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Hotstar


12:00 AM Monday, 5/19/03 |   |

Many have tried to pigeonhole rock band Evanescence into various genres since its Wind-Up Records release, Fallen, debuted at No. 5 on SoundScan's Top 200 album chart. But with a band that cites influences as diverse as composer Danny Elfman, Korn, Bj”rk, A Perfect Circle, and Tori Amos, that's about as easy as, well, nailing down a waterfall.

In fact, vocalist Amy Lee and lead guitarist Ben Moody made comments during a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that made it clear they didn't want to be known as a Christian act.

That bit of news was published after Fallen had reached No. 1 on the Top Contemporary Christian chart, and created such an uproar that the label pulled the band's products out of the Christian retail and radio market with a written apology from its CEO.

Why the brouhaha? It originally stemmed from an early magazine interview where the two had discussed their faith and its possible relationship to their music. But the EW interview quoted Moody colorfully expressing his surprise over the band's popularity in the Christian market and, well, the fallout was swift. Meanwhile, Fallen went gold just a little more than a month after its March release, and platinum two weeks later.

Lee and Moody co-founded Evanescence in the late '90s while living in Little Rock, Ark., where the band's sound didn't exactly fit the mold for the area. After spending time writing music, working on a demo with keyboardist David Hodges and remaining a bit of a mystery, the group caught the interest of local radio and eventually Wind-Up.

"We were not known very well for a long time. We just started getting a good following in our home town a few years ago," Lee told POLLSTAR. "We played shows, and the local alternative station grew very fond of us. That really was the only source that we had, but it worked out very well."

It was the only source, that is, until the demo was being mastered at Ardent Studios in Memphis and caught the ear of producer Pete Matthews, who offered to take a copy of the album to some labels in Los Angeles and New York, one of which was Wind-Up.

Oh, and then there was this one other teensie thing along the way: Evanescence landed two songs on the "Daredevil" soundtrack, from which "Bring Me To Life" catapulted the band up the charts in the U.S. and overseas.

"Since we were in 'Daredevil' ... people heard the song and knew about it basically at the same time that America did," Lee explained. "Our album came out in a lot of other countries within the next month. Since that movie was released and everyone watched it everywhere, that's how we got the early exposure. The fans ... I couldn't be happier. They're so awesome.

"We really love our music and we love playing live, so the longer we tour, the better."

Manager Dennis Rider said he was introduced to Evanescence by his client, producer Dave Fortman, after recording for Fallen had begun, and he became a fan from the first meeting.

"Sometimes, certain things just happen for a reason. We all felt very comfortable around each other. Obviously, the stars were aligned on this alliance," he told POLLSTAR. "I just love the band. To me, there's very little difference between the band as people and the band as musicians; their music is the same thing as their personalities.

"Before the record was released, I felt this thing was something special and I wanted to be involved."

The feeling seems to be mutual.

"[Dennis] is so great for us. We were all alone and frightened and didn't know what we were doing; we're just a bunch of kids," Lee said. "We met him, and it was like we just completely clicked from the beginning. He got it, and so did [Fortman]. They really understood our music and us."

Guitarist John LeCompt, drummer Rocky Gray and bassist Will Boyd, whom Lee and Moody knew from Little Rock, were added to the lineup after the album dropped and Hodges moved on, adding to what Rider calls the "familial" relationship between himself and the members.

"It's like an old '60s 'love-in.' We're all having fun. The tour is doing great; we're selling out nearly every night," he said. "We're not in shock because we knew we had something special, but it's still awe-inspiring just the same."

The intricate harmonies and orchestrations that are the band's signature are written by Moody and Lee, a process Moody has described as "finishing each other's thoughts." And as to citing Elfman, who has composed numerous film soundtracks such as "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Beetlejuice" and "Sleepy Hollow"

as a main influence, Lee doesn't play down her admiration.

"We've loved Danny Elfman forever. It's that playful creepiness, which is something I would love to emulate in our music, and I think we do," Lee said. "I would be so excited to meet him for five minutes and just talk with him."

Evanescence hit the road in mid-April for a series of U.S. headlining dates and festival appearances that run through the end of May, and is scheduled to play festivals in Germany, Spain and Barcelona this summer. Where the band goes after that, Rider said, is all in the details.

"Because of the fluid nature of what's going on with this band, where we're breaking everywhere, obviously, the demands on the band are strong around the world," he said. "I'm looking at a bunch of proposals in terms of where we're going next."

Despite the hectic touring and promotional schedule in support of Fallen, Lee and Moody already have material for the band's next record.

"We have many songs that aren't on this album, and we recorded some B sides that I really love that are just on singles and imports," she said. "There are also songs we wrote in the past that we would still like to put out on a record.

"There's so much life experience out there right now ... . We're always writing. It can't be stopped, and I hope it never will."


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