Back On Their Feet – A Conversation With We Are The Fallen
There are very few bands that take the music world by storm the way that Evanescence did back in 2003 when Fallen debuted.Â After a whirlwind of performances and a solid album of music, 2004 culminated with 5 Grammy nominations and 2 wins.Â But when Ben Moody suddenly left Evanescence mid European tour, it was quickly apparent that all was not well in Oz.Â Not long after John LeCompt was fired and Rocky Gray left the band as well.Â This left Amy Lee to carry on the Evanescence franchise without them.Â After a few years of working with high profile artists such as Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson, Ben Moody resurfaced with We Are the Fallen.Â Reuniting with John LeCompt, Rocky Gray and with the additions of Marty O'Brien and American Idol finalist Carly Smithson, the band is ready to forge a new path with their music.Â We recently had the opportunity to chat with Guitarist John LeCompt to talk about the split with Evanescence, American Idol and what all that has to do with We are the Fallen and what the future holds for them. C6M: How are you guys doing?Â Are you guys on the road? John LeCompt: Yeah yeah, we're in Dallas right now about to play at the House of Blues. C6M: Very cool.Â I was just listening to the advanced copy of the new album and I have to say that I really like it.Â Very solid.Â Very good stuff. John: Thank you man. C6M: The first thing I noticed, though and you guys probably hear this a lot so far - and it's not really a criticism, but it is very reminiscent of the Evanescence period of music that some of the band members were a part of. Are you tired of hearing about that yet? John: Nah, nah, nah man.Â I definitely see the similarities, obviously Ben, Rocky and myself - we have a touch that we happened to create together with the orchestral stuff and the choir and heavy stuff - obviously is kind of the same, but I would like to think it's rather different. Where Rocky and I had tons, tons more input than we did on that (other) record.Â You know what I mean? C6M: Well that's sort of what I noticed when I first heard it. But for me I was thinking to myself that this is what I thought that the band would have done on the second album (with Evanescence) that didn't happen. John: Yeah. C6M:Â So for me it was a good thing.Â I thought, "Wow this is really good stuff."Â And I did read the stuff that said that there were former members and obviously you can't divorce yourself from who you are essentially. John: Obviously...yeah. C6M: So moving forward a little bit.Â Was it basically business as usual when you guys when you got back in the studio creating this music together? John:Â I would say to a certain extent.Â Obviously on the Fallen record that was a lot more of Ben, Amy and David Hodges baby.Â I wrote the music for Taking Over Me and Rocky wrote all of Tourniquet.Â So I would think it was a little more spread out on the other end.Â And just having me and Rocky and Ben in a band together with two brand new people that had nothing to do with that, I think we brought a lot more original edge to it.Â But yeah pretty much working together - weâ€˜re doing what we know how to do.Â We're all flourished in our song writing since then.Â We're all a lot more grown up.Â And we know a lot more of what we're doing than maybe what we did back then. C6M: So then are you guys pretty much past addressing rumors?Â Â Because there are these splintering ideas, factions that are going to simply take sides in what has been a much hyped while being an intensely private split from that old band. John: Yeah. C6M: Because honestly, and it's weird, but I was looking up material just preparing for this interview and I don't find very much stuff that says anything bad.Â Which I guess a good thing...because normally there's always that side of that when it comes to the music business.Â So, do you feel that's a part of the maturity process that you guys have gone through? John: Yeah, because we started doing this obviously we knew there were going to be the haters out there that were like "You're just trying to steal the franchise" or this or that.Â That was not our intention.Â Evanescence is still a unit.Â They still do their thing.Â I think she's putting out a record in the fall or something like that.Â So, as far as competition goes, it should be a healthy competition as if we were a new band that didn't have any former members, but you know there's no hate in here.Â We all just happy to be playing music and doing what we love to do.Â And doing it together.Â And it has nothing to do with that other band.Â So there's no mudslinging here.Â That's the worst thing in the world we could do, I think.Â I think we would alienate ourselves from our fan base if we were those kind of people. C6M: I think so too.Â I think that's the most admirable part about that.Â Because you always see that part of the music business, the ugly part, and I think that's unfortunate. John: Yeah, I think we could probably steal a lot of headlines...as well as her if she wanted to sling any mud it would steal headlines here and there, but that does a disservice to the people that love the music that we all created together.Â And it makes it look like we just hate each other and we're just doing this to piss somebody off and it has nothing to do with that.Â We're just musicians who wanna make music and put it out there for the people that like what we do. C6M:Â Very cool.Â And it's good stuff.Â Let's talk about the marketing, the approach that you took with the song "Bury Me Alive" - I noticed at first you put it out there as a free download.