Amy Lee And Lzzy Hale Promise A Thunderous (And Joyous) Arena Co-Bill
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey – Amy Lee and Lzzy Hale
It’s been almost 10 years since Amy Lee and Lzzy Hale first met in a backstage green room the opening night of 2012’s “Carnival of Madness” tour featuring their bands Evanescence and Halestorm, respectively. The two queens of hard rock became instant friends and since then have each moved to Nashville, played on each other’s projects and won Grammy Awards, but have yet to share another tour stage.
That all changes come November, when Evanescence and Halestorm co-headline a late fall arena tour kicking off Nov. 7 in Portland, Ore., at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
“Yeah, the first and only time we were both on a full-fledged tour was that ‘Carnival of Madness’ tour,” Hale reminisces to Pollstar. “We had a lot of mutual friends, and they’d talked to me, like, ‘Have you ever met Amy?’ No, I hadn’t. But from the first day on that tour, we became best friends. It was, for me, finding that kindred spirit in this business.
“We started singing together on that tour. I remember she came into the dressing room, I think it was the second or third day on tour, and says, ‘Hey, you do this little piano breakdown thing, I love that song but nobody does the harmonies.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to make my guys do the harmonies.’ So we were joking about this and she says, ‘Could I come out and do harmonies?’ I said, ‘Girl, you’re Amy. Do you want to do the whole song? Just let me know!’ She said, ‘I want to be your backing singer!’ It was amazing!”
A friendship was born, and has long outlasted the then-annual “Carnival of Madness” tour, which ended after its 2014 iteration.
“A lot of my friends usually come from other areas of my life than work,” Lee says. “It’s not like there’s that many other rock females. It’s so rare and special to have women like Lzzy in my life. That’s the beautiful thing about being involved in touring life is your family and friends, lifelong golden humans that you meet out here, every time you see each other, you pick up right where you left off.”
Evanescence and Halestorm find themselves picking up after more than a year and a half in coronavirus lockdown. For Evanescence, which hadn’t released an album of new material since Evanescence in 2011, the down time was especially frustrating.
Lee and the band had been working on a new record when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everything came to a halt. But instead of working a bit at a time in the studio, and touring some of the new songs while working on others, the band threw itself into finishing and releasing The Bitter Truth.
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey – Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee
WOMEN WHO ROCK: Lzzy Hale of Halestorm (L) and Amy Lee of Evanescence in Nashville June 23. They, and their bands, will share arena stages in a co-headlining bill that will bring two of the genre’s hardest-rocking women to adoring fans across the country.
“It had been such a long time since we made a complete new album of songs” Lee says of the new album. And we know our fans. We’ve done a bunch of cool things in between this and our last full album a decade ago, but nothing that is a full album of new Evanescence music. We were on the path to it; we’d just kind of begun and then the pandemic hit. Then it became serious. Like, ‘This is what we’re doing with our lives now,’ because we don’t know if we have tomorrow. I don’t want to waste a day. And if we know we’re not going to be out on tour, we want to spend it doing the thing that we want, and know the fans want, the most, like a new album of music.”
Hale kept herself busy, too, working on collaborations with 11 other artists and finding time to host a YouTube interview and music series called “Raise Your Horns,” which raised money for MusiCares and led to a gig hosting AXS TV’s “A Year In Music,” a weekly program. She proved so popular, she’s had her run extended from season three to season four, which is currently airing.
“I got to flex some muscle that I hadn’t ever done before,” Hale says. “Out of [“Raise Your Horns”], the AXS TV people called and said, ‘We’ve been seeing some of the stuff that you’ve been doing. Would you like to be our host for “A Year In Music” on TV?’ I said yes, and before I even knew what all it entailed, I’d roll in and be on a teleprompter. An adventure that I might not have done if everything had remained in our version of normal. So, yeah, I learned a lot about myself.”
It takes a village to keep these machines running, no more so than during an unprecedented pandemic. Strong management was critical in guiding Evanescence and Halestorm through uncharted waters, keeping momentum going and their fans engaged.
