In many groups, two people have a little more history than everyone else. They are usually the ones with a shared vision, who made the sacrifices to build the group and hold it together. In Evanescence, it was vocalist Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody. And that was a problem.
Lee and Moody met at a youth camp where Moody was attracted to Lee's piano playing and vocals. They began recording, producing the airy dreaminess of Portishead blended with Metal elements for a dark, atmospheric sound. Working under the name Evanescence, meaning a dissipation or disappearance like vapors, Lee and Moody even took a shot at romance, managing to become briefly engaged before backing away. The strains of working together intensely on music and maintaining an intimate relationship was simply too much. In the end, the music won.
Among Lee and Moody's early efforts were songs "Give Unto Me" and "Understanding" which managed to get played on their local Little Rock radio station KABF. The group later added members, released an EP and played their first live show in '98. After a series of personnel changes, John LeCompt (guitar) and Rocky Gray (drums) were enlisted.
Signed to Wind-Up Records, the group's full-length debut "Fallen" was released in '03. But prior to that, the group got a major break when two of their songs, the ballad "My Immortal" and "Bring Me To Life" were used on the Daredevil soundtrack.
Living up to his name, Moody quit the group in October of '03. He packed his bags prior to a Berlin concert and left the country. Guitarist Terry Balsamo, formerly of Cold, stepped in. Then, bassist William Boyd split and was replaced by Tim McCord.
Seven years later Moody finally spoke out about the split and his differences with Lee. "We both contributed to the resentment of the deterioration of our friendship that quickly turned into a downward spiral of animosity, conflicting opinions, and a very volatile environment," Moody stated.
He added that their relationship ended while on tour supporting "Fallen." "We had such opposing desires and personalities that mixed with the pride of youth and inexperience (and an extreme amount of insecurity and loss of direction on my part) led to an all out war." Moody was next seen in We Are The Fallen.
After being delayed from August to October, Evanescence issued "The Open Door." The CD's 13 songs represented singer Amy Lee's maiden effort with Balsamo. "[After Ben Moody's departure], I didn't have somebody -- I don't want to be mean -- holding me back," said Lee. "Instead, I had [Balsamo] lifting me up.
"Call Me When You're Sober" was the first single. In the accompanying video, Lee played a modernized Little Red Riding Hood in the company of live wolves. "The song is so literal that we felt like the video would have the freedom to go in a less literal direction," said Lee, who went on to state the track was about her relationship with ex-boyfriend, Seether's Shaun Morgan.
"I think you can hear the growth," Lee said of the album. "All the experimenting and fun stuff that we tried comes across." Lee claimed playing live influenced the songwriting for the album. "Now that we know what [performing] live is like before thousands of people, you sort of write that way," added Lee. "You write a few songs that are sort of for the arena." "The Open Door" was a hit selling 447,000 copies in the first week of its release to top the Billboard 200 album chart. But mass success rarely equates to smooth sailing.
In May, '07, the announcement was made that LeCompt and Gray had left. "We shared some great times together playing live, but they were ready to move on and so we have parted ways," wrote Lee in a statement. LeCompt countered, saying he was fired "without any warning." Gray claimed that he quit. Later, Lee returned to the subject adding, "They were very vocal about the fact that they didn't really care about Evanescence at all and just stayed around for the money."
Eleven days later, the group issued a release saying that Dark New Day guitarist Troy McLawhorn and drummer Will Hunt would replace LeCompt and Gray. Once that was settled, Evanescence joined Hinder and Velvet Revolver as headliners on the inaugural Rock on the Range Music Festival in Columbus, OH.
Lee used her MySpace page in October, '09, to discuss Evanescence's next album. "(It's) gotten to the point where I'm working on it almost every day (night I should say). I'm in love with it. Enough to fight for it. Enough to reopen the door to a world of chaos even though it scares me." The band started recording in New York with producer Steve Lillywhite (U2). "There's a lot of stuff that doesn't sound like Evanescence, but the heart of the band of still there," said Lee of the set's electro leanings. "This is a really, really, rhythmically driven record."
Evanescence (essentially Lee with a new band) issued their self-titled album in '11. "I can really hear myself singing about my relationship with Evanescence and with the fans," Lee told Kerrang! "There's always one big relationship on a record that I sing about the most. I feel like my big relationship on this album with Evanescence itself, and with the fans." Evanescence's third studio album featured "What You Want."
Though "Evanescence" sold far less in its debut week than its predecessor - 127,000 copies - that was still enough to propel the album to #1 on the Billboard Album Chart.
The next stop for the band really was a stop as they went on a three-year hiatus.
The break officially ended in July, '15. But just a month later, Balsamo was replaced by Jen Majura. "After two albums, countless adventures around the world and on the stage, Terry's time has come to an end," stated Lee. She went on to describe Majura as the "missing piece."
But before there was another Evanescence album, Lee released a 'different' solo effort. "Dream Too Much," a children's album, was inspired by Lee's father who suggested she make an album for her 2-year-old-son.
Lee continued her solo career with the '17 release of the single "Love Exists."
2006 The Open Door
Evanescence spends too much time being pensive and contemplative rather than outwardly aggressive. It's a layered sound designed for listening in the dark after a bad day, letting the words and music tap into those anxious, brooding feelings that are churning around.
Maybe someday Lee will find a love true love. In the meantime, after bouts with Moody and Morgan, Lee has been handed a trunk full of hard luck personal experience to draw from. Dysfunctional romances within a group and with other musicians has been the inspiration for songs going back to the late '70's Fleetwood Mac soap opera.
When Lee has something to sink her teeth into (rather than self-pity) she and the group are impressive. That holds true on the band's self-titled set.
Despite all the personnel changes Evanescence still comes down to Lee's torchy vocals and the band's churning guitars.