Evanescence is an American rock band founded in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1995 by singer/pianist Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody.
After recording two private EPs and a demo CD named Origin, with the help of Bigwig Enterprises in 2000, the band released their first full-length album, Fallen, on Wind-up Records in 2003. Fallen sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and helped the band win two Grammy Awards. A year later, Evanescence released their first live album, Anywhere but Home, which sold more than one million copies worldwide. In 2006, the band released their second studio album, The Open Door, which sold more than four million copies.
The band suffered several line-up changes, including co-founder Moody leaving in 2003, followed by guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray in 2007. Lee is now the only original member of Evanescence remaining in the band.
Evanescence was founded by singer, pianist and songwriter Amy Lee and former lead guitarist and songwriter Ben Moody. The two met in 1994 at a youth camp in Little Rock, 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 together were "Solitude" and "Give Unto Me", both written by Lee, and "Understanding" and "My Immortal", both written by Moody. The songs were edited by both artists, and they shared equal credit.
Two of Lee and Moody's songs found playtime on local radio stations, raising local awareness of the group and demand for a concert. The band eventually appeared live, and became one of the most popular acts in the area. After 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 loved 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 EPs. The first is the self-titled Evanescence EP (1998), of which about 100 copies were made. The second is the Sound Asleep EP, also known as the Whisper EP (1999), which was 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.
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 they were looking to promote Fallen, Evanescence accepted an offer from the video game company Nintendo to perform on the "Nintendo Fusion Tour" which they headlined in 2003.
Fallen spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Top 10; was certified 6x Platinum in the United States; and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, including 6.6 million in the U.S. 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 American Billboard Hot 100. It provided Evanescence with their first UK #1 listing, where it stayed for four weeks from June-July 2003. The song also became the official theme for WWE No Way Out 2003. The equally popular "My Immortal" peaked at #7 in the U.S. and UK 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 46th Grammy Awards in 2004, where they won the Best Hard Rock Performance and Best New Artist awards and were nominated for two others. The two other singles off Fallen are "Going Under" (#5 U.S. Modern Rock Tracks, #8 UK Charts) and "Everybody's Fool" (#36 U.S. Modern Rock Tracks, #23 UK Charts); all were promoted by a music video.
Anywhere But Home
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 and reached #1 in Spain. Also on the CD are the live songs "Breathe No More" (from the Elektra movie soundtrack), "Farther Away", and the band's cover of Korn's "Thoughtless".
The Open Door
To promote the band's third album, The Open Door, Amy Lee and John LeCompt visited cities in Europe including 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 won various competitions, Lee and LeCompt answered questions and performed acoustic versions of songs from the album before signing autographs. 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". The band also spent time in New York City for press and a photo shoot for Metal Edge magazine.
The 13-track album 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 album in Billboard since the chart became a weekly feature in 1956.
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 loss of their former manager. Although Lee stated on the fan forum 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. The Open Door became available for pre-order on the iTunes Store on August 15, 2006; the music video for "Call Me When You're Sober" was also made available.
Lee claimed that she wrote a song for the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but that it was rejected due to its dark sound. Lee went on to state that it was just "more great stuff for The Open Door". Another song supposedly written for Narnia was the Mozart-inspired "Lacrymosa". The producers of Narnia, however, refuted her claim, stating this information was "news to them" and that no Evanescence music had been planned for inclusion in the soundtrack.
The tour for The Open Door began on October 5, 2006 in Toronto and included locations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe during that year. This first tour continued on January 5, 2007 and included stops in Canada (alongside band Stone Sour), Japan and Australia (alongside band Shihad) and then returned to the U.S. for a second tour in the spring (alongside bands Chevelle and Finger Eleven). As part of their tour, Evanescence performed on April 15, 2007 on the Argentinan festival Quilmes Rock 07 along with Aerosmith, Velvet Revolver and other local bands. They also co-headlined on the Family Values Tour 2007 along with Korn and other bands. The group closed their European tour with a sell-out concert at the Amphi in Ra'anana, Israel, on June 26, 2007, and finished the album tour on December 9, 2007.
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." This became a point of confusion for some people, as Moody and Lee stated on the Fallen album liner notes that they were best friends. Later, Lee said it was almost a relief that he left because of tensions created within the band. Moody was replaced by Terry Balsamo from Cold.
A spokesperson for the band's label confirmed on July 14, 2006 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.
On May 4, 2007, John LeCompt announced that he had been fired from Evanescence, and also stated that drummer Rocky Gray had decided to quit. On his MySpace blog, LeCompt stated that Lee called his cellphone to fire him, and that no warning had previously been given nor were any negotiations made available. Gray later released a statement on his MySpace stating that he was served a gag order by label Wind-up which prevents him from discussing the reasons for his departure from the band. On the band's official website, Lee wrote that the band was still alive and that no tour events had been canceled or changed.
Wind-up issued a press release on May 17, 2007, stating that two Dark New Day members, drummer Will Hunt and guitarist Troy McLawhorn, would be joining the band to replace LeCompt and Gray. However, Lee wrote on the EvThreads.com forum that "We're just borrowing Will and Troy for a while" and that they would not be leaving Dark New Day. It was initially stated that Hunt and McLawhorn would tour with Evanescence until the end of the Family Values Tour in September 2007, but both continued to play with the band through The Open Door tour.
Amy Lee stated she and the band are currently on a break; there is no news of any future albums or tours.
Critics compare Evanescence to a variety of bands from differing genres, such as nu metal ensembles like P.O.D. and Linkin Park, gothic metal groups like Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation, and symphonic metal acts like Nightwish. Critic Cammila Albertson of Allmusic counts Evanescence as one step further from gothic metal, presenting the description of the band's music as "a pop version of an already diluted brand of metal." Other publications such as Metal Hammer, Rolling Stone and Blender have similarly identified Evanescence as a gothic metal act. Critic Bill Lamb of About.com tags the group succinctly as "pop-goth", while David Browne of Blender offers a more elaborate description of the band's music as "goth Christian nü-metal with a twist of melancholic Enya." Johnny Loftus of Allmusic associates Evanescence with the alternative metal genre.
The band's relationship with heavy metal music is not without controversy. Vocalist Fernando Ribeiro of Moonspell contends that Evanescence is not a metal band. In contrast, Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride feels that Evanescence is doing something similar to his own gothic metal group, only in a more commercial direction.
Originally promoted in Christian stores, the band eventually made it clear they did not want to be considered 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 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 channels." In the wake of the controversy, "Bring Me To Life" was dropped by many Christian radio stations; the song was Top 5 on Radio & Records' Christian Rock Top 30 one week, and completely gone the next. 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."
References In Other Media
2004 - Best New Artist - Won
2004 - Best Hard Rock Performance ("Bring Me To Life") - Won
2004 - Album of the Year ("Fallen") - Nominated
2004 - Best Rock Album ("Fallen") - Nominated
2004 - Best Rock Song ("Bring Me To Life") - Nominated
2005 - Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal ("My Immortal") - Nominated
2008 - Best Hard Rock Performance ("Sweet Sacrifice") - Nominated
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