rare for a band to explode on the scene like Evanescence did in
2003. It is also rare for a band to have so
much turmoil in
success’ wake. However, not quite a decade into its popularity, a
greatly changed but still rocking version of the band is back on
the charts with their first new studio album in five years.
group had been formed in Little Rock, Arkansas in the mid-‘90s by
singer/songwriter/pianist Amy Lee and guitarist/songwriter Ben Moody
– who had met in summer camp when Moody overheard Lee playing
piano. They caught a local buzz, releasing two EPs independently.
They were joined by friends John LeCompt (guitar), Rocky Gray
(drums), Will Boyd (bass) and David Hodges (a keyboardist who left
the year before their international breakthrough.)
finally released their debut full-length album Fallen in
2003. On the strength of the smash hit singles “Bring Me to Life”
and “My Immortal,” the disk sold over 17 million copies.
at a time when they should have been on top of the world, the cracks
started to show in the band. Moody left the group mid-tour in 2003
in a bit of a power struggle with singer Lee, who had become the
band’s face to the public. He was replaced by Cold guitarist Terry
Balsamo. With the professional breakup with Moody, as well as
personal breakup with Seether leader Shaun Morgan,
Lee and the band went to
work on their follow-up album The Open Door. While recording
the album, new guitarist Balsamo suffered from a stroke, from which
he has since, thankfully, recovered.
album did well and spawned the hit single “Call Me When You’re
Sober” (supposedly written about Lee’s
relationship with Morgan), but was not as big a smash
as the original. Besides, Boyd left the band as the album was being
finished and LeCompt and Gray took off the next year.
years later, the band is finally back with their new self-titled
studio album, their first release in five years. The band is made
up of several well known metal musicians who had been touring with
Lee for years, including Revolution Smile guitarist Tim McCord and
Dark New Day guitarist Troy McLawhorn and drummer Will Hunt.
who has become the hard rock scene’s
go-to drummer in the past decade or so, was
nice enough to give us a call and discuss the band, the new album
and some of his other high-profile gigs.
How did you first get into music?
let's see. I saw KISS on the Jerry Lewis Telethon and I think
that's the thing that made me want to play. I saw fire, blood, and
craziness. I’m like yeah, that looks cool. I think I’m down.
One of your first big time gigs was playing for
Tommy Lee’s solo band. How gratifying was it that a man who was
famous for playing drums wanted you to play drums for him?
pretty surreal because growing up Tommy Lee was my hero. Man, he was
the dude. Then a good friend of mine set me up for the audition. I
went through the whole process and got chosen. It was just amazing.
Hard to believe that you would ever meet your heroes let alone play
with them. Then call them your friend? It's pretty awesome.
You toured with Evanescence for years when you were
still a member of Dark New Day. How did you get together with
about through a producer, this guy named Dave Bendis. I had done a
couple records with him. A band called Silvertide and he mixed a
record from a band called Bloodsimple that I had done. He knew me.
We're good friends. Amy's manager, Andy Lurie, called him saying
“Hey, we're looking for a drummer. Who do you know?” Immediately he
said, “Here, call this guy. You should talk to him.” I was actually
in Las Vegas doing a show with Vince Neil and I was in the hotel
room, having just come up from sound check. I got the call from
Andy. He said “Hey, you interested in playing in Evanescence?” I'm
like sure man.
Obviously, you weren’t with the band when they first
hit it big with “Bring Me to Life” and “My Immortal.” How familiar
were you with the band’s work before joining?
Oh man, I
knew a lot about them. I had their first record. I hadn't gotten
The Open Door yet at that point. But I knew exactly who they
were and how awesome of a singer Amy was. I knew about Terry from
Cold, because we're both from Florida and our bands played the same
bars together sometimes. Yeah, I knew Terry a little before that.
But, yeah man, it was exciting man to get that call, for sure.
When was it decided to make you a full-time member
of Evanescence? How did you find out?
Troy and I got the call back then, Amy said flat out “I'm just
looking for guys to help me finish this run. It’s going to be seven
or eight months, Then I don't know what I'm going to do after that.”
So all we could do is just hope that she would want to come back to
it again. I can't really say that I was like a full time member
until she decided, “Yeah I think I want to do this Evanescence thing
again. Is everybody ready?” I was like sure. Let’s rock it, man.
Let’s do it.
What has surprised you most about playing with
band has really amazing fans. It’s amazing to see the dedication
that these fans have for this band and how loyal they are to the
band and to Amy. It’s a true testament that after being home for
five years that the record popped into number one and the shows are
all sold out. I would say that that was the most surprising thing is
– just how passionate people were about the band.
All of the songs are credited to the entire band,
but there are specific credits that you co-wrote “Made of Stone,”
“Sick,” “End of the Dream” and “Swimming Home.” What was the writing
process like in the band?
in the past it was Amy and Ben [Moody]. They did it and then more
recently on The Open Door it was Amy and Terry. They kind of
sussed everything out. So it’s been her and one other person…
usually in front of a computer dialing stuff in. This time around it
was different, man. It was a collaborative effort. I think on a
couple of occasions Tim and Terry and Amy wrote together. Then on
other occasions the four of us wrote together. Then in
pre-production, it was obviously all of us together, hashing it out.