In De Goot Entertainment owner and president Bill McGathy is especially proud of Hale’s growth as an artist and beyond.
“As management, we have a Halestorm team,” McGathy explains. “During the pandemic, if it was a valid opportunity that Lzzy was excited about, she did it and killed it. We are especially proud of how she’s grown as an artist, as a female rock icon and in her role as a television presenter. She is like a fish in water, a natural, and all the things she did created new opportunities.”
Jordan Berliant, partner at Revelation Management Group, manages Evanescence and one of his superpowers is listening to his client. The band had a single, “Use My Voice,” ready for release just as the pandemic exploded and “totally changed our plans,” he says.
Mark Horto / GettyImages – Evanescence
HEAVY METAL THUNDER: Amy Lee of Evanescence struts her stuff at Heavy Montreal at Parc Jean-Drapeu in Montreal, Canada, July 27, 2019.
“I remember talking to Amy on a Saturday. We were getting ready to put out “Use My Voice” as the first single. We just talked to each other, and she said, ‘We can’t put this song out right now. We’ve got to do something else that reflects what’s going on.’”
Instead, Evanescence released “Wasted On You,” which Berliant describes as “kind of down-tempo and introspective, but it seemed to fit the time.” They shot the video for it themselves using iPhones, and it was nominated for an MTV Music Video Award.
“In the moment, we were all up against something out of our control, which was this virus,” Lee says of her decision to release “Wasted On You.” “We’re all suddenly faced with our mortality. And I found myself in a moment where the whole world was faced with that mortality. I had just gone through the loss of my brother, which was so hard and such a big part of the inspiration for the music writing that I’ve been doing. And suddenly I was like, the world needs this.”
“Use My Voice” didn’t go to waste, however; it’s the third single from The Bitter Truth that was released during the pandemic and, with its more overtly political themes, also was in the moment at exactly the right time.
The Evanescence and Halestorm tour is coming along at just the right time, too. Besides touring with old friends, Lee and Hale are champing at the bit to bring their cool rock chick energy to fans again after far too long apart.
“We get to do this U.S. run with Halestorm, which is a little simpler because we’re not going back and forth between countries,
just being in the U.S. and without all the flying,” Lee says of the logistical advantages. “It’s just better to start out that way. But we love them so much and we have great memories, not just me and Lzzy, but our bands, our crews, we all hang. So we’re looking forward to bringing that back on tour. We’ve been hanging out and talking about how excited we are, plotting and scheming,” she says with a mischievous laugh.
“I can’t imagine a better kickoff,” Hale says of the upcoming tour. “If we’re going to go out for consecutive weeks on tour for the first time in a long time, I can’t imagine anything better than being with our friends. The ideas are already manifesting. It’s going to be a great time. As we all know, Amy Lee is extremely talented. She’s the best singer that I’ve actually had the privilege of duetting and recording with and and all of that. We have different styles, but we’re both so nerdy about it. We meet on a certain level where it’s like you’re in the perfect tennis match. This person is able to spar with you and anything that you drop on her, she’s able to pick right up. And it’s a beautiful thing. It’ll be good to be on a tour where I can be inspired every single night.”
Pinnacle Entertainment’s Scott Sokol books Halestorm and says Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee are “like peanut butter and jelly.” And putting them together on the same stage is a dream come true for fans of both.
Roberto Ricciuti / Redferns – Halestorm
STILETTOS TO HEAVEN: Lzzy Hale of Halestorm performs on stage at The SSE Hydro on November 24, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland.
“We reached out to the fanbases of both bands, and asked, ‘What’s the number one artist you want to see us play with?’ And it was the other one. So they knew, they were like, ‘In case you couldn’t tell, it was peanut butter and jelly.’ The fans reiterated the fact that, yes, this is the perfect pairing.”
Sokol takes note of how the real-world friendship between the two frontwomen and the lack of rivalries between bands or their fans only enhances the package as a whole.
