Predictably, the band didn't quite fit the mold of most others lingering around the Midwestern state. "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."
Lee and band co-founder Ben Moody (ex-guitarist) met at summer camp in Arkansas when they were teenagers. "We were at a youth camp," Moody recalls. "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. 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."
They discovered they shared a love of Jimi Hendrix and Björk , and they began to write songs together. For some time they were unable to find other musicians to play with, and did not have the funds to pay for professional assistance, thus they were unable to play live shows. However, a song of theirs entitled "Understanding" found its way onto local music charts, and demand for a live show increased. When the band finally did make an appearance, they became one of the most popular acts in the area. "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."
Since that day, the musical relationship has remained dependably loyal. "We have the same exact vision regarding what we love about music," Moody, co-founder and former guitarist, says. "When it comes to songwriting, we finish each other's thoughts."
Although they rarely performed live, their early recordings gained a local following and in 2001. As a duo, Evanescence opted to release EPs and the full-length "Origin".
Lee told the BBC that Evanescence was mastering demos in Memphis, TN, when she and the band were discovered by producer Pete Matthews. He shopped the songs to record companies in New York, and Evanescence eventually landed a contract with Wind-Up Entertainment, the home of Creed. John Le Compt (guitar), Rocky Gray (drums) and Will Boyd (bass) joined the band. "It was weird going out on our first tour," Amy recalls. "No one had any expectations, and we were doing a couple of shows in skating rinks, for like, two people - it was pretty hilarious. But by the end of the week there would be a huge difference every time, and by the end of the month we were playing to hundreds of people - and by last summer we were playing in front of 50,000 people in Germany."
Fallen was tracked in Los Angeles with producer Dave Fortman (Boysetsfire, Superjoint Ritual). The album successfully finds that intangible balance between lush beauty and primal heaviness. Typical of the record is the first single, "Bring Me To Life," a piano ballad-turned-riff-driven barnburner. Highlighted by a guest vocal from Paul McCoy of 12 Stones, the song is featured prominently in the Daredevil film and soundtrack.
Originally considered by many to be part of the Christian rock scene - and for a short time promoted in Christian stores - the band has distanced itself from such categorization, even though Fallen (2003), their first major-label release, had some religious themes.
"Tourniquet", for example, is about suicide and redemption, with lyrics like "Am I too lost to be saved? My God, my tourniquet, return to me salvation." It should be noted however, that the song was a cover, written by members of Rocky Gray's previous band, Soul Embraced.
The initial labeling of the band as Christian stirred much controversy, until Christian stores eventually took Fallen off the shelves. The band's lead singer Amy Lee has insisted the band is not Christian and does not intend to send a Christian message, even though she is in fact a Christian herself. Evanescence's debut single "Bring Me to Life" was a global hit for the band and reached #5 on the American Billboard Hot 100. It was included in the soundtrack for the action movie Daredevil and garnered recognition for the band at the Grammy Awards of 2004: The single was awarded Best Hard Rock Performance , and Evanescence was awarded Best New Artist.
Their first record, Origin (released in 2000), is relatively unknown, and previously released EPs in 1998 and 1999 are even less known, though highly sought after by collectors. Origin and the EPs contain demo versions of some of the songs on their first major-label album. In fact, the recording of "My Immortal" found on Fallen can also be found on Origin , minus a handful of additional instrumental accompaniments. However, Lee herself does not consider the record to be an actual album; rather, she considers it merely a bundle of demo songs (some of which she says are not done properly) that was sent to record companies. Only 2500 copies of this record were ever made, and it is thus not generally available in record stores. In response, Lee encouraged fans to download the band's older songs from the internet during an interview. In
October 2003, Moody left the band abruptly in the middle of a European tour. In an interview several months later , 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." Since, Lee has said it was almost a relief that he left because of tensions. Former Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland had been mentioned as a replacement for Moody and Lee described him as a friend, suggesting they may write together on their next record. Eventually it was Terry Balsamo, from Cold who joined the band in Moody's place.
The Departure Of Ben Moody
On October 22, 2003, guitarist Ben Moody left the band stating the reasons for his departure were "creative differences."
In an interview several months later, Amy said: "We'd gotten to a point that if something didn't change, we wouldn't have been able to make a second record." She also said "We're finally a real band, not just Ben and I and a few others thrown together".
Ex-Cold guitarist Terry Balsamo replaced Moody in the band, both on guitar and as Lee's writing partner.