It was cool, man. It was the first time that Amy has done a
collaborative record with the band. But to be fair, I don't think
that before now she had a band that she could have done that with.
This is a different animal. Troy and I are used to working in
dynamics like that with Dark New Day. That was five people in a
room, writing songs together. For Amy, that was a very foreign
thing. So it was cool to be there to show her what a cool experience
it could be – if it’s the right people and the right places with
egos not coming into account. To create things together is just
In a quote I saw from you right before the beginning
of the recording, you said you wanted the album to be “more rock”
for the band. Do you feel that goal was met?
Absolutely, and that's not to say that neither of the albums before
this didn't rock, because they definitely did. I really hoped that
this record would bring out a heavier side of the band, and maybe a
little darker side of the band. I think we definitely, definitely
met my expectations with that, for sure.
I also did kind of notice that the band was sort of
fooling around with some more commercial hooks, changing up the
tempos and even having some slightly more upbeat lyrics. Were you
all trying to show all the different moods of the band?
think that this is a record where we go in and out of a lot of
different… it’s all Evanescence, but we go in and out of a lot of
different styles, in the rock format. To me, there are some songs on
this record that are darker than anything I've ever heard the band
do. At the same time, like what you're saying, there are some songs
like the chorus for “What You Want” is… I don't want to say it’s
happy, but it’s uplifting. It’s a much faster-tempo song than maybe
she would have done. I think it’s just all part of being a really
good band. If you look at a band like Led Zeppelin you know
particularly say three, four records into their career, they were
going in and out of a lot of different genres and it all sounded
like Led Zeppelin, though. They owned it. When you're able to do
that… that's something to talk about.
What songs on the new album are your favorites –
both as a drummer and also just as a fan of the band?
favorite is “Never Go Back,” which is probably the heaviest tune on
the record. I love… there's a song called “Sick” that that’s just
really got a great vibe to it. It's also pretty heavy but it’s got a
great vibe. There's this song called “Made of Stone.” It's really,
really cool. Umm, let’s see, what else do we like to do live? What
else is really kick ass? “What You Want”is cool. We like
playing that one. That one is high energy. People really get off on
that. The record is great, man, because we're playing like eight
songs from it in the show, which is a testament to how much we dig
it. The other thing is that the record was built to be played live.
We wrote it as a band in a room and made it as a band in a room,
together playing the parts. That was one of the things about
[producer] Nick [Raskulinecz], he had it to where we would play
these songs to the point where if we had to walk out and play it
live that night we could do it, you know? That definitely comes
across on the record. It also comes across in the show, because
we're playing so many of the tunes live in the show.
You have been playing with a lot of other bands,
such as Black Label Society, Crossfade, Dark New Day and Methods of
Mayhem. Are you planning on continuing to work with lots of outside
groups as well now that you are an official member of the band, or
totally throwing yourself into Evanescence?
for right now I’m 110% Evanescence. I don't have time to really do
anything else, currently. On the down time, yeah, I just love to
play man. Doesn't matter what I do, man, I just love it. It’s like I
can't sit, I go bat shit crazy if I'm sitting. I love to be home
with my family and stuff like that. Recording records is something
that I can do where I can still be home with the fam sometimes and I
can still rock out. But right now, it’s 110% Evanescence. We're
going to be busy for a long time.
You have also been touring drummer with a lot of
established acts – obviously Evanescence, but also Mötley Crüe,
Slaughter and recently Staind. What is it like to come into an
established band to join them on the road?
yeah, man. That’s always a kick, particularly in a case like Mötley
Crüe or even Black Label Society. I mean Zakk [Wylde] is probably in
my top two guitar players of all time. Just being able to play with
him, or to play with Mötley and Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx and Vince
[Neil], stuff like that – it is really, really, really cool to be
able to have those experiences and do that. Play those songs that
you love listening to with the people that wrote them you know. It's
You’re obviously in huge demand as a drummer over
recent years. How does it make you feel as an artist that so many
musicians respect your work?
amazing, man. I mean, at the end of the day, for me I'm just a huge
fan of music. You know what I mean? You'll find me on tour usually
in the dressing room or in the gym or whatever and I’m constantly
just listening to music. To have respect of my peers like that is
number one, kind of surreal and number two, just an honor. It's
awesome just to be considered in that light, you know?
were some of the drummers who inspired you to become a musician?
see. Getting started,I loved John Bonham. My mom turned me
on to that. I loved The Who. My dad turned me on to that, Keith
Moon. I loved obviously Tommy Lee. Bobby Blotzer from Ratt. Those
are guys that I really got into when I was younger. Stewart Copeland
from The Police is just an amazing drummer. Then later on, man, it’s
just become you Morgan Rose from Sevendust, Joey [Jordison] from
Slipknot. Like I said, I'm just a huge fan. I listen to everything.
I just love it, you know?
Between gigs do you ever wonder when you're going to
find time to get some sleep?
(laughs hard) I'll sleep when I'm dead, man.
EVANESCENCE'S VIDEO FOR THE SINGLE "WHAT YOU WANT!"