Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson
GOTH-ROCKERS BRING IN ELECTRONIC STYLINGS FOR SELF-TITLED OUTING
It’s been five years since Evanescence put out its last album, The Open Door, which was also the hard-rockers’ first Number One album. Since then, there have been changes in the group: In the middle of a year-long world tour to support that disc, rhythm guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray departed and were replaced by two members of Dark New Day—guitarist Troy McLawhorn and drummer Will Hunt. Both drifted in and out of the band over a period of a couple of years before ultimately joining Evanescence for good. The core of singer/songwriter/keyboardist Amy Lee, lead guitarist Terry Balsamo and bassist Tim McCord remained intact.
During the first half of 2010, Evanescence worked on a new album with producer Steve Lilywhite, but ultimately, Amy Lee decided against releasing what she termed an “experimental” record; instead, the band regrouped several times and developed some new material together. After searching for an appropriate producer to make a new, from-scratch album, the group ultimately hired Nashville-based Nick Raskulinecz (pronounced “Rask-a-len-iks), whose long and impressive resume includes sonically adventurous albums by the Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Coheed and Cambria, Stone Sour, The Deftones, Rush and many others. Paul Fig (Figueroa), who has worked on numerous projects with Raskulinecz since assisting on an album by The Exies at Sound City in L.A. back in 2004, engineered the sessions at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios this past spring. The album is simply titled Evanescence.
“Evanescence’s camp called me and asked if I might be interested in working with them,” Raskulinecz explains. “Never having been a fan of the band, I said yes anyway because you never know. And when they sent me a few demos, I really heard some stuff that I thought could be great. That’s how it starts with any project for me.
“Amy and I had a great meeting,” he continues. “She came down from New York, and we met at Blackbird in the studio that I had a vision for making the record in—Studio D. I’ve made other records there before and I thought she would love the vibe and the ‘hang’ of it. It’s such a great room to be creative in and make music in. So we just sat in the control room for a couple of hours and talked, and she asked me all kinds of questions. I think I had five or six songs at that point and I told her my ideas and what I thought about them. And she liked a lot of what I had to say and didn’t like a little bit of what I had to say, but she accepted it. Then I think she had a couple of other meetings with other dudes after me, but I got the call a few days later telling me they’d picked me.” Lee and the band had apparently been most impressed by the producer’s recent work with Alice in Chains and The Deftones.
Once the ball was rolling, Raskulinecz and the group spent a month at SIR in Nashville—five days a week, eight hours a day—making sure the songs and arrangements were as strong as they could be, “and then from there you really dive into the details of what everybody is doing individually,” he says.
“Amy knows what she wants. She’s very focused and she’s very passionate about her songs and her music,” he continues. “It all starts with the piano melodies and the parts and the vocals, and then it goes from there. It’s Amy’s vision, but along with Tim and Terry. When I got involved, those three were kind of the core of all the songs I had heard. But I know when Will Hunt, the drummer, got involved, things evolved a little bit more, and he was in on some of the songwriting. And then when Troy came on board, he was really important in bringing some great ideas to the table. Everybody in Amy’s band is a great musician and a great guy. Will Hunt is an animal on the drums; he’s amazing. The rhythm section of Will and Tim is on fire, man!
“Going into this record, before we even went into Blackbird, I knew that sonically it was going to be a big, dense album, so me and Paul Fig were very aware of that. The recording of it was very calculated. We knew that there would be lots of tracks—drums, drum samples, a big bass sound, two guitar players, piano, tons of vocals, harmonies and overlapping tracks—just massive. So it was a lot to organize and keep track of, but at the same time I wanted to make sure that by the time you got to the mix you could still hear everything.”
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