“Evanescence” is defined as “a dissipation or disappearance like vapor.” It’s an apt moniker, given that describing Evanescence’s music can be tricky indeed.
With the hard-driving single “Bring Me to Life” — whose music video has become nearly ubiquitous on channels throughout North America — many have classified the group as one of the crunching nu-metal breed; on the accompanying album, Fallen (Wind-Up), Evanescence reveals its roots in the Goth-rock genre blazed by the likes of The Cure. Add in 20-year-old Amy Lee’s vocals, and the sometimes epically dramatic arrangements, and the skewed pop visions of both Tori Amos and Meat Loaf become readily apparent.
Then, too, there’s the whole “Christian rock” tag, which the band has viewed with some bewilderment. In fact, after some puzzled remarks on the subject by lead guitarist/co-founder Ben Moody in Entertainment Weekly — complete with a certain four-letter word — the album was yanked from Christian retailers and charts.
“We’re definitely a rock band,” says Lee, “but the twist is that the band’s music is epic, dramatic, dark rock.”
Lee and Moody met as teenagers at a youth camp and clicked immediately, with Mr. Loaf again providing a kind of glue. “During some sort of recreational period held in a gymnasium, I heard Amy playing Meat Loaf’s ‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ at the piano,” Moody recalls. “So I went over to meet her, and she started singing for me. I was pretty much blown away, so I suckered her into joining a band with me.
“We have the same exact vision regarding what we love about music,” Moody says. “When it comes to songwriting, we finish each other’s thoughts.”
That loyalty to each other stood Moody and Lee in good stead as they began making their way through the Little Rock, Arkansas music scene in the late 1990s. “It’s typically death metal or really soft, older-people music there,” says Lee. “I don’t even know of any local bands that have female singers.”
The pair eschewed live shows in favor of releasing their own EPs — an odd strategy that slowly built them a following. “A lot of it developed by being elusive,” Moody remembers. “The second song we ever wrote was this seven-minute, ridiculous Goth anthem called ‘Understanding.’ And for some reason, the local rock station decided to play it a lot. We gained this popularity around town, even though no one knew who we were or where to find us. It was because we could never afford to play a show. It was just Amy and I —- and we couldn’t pay any musicians.”
Once the buzz was sufficient to garner label attention, guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray were added to flesh out the group’s sound. The band recently added touring bassist William Boyd as an official member. Recording of Fallen took place in Los Angeles, where they were “able to carry out the intricate harmonies and orchestrations of the memorable material on Fallen ,” Moody enthuses.
The vividly emotive “Bring Me to Life,” powered by its appearance in the blockbuster film Daredevil , that highly theatrical video, and the addition of fellow Wind-Up act 12 Stones’ singer Paul McCoy helped Fallen move almost effortlessly into the Top 10. Moody says the song “is about discovering something or someone that awakens a feeling inside them that they’ve never had before. You discover there is a world that is bigger than just your safe bubble.”
Evanescence has spent most of the year on the road, currently touring in Europe after wrapping up a long U.S. trek in September. With follow-up singles “Going Under” and “My Immortal” the group remains committed to making sure its vision and aims remain intact.
“We’re very sincere about what we do,” Moody says. “There’s so much pre-packaged teen angst these days in music. That’s not us. We’re not trying to sell an angle; we’re just here writing from our heart.”