Kate's Notes

Saturday, March 17, 2007



Evanescence (born 1998) is the two-time Grammy Award-winning band that is defined by the lead singer, Amy Lee's beautiful melodies, compelling lyrics, poignant piano and stunning vocals, fused with Terry Balsamo's urgent, yet intricate guitar, to form a seamless, ethereal mixture that perfectly channels the band's hard rock and classical sensibilities. This goth-inspired enigma was founded in Little Rock, Arkansas by singer Amy Lee and former guitarist Ben Moody, after recording two private EPs, and a demo CD named Origin with the help of Bigwig Enterprises, the band released their first full-length album, Fallen, on the Wind-up Records label in 2003 – it went onto sell more than 14 million copies worldwide. After abrupt changes to the band's lineup due to creative differences, and other, Evanescence released their second studio album, The Open Door, which shot straight to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August of 2006.

The inherent drama in Evanescence's music - a kind of audio odyssey that can turn on a dime from piano-led introspection to hammering guitar - has resonated with listeners everywhere.

Early Life

Evanescence was founded by singer, pianist and songwriter Amy Lee and former lead guitarist and songwriter Ben Moody. The two met at a youth camp in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Moody heard Lee playing "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf on the piano. Their first songs were "Solitude" and "Give Unto Me," written by Lee, and "Understanding" and "My Immortal," written by Moody. The songs were edited by both artists, and they shared equal credit.

The band's evolving sound - a nearly mystical marriage between rock, goth and classical - was informed by a curious duality. Lee, who spent nine years studying classical piano, explains, "When I was in high school I listened to a lot of death metal bands. Both genres are intricate, complex types of music that are very dramatic, and I'm naturally drawn to that."

Two of Lee and Moody's songs found playtime on local radio stations, raising local awareness of the group and demand for a show. The band eventually appeared live, and became one of the most popular acts in the area. A fter experimenting with band names, such as "Childish Intentions" and "Stricken," they decided on Evanescence, which means "disappearance" or "fading away" (from the word evanesce, which means "to disappear"). Lee has stated she loves the name because it is mysterious and dark, and places a picture in the listeners' mind.

Their first full-length demo CD, Origin (released in 2000), is relatively unknown. The band also released two Extended plays (EPs). First, the self-titled Evanescence EP (1998) of which about 100 copies were made, and second the Sound Asleep EP, also known as the Whisper EP (1999), limited to 50 copies. Origin and the EPs contain demo versions of some of the songs on their debut album, Fallen. For example, the recording of "My Immortal" found on Fallen can also be found on Origin, minus a handful of additional string accompaniments. Only 2,500 copies of this record were produced; in response, Lee and Moody encouraged fans to download the band's older songs from the Internet.

Fallen: 2003

In early 2003, the lineup was completed by Amy Lee and Ben Moody's friends, John LeCompt, Rocky Gray and Will Boyd, all of whom worked on Evanescence's earlier songs. Meanwhile, Evanescence signed on with their first major label, Wind-up Records, and began work on their next album, Fallen. While looking to promote Fallen, the video game company Nintendo offered the band to perform on the "Nintendo Fusion Tour." Evanescence accepted the offer and became the headlining band for the 2003 Fusion Tour.

Fallen spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Top 10; has been certified 6 times Platinum; and has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide, including 6.6 million in the United States. The album was listed for 104 weeks on the Billboard top 200, and it was one of eight albums in the history of the chart to spend at least a year on the Billboard Top 50.

Evanescence's major label debut single "Bring Me to Life," which features guest vocals from Paul McCoy of 12 Stones, was a global hit for the band and reached #5 on the United States Billboard Hot 100. It provided Evanescence with their first United Kingdom #1 listing, where it stayed for four weeks from June to July 2003. The song also became the official theme for WWE's "No Way Out." The equally popular "My Immortal" peaked at #7 in the United States and United Kingdom charts, and both songs were featured in the soundtrack for the action movie Daredevil. "Bring Me to Life" garnered recognition for the band at the Grammy Awards of 2004, where the band was given the Best Hard Rock Performance and Best New Artist awards. The two other singles off Fallen are "Going Under" (#5 United States Modern Rock Tracks, #8 United Kingdom Charts) and "Everybody's Fool" (#36 United States Modern Rock Tracks, #23 United Kingdom Charts); both were promoted by a music video.

Lineup Changes - Anywhere but Home: 2004

On October 22, 2003, Moody left the band during the European tour for Fallen, reportedly because of creative differences. In an interview several months later, Amy Lee said: "...we'd gotten to a point that if something didn't change, we wouldn't have been able to make a second record." Many people were confused by this statement, because in their Fallen album cover they state each other as best friends. Since then, Lee has said it was almost a relief that he left because of tensions created within the band. Moody was replaced by Terry Balsamo from Cold.

In 2004, Evanescence's new lineup released a DVD/CD compilation entitled Anywhere but Home. The DVD includes a concert in Paris, as well as behind-the-scenes features, including shots of the band backstage, signing autographs, and warming up. The CD contains a previously unreleased song entitled "Missing", which was internationally released as a single that reached #1 in Spain. Also on the CD are the live songs "Breathe No More" (the album version being from the Elektra movie soundtrack), "Farther Away," and the band's cover of Korn's "Thoughtless."

