Amy Lee and Lzzy Hale Lace Up Some Comfy, Familiar Footwear

Evanescence's Amy Lee
Evanescence's Amy Lee Photo by Nick Fancher, courtesy of Shore Fire Media
“It’s like putting on some shoes that you haven’t worn for a couple of years and trying ‘em out again,” said Lzzy Hale of resuming touring. She and her band Halestorm recently laced up their best traveling footwear with tour mates Evanescence. Hale and Evanescence’s Amy Lee are hard rock’s preeminent front women and their current tour is drawing high reviews. They met with the Houston Press via Zoom recently to discuss their friendship, each band’s new music and the co-headlining tour. Their show on Sunday, November 21, will help christen downtown Houston’s newest venue, 713 Music Hall.

“The road is part of me,” Hale said, “I’ve been doing this for years but there’s something fresh about what’s happening now, there’s something, I feel, more magical. Amy and I have had this conversation a lot over the years, we’ve never taken anything for granted, but I think that now we’re so ready to just live in the moment and experience all the sounds, tastes, smells of tour and really just take those moments with us and hold them close.”

Lee said the excitement for something as routine as a concert tour is tempered by the times. They both feel performing at a time when masks and COVID checks are still required or recommended will be a bit easier with a friend nearby.

“It’s a new world for a lot of reasons, not just because of time off. We’re going into a new world with this and we have to figure out how to make it happen where it’s safe for everybody, where it’s still fun. It’s a big responsibility going back out in this time,” Lee admitted. “It’s risky, too. We don’t wanna have to be cancelling shows. That’s not gonna be good. So, we definitely have been confiding in each other and collaborating on everything we can do to make it an awesome, successful tour for everybody and a happy, safe, healthy tour for everybody.”

Lee said even though the focus is on her and Hale — in this interview and at the shows — mounting the tour has been a team effort involving both camps. And, to date, things have gone well. The tour has created some viral moments with Hale and Lee nightly teaming to cover Linkin Park’s song “Heavy.”

“I think it’s really important to be able to have everybody openly working together and trusting each other and doing everything we can to make the show great in this new, dangerous time,” Lee said.

Hale added, “It’s such a joy to be preparing for this tour and going out with a friend. There’s a comfort level in that and I know that no matter what we face on this tour we’ll be able to figure it out together.

click to enlarge Lzzy Hale and Halestorm - PHOTO BY JIMMY FONTAINE, COURTESY OF ASHLEY WHITE PR
Lzzy Hale and Halestorm
Photo by Jimmy Fontaine, courtesy of Ashley White PR

“Amy and I have gone through the same things. We were both making a record during the pandemic and looking at this unknown future, so we shared a lot of those hardships and hard questions,” Hale continued. “The fact that we’re going out and being able to share that excitement and experience is truly a beautiful thing.”

Both bands have new music to promote on tour. For Evanescence it’s The Bitter Truth, the band’s first full album of new material in a decade. Halestorm released the single “Back from the Dead” recently and it’s a glimpse into their approaching album, which is set for a 2022 release.

“We just finished the last song and are just kinda cleaning house and looking at some of the B-sides now,” Hale said of the record. “It feels really good to be done with it because this whole journey, we started writing for this record before the pandemic hit. I guess there’s no better way to say it than it has been a journey and a rollercoaster ride. I feel like it’s been three different lifetimes. What we’ve ended up with we’re really excited about. It’s a barnburner of a record.

“It’s great to see the hope,” Hale said of resuming the business of music business. “On a personal level, our album means a lot to me but the conversations I’ve been having with our fan base and the struggles I’ve seen them go through as well, both pandemic-wise and otherwise, I feel like this record is going to mean a lot to them, too.”

Lee agrees with that take by her friend. She’s already seen how her new music, released in March, is impacting Evanescence fans, particularly the moving single “Use My Voice.” It’s struck a chord as an empowerment anthem and features Hale on guest vocals.

