Evanescence Fall From Grace

Band's label pulls album from Christian outlets

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Prompted by the band's use of profanity in recent press interviews, Wind-Up Records Chairman Alan Meltzer has ordered the recall of Evanescence CDs from Christian stores and radio stations.

"Recent statements by band members have made it abundantly clear that Evanescence is a secular band, and as such view their music as entertainment," Meltzer wrote to members of the Christian music industry. "Despite the spiritual underpinning that has ignited interest and excitement in the Christian religious community, the band is now opposed to promoting or supporting any religious agenda. The decision to release Fallen into the Christian market was made subsequent to discussions with and approval by the artist. Obviously the band has had a change in their perspective . . . Wind-Up deeply regrets this situation." Evanescence's debut album Fallen has been camped in the Top Ten of the U.S. pop chart since its release three weeks ago. Though the Arkansas goth-metal group -- led by vocalist Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody -- came up through the Christian circuit and amassed a loyal following through live shows and limited-edition EPs and singles, the members have been gradually backing away from their faith backgrounds. "We're in no way a ministry band," Moody told Rolling Stone last month. "It just really doesn't have anything to do with our music."

Moody's comments to Entertainment Weekly, which included a joking references to Jesus ("I'm like the guy who was crucified next to Jesus. All I want you to do is remember me") and a few f-bombs ("We're actually high on the Christian charts, and I'm like, 'What the fuck are we even doing there?"), prompted Wind-Up to pull Fallen from thousands of stores across the country overnight.

According to Meltzer, the move was made before the interview hit newsstands because Wind-Up cares deeply about the Christian marketplace. While the label, home to famed spiritually inclined rockers Creed, has no official Christian affiliation, bands such as 12 Stones and the new group Big Dismal are being marketed to both the Christian and mainstream music market.

Wind-Up began courting the Christian music market more than a year ago, making its first foray with 12 Stones' self-titled 2002 debut. Hooking up with powerhouse Christian music distributor Provident -- which, along with EMI and Warner Music Group's Christian divisions, controls nearly seventy percent of the Christian music market -- Wind-Up attempted to tap into a segment that generated sales of more than 50 million albums in 2002, according to John Styll, President of the Christian Music Trade Association. Half of those sales came from mainstream retailers (Wal-Mart, Target, Tower Records, etc.), while the remainder were from the several thousand Christian book stores across the U.S. that also carry music.

The offending interview precipitated Provident recalling approximately 10,000 albums, which pales in comparison to the half million the group has sold in mainstream outlets. Fallen had sold approximately 3,500 copies in the Christian market since its release in March and has been Number One on Billboard's Christian album charts -- which includes sales from mainstream retailers as well as Christian ones -- every week since its release.

Provident President and CEO Terry Hemmings said the Evanescence flap won't likely hurt Wind-Up's image in the Christian market, which was pleasantly surprised by the quick, decisive action on the label's part. He was puzzled, however, by Evanescence's about-face, especially in light of their appearance as a co-headliner at a Provident sales conference/showcase in December. "They clearly understood the album would be sold in these channels," he said.

In a sign of the sometimes difficult marriage of mainstream and Christian markets, Meltzer continued, "We will scrutinize our Christian artists' beliefs and commitment with even greater diligence . . . I will personally inform all of our future artists who represent themselves as Christian artists and wish to be represented in the Christian community that in doing so they must understand the lasting and on-going commitment that involves."