On July 14, 2006, it was confirmed by a spokesperson for the band's label that bassist Will Boyd had left the band for "not wanting to do another big tour" and wanting "to be close to his family." Amy Lee originally broke the news to the fans in a post on an unofficial Evanescence site, EvBoard.com. In an interview with MTV, posted on their website on August 10, 2006, Lee announced that Tim McCord, former Revolution Smile guitarist, would switch instruments and play bass for the band.

The Open Door: 2006

To promote the release of the band's second album, The Open Door, Amy Lee and John LeCompt visited capital cities in Europe. Previews took place in London, England on September 6, 2006; Barcelona, Spain on September 8, 2006; and Paris, France on Monday, September 11, 2006. At the previews, the new album was played to fans who were the winners of various competitions, a short Q&A took place, and Lee and LeCompt performed acoustic tracks from the album before doing a signing session. On October 2, 2006, the day before the album was released in the United States, Evanescence appeared on “Late Night with Conan O'Brien” and performed the song "Call Me When You're Sober" for Conan O’Brien and his audience. The band also spent time in New York City for press and a photo shoot for Metal Edge magazine.

The 13-track album, The Open Door, was released in Canada and the United States on October 3, 2006; the United Kingdom on October 2, 2006; and Australia on September 30, 2006. The album sold 447,000 copies in the United States in its first week of sales and earned their first #1 ranking on the Billboard 200 album chart, becoming the 700th #1 debut in Billboard history.

The album progressed slowly for several reasons, including Amy Lee's desire to maximize the creative process and not rush production, other band members' side projects, guitarist Terry Balsamo's stroke, and the controversy surrounding the dismissal of their former manager.

Although Lee stated on Evboard that Evanescence's new album would be completed in March 2006, the release was pushed to October 3, 2006, allegedly because "Wind-up Records...wanted to make a few changes to the upcoming single "Call Me When You're Sober," which hit modern rock and alternative rock radio on August 7, 2006. The music video for "Call Me When You're Sober" was shot in Los Angeles and is based on the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood”; it was directed by Marc Webb; lead male character featured in the video is British actor Oliver Goodwill. The Open Door became available for pre-order on the iTunes Music Store on August 15, 2006.

Amy Lee confirmed that she wrote a song for the 2005 film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe released by Disney, but it was rejected due to its dark sound. Lee, however, said it was just "more great stuff for the album." Another song which was written for the Narnia movie did make it onto the album, the Mozart-inspired "Lacrymosa.”

The tour for the album began on October 5, 2006 in Toronto and included locations in Canada, the United States and Europe during 2006. The tour continued on January 5, 2007 and included stops in Canada (alongside band Stone Sour), Japan and Australia (alongside band Shihad) and will return to the United States for a second tour (alongside bands Chevelle and Finger Eleven).

"Call Me When You're Sober": Inspiration From A Dark Place

The inspiration for the single, “Call Me When You're Sober,” off the their 2006 album, The Open Door, was made clear after Amy Lee's former boyfriend, Seether frontman Shaun Morgan, checked himself into rehab for "unspecified problems" in late July 2006. L ee stated that she's not worried about listeners knowing what inspired the song: “‘Call Me When You're Sober' says something that's impossible to hide from. I'm stuck with everyone knowing exactly what I'm talking about. And if there's consequences for that, which there are, then I have to face them. But it's true, and it really happened, and it meant so much to me and felt so good to just blurt it out that it was worth it. And I think it's a really great song and I'm really proud of it. ”

In response, Morgan has said: “ It saddens me that our whole relationship was reduced to that. That, you know, almost three years we spent together comes down to 'Oh, woe is me, you don't care about me.' I'm disappointed that that's all that really mattered. I'm kind of irritated that our dirty laundry had to be aired, you know, all over the world. I wouldn't do that to somebody.”
Morgan was discharged August 28, 2006, according to Seether's publicist.

Christian Controversy

Originally promoted in Christian stores, the band eventually made it clear they did not want to be considered as part of the Christian rock genre. Wind-up Records chairman Alan Meltzer issued a press release in April 2003 asking for the band's music to be removed from Christian retail outlets.

During a 2003 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ben Moody stated, "We're actually high on the Christian charts, and I'm like, What the f--k are we even doing there?" This seemed to go against earlier sentiments by Moody that "We hope to express in our music that Christianity is not a rigid list of rules to follow..." and also "The message we as a band want to convey more than anything is simple—God is Love." This has led to criticism of the band within the Christian community, even more so given that the band themselves approved of the plan to distribute Fallen to the Christian market. Terry Hemmings, CEO of Christian music distributor Provident, expressed puzzlement at the band's about-face, saying "They clearly understood the album would be sold in these [Christian music] channels." Ex-vocalist and keyboardist David Hodges eventually left the band over the controversy, with other members stating that he had been pulling them in more of a Christian direction than Lee and Moody were comfortable with.

When asked by Billboard in 2006 if Evanescence was a "Christian band," Amy Lee responded, "Can we please skip the Christian thing? I'm so over it. It's the lamest thing. I fought that from the beginning; I never wanted to be associated with it. It was a Ben thing. It's over."


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