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"They threw us out of the office. They said, 'A chick and a piano? Are you kidding? On rock radio?'"
According to Wind-up Records president Ed Vetri, that's what a radio programmer said back in 2003 when Wind-up knocked on the station's door to solicit airplay for a new band. It indeed had a chick and a piano. The woman was Amy Lee, singer of Arkansas rock band Evanescence. The song was "Bring Me To Life," which first appeared on the soundtrack to the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Garner movie "Daredevil." The rest is history.
The PD's name? Vetri politely wouldn't say. But to be fair, Evanescence was nothing like the bands then dominating the rock channels. Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit merged rap and rock. Mudvayne and System of a Down sounded jerky and chaotic. Korn, Slipknot and Staind were down-tuned and morbid. That was one reason Lee's mezzo-soprano broke through the ocean of testosterone: a melodic counterpoint was overdue. Female rock fans also appreciated having someone of their own gender to look up to — an anti-thesis to pop entertainers who co-wrote her music and didn't rely on Auto-Tune.
Evanescence dodged the alleged curse of the best new artist grammy (the band won it in 2004) by selling 7.7 million copies of its Wind-up debut, Fallen, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album was propelled by "Bring Me to Life" and follow-up hits "Going Under," "Everybody's Fool" and "My Immortal." The monstrous success still had a price: conflict between Lee and co-songwriter/guitarist Ben Moody resulted in his abrupt resignation while Evanescence toured in support of Fallen. The rest of the band that was together at the time of the album's release — bassist Will Boyd, guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray — later exited, the latter two under bitter circumstances. And Lee later admitted she considered calling it a day after completing touring for sophomore album The Open Door.
Ten years on, while Lee continues with Evanescence, Fallen has aged gracefully. It's easy to hear why the band was among the class of rock groups that went multiplatinum at the turn of the millennium. Its formidable combination of power and melody was more than enough of a foundation to withstand the trends of its time.
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Online since October 27th 2011
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