While the bands Evanescence and Shadows Fall are from different realms in the metal world, they have a common bond. They both rock with the great tones they get from their VOX ToneLab Amp and Effect Modelers. Guitarists John LeCompt of Evanescence and Matt Bachand of Shadows Fall have chart-topping albums with their respective bands, a huge fan base, and both learned how to play the guitar by ear! With their chops, there’s no doubt that we trust their judgment about the VOX ToneLab and ToneLab SE!
Interestingly enough, both began their musical endeavors on other instruments. “I remember loving Animal from The Muppet Show and having The Muppet Show drum set when I was a kid. I was real young and just banging away on that thing…I loved it. I lived in an apartment with neighbors, and I needed to move to something that had a volume knob. Thus, I picked up the guitar and never looked back since,” recalls Matt. John also had a similar experience, “I used to watch music videos, and I would point at the guitar and say, you know, I want to do that. My dad got me a bass, and it was way too big for me, so I didn’t learn anything right away. It took about two years, and then my dad realized that I wanted a guitar. When I picked up the guitar, it was all over with after that. I learned everything that I could, from ‘House of the Rising Sun’ to ‘Shout at the Devil.’”
Both bands have accomplished major feats in today’s marketplace. Evanescence, whose 2003 release, Fallen, peaked the Billboard Top 200 at #3, has been riding that wave of popularity for over 86 weeks. They have shown listeners and critics who’s boss and have a legion of fans that are anxiously awaiting their next album.
Shadows Fall’s newest release, The War Within, debuted at #20 on that same list, which is a noteworthy accomplishment for a band that never flirted with the top 20 before. Matt explains, “The War Within sounds a lot bigger than our previous release, The Art of Balance.” He also adds, “This is the first time that we didn’t have to go to day jobs, so we actually were able to sit down and spend time writing. It was very, very cool.”
Both John and Matt easily landed their gigs based on their proven talent. John recalls, “I was in a heavy metal band around here, locally known. We knew of Evanescence but they would hardly play any shows, they would just release demos. It was going on for a quite a while before I was involved with them. When they started getting really serious about what they were doing, they were looking for some decent musicians to back them up. They knew Rocky (Gray) and I were pretty well known around here (Little Rock, AR), and they wanted to get people that they knew could play. That’s pretty much how we got involved with Evanescence. That was before Fallen and everything. We got together before everything started getting really serious. It was really crazy how it happened. People would hear these mysterious demos, and they would talk about them for days. People found out about the band totally from word of mouth. I knew that there was something to it. I knew that Evanescence was going to be a success. I remember even telling Amy (Lee) whenever she began questioning whether or not we were going to do well, that I knew there was something there.”
Matt easily remembered how the “Shads” found one another, “We’d all been in and out of different bands for a number of years, way before Shadows Fall. Our other bands used to play shows together here and there. We ended up meeting everyone through those bands, and over the course of meeting Shadows Fall’s current lineup (which has been together since ‘96) with Jon (Donais) and me being the only original members left, we slowly pieced it together over time. The current band has been solid and going strong.”
Matt just recently picked up the VOX ToneLab and is very optimistic about its uses, “It’s going to be one of my most important pieces for writing.” Continuing, Matt confided, “When you’re making a demo and doing pre-production, it really does help to have a good sounding result. You want to know what it’s going to sound like when it’s more complete. We obviously want a big sounding tone on our finished product, so that’s what we want on our demos, too. The ToneLab is going to help us do that!”
John, who has found his ToneLab SE to be very valuable, explains what he’s been up to, “I’ve been using it to write. That’s the main reason why I got it.” He continued enthusiastically, “I’m also going to try and incorporate it into my stage setup. Honestly, I was quite pleased with my current setup, but at the end of the tour I realized I wanted to do more things, my sound was a little two-dimensional. The ToneLab SE is something I’m using to mix that up. Maybe I’ll do some A-B stuff, using the SE for some of the effects on the clean side, such as delay. As far as recording goes, it’s been an incredible tool for me, it’s helped me and inspired me!” Recently, John also added a VOX V850 volume pedal and VOX V847 Wah-Wah pedal to his new rig. Simply stated he told us, “They rock!”
What’s the latest for these two bands? Evanescence has a new album in the works. John spilled, “I am writing for Evanescence, because that’s my main focus right now.” When asked when we should expect it, he said, “All I can say is, you guys will hear it when we have written our favorite album!”
When the new album is complete you may also find John taking on another project. John shared, “I’m working with the singer from a local, St. Louis, band called The Fifth Element. I think he’s a world-class singer.” He goes on, “They opened up for us early on in our career. We’re trying to do something where I write the music then have him come in and throw some vocals on it. It’s a little heavier than Evanescence. I am totally from the heavy scene and I appreciate bands like Disturbed and the hard bands that have made it into the commercial world.” To keep up with John, check him out on the web at www.johnlecompt.com or www.evanescence.com
Shadows Fall also have their hands full. They will be actively promoting their new release on a solid tour starting in November with Damageplan. Matt exclaims, “We are booked pretty much solid right through February as of this point. We’re going to be out just endlessly!” He laughs, “I’m going to have to tell Dimebag (Darrell of Damageplan) that I’m allergic to whiskey!” Immediately following the U.S. tour Shadows Fall will be joining Fear Factory for a run throughout Europe. Be sure to watch out for them in a town near you! Check out Matt at www.shadowsfallrocks.com
By Jennifer Plonski
Photos by: Sean Moorman (John LeCompt)
John Soares (Matt Bachand)