Â How did that serve you guys when you put it out there?Â Did you guys get a lot of positive feedback initially to put that song out there to sort of kick things off? John:Â Yeah we did get some positive feedback.Â When we started the whole thing we had a different idea.Â We really wanted to just get out and be touring immediately.Â And the intention of writing a complete record off the bat wasn't really in the plan.Â We wanted to build it and we had a whole idea. I mean we've all been through this whole industry thing.Â We've done other bands. We see how the industry is.Â There's a lot of weaknesses and how it works with other record companies and stuff.Â So we were going to try and do it ourselves.Â And we were going to write a couple of songs every couple of weeks and record them and let them out as downloads and then after ten or twelve songs maybe compile a CD and put it out.Â But once we started working together it just magically...we just started creating and creating and the next thing we know we have a huge pile of songs and Universal Republic was barking up our tree and Virgin Records was barking up our tree.Â And there was so much interest that we had no idea that it would just kind of generate (interest) like that.Â So we just went ahead and shifted into overdrive and said, alright we have an album's worth of music and let's just do it the legitimate way and see if we can get any luck with that.Â Universal has taken really good care of us.Â Bury Me Alive is a free download.Â Obviously it wasn't mixed by Jay Baumgardner at that time.Â We have a different mix of it on the record right now as the single.Â I don't know.Â It was kind of like a whirlwind, if you know what I mean? C6M: Yeah. John: Once we started creating all of this music and had all this interest it really shifted us into a different mindset about what we were doing.Â It really feels like when the planets align and everything just works perfect and you can look back on it and go, "We had no idea it was going to work out like this."Â But I'm so glad it did because this is the perfect way for it to work out. C6M: Right.Â Well I do definitely feel like the album as a whole takes you on a really interesting journey of sorts.Â Was there an intentional theme or story to this?Â Because it does feel sort of like a kid walking through a haunted house. John: (laughing) C6M:Â At least a good part of it feels that way. John:Â Yeah I'm glad you get that.Â You know, no there was not a set idea like, "Okay let's write this amount of songs that sound like this and let's write this amount that sound like that."Â Really, everything it was pretty random.Â I would write a bunch of tracks or bunch of pieces of tracks and have Ben finish them and vice versa and he would do the same thing.Â Rocky wrote songs.Â And I'd finish some of hisÂ songs.Â And Marty would write stuff. It was really a collaborative effort and it was just writing what was coming to us at the moment.Â It wasn't nothing like, "Okay, we have six heavy songs and we need two ballads now" it was nothing like that.Â It all just came together pretty randomly, but if when I look at the record from beginning to end it looks like a very purposeful thing so I'd like to think that has something to do with the fact we do kind of know what we're doing.Â And there's obviously a few songs that we had written that didn't get used, but it wasn't like "okay they didn't fit into the mix of our theme."Â It was simply that we had some songs that were a little bit stronger than others.Â So we focused on those and put the other ones by the wayside and just finished what we had - and the order that you listen to the songs just seems like a perfect flow for a record. C6M: It does.Â Like I said, it felt like a story.Â Like you were telling a creepy, but very interesting story. John: Yeah, even in the whole creepy part of it, yeah there is a song about nightmares.Â Through Hell is about nightmares.Â Bury Me Alive, if you take it in a literal sense, that's what it sounds like we're talking about, but in reality, what she's talking about are L.A. hustlers and people who just take advantage of people.Â It really has nothing to do with a literal bury me alive. C6M: Well one of my favorite lyrics thus far is, "all of my questions have no answers, I can feel the fear inside me" - how important is it as an artist for you to come from an place of honest expression even a point of view that is foreign from your own - for example if the song comes to conclusions that are unknowable or fearful or maybe even different from your own philosophy - what is your approach when it comes to coming up with a concept for a song or even for an entire album? Do you ever stop yourself from going down the more uncomfortable paths?Â Or do you just allow yourself the freedom to create and wherever you end up is where you end up? John: Well lyrically, I contribute no lyrics.Â I used to be a lyricist on other projects that I've been a part of but I've pretty much abandoned the lyric thing because Ben - he is very proven in his lyric writing, and Carly - she is a strong lyric writer and Rocky also is a real strong lyric writer.Â So they all pretty much handle that.Â But the content that they came up with come from very personal issues.Â If you just listen to the song you think it's about this, but you talk directly to any one of them you find it means something completely different and now that I know what they mean, it helps me when I perform the songs because I realize where these stories actually came from.