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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A lot of people might call that head banging music: you know, screaming vocalists, shrieking songs. But listen to what follows:

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AMY LEE: (Singing) Speak your mind, like I care...

SIMON: That's Amy Lee, lead singer of the band, Evanescence - a head-banger with an ethereal voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

LEE: (Singing) You sail around my heart...

SIMON: That angelic voice against a thrashing guitar has made Evanescence a multi-platinum group with their first two albums, "Fallen" in 2004 and "The Open Door" in 2006. Now, the band has a new self-titled album out this week. Amy Lee of Evanescence joins us now to talk about it, all from Nashville. Thanks very much for being with us.

LEE: Thanks so much for having me.

SIMON: You know, one of the things that's made your band so successful is it's considered a kind of a niche genre of music - forgive the expression - and you've put some Top 40 pop and spunk into it.

LEE: Thanks.

SIMON: Let's play a clip from this new album if we could, "Lost in Paradise."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOST IN PARADISE")

LEE: (Singing) As much as I'd like the past not to exist, it still does. And as much as I'd like to feel like I belong here, I'm just as scared as you...

SIMON: How do you go about blending - even when you're coming up with a song - blending what has been so oddly described as your ethereal, angelic voice, and all that guitar thrashing?

LEE: I don't know. I think they're really natural together. I like that. I love contrast in music. Being inspired by classical actually - in high school especially - classical and metal both, I remember having this cool realization that they are really similar. It's just different instrumentation. And I love the aggression of the guitars against that sort of fragility, that no matter what sort of exists in a female voice, at least for me. I can't help but be a girl though, so it's not like I have a choice.

SIMON: You're not only the lead singer, you also write lyrics for a lot of the songs, play the keyboard. And on this album, is it the first time you've been heard as a harp? Do we say harper?

LEE: Yes. Harpist.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LEE: I did a cover for a song from "A Nightmare Before Christmas," the Danny Elfman-Tim Burton thing. And we did "Sally's Song." So, when we did that, I did do harp on that song. And I actually got to play the harp on "The Tonight Show," which was really cool. I don't think that happens that often.

SIMON: No. As generalization, they don't say, and a great harp player. Harpist, forgive me.

LEE: Yeah. Shredding on the harp, Amy Lee.

SIMON: Let's listen to a little bit of your harp, if we could. This is from "Secret Door."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SECRET DOOR")

LEE: (Singing) Don't need to understand, too lost to lose. Don't fight my tears, 'cause they feel so good...

SIMON: Is there something you hear, some resemblance between heavy metal and classical?

LEE: Well, you know what, I was really, really inspired by Mozart's Requiem. So much so actually that on the open door, we took part of it, Lacrimosa, and made it into an Evanescence song. Like, we took a piece of it and put, you know, a band around it and my voice on top. I think it turned out to be a really, really interesting combination of those things that's sort of, like, the clearest picture of what I'm talking about.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SECRET DOOR")

LEE: (Singing) Blame it on me, lift up your screen. Nothing can hold you back now...

SIMON: You're going on tour with this new album, right?

LEE: Yes, worldwide.

SIMON: I have not been to one of your concerts. If I were to go to one, what should I expect?

LEE: Ah, to get your socks rocked off. I know you love that. I can tell.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: I'm not wearing socks today, OK. I just thought I'd check. My shoes will do.

LEE: We have a good time. We're really looking forward to touring again. It's been a long time. You know, our music is very dynamic. If you listen to any of our records, I think especially our last two, there's a big spectrum of feelings. There is definitely the songs that are big, epic rock songs, but then there's moment that are soft, you know, and fragile.

SIMON: Yeah. What song should we go out on from this new album?

LEE: Our second single. Why don't we go with that one.

SIMON: OK. And this is...

LEE: It's "My Heart is Broken."

SIMON: And what can you tell us about this song?

LEE: Actually, I wrote it on the harp, and as we started working on it with the entire band, it got faster and faster and faster. And we went into the studio at that tempo and it was like, OK, time to record the harp. And I just was like, this is not possible for me anymore. So, now, it's a stunning piano part.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LEE: Enjoy.

SIMON: All right. We will.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY HEART IS BROKEN")

SIMON: Amy Lee. She is lead singer of Evanescence. Their self-titled album out this week. She joined us from Nashville. Thanks so much.

LEE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY HEART IS BROKEN")

LEE: (Singing) My heart is broken...

SIMON: You can hear songs from that album at NPRMusic.org.

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