’ve been apart and it’s killing me just thinking about it.
Rockmommy: What are some of the biggest challenges you have when it comes to balancing it all — the children’s album, Evanescence, marriage, time with your son — and how have you made it all work?
Amy Lee: The thing is, I want to be the best of myself — not just for me anymore, but for him. I want him to have a mom that spends every spare minute showering him with love and making him laugh, and I want him to have a mom that rocks (literally!). It would be easier in some ways, if I didn’t work at all, of course. There really aren’t enough hours in a day. But if I stopped making music, doing what I was born to do, or even just taking time to myself sometimes to think — I don’t think that’s good for anybody in the end. I want to show him that anything is possible, that life is a gift and we should live it. And balance — some days I feel like I can’t do that, I can’t balance it all out. But keeping perspective makes that OK. He comes first in my heart, so when something else is dragging a little bit, I just have to forgive myself. I’ll fix it/clean it/book it/write it later. Making this album, fueled by my love for him and my family, brought both worlds together and just felt right.
Rockmommy: Do you have any plans to play family shows (featuring songs from your children’s album) in the near future?
Amy Lee: My dad and I are going to do a little live performance on a Sirius show called “The Absolutely Mindy Show” at the end of the month. We’re looking forward to it!
Rockmommy: What advice do you have to other rocker moms who are trying to find time and inspiration to be creative (while exhausted from parenting young children!)?
Amy Lee: Keep it in perspective. Allow your mind to rest sometimes and just breathe and listen. Turn off the TV.
— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.