Interviews

Interview: Jen Majura of EVANESCENCE

EvanescenseEvanescence’s first album of original music in a decade, ‘The Bitter Truth,’ will be released on March 26th, 2021 (Sony Music), and pre-orders are now live HERE.

Fans can pre-order a digital version, CD, vinyl, and a limited-edition deluxe fan box set featuring a bonus CD, journal, poster, and special cassette of exclusive audio from the making of The Bitter Truth.  

Evanescence already released the following tracks earlier this year “Wasted On You”“The Game Is Over”, and “Use My Voice”.  “Yeah Right,” the band’s latest song to be released is out today. Listen to “Yeah Right” HERE.

Heavy and playful, the song’s industrial groove combined with Amy Lee’s biting lyrics reveals a cynical view of the band’s personal experience thus far in the music industry.

Evanescence will be hosting their first public performance of the COVID era, a live stream concert experience dubbed Evanescence: A Live Session From Rock Falcon Studio, on Saturday, December 5th at 9 pm GMT. The live stream will be available until Tuesday, December 8. The band, who postponed their massive 2020 international tour earlier this year, safely assembled from Nashville, Sacramento, and Germany to perform live renditions of songs from The Bitter Truth for the first time, as well as some fan favorites and a few can’t miss surprises. Tickets HERE.

Get a sneak peek of the band’s live performance of “Use My Voice” HERE.

‘The Bitter Truth’ is an epic, guitar-driven collection inspired by the (often-bitter) realities of the 21st Century and our world. The band’s first original LP in ten years, it’s a return-to-force – and one hell of a rock album. It has received early accolades from Elle, Billboard, SPIN, Kerrang and Metal Hammer among others, and showcases the “ferocious and hymnal” (The New York Times) sound that made Evanescence a household name, as well as the drama and powerhouse vocals that made Amy Lee “one of rock’s definitive voices” (Rolling Stone).

Evanescense


ANTIHERO: Hi Jen, how are you doing?

Jen Majura: I’m perfect. We have a very sunny but brisk and stormy morning here, it’s beautiful. I love weather like this. Dramatic weather.

ANTIHERO: Nice. You have a new album coming out shortly. How excited you are? On a scale of one to ten?

Jen Majura: Oh my god. A hundred. It’s the first album in such a long time.

ANTIHERO: It’s been ten years.

Jen Majura: Yeah, we can’t wait for everybody to hear the new material and new songs, really. We are so proud and just happy and it’s just exciting.

ANTIHERO: What are you excited about the most?

Jen Majura: Um… fan reactions. Because we have five singles out now and the last one was just released six days ago and its impact was so much, people’s responses and feedback had been so passionate and awesome and beautiful. There’s still a lot of songs that nobody has heard so far, you know, it’s just exciting.

ANTIHERO: Yeah, it’s also the first full studio album you were part of creating.

Jen Majura: Yeah, sort of.

ANTIHERO: I mean, I’m not really counting “Synthesis” that much, because there wasn’t too much original material.

Jen Majura: Right. It was different. But you know, let me say, 2020 wasn’t necessarily one of the best years and when I pictured myself recording the first original studio album with the band, I didn’t see a pandemic coming. We met up in February 2020 to record the first chunk of four songs. I just finished at the Los Angeles NAMM show and flew out to Nashville to meet Amy and the guys in the studio. We’ve been working on and recording the first songs with Nick. And I remember everybody was at the airport like “oh have a safe travel back home and see you next month, bye”.

ANTIHERO: That was the last time you saw them in person?

Jen Majura: It was the last time I saw my friends and if anybody would have told me that for the rest of the year even until this very day I’m not allowed to travel back to the US and see my friends… I mean this was just unexpected, so I recorded my parts at home. Which was challenging because I’m sometimes a little bit insecure and I need feedback. I need Amy in the back of the studio room going like “oh that was nice, try that again”. Or Nick, “oh try to change this, try that, try this”. And if you’re just sitting at home all by yourself and recording, there’s no feedback. I’m a perfectionist and whatever I do I was like was that good enough? Um, maybe one more take. Maybe one more. Maybe one more. Maybe one more. And after two thousand takes, I’m like, “goddamit!” [laughs] A nightmare. Then I sent my files. They would record because Amy and the guys in the US were able to get together. And they met up and recorded and sent me the single files and everything. So, I put down my parts and sent the files back so Nick could put them into the mix. It was just different. Thank god for modern technology so it was even possible to have me on the album. But I didn’t expect it to be like 2020 was.

