Rising from the ashes of the original line-up of Evanescence is We Are The Fallen. We recently spoke to one the group’s guitarists John LeCompt about what is going on with the band including some insight into how they formed and the writing and recording of their debut Tear The World Down. If you haven’t yet heard of them, We Are The Fallen is a brand new rock band featuring three of the original members of Evanescence (including Ben Moody), bassist Marty O’Brien and former American Idol contestant Carly Smithson on lead vocals. If you haven’t already figured it out the band’s name is an allusion to Evanescence’s 2003 debut record The Fallen which I’m sure makes Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee pretty damn angry. We Are The Fallen just released its debut record Tear The World Down last month which features the group’s lead single “Bury Me Alive.” The band will embark on an extensive North American tour beginning at the end of June along with Saving Abel.
We Are The Fallen of course has its roots in the band Evanescence but could you tell us a little bit more detail on how the group came together?
John: The inception of this band was um, it’s been several years since I played in a band with Ben Moody and he had done a ton of stuff since his departure from Evanescence… he called me, we stayed friends but he called me last year around June just with the idea of “hey you know what, do you want to be in a band again? Let’s put a band together…” We all kind of missed performing together and the energy we had together so we wanted to see if we could create something with the same kind of energy.
We flew out to L.A., Rocky and I flew out to L.A. to jam and that old feeling was still there you know, but you have to put that final piece of the puzzle together, get that singer… This was all within the course of maybe a week, a week and a half, we talked on the phone, flew out there, jammed together and decided that we wanted to do something, we didn’t really have an idea of exactly what it was going to be, we just knew we wanted to do something. It was like, “well, we’ll talk about that singer thing later.” Ben calls me up again a couple of days later and he happens to have Carly haphazardly in his house, she’s a really good friend of his. There’s a lot of things going around like his girlfriend knew we were looking for a singer so she was talking to her mom and her mom was like “hey there’s this American Idol girl that’s very talented, you should use her.” So obviously we weren’t going to listen to his girlfriend’s mother [laughs], so he was like “yeah whatever, whatever.”
But then right around that time it was just a coincidence you know, what Carly was looking for, what we were looking for, everybody was looking for the same thing, we just didn’t know it was each other. She came over, they talked for a while and Ben really liked her a lot, the rest of us guys flew back out and we all just met her and right then we knew that this is what we were going to do, we’re going to play together so that’s pretty much how that happened.
The breakup of the original lineup of Evanescence has been well documented so there’s no sense in rehashing it but out of curiosity, how do you feel now about your time in the group? Do you look back on it fondly?
John: Of course I do. Anything I’ve ever done in my past bad or good I mean I’ve been through a lot in my life, you know I did a lot of stupid things when I was a teenager that I’m not very proud of but at the same time they still make me who I am. I’ve done a lot of good things, made a lot of good decisions also that also contribute to who I am. I never forsake my roots man, I used to be in a band called Mind Rage and that was the first really positive band that I was ever in that actually got a following and it was my creation, my license plate still says “mind rage” on it, personalized and I’ll never change because it’s my foundation, that’s my roots. You know, Mind Rage, any other band I’ve ever been in, Evanescence obviously, who would ever want to forsake something that was so big and important to my career and my life so I look back on it with fondness. We left the band but that doesn’t say anything about my time in that band.
You mentioned there that you’ve played with many different bands over the years. Out of all the bands you’ve played with, is there any one you’d say is your favourite experience of all?
John: They’re all my favourite at the time that I was doing them you know? I’ve learned so much from each experience, I started out as a death metal kid and I owe a lot of my guitar skills to going through that era in my life, bands I was in during the grunge era, I really love the grunge era, I thank those times for teaching me a little more melody and all that. There’s no particular favourite, I love all the music I’ve ever been a part of really.
We Are The Fallen’s debut record Tear The World Down just came out this past week. What are your feelings on the record now that it’s been released?
John: I feel really good about it, we did so much work over the course of this last year to put a band together, end up writing a record, recording the record very quickly and then hurrying up and getting out on tour. I haven’t really had time to think about the release date, I didn’t really think about it until like the day before. I think I saved myself the anxiety of all that stuff; I just try not to think about it and play the shows. I believe in the product, I think if anybody has ever appreciated anything that we’ve done I think that they’ll appreciate this and I don’t think there should be any bias or opinion because we were a part of this or that before or whatever. This record stands on its own man, I think front to back every song is really good, everything has a great theme that goes through the entire thing you know it’s got parts that move you, it’s got parts that will make you want to punch someone in the face, I think it has a little bit of everything. I love it, I love this record.
Now what was the writing and recording process like for Tear The World Down? Where did you record it and how long did it take?
