Former Atlantan Carly Smithson is making her first public singing appearance next Monday May 3 with her new band We Are the Fallen opening for HIM at Center Stage.
Smithson is one of the first “Idol” alums to sign on as a lead singer of a band that does not have her name attached to it. Three of the band members came from Evanescence, a group which had several hits back in the 2003-06 era — most notably “Bring Me To Life.” That’s a song Smithson sang on the “Idols Live” tour. She has been compared in the past to Amy Lee, who remains with Evanescence.
Smithson was originally known as Carly Hennessy and recorded an album with MCA in 2001 but it didn’t sell many copies. (An infamous Wall Street Journal page one story about the music business used her as an example.) After getting dropped from the label, she moved to Marietta from 2003 to 2005, a period in which she did not sing at all. But she did meet her husband Todd Smithson here when she was a bartender at Fado in Buckhead. They then moved to San Diego, where he opened a successful tattoo shop.
After her 2008 stint on “Idol,” in which she finished seventh, she moved to Los Angeles to record her album and make connections in the music business. A year ago, she met Ben Moody, who left Evanescence in 2003, through a mutual friend. He was already working on an album with two other former Evanescence band members John LeCompt and Rocky Gray as well as bass player Marty O’Brien.
She and Moody connected immediately, talking until dawn. “We were working on similar types of albums,” she said. And since Moody was seeking a lead singer, they had a meeting of the minds.
“It was very organic,” she said. “We started writing almost immediately.” She brought them a song she had been working on called “Bury Me Alive,” which was actually inspired by a visit back to Atlanta she made during the winter of 2008-09.
She said she made great friends here in Atlanta compared to many of the less than sincere denizens in L.A. “They were there for themselves, not me,” she said. “There will always be those people who will stab you in the back. That wasn’t the case with the people I know in Atlanta. They didn’t want anything from me. They’re just my friends. That’s what the song was about.”
She said she’s been burned before because she has a tendency to get close to people too easily. “I think everybody is a good person. I need to figure out that certain people simply aren’t.” Her time in Atlanta worked out well because she wasn’t an entertainer here and was able to cultivate relationships without that factor coming into play. She said in California she has gotten rid of the crappy people and kept the amazing ones she loves.
“Bury Me Alive” is the band’s first single, which just entered the top 40 on the active rock charts.
She is looking forward to playing at Center Stage. She hopes to one day perform at the Tabernacle, one of her favorite venues while living here. “It’s creepy!” she said. “I saw Flogging Molly there, Social Distortion, all sorts of bands. I love that old organ behind the stage. So cool!”
Smithson enjoys being a pure rock band. “I understand that Idol is a show that is very pop oriented,” she said. “I never for one moment said I was a pop artist. It was very important for me to stay true to myself.”
She said she had given herself one year in Los Angeles, successful or not. Fortunately, she ended up “with a major label and a great band.” And she handed back the keys to move back to San Diego.
Smithson is now on a seven-week tour. The album comes out May 11. She feels her “Idol” fans and those of the Evanescence boys are melding well. “We have a pretty huge fan base straight out of the door,” she said.
Knowing how sensitive she got with that Tacoma reporter a little while back about any reference to Evanescence, I waited until 20 minutes in to ask her about that situation. “I am in We are the Fallen,” she said, a slight sense of pique in her voice. “That’s basically my answer. I can’t speak about the past. I don’t know. I wasn’t in the band. It’s inappropriate for me to start talking about what went on the past. It has nothing to do with me.”
Though she did sound testy during that Tacoma interview, she didn’t believe she was being testy. “He just kept asking the same questions in a different way. I gave him an answer. Let’s move on!”
And with a sigh, she added, “I can’t stop people from writing about what they want to write about. I just have to sing and enjoy myself and enjoy my music.”
We are the Fallen, opening for HIM
1374 W Peachtree St NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
7 p.m. Monday, May 3, 2010
$28 in advance
–I was working on another story and forgot to check in on Siobhan’s farewell press conference. I’ll update tomorrow what she had to say.
– Early “Idol” ratings were up from “Idol Gives Back” but not by much: 19.4 million vs. 18.8 million last week. Among 18-49, it was 6.5/17. A year ago, the show was drawing about 24 million viewers and 8 shares among 18-49 at this stage.
–Vote for the Worst, still unhappy to see Siobhan gone so quickly, has picked Michael Lynche as its latest pick. Their acidic but fair critique:
He’s arrogant, he’s cheesy, and he’s only around because he’s riding a wave of sympathy from almost being eliminated. Most people would’ve loved to have seen home go home in 9th place like he was supposed to, so if he even lasts one more week, fans won’t be too happy. People seem to really hate this guy, which just means he’s perfect to plaster up on our site. The hate for Aaron isn’t even half as big, so that’s no fun just yet. And whereas Aaron is trying to improve, Mike just does the same thing every week without listening to the judges at all.
-The Lady Gaga performance of “Alejandro” we’ll see next week on the results show was pre-taped last night.
-Jennifer Hudson is postponing her wedding with David Otunga, who is too busy with wrestling, according to this gossip report.
-Siobhan Magnus joins just three other people outside the final have gotten the pimp spot and got voted off: Lilly Scott, Melinda Doolittle and Anoop Desai.
- After the judges tried to keep saying it was a year for the ladies, the guys have outlasted the women save for Crystal Bowersox. We’ll see if she can become the fifth female winner but as some pundits have noted, you can’t count out Lee DeWyze.