ANTIHERO: Since you were not personally with the band, how did the writing process go when it comes to the songs, your parts, stuff like that?

Jen Majura: Okay, so when we started, we gathered as a band and we wrote together. Classic old-school, everybody’s in the room, everybody throws ideas at the table and we work as a group, which is just beautiful. A lot of people think that Amy is just like this is the song play it. But it’s not like that. We are friends and we work together. So, the beginning was amazing because we worked as a group. Of course, I wasn’t there when they created the rest of the album. It was impossible, we talked about doing facetime, but this is not how it works. You need to be in the room with the people to have that energy. So it was mainly them sending me the files, I recorded on top of what they created and then sent it back. And I remember there was one song, Better Without You, the latest single, I was listening to it over and over and over and over again and I said Amy, I don’t feel like it needs more guitars. I think the song is really good the way it is. Of course, when it comes to playing live, I’m going to play the riff together with Troy. But the song is so good I don’t want to ruin it by putting more stuff on it. And she’s like well, sing. And to be really honest, this is one of the things I am so proud of. Because for the first time ever in the history of Evanescence, there is another female vocal recorded on the album. And it makes me so proud, I love singing with Amy, I realized that during the Synthesis tour that our voices match and the quality of a good background vocalist is that you don’t push the main vocals aside but instead of that blend in and push it and help it and make it even bigger and shinier.

ANTIHERO: Yeah, I was wondering if there will be your backing vocals on the album since you sing while on tour.

Jen Majura: I’m very proud of this. Actually, yesterday I received my copies of the album. So exciting. And I looked at it and it says “Jen Majura, guitars and vocals”. This is so cool! I was really happy, like a little kiddo!

ANTIHERO: So you recorded in your home studio or did you use some studio in Germany?

Jen Majura: I think 2020 told all musicians that we need to be able to work from home and I’ve been doing guest solos and recorded at home all the time. I’ve got my setup here, so it was possible. I didn’t have to go to any studio other than for the livestream. When it comes to the real recording of the video and everything I went to my friend where I recorded my solo album Inzenity. But when it just comes to recording, I’m set up at home.

ANTIHERO: That’s great.

Jen Majura: Which is kind of cool cause you can record an Evanescence album while wearing your PJs or sweatpants.

ANTIHERO: What an interesting image. How did you like those livestreams you mentioned, how did it feel?

Jen Majura: The fascinating thing about these is you put your headphones on, and you close your eyes, and you play, and you feel that energy, like you are in the room together with your band. And you rock out and you have fun, and you are like ah this is so good to be playing and then you open your eyes and realize oh, actually I’m standing all alone all by myself in a studio room. And out of a sudden you’re back to reality, but for a quick moment, it’s really like you feel united with your friends again and that was beautiful.

ANTIHERO: Regarding the album itself, what exactly does this album mean to you personally, what is your connection to this record?

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Jen Majura: I think this album is very empowering and it has a very energizing feeling. It’s an inspirational album. It has a strong message in every single song. There’s so much going on in the world these days, so much we have to process what’s going on. And I think that album represents, that’s just my personal understanding, a lot of these songs are like stand up for your voice, you have a voice, and it matters, and you matter and fight for the right thing. This whole planet with everything that’s going on, I don’t really want to dive too much into politics, but what’s happening with politics all over the world, not only in the States but what’s also happening with climate change. There’s so much, there are so many movements and people are speaking up for the right thing. For the change for the better world. And this is literally something that encourages people to make this planet a better place. Oh, did I just quote Michael Jackson? Ha-ha. To make the Earth a better place. This planet needs to heal in so many ways and I believe that this album is a big encouraging step. And we hope we reach a lot of people and get the message across.

