Little Rock, Arkansas' EVANESCENCE ('dissipation of vapour') made
huge inroads into the Billboard album charts with their dramatic
debut Dave Fortman produced 'Fallen' opus. The idea for the band
germinated when founder members vocalist Amy Lee and guitarist
Ben Moody met by chance at a church youth camp, the singer catching
Moody's attention with a rendition of MEAT LOAF's 'I Would Do
Anything For Love'. The fledgling band immediately scored local
radio play with the tracks 'Give Unto Me' and 'Understanding'
courtesy of KABF. EVANESCENCE debuted live in December of 1998
at Vino's Bar in Little Rock, a promotion night for an EP 'Evanescence',
which rapidly sold out of its 100 CDR pressings. Featured musicians
on this recording included THE VISITORS bass player Will Boyd
along with drummer Rocky Gray and Matt Outlaw. A second EP, 'The
Whisper', gained further ground for the band despite being restricted
to just 50 copies.
EVANESCENCE would be rounded out by erstwhile MINDRAGE, SOUL
EMBRACED and KILL SYSTEM guitarist John Lecompt and drummer Rocky
Gray, the latter citing credits with SHREDDED CORPSE, featuring
on the 1996 EP 'Exhumed And Molested', and Christian Death Metal
bands KILL SYSTEM, LIVING SACRIFICE and SOUL EMBRACED. Dave Hodges
joined the band on keyboards but his term would be brief. Will
Boyd also performed live with the band. BigWig Enterprises, a
concern which had aided the band on earlier EP releases, put out
the group's eponymous debut album in 2000. 'Evanescence' was launched
with a gig at Little Rock's River Market Pavillion packaged alongside
LIVING SACRIFICE early that November.
Fuelled by massive TV programming for an impressive and disturbing
dream state video for the single 'Bring Me To Life', given an
added boost with its inclusion on the hit 'Daredevil' movie soundtrack,
the 'Fallen' album, produced by ex-UGLY KID JOE member Dave Fortman,
crashed into the charts at no. 1 in the UK. The single confused
many initially as it features a duet between Amy Lee and Paul
McCoy of 12 STONES. The album, which blended Gothic overtones
with dirge filled Nu-Metal and melancholy acoustic and even choral
pieces, had bass in the hands of Francis Decosmo whilst drums
were handled by Josh Freese of A PERFECT CIRCLE and the VANDALS.
As well as re-recording archive tracks 'Whisper', 'My Immortal'
and 'Imaginary' the album song 'Tourniquet' is in actuality a
cover of 'My Tourniquet' originally performed by SOUL EMBRACED.
The band became embroiled in controversy in April of 2003 when
interviews, apparently seeing both Lee and Moody renouncing any
Christian beliefs, resulted in their label Wind Up withdrawing
copies of 'Fallen' from Christian record stores. This setback
would bear little impact upon European sales though as the album
rapidly made headway on all the major charts. In three weeks 'Fallen'
sold over 100,000 copies in the UK bringing in a gold sales status
award and soon topping the charts. The band debuted live in the
UK on June 19th, performing at the London Astoria.
Although European dates would be curtailed due to illness EVANESCENCE
soon got back into gear, announcing August US headline shows as
part of an adventurous new concept blending Rock n' Roll with
computer games. The 'Nintendo Fusion' tour allied the band with
COLD, REVIS, CAUTERIZE and FINGER ELEVEN.
The band returned to the UK in October for shows supported by
APARTMENT 26. However, in a shock move founder member Ben Moody
walked out midway through German dates, flying home to the USA
without apparently consulting his band mates. The band, by now
having racked up over six million worldwide sales of 'Fallen',
three million of which were generated from the USA, pulled in
COLD guitarist Terry Balsamo for a performance at the American
Music Awards ceremony. The band were then scheduled to get their
teeth into further North American gigs into December, finding
SEETHER, FINGER ELEVEN and GODHEAD all lending support. However,
these shows were cancelled. Nevertheless, the year closed out
on a high as, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the entertainment
industry's data information system that tracks point of sale purchases
of recorded music product, 'Fallen' landed the honours of fourth
highest selling album in the USA during 2003.
Intriguingly, 2004 opened with talks taking place between Amy
Lee and former LIMP BIZKIT guitarist Wes Borland for possible
songwriting collaborations. Borland subsequently denied any such
claims. Ousted member Ben Moody would be in the news in regard
to songwriting too, the guitarist collaborating with both GODHEAD,
teen star AVRIL LAVIGNE and even 'American Idol' winner Kelly
Clarkson on tracks for her second album. This burst of activity
would also include a collusion with GODHEAD singer Jason Miller,
DROWNING POOL frontman Jason Jones, PRONG and TOMMY LEE bassist
Marty O'Brien and LIVING SACRIFICE drummer Lance Garvin on the
track 'The End Has Come', slated for the soundtrack to the comic
book movie 'The Punisher'.
Terry Balsamo's position the band would also be confirmed as
a permanent fixture in mid January. EVANESCENCE won a prestigious
Grammy Award in the "Hard Rock Performance" category
at the 46th annual show held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
in February, beating out the other nominees AUDIOSLAVE, GODSMACK,
JANE'S ADDICTION and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. The band also scooped
the "Best new artist" honours. Surprisingly both Amy
Lee and ex-EVANESCENCE guitarist Ben Moody made a joint appearance
to accept the awards on live television. As evidence of their
staying power at the time of these honours the 'Fallen' album
was still firmly lodged in the US top 5.
In May of 2004 'Fallen' was certified quintuple-platinum by the
Recording Industry Association Of America for sales of five million
copies. Internationally the album, which had remained lodged in
many charts for over a year, had sold over 11 million copies.
Total sales in Japan alone neared the half a million mark. A renewed
round of US touring in the Summer saw EVANESCENCE supported by
SEETHER, THREE DAYS GRACE and BREAKING BENJAMIN. Notably, the
band performed a piano based cover version of KORN's 'Thoughtless'
as part of their set.
Whilst EVANESCENCE set to work on a new studio album a DVD package
entitled 'Anywhere But Home' was launched in November to plug
the gap. The CD / DVD set comprised four promotional videos plus
a live concert recorded on 25th May 2004 at the Zenith in Paris.