“I think what we really have to offer is to use our own voice and empower others to do the same and shed light on truth, if that’s possible, in the best we can through art,” Lee stated. “I hope that’s a very positive thing. I feel very proud and excited to be able to put that out there, especially in a time when voters' rights are being attacked. Really that was the platform for the song at the time, getting people to believe and to honestly push themselves to believe that their voice matters because it truly does. It’s so wrong to make people think that it doesn’t matter.”

Something else that matters is friendship and Lee and Hale have a strong bond, forged before they ever really met, as Hale tells it.

“With Evanescence and Amy, they’ve created their own legacy. They’ve opened the doors for so many young women to pass through, myself included,” Hale said. “I’ve been in Halestorm since I was 13 years old and nobody ever expected me to be in the band, nobody assumed that I was in the band, everybody thought, “Oh, that’s the girlfriend’ or ‘That’s the merch girl’ or whatever.”

Although the band impressed labels and radio stations, Hale said few knew what to do with a female-fronted hard rock act. Then, she said, she heard Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life” on the radio.

“I remember hearing her voice and being like, ‘Whoa — no, no wait, turn that up. Who the hell is that?’ It gave me so much hope for myself personally because I was able to be like ‘See! A-ha! It is possible and it’s happening right now,’” Hale said.

“What I saw was more women coming out to the shows and more girls literally seeing themselves in Amy and then in turn with me being like, okay that bridge that I was trying to cross just got a little shorter. It was an amazing thing to see and to prove that this heavy music that we love, that we fight for, is truly genderless and these girls can be like, ‘No, this is my music. This isn’t my boyfriend’s music, I didn’t get drug out here, this is mine.’ It’s still happening today and I can’t wait to be out on tour with my friend and just experience that all over again together.”

“I watched Halestorm for the first time when we went on tour together in 2012 and that was the impact on me — whoa, they’re great at this, she has an amazing voice, they’re really, really talented and it’s obvious they love doing it. It’s coming from a real, true place. And for me, music that inspires me and draws me in is always because the artist really is putting their whole, real self into it.

“So, I think that authenticity and that drive and talent — all those things — but as a woman I think it’s really cool to see other women succeeding in an industry that really isn’t traditionally led by women,” Lee continued. “Just to see a badass, ruling-it, boss bitch like Lzzy standing up there doing it all — playing the guitar, singing, fronting the band — just makes me feel like yeah, that’s possible. When you’re talking about young fans, I think it’s just rad to see another woman up there that did it and made it and is like, ‘Yeah, I can do this. It’s no thing. You could, too.’”

The media is quick to lean on the trope that they are two of the few front women of hard rock to explain their closeness. It’s a factor, they said, but not the prevailing one.

“I think there’s something powerful that comes with finding this kindred spirit, speaking specifically to the female thing. I have a lot of guy friends. I have dudes in my band. I’m kind of a dude-bro myself,” Hale suggested. “It’s a rarity that I find someone, a musician, that has a parallel story and the same things on a deeper level that I’ve had to grapple with or the decisions I’ve had to make because of my position. And, to be able to really find a friend that truly understands that because even though I’m really close with my guys and my brother’s in my band and everything, they’ve been next to me the whole time, they know my journey, they know the things I’ve had to do or say or stand up to, but even they will never really know what that’s like, what that feels like.

“Also, she has done this and she has just created something on her own and has stuck it out,” Hale continued. “She didn’t say, ‘Oh, it’s too hard, I’m gonna give up. She didn’t say, ‘I’m not taken seriously here by this guy so I’m just gonna pack it up.’ And I really respect that. To be able to have those conversations on a deep level with someone like Amy, it’s just a gift, it really is.”

Lee adds, “We’re both in a situation where we’re used to kind of being the only ones with our story, so it is a very special and rare asset where we can connect and understand each other. I’ll add to that we’re both kind of like no bullshit, down to earth people. I don’t like small talk. I think something that I love about Lzzy that I recognized right away was that she’s just a real person. That’s where I want to spend my time, with real people that’ll talk to you for real and tell you the truth.”

Evanescence and Halestorm bring their co-headlining tour to Houston's newest music arena, 713 Music Hall, 401 Franklin, Sunday, November 21, 2021. With special guests Plush. 7:30 p.m. show time, tickets $69.50 and up.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.