ANTIHERO: Yeah, especially Use My Voice, the band even got involved with Headcount and urged people to go vote in the US. You’re the only one that’s not based in the US, but it seems that you feel just as strongly as the rest of the band.

Jen Majura: It was for me personally a little struggle because when we released Use My Voice, I was not sure how to deal with it. Because I am in Germany, I am in Europe. It’s not my cup of tea because I’m not from the United States. But then still, I am in that band and Amy is a strong woman. And she uses her voice and I love that, and I stand behind her and support her with everything she does. I feel proud to be part of a band that has such a strong leader in the band. It’s beautiful.

ANTIHERO: What is your personal favorite from the album?

Jen Majura: I hate this question. It’s horrible, it’s like you have twelve children and then somebody asks hey pick your favorite child! [laughs] I would say first of all I can’t answer that question. But there is one song, in particular, that means a lot to me emotionally because of its meaning and how it grew to become this beautiful big song and that’s “Broken Pieces Shine”. It’s a very personal song and I feel very connected with Amy in that song, and I’d say that is the most meaningful song for me. But if I had to pick like my favorite riff oh my god I can’t. They are all awesome. I can’t.

ANTIHERO: I’ve heard that “Far from Heaven” almost didn’t make it on the album, were you seriously considering going without a ballad? For Evanescence that would be a first, I think!

Jen Majura: The whole album is way heavier than I thought it would turn out to begin with. But a beautiful piano ballad is something that was created while I was already not with my band. I only know from emails; I followed the emails and she [Amy] was like I don’t know and then she comes with that beautiful ballad and it was like holy god this will be on the album! So, I wasn’t there when the whole discussion happened, I was in quarantine in Germany.

ANTIHERO: You guys have an upcoming tour with Within Temptation in the fall. Do you know at this point if it will happen or if there will be another postponement?

Jen Majura: I think if there’s something we’ve learned in this pandemic by now it’s that everything is unpredictable. And the one thing we really have to keep in our cores as humans is hope. Hope for the better. I don’t think that you can say for sure right now. I mean, this past pandemic year has proven a lot, you can’t say oh tomorrow I’m going to go fly to Sweden because all of a sudden there’s a lockdown, and airports are closed. It’s hard to say. I really hope that it will happen because the last show that I played with Amy and the guys was on September 26 in St Petersburg, Russia in the year 2019.

ANTIHERO: That’s quite some time.

Jen Majura: Too long. Too long!

ANTIHERO: So how do you spend all this time at home right now? Did I see some video with snow and a frying pan?

Jen Majura: God, that thing went viral!

ANTIHERO: Yeah, it did!

Jen Majura: I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, cooking or taking the frying pan sliding down some snow pile. I discovered cooking for myself, I became a star chef, like really pro in cooking. I knitted socks, I discovered acrylic painting as well. Everything that is creative helps in situations like this. Personally, I came to a point where music was more depressing. Because I can’t be with my band, because I can’t be out on a tour, because I can’t play for the fans. So, I tried to find other outlets and creativity is always happening as soon as you create something that hasn’t been there before. And whether it’s food, okay the food disappears because you eat it, but it’s still creating food. You create the socks, and you can wear them, I’m wearing self-knitted socks right now, homemade, they’re awesome. It makes me happy. So, I just tried a lot of different outlets. I learned to play the drums, took drum lessons, learned to play the saxophone, all kinds of different little feels that just keep you entertained as a creative mind. To not completely lay there in the dust.

ANTIHERO: As far as music goes, is there anything else you’ve been up to lately besides Evanescence?

Jen Majura: Absolutely. I wouldn’t say I started writing my third solo album, because that’s too much. I came up with a song for the first time in I don’t know – three years. Which is kind of amazing and I showed it to some friends, and they were like wow, that’s cool. So, it’s good to see that the creativity is not completely vanished out of my system. It’s still there. But the thing is with inspiration I believe you need input in your life. And my life for the past three-four years has been airports, hotels, venues, tour buses, jetlag, you know. Sometimes I would come back home and be home for just half a day and then leave again. With everything that is taken away from you because of what 2020 was and what 2021 still is and your only inspiration is the couch in your living room, I mean what am I supposed to write? Like the couch blues? It’s really hard, really tough and I talked a lot to other guitar players and friends and it’s interesting because when you’re so busy and your life is so fast-moving like today, you’re in this country, the next day you’re in another country and then you’re in Japan, then you’re in Australia and then South America. You always complain that you wish you have more time to practice. Now I have all this time in the world, but the input, that urge, it was just not there. And that was scary.