Â It's not from some made up metaphorical stuff that sounds cool; it literally comes from these dark places and deep places in each one of their lives. C6M:Â Isn't the beauty of music that you guys create the stuff and then you put it out there and then in a sense in no longer belongs to you.Â Because the fans and the public eat that up and it becomes personal.Â I think that's one of the things - when people own music it becomes a part of them because of that reason.Â Where they can take that thing that was a personal story and then have their own twist on it because of their personal experience. John: That's so true.Â In our former band so many people and so many fans that we would meet with and talk to they would have their own story of why this is a life saving song for them.Â It turned their youth around or turned their mentality of how they want to grow up around.Â I guess until that happens you don't realize how powerful it is.Â And obviously I think that music is the most powerful medium in the world, but when you see how it really affects people's lives, its like "Okay, well I had no idea that it would ever touch anybody that had that problem." But hey you analyze it your own way and if it helps, then that's great.Â I love having music that is that powerful rather than just having a bunch of party songs that are just talking about getting drunk or friggin' getting a blowjob. C6M: Sure, yeah, yeah.Â You guys do a cool cover of Madonna's Like a Prayer, John: Yeah. C6M: I thought it was interesting because I appreciated the arrangement - you took something like that has a whole different audience and you really kind of made it your own. John: Yeah. C6M: Are you proud of that song and do feel like YOUR audience will appreciate it? John: I really do and I think Madonna fans will appreciate it as well.Â We toiled with idea from the very beginning of doing a really cool 80's cover. And you know we went through everything from a Eurythmics song, to a Prince songs to Cranberries and we couldn't land on the right one.Â A lot of times with eighties songs, the song can be really cool until you get to the bridge and the bridge is too happy and we couldn't make it as dark as we want.Â So deciding on that song was really tough, but when were writing songs Ben took a camping trip with his girlfriend to the redwoods and when he came back he was like, "Dude I know the perfect song...Like a Prayer would be awesome."Â He kind of masterminded how thatÂ would to work out.Â I totally attribute that to his call.Â And he was right that that was going to work.Â And we just brought our metal to it and made it what we made it.Â Yeah, I'm stoked about that track.Â It was crazy. C6M:Â Yeah, it's really really really cool.Â Okay, let's talk a bit about teaming up with an American Idol finalist at the helm as the front person (Carly Smithson).Â Are you concerned with it at all as far as it beingÂ Â perceived as something that might be a little gimmicky? John: Maybe for like two minutes when we first talked about it.Â Because Ben had met up with Carly.Â His girlfriend and her mother were like, you really need to meet this lady.Â And it wasn't like we were auditioning singers.Â We were to the point where we knew we were doing a project, we hadn't written any music yet - well I had written some music, but nothing was the plan yet.Â And we were like before we can do anything we definitely have to find the other piece of the puzzle.Â And it's not like we were like hey let's find another singer that's gonna be the face.Â We need to find a family member you know? C6M: Yeah. John: So, it was a very haphazard thing that she came into the fold.Â Rocky and I were back in Little Rock and we had just left L.A. and that was the next idea...it was like alright we know we have to fill this up and it just so happened that his roommate was really good friends with Carly and she came over and they talked about it and then Ben called us and said, "Dude, I know this is an American Idol thing, but don't prejudge this idea.Â But I think we have our singer." But obviously we had to democratically decide whether she was right or not.Â But all it took was us meeting her and talking to her...obviously we all knew she could sing, but we wanted to make sure she could be in a rock band and not just be a pop front person.Â But when we first met Carly, when I first met her, we went to Ben's house to meet her and she shows up wearing a Hank III hoodie and she's all tattooed up and everything...and I said well, right there she's got my vote.Â I can't imagine an American Idol contestant liking some the same stuff that I like.Â She's just a crude Irish girl. I mean she's cool, she's nice and she loves everybody, but she just fits right in.Â She's like one of the guys.Â And she's very humble.Â And she doesn't want a situation where she's the front person or the only image of the band.Â She wants to do a rock band and this is exactly what she wanted to do.Â So everybody's vision pretty much just wrapped up and came together.Â I mean we didn't even try - it was just another one of those things where cosmically the right person just happened to be standing right in front of us. C6M: Well that was definitely one of the things that sort of surprised me because I had read the press on that and then I heard the music and then after the first song I completely forgotten about all of that.Â In a good way, like I said.Â I thought wow this is a little bit like Evanescence at first...but then I was lost in the music.Â I hope when people hear the music that they feel the same way.Â But I was wondering if there was that fear. John: The funniest thing about releasing Bury Me Alive first, Carly pretty much brought that whole song to us.