John: We spent, first off before we went into the studio we worked at our bass player Marty’s house, Rocky, Marty and myself stayed there writing, writing, writing and you know Ben would pop by and Carly would pop by and then Ben also had a studio that he had rented and he just always had it rented for his own personal use but we were using it to go in and do pre-production. We spent about six weeks writing and doing pre-production and then we went in to NRG Studios in LA and then about six or seven weeks in there recording the album. It was a pretty high speed process, it seems like especially with the amount of elements we brought in you know, a huge choir, an orchestra and all that stuff. We did a very economic pre-production where we got a ton of work done before we ever entered the main studio.
To say the least, Ben Moody has already had quite a prolific career in terms of song writing. How was this record written? Did you all take part equally or was Ben more at the reins?
John: No he wasn’t at the reins and it’s good that you asked that because a lot of journalists they kind of want to push towards making it out to be a Ben and Carly project and yes he has done that in terms of song writing but no, he felt finally that he had an opportunity where he didn’t feel like he had to carry the world on his shoulders. We are all very fluent writers; we know how to write this kind of music. Rocky and I, we contributed a ton of material to this record and you know, Ben would just let us do our thing, we’d come in and bring full songs to him and big pieces of songs and you know obviously everyone’s got their touch on there. Ben brought “Without You,” he wrote that in one day, “Tear the World Down” was a song that he had written and brought to the table and we all kind of made it sound better. If you look at it from the perspective of everybody contributing it was a very equal contribution through the entire record. There is no one person calling the shots or the boss or the brainchild or whatever, this is all of our baby equally.
In terms of playing live, how much experience have you had playing together in a live setting so far?
John: With Carly we’ve done thirty some odd shows together now, we did ten days of rehearsal before we actually left. That was the trick man, when you get together and throw a band together, we’re not a jam band, we didn’t get good together by jamming in a room and then go write a record. We just wrote a record, recorded it, everybody performed their parts and then we go home and then it’s like ok now learn your stuff. Yeah we’re about thirty-five shows deep with Carly and she’s been a trooper from the beginning man, I mean obviously that first day you think “she’s an American Idol contestant, I hope she can really rock.” I really felt like she could, what she brought to the table musically, just her fashion and her idea of life and music, she’s already a rocker like that. You kind of think, man I hope she can blossom into that front person that would really capture people’s imaginations. She’s the shit dude, she’s all over the stage, she can sing every note, this far along her voice has held up strong… she’s just a rock star man.
You’re playing some dates right now in the U.S. and one Canadian date here in Toronto. What are your more long term touring plans like?
John: We’re doing a short tour now and then we’re going to go home for about five or six days at the end of it, then we’re headed over to Europe to play all the European summer festivals, Download Festival, we’re playing in Amsterdam and Paris… Then we’ll pop back over here in the United States and we have a tour that’s pretty much almost confirmed, I can’t say who it’s with yet but yeah, we just plan on touring like crazy and just try to tour the entire world as much as possible.
Just a more personal question for your John. What are your own short term and more long term plans like? Are you going to be playing or working with any other bands or is We Are The Fallen your only commitment now?
John: This is my commitment at the moment; I mean I still have another band that I’m a part of. In my time off from Evanescence I wasn’t sitting there resting on my laurels, I was actually trying to get something going on. I had another band called Machina, my singer he sings in a band called Future Leaders of the World, we did a record and it’s an amazing record and it’s completely different from We Are The Fallen, I mean it’s a totally different vibe from anything I’ve ever done. I consider it one of my masterpieces; I really delved into a lot of experimental territory as far as different string instruments and just the simple style of the record.
One of these days we’re going to revisit that you know on a break from We Are The Fallen, but this is my band, this is our band, we all love it. All of us have twenty thousand other things that we want to accomplish, I mean Ben’s going to keep writing for people, I’m writing for other people now, Rocky, he’s going to try to get his hand in that too, Ben has a country project that he wants to tour at some point. We all have a lot of stuff going on but this is our commitment right now and it will be our commitment forever as far as I’m concerned. If we have enough time in between this and that to do whatever else we need to do then it’ll be alright but We Are The Fallen is what we’re doing now.
What can we expect from We Are The Fallen in the fall and then in to 2011?
John: You can expect to see us out there touring the world. We’re just going to get out there and play as much as possible, try to do some TV spots, really just try to make a big wave. I know the record industry, a lot of people are very cold on how the industry is working and all that stuff but I have a little glimmer of faith that maybe the music matters and I think we’ve created a record that might capture people’s minds and give them something that they can really love. I mean it’s already happening, we already have a lot of people out there excited about the band. So that’s what we’re going to do man, we’re just going to play these songs and get as in your face as we possibly can and as many times as possible. [ END ]