United at last: Evanescence and Within Temptation

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Evanescence and Within Temptation go on a joint tour in the New Year including a stop in Leeds. DUNCAN SEAMAN reports.

Evanescence and Within Temptation are two giants of symphonic metal, a transatlantic pairing who between them have sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.

Within Temptation

Within Temptation

In the new year they are due to join forces for a joint headline tour which will take them to major venues across Europe, including the First Direct Arena in Leeds.

Amy Lee, singer of US group Evanescence, known here for their UK chart-topper Bring Me To Life, says “surprisingly” she only recently crossed paths with Sharon den Adel, frontwoman of the Dutch band Within Temptation. “The first time that we did was about a year ago when we were playing. They weren’t on the bill but they…actually made the effort to come and watch us play, which is always a big compliment coming from another music artist because we do shows for a living, so going to a concert in your time off is generally not something we want to do very often, it’s got to be something you really care about if you go to a concert and you’re one of us. We hung out a little bit backstage and just ended up very quickly having this meaningful conversation, it was a lot deeper than a first conversation normally is.”

Den Adel admits she “didn’t expect” Lee to be “so open” on their first meeting. “A lot of times when you meet for the first time there’s a wall of chit chat about general things. I thought, it was going to be, ‘Hi, how are you doing? Nice to meet you’. It’s sad because people are not that open and people are sometimes a bit uncomfortable when I do that, go into the deep conversation immediately, but she did that naturally, it was almost like mirroring. It was a very strange thing happening, but a very beautiful thing. I was pleasantly surprised.”

That strong connection was, Lee says, “the first thing came that to mind when the idea came up recently for us to tour together”. “I had not historically been very familiar with their music but after we met that time I went and dug in and started listening. I was interested in her spirit and I wanted to hear her lyrics so I started to look at their music and I found a lot of songs that I really loved. I felt like I’d missed out on something that I couple have been listening to for a long time.

Amy got into the deep conversation naturally, it was almost like mirroring. It was a very strange thing happening, but a very beautiful thing. I was pleasantly surprised.

Sharon den Adel

“Honestly, I think just being an American, I think we’re less aware of that stuff. I have no excuse because we’ve been playing in Europe and other countries where I’ve definitely aware of their name and their band and just didn’t make the effort. I felt guilty about it. When I put the effort in I thought ‘this is great’. The thing that made me say yes to this tour was that connection that we had upon meeting but now I love their music too. I’m just a late Within Temptation bloomer.”

Initially, says Lee, they “planned a short tour to begin with”, but such was the outcry from fans they soon added more dates. “I looked at it and thought, ‘They’re right, we’re putting on this massive show with big new production and I would love to do a little bit more if we can’, so we went back to see if there was another week or two that we could add to make it a little bit more because I think this is going to be really fun and I do want to get together with as many fans that want to see it as we can, so we’re doing our best with it.”

Both bands have a long history. Lee formed a prototype Evanescence with the band’s original guitarist Ben Moody in 1995 when they were in high school in Little Rock, Arkansas; den Adel and guitarist Robert Westerholt founded Within Temptation a year later in the Netherlands town Wadinxween.

While Evanescence enjoyed huge international success with their first album, Fallen, for den Adel’s band, it took three albums to cement a Europe-wide audience. By 2007 they were making inroads into the UK and US. Den Adel says she likes the way their career has gradually built with each release. “I don’t know how we would’ve coped with a huge success and then tried to maintain that kind of success. It just grew with every album and that was for us a very comfortable way of dealing with the people who came to us as a band. It just grew gradually and it was a very nice process.”

Even at 13, Lee says she “definitely had the ambition” to pursue a career in music while she and Moody were writing songs together in their parents’ basements and garages. “I had the hope and the dream that we would be doing exactly what we’re doing now, it’s just that I couldn’t have actually imagined it because I’d never seen it before and it’s turned out to be something a lot more fulfilling than I ever could’ve dreamed that it could be.

“There’s a very special connection that happens on both sides, from my experience writing songs to heal myself to process my life and there’s this whole other side instead of just writing things in my journal and putting it away I’m sharing something that people then turn around and give back to me and tell us these incredible life stories and experiences and things that they’ve been through where our music was a part of that story. Often times they’re telling us that our music helped them in a positive way and I never imagined that, and it’s turned out to be the thing that is the most satisfying and gratifying part of what we do.”

Evanescence and Within Temptation play at First Direct Arena on 30 April. www.evanescence.com, www.within-temptation.com