Â It was done as far as chord changes and she had written lyrics...it was actually called something else at the time but we changed the chorus title to Bury Me Alive, but we made it what we make it - what we know how to do.Â But still she brought that song to the table. And that's the funniest part is that she had that written before she even knew us.Â And she didn't even listen to Evanescence - she didn't even know any of our songs and she didn't know how big the band was or anything.Â So it wasn't like she was an Evanescence fan writing a song that sounded like Evanescence, but that is probably the most Evanescence sounding song on the record. C6M: Yeah, yeah it was.Â And like I said, after that song it really becomes its own thing.Â And that's the thing I appreciated about that album.Â I was reading somewhere that "equality" played a huge role in the formation of this band. John: Yeah. C6M: Can you elaborate on that a bit? John: Well obviously Rocky and I...we were with Ev.Â And I was definitely working with Evanescence like three years before anything happened for the band.Â And I knew it wasn't my baby, but I did feel like it was as much mine as anybody else's because I sacrificed a lot to be a part of that band.Â With having been there as long as I had been there, and with Rocky as well, you know we were always like hired guys.Â Even though everybody thought we were members of the band.Â We were hired guys and that's it.Â Sometimes there were promises that it would be more than that, but you know those promises would always end up falling through.Â We didn't want to get into another project where it was like, "Ok Ben you're so famous and you won all these Grammys - you did all this writing with Celine Deion, Kelly Clarkson and Avril Lavigne." That doesn't matter.Â We feel like image wise and music wise we bring equally the same amount to the table.Â So that was kind of the thing.Â Ben wanted it to be equal because we all know how it screws things up when you have one person or maybe two people that they're the ones reaping all the benefits while you're just feeling like you never get the credit you deserve, so we wanted to nip that in the bud from the beginning. C6M: Right, right. John: But at the same time, this isn't a situation that it's just that to be that.Â Everybody has to do their part and everybody has done their part.Â We all worked our asses off on the record, playing and writing.Â And everything that needed to get done got done.Â Where Ben, many of his projects that he had been with before he was the guy, he had to write everything and do everything and for him it's like a big release that he doesn't have to carry all of that burden. C6M:Â So it's very much like you guys have an idea to make that song a little better and then... John: Oh yeah...I would bring completed songs and I know in and of myself I can write good stuff, but I know beyond me if I let other people who I trust be involved they can make it better.Â Especially if we're supposed to be working together, I'm not going to feel like somebody stepped on my toes.Â I'm just glad to be bringing a whole song musically and saying, "Hey I got this whole song and if you can do something with it...this is as far as I can take it so don't ask me to do anything else with it because this is all I can do with it...but if you can make it better do it." And it's the same thing with everybody else in the group. C6M:Â Other than equality being key, what else is different about being in this band versus being with either Evanescence or some other project? John: Just being able to play with Carly and Marty.Â I mean Marty is freaking amazing.Â His track record is stupid - how many people he's played with and he's probably the best bass player I've ever seen.Â He is really good.Â He can write and he can play.Â And he has the best stage presence. I used to be the guy who had the best stage presence.Â No this guy freaking walks all over me.Â But as far as the differences?Â It just feels better.Â You know, everybody is happy.Â Everybody is glad to be here.Â We're all glad to be working.Â And we want to seize the opportunity.Â And we're not going to piss this opportunity away any time soon. C6M: So does it feel more like a family this time too? John: Oh yeah.Â And with the equality thing comes the ability to, if you have something you need to bring up with the band, instead of going, "Man, I'd like to say something about this, but I don't want to get fired."Â We can actually go to each other and we can scream at each other if we need to.Â We work it out.Â And then we say, "Alright.Â We needed to get this out."Â And everybody knows what's going on now and nobody is trying to step on each other's toes.Â We can actually do that without the worry part of "I don't want to challenge the boss." C6M: So it's more democratic then. John: Yeah, totally. C6M:Â Well like I said, I really enjoyed the album.Â When does the album drop? John: May 11th. C6M:Â Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.Â The magazine will definitely try to promote you guys and good luck on the tour and the album. John: Appreciate it.Â Thank you for your time as well. I think that labeling We are the Fallen as just another band that sounds like Evanescence is a bit naÃ¯ve.Â After all, they were co-inventors of a genre of music that I believe fans have been yearning for since the Fallen record.Â If you want to know where I think the music fromÂ EvanescenceÂ should have gone, pick up a copy of We Are the Falllen's Tear the World Down.Â I'll be looking forward to listening to their music for years to come.Â And as always, check out the website at http://wearethefallen.com/ and let them know that Paul sent ya.