Fabulous Flip Sides with Evanescence guitarist Troy McLawhorn

Evanescence’s Troy McLawhorn discusses their new BMG album “The Bitter Truth” and growing up on a popular KISS flip side
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GOLDMINE: Congratulations on all the great songs on your new album The Bitter Truth. Before we get to a half dozen of those new Evanescence songs, let’s start with your love of the band KISS. In 1976, KISS’ “Detroit Rock City” was released as a single from the group’s album Destroyer, but ultimately, its softer flip side “Beth” caught on, became considered as the A side, with “Detroit Rock City” pushed to the flip side, although many argue that it was a double A side hit single. I learned that you performed “Detroit Rock City” when you were growing up.

TROY McLAWHORN: Yes, I did. My love of KISS goes back to when I was little. I was probably six, seven or eight when KISS came onto my radar and I became really interested in the drums. I used to drag my mom’s pots and pans out and she had these small rolling pins which looked like little drumsticks, so I used to play on the pots and pans with her rolling pins. Later, I played in talent shows from ninth grade to my senior year in high school. I think it was my eleventh grade year that we played “Detroit Rock City,” along with Dio’s “Egypt (The Chains are On).” KISS was very popular and I and the other guitarist in our group liked that we could play guitar harmonies together on “Detroit Rock City.”

Evanescence KISS

KISS

Flip side: Detroit Rock City

A side: Beth

Top 100 debut: September 4, 1976

Peak Position: No. 7

Casablanca NB 863

GM: Your guitar is very powerful on the new song “The Game is Over,” reminding me of Jimmy Page’s Led Zeppelin years.

TM: Thank you. I grew up in different eras of music. I was a young kid in the 1970s, when Led Zeppelin were huge, and picked up guitar in the 1980s. The style of music was drastically different in just those two decades, then the 1990s continued that pattern of having a different sound with each decade. I think that everything that I have enjoyed over the decades influences me when I am writing, which I guess you can say about any musician. One band who were a constant influence for me in creating the new album were Nine Inch Nails, so when I was doing a lot of the overdubs, I was thinking about that sound and the rich texture of their guitars, using so many different techniques with guitar tones.

GM: My wife Donna and I saw you on Jimmy Kimmel Live performing, on video, “Wasted on You.” When the song was released late last year, ahead of the new album, it made my Fabulous Songs of 2020 list. What a strong bridge there is on the song. The video was so fun, with all five of you at different locations and countries.

TM: We are all over the place. We cover the earth. I was at my home in Marietta, outside of Atlanta. The song, to me, almost has a 1950s vibe to it with its arpeggiated melody.

GM: “Better Without You” has a melodic chorus, wonderful high notes and political overtones about evil leadership.

TM: We just shot the video for that and I think it is one of our better videos. Last year we did a series of videos that we shot ourselves and it was fun for a while, being a part of the creative process and having our families involved, but we wanted to do a proper video, which is what happened with “Better Without You,” with a set built and special effects. The imagery is really cool.

GM: Another topical song is “Use My Voice,” as we have seen a variety of protests in recent months. The big vocal sound perfectly matches the song’s message.

TM: I was really proud of how Amy put that song together lyrically. She has never been big on having political lyrics and I think she felt it was time, with so much going on in the world when we were writing this album, including protests and Covid hitting. That song gave us some hope that your voice does make a difference.

GM: “Part of Me” has a great arrangement to showcase the strength of the lyric “I will be more than my survival.” Excellent job.

TM: Thanks. We had a really productive writing session before Covid hit, toward the end of 2019. We were performing at two festival shows, which were a week apart. It was Amy’s idea that after the U.S. show, and before our next show in Canada, that rather than everyone going back to their homes, we would fly to Canada and rent a place that was big enough for all of us to write together. With technology now, Will, our drummer, has an electronic kit, and each one of us, Jen and I on guitars and Tim on bass, have amp modelers where we could all play with headphones on with zero volume, so we wouldn’t bother anybody. So, we rented a chalet-like cabin in Mont-Tremblant, located in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, and it was beautiful. “Part of Me” came from that week’s writing sessions along with other material. Some of it didn’t get used and might get used later, but we created more than enough ideas for this album. It was a nice retreat in the day and would get pretty cold in the night. We had a good time. There was a big fire pit in the back yard. We would write all day and then have dinner and sit out by the fire. We made s’mores and couldn’t find regular graham crackers, but we did find graham crackers dipped in chocolate, so that worked, and we named them “le s’mores du Tremblant.”

GM: Your new album has a great finale, with Amy’s haunting piano at the beginning of “Blind Belief” and everything comes together with a nice message of love overall.

TM: I appreciate you recognizing this song. Tim came up with the verse and chorus ideas, which went through a few changes with Amy and it turned out really good. We worked pretty hard on that song and it was one of the last ones to come together.

Amy Lee, publicity photo by Nick Fancher, courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Amy Lee, publicity photo by Nick Fancher, courtesy of Shore Fire Media

GM: Before you were part of the group, Donna and I saw Evanescence the day after Valentine’s Day 2004 in a small room in a Reno hotel. Amy was sitting at her piano, with a big flowing dress. We were older than most of the general admission crowd, so the usher put us over in an area that looked like the parents’ section, and invited us to lean against the partitions, and stand by Amy. The band had just won the Best New Artist Grammy Award the prior week, and “Bring Me to Life” was less than a year old at that point. Now Amy is the lone member from that lineup, and we look forward to seeing you and the current lineup when this pandemic is over.

TM: Tim, Will and I have been in the band a long time now. I am going on year fourteen. Jen is our newest member and has been with us for the past five years. Adding her has been really cool because she blends really well when she sings with Amy, which helps with our live performances. One thing I really enjoy about being in this band is, like what you mentioned, the generations of people who listen to us. We see everyone from seven year olds to people in their sixties. It wasn’t planned but it is a beautiful thing.

GM: Before you were with Evanescence, you were with Seether, who I first heard with Amy as a guest on the band’s 2004 song “Broken.” Did you ever play that song live?

TM: Oh, yeah. We always did “Broken” because it was a popular song. Before I was with Seether I was in a band with Will called Dark New Day and our other guitarist was Clint Lowery from Sevendust. We were on tour with Seether and on the last show it was a tradition to prank each other. So, we took our singer, Brett Hestla, and got him a dress and a dark wig. When Seether started performing “Broken,” he walked out on stage and the crowd went nuts because they thought it was Amy for about one second. They shouted, “Yay…what?” Brett did sing Amy’s part and that was one of the better pranks that I have ever seen.

GM: Evanescence’s prior album was Synthesis, including orchestral versions of past songs and a tour to go with it. The album has such an enjoyable set.

TM: It was a complicated tour because traveling with an entire orchestra is very expensive. So, we hired a person to put together an orchestra in each area of the tour. The members were changing every night, so the fans were getting a different show every night because there were different musicians every night. It was eye-opening to see their professionalism, coming in with sheet music and playing our songs. Thank you for bringing up that album and covering our new album in this Goldmine interview article. To quote our song title, we have a “Blind Belief” in our music that we put out and hope that the world will enjoy it, so it is so nice to hear how many songs from the new album you wanted to highlight that you enjoy. Thank you, my friend.

L to R: Jen Majura, Will Hunt, Amy Lee, Tim McCord, and Troy McLawhorn, photo by Nick Fancher, courtesy of Shore Fire Media

L to R: Jen Majura, Will Hunt, Amy Lee, Tim McCord, and Troy McLawhorn, photo by Nick Fancher, courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Related links:

https://www.evanescence.com/home/

Evanescence Better Without You video

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