Without darkness, there can be no light.
When we first set out to make our new album, The Bitter Truth, we had no idea of the pain and hardship that the world would soon face. While the planet suffered through the tragedies of COVID, racial injustice and economic upheaval, my band and I were dealing with the aftermath of our own losses, the unexpected passing of my brother, the sudden loss of a child by Tim’s family, and the virtual loss of our guitarist, Jen, who has been literally stuck in Germany, unable to travel to record with us in person in the studio.
Somehow through all these challenges, a theme began to emerge for us as a band. Pushing through is better than giving up.
After touring extensively on our orchestral album Synthesis, we knew we wanted to make new music. In between shows throughout 2019, we set aside time to create together. A few days at my house, a week in the woods, just making use of our time together and getting excited about the seeds that were starting to grow. By the end of that year, we had the foundations of several new songs and the beginnings of many more. After recording four songs with our old friend and producer Nick Raskulinecz in his Nashville studio early last year, we knew we wanted to make the entire thing together. The energy and creativity was electric. Then, all of a sudden, COVID stopped everything. The pandemic turned the world upside down, forcing the album to be done sporadically, and at times separately, throughout 2020. We had to think creatively about how to do pretty much everything from that point on. Almost like it was the first time. There was never question, though, of not continuing.
We had something special in that room when we recorded those first four songs and they carried us through last year. It was a big leap of faith to just go for it with the album and not wait or hold back or have any certainty about when we’d be together again, but we just knew we wanted to release our music and connect with our fans. We needed that connection, perhaps even more than our fans needed us. We wanted to be something in the world that wasn’t a disappointment amid so much other bad news. We wanted to be part of the proof that life would go on.
I never want us to repeat ourselves and I like to allow total freedom in the creative process, so we started experimenting with whatever felt good, taking it at times to a new level entirely, just everything coming from a real, honest place out of the love of music- nothing off-limits. But all those rock shows we had been playing over the past few years really strengthened the roots of the band, and that sound and energy was cathartic. I’m who I’ve always been. Once again faced with darkness, I'm writing to heal. So here we are, naturally, making a brand new fiery chapter of the story we all love. This beautiful truth has been reconfirmed for me- it wasn’t just a phase the first time around, and I wasn’t wasting my time. These sounds come out of my heart when I’m being honest and I’m making music that feels like a reflection of myself. I’m proud and grateful to still have my band after all we’ve been through and all I’ve been through. As much as this album is an evolution, it also feels very full circle.
The title, The Bitter Truth, speaks on one level to the world we live in today, in the belief that we must face reality, no matter how ugly or difficult that is, in order to move forward. But there is also an internal parallel: there can be no healing without first facing the pain. The Bitter Truth, for me, is that life is short and the choice is that I’m not going to waste it. Our mortality is fresh in our minds. This became fuel for our fire after the pandemic, the lockdown, through 2020 and making this album. We decided we weren’t going to let anything stop us. We weren’t going to wait around for the world to fix itself. We were going to put all our focus into finishing the album we started. Find new ways to keep on, make our own videos, whatever it took. This time has been hard, but having the music has been an incredible life-giving outlet for me and for all of us in the band. It was a place to pour our frustrations, our rage, our grief and our love to create a world we had some control over.
Now for some typical bio stuff: They tell me that our first album, Fallen, is one of the Top 5 best-selling albums of the 21st century, and the biggest seller by both a band overall, and a rock act overall, if you’re keeping score. We’ve won two Grammys and earned one of the largest social media followings of any music act (thanks, guys!) Someone wrote that our single “Bring Me to Life” has been a "pop culture touchstone" for the past two decades. It’s still totally weird to me when it comes on over the speakers at the grocery store. These achievements and words of praise are nice but what's more important to me is that our music continues to inspire people to create things. Writers have written books inspired by our songs, fans have created their own anime. Films, music, visual art, even vehicle design. I know what this means because of the artists that have inspired me too. What I’m most touched by is what has grown into an immensely powerful, passionate worldwide fanbase who have a genuine connection with the music- a sacred place where we come together. The Bitter Truth is meant as a gift to you, reflecting hope out of the struggles we all face.
I want people to come away from this album feeling hope and empowerment and strength. Something that inspires me a lot in life is people who have overcome great obstacles - survivors. I hope we can pass on the idea that even when things are impossibly painful life is worth living. Leaning into those darkest, most challenging moments, facing them and finding we’re not alone in them, makes us real. Makes us strong enough to take them on. And it brings us together, if we let it, in a deeper appreciation of the light... and the truth. Thanks for the memories. Now let’s go make some new ones.