ANTIHERO: I think a lot of people can relate to that.

Jen Majura: Yeah, it’s crazy. I just tried to make the best out of it. When I feel something inspires me to write music for my third solo album, I write. I’ve been doing the one-minute jams on my YouTube channel which was a great awesome success in 2020. I had 27 editions of one-minute cover songs with all kinds of guest musicians like Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden and Mike Portnoy, Mike Mangini, so many cool musicians who I call friends by now, it is beautiful. I did that and well the latest thing is Jen Jen’s style of the week, one musical style every week. And all these videos always get released on a weekly basis at 7 PM CET on my YouTube channel. I write a piece of music in that style. So, I tried to keep myself busy and entertained a little bit.

ANTIHERO: You also did some kind of experiment with staying completely off socials, what did bring this up?

Jen Majura: Yeah, Jen Jen off-the-line. Which was really refreshing, and I feel like it pulled my eyelids wide open. It’s like you get an overdose of oxygen and you are like, “wow, life!” It was incredible and I can only recommend trying it. Just stay off the phone, stay off social media for a little bit just to breathe air, and recharge your batteries. Because if you want to charge others, you have to recharge your own batteries. And I just did that, and it was really nice. I took long walks, reconnected with nature, I just slowed down for a moment because we’re living in such a fast world. I believe it’s healthy to take your own time and just slow down to recharge.

ANTIHERO: I can imagine. So, what are your plans right now for the nearest future?

Jen Majura: Well today I’m going to go grocery shopping and then cook some more food. [laughs]

ANTIHERO: You should make a recipe book for fans.

Jen Majura: I know! People ask me like “hey, can you put out a book with all your recipes!” Ha-ha. I think the plan for whatever’s coming next, it’s just to keep breathing and keep pushing. I don’t really have super clear plans, schedules, nothing. I’m glad that we were in Germany allowed to open up our music schools again. I have a music school and I get to teach my kids again which is beautiful and just trying not to lose my mind.

ANTIHERO: Good luck with that, we all need a little luck these days.

Jen Majura: Yeah, thank you.

ANTIHERO: Thank you so much for your time, have a beautiful rest of the weekend!

Jen Majura: Thank you for the chat and have a nice weekend as well.


The band will tour Europe next year, dates are:

2021
Wed   8th Sept           Zurich, CH, Hallenstadion Zurich
Thu    9th Sept            Milan, IT, Mediolanum Forum Milan
Sat     11th Sept          Berlin, DE, Velodrom
Sun    12th Sept          Gliwice, PL, Arena Gliwice
Tue    14th Sept          Leipzig, DE, Quarterback Immobilien Arena
Wed  15th Sept          Hamburg, DE, Barclaycard Arena
Fri      17th Sept           Amsterdam, NL, Ziggo Dome
Sat     18th Sept          Amsterdam, NL, Ziggo Dome
Mon   20th Sept          Paris, FR, Accorhotels Arena
Tue     21st Sept          Düsseldorf, DE, Mitsubishi Electric Halle
Wed   22nd Sept         Munich, DE, Zenith
Fri       24th Sept          Esch-Sur-Alzette, LU, Rockhal
Sun     26th Sept          Frankfurt, DE, Festhalle
Mon   27th Sept          Brussels, BE, Palais 12
Tue     28th Sept          Brussels, BE, Palais 12
Thu     30th Sept         Glasgow, UK, The SSE Hydro Arena
Fri       1st Oct             Leeds, UK, First Direct Arena
Sun     3rd Oct             Birmingham, UK, Utilita Arena Birmingham
Mon   4th Oct             London, UK, The O2
Thu     7th Oct             Madrid, Spain, Palacio Vistalegre ********Evanescence ONLY

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