“I think it’s going to be a great time,” Sokol adds. “It’s going to be a great energy. And in this day and age, we need something positive because both of them carry forth and really pride themselves on having a positive message, a positive outlook on life. And this is a good time for that experience.”
CAA’s Ryan Harlacher, who reps Evanescence, says the idea for the co-bill came organically from Lee and Hale, and points to the success of a previous all-female-fronted outing as a precedent.
Evanescence’s last major tour was a co-headlining outing with rock violinist Lindsey Stirling in 2018 and, despite any doubt that women can hold up a hard rock tour, it proved successful.
With 27 dates reported to Pollstar, the co-bill sold 247,929 tickets for a reported gross of $9,845,856. “It wasn’t necessarily the most natural or most obvious pairing, but they more than met expectations for how big that tour
could be,” Harlacher says.
“Between all the things that both women did together to help market the tour, it really outperformed everyone’s expectations and I think was probably the catalyst for doing something like this again.”
Harlacher says there’s a more obvious reason for pairing Evanescence and Halestorm. “It is two of the largest female-fronted rock bands in the world today,” he says. “They are successful worldwide, and we really never had an opportunity to do this until now. We always thought this would be really successful. And I don’t think there’s any reason to question whether or not two artists can go and sell out arenas. “I think it’s a great idea and a great, great night of music.”
But it’s a stark fact that there aren’t that many female-fronted hard rock bands currently active. In that sense, it’s still a man’s world. Rock radio, not unlike complaints about country radio, hasn’t always been receptive. Neither have record labels.
Hale remembers an early such experience. “We were trying to showcase for labels and we’re trying to get our songs on the radio. And the dialogue in that whole period of time was, well, maybe we’ll put you on, like
‘Ladies Tuesday.’ You know, where they play a block of music like it’s a novelty. Or they would say, ‘Oh, we’ve already got one [woman artist].’ Labels were like, ‘girls and rock, that’s not really a thing right now. So we don’t know what to do with you.’ “And then Amy Lee broke out. ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s possible!’ So, of course, you take all these things and you absorb them and then decide, ‘I’m just going to keep touring and I’m going to keep playing until you have to play our stuff.’ You do notice the tiny battles.”
Lee points to “Use My Voice” as an empowering moment for herself, and for other women in rock, to think about uniting “and show that we’re even cooler as a team.”
“I think the better it is, on a lot of levels, to show that it’s not that there has to only be one and in fact, it’s better when there’s more.This tour is one way we can do that,” she says. “And definitely raising the visibility of women in hard rock so that girls that love hard rock can see themselves joining me. Or saying, ‘Yeah, I can do that. It’s not just a guy thing. I’m not, like, weird.’”
Sokol says data proves Lee and Hale are on to something. Besides being role models, the artists and their bands are a bonafide draw, tapping into a female market that the rock world may have ignored.
“Here’s an interesting statistic. And I don’t think this holds true for very many rock bands, but because you’re able to access this information through Ticketmaster, we were able to see it,” Sokol explains. “Most of the artists in the rock genre, you’re lucky if you get 10% women, 20% women. Those are high, super high numbers, according to Ticketmaster analytics that we’re able to access. Halestorm was 49% women. Most rock audiences these days, it’s mainly dudes, right? I’d like to think that this tour is going to be half and half, and that would be a very nice thing as well.”
For Hale, it’s great to be a role model but even greater to be able to go out and do that thing she loves, and that’s touring.
“The bottom line with anything, and I’m talking about gender aside, is that there will be certain people that think I’m the coolest thing since sliced bread, and that’s totally cool with me. There’s also people that hate my guts, and that’s totally cool, too,” she says.
“All that really matters is what you’re doing for yourself. And I know that I’m doing the best I possibly can, that I’m creating music that I absolutely love, that I’m going on the tours that I love and I’m going out there on stage getting that proverbial drug that can’t be replaced with anything else. That’s the biggest act of self-love that you give yourself.”