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— by Rodrigo Perez

When you think of Ben Moody, don't picture a somber, brooding guitarist who wants to pummel you with big, bad metal riffs. Think of a cuddly teddy bear, a warm and jovial type of guy — because that's basically who he is. A man struggling with personal demons and a near-crippling substance-abuse problem? That's basically who he was.

As guitarist and founder of Evanescence, Moody helped create the sound that turned a hard rock band into a great crossover success — and then he left. It's no secret that he and singer Amy Lee were divided on a number of issues, both personal and musical, and Moody knew he had to let it all go.

After an uneven period of fruitful collaborations, drug and alcohol abuse and psychological turmoil (Moody was diagnosed with bipolar disorder), the musician found solace in rehab, proper diagnosis and medication and the joy of his upcoming solo record. Now clean and sober, Moody has made peace with his split from Evanescence, and he looks back while moving forward.

MTV: You've worked with Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson and now Anastacia; did this ruffle Evanescence fans' feathers?

Ben Moody: Oh yeah. Originally there was a lot of backlash; fans wondering what the hell I was doing with all these other women, [thinking] that I was cheating on Amy. ... I used to get trashed on the Internet every time people heard I was working with a new artist, but at the same time I'm just trying to make a living, and those people are sitting around talking trash on the Internet. It's kind of subsided though, and now that it's cool to like Kelly Clarkson, people just leave me alone. I'm in the clear.

MTV: Did you worry about your credibility?

Moody: Honestly, no; I didn't really think about it. I love collaborating with other people, and I wanted to do something new. I wasn't doing anything at the time; it was just a new challenge for me. I haven't really thought of having street cred or anything like that for some time. I mean, I was in a "chick band" for some time, you know.

MTV: Ever since you've been with Evanescence you've written for a female voice. Is that your forte?

Moody: The whole female thing, that's just who started calling first. Obviously I had some success with Amy, so if [a female artist] wanted to go heavier, I was the guy to call.

MTV: You don't mind being "that guy"?

Moody: Working with respectable, powerful, professional, successful and attractive women? No, I have no problem with that. [laughs]

MTV: Now that you've had more time away and perspective, how do you feel about the Evanescence split?

Moody: I have a lot more peace about it, even more than the day I left. ... I still feel it was the right decision because Evanescence has carried on, and they've had great success since me. So I know for a fact I made the right choice. If I stayed, I think Amy and I would have destroyed it because we just weren't heading in the same direction; we were pulling it in two different directions. It was bad.

MTV: It seems like you exited for the greater good and still have a lot of love and respect for Evanescence as people.

Moody: I do. There was animosity at the time because I was so upset that I had built something for so long and we couldn't make it work. I was pissed off about that. At the same time, I was denying my responsibility for that, you know? Now I can go back and go, "It was what it was." As much as they can't blame me for who I am as a person, I can't blame [Amy], or the rest of them for who they are. I totally love them and have absolute respect for them. If I didn't, instead of jumping ship, I would have taken it down. I would much rather see them succeed, because I have nothing but respect for them.

MTV: You said you had peace, but you must have been depressed about losing all those years you invested in the band.

Moody: Oh yeah, I was horribly depressed, and I felt like I had failed as a band leader, a professional, as a person. I had become somebody I didn't want to be. Whatever kind of success came along with that, I thought I would have handled it better.

MTV: Do you ever think you could have salvaged the band if you didn't have to tour so much?

Moody: It's possible, yeah. One of my best friends who was a monitor tech for Evanescence — he'd known Amy and I for a long time — he said, "I wish you guys could have two years where you didn't see each other." We didn't go a day without constantly being in each other's face for the better part of a decade. He was right, and I realized that, but we didn't have that option. One of us had to go, and it's not one of those things where you can take the time off, because then the whole thing would have went to crap. It was all or nothing.

MTV: Was part of it you guys moving in different musical directions?

Moody: Part of it, absolutely. [Amy] is much more creative than I am, I'll be the first to admit it. I am a bit more commercial minded, I guess. I like structure in songs, and I like making songs people can adhere to. I still like to be creative, but she is more educated musically, and she wanted to explore that. I wanted to do that, but keep in the confines of what I knew people expected from Evanescence. I think in my immaturity at the time, I did that in just a way-too-controlling manner — it was like my way or the highway. We just couldn't meet in the middle, so I was like, "The hell with it."

MTV: In a previous interview with MTV News, you described Amy as having the attitude that "Nothing's ever going to be OK," and you said you couldn't live like that.

Moody: That might have been harsher than it needed to be said at the time, but for me, that's why [my solo] record took so long [to complete] and took so much out of me. Because once you express it and you get it out, you've just got to move on. That's one of the things [behind the breakup]: I was miserable and I wanted to be happy. And there were times where I didn't think she wanted to let stuff go, for whatever reasons, and that's just not me.

MTV: Does your upcoming solo record, Can't Regret What You Don't Remember, deal with Evanescence at all?

Moody: Actually, there was one song, called "10/22," that when I wrote it, I thought it was about Amy. Then about three weeks ago, I realized it wasn't about Amy at all — it was about me, and I was projecting feelings I had about myself the day I left onto her. So that song was about the night I left the band. It's going to sound like I'm bitching about [her] but it's not. It's 100 percent focused on myself.

MTV: So you haven't reached out to Amy at all since you left?

Moody: I sent her a message letting her know the door was open and that I wished her good luck on the next record. I hope everything is well. [Evanescence co-songwriter David] Hodges and I went to see the final "Star Wars" on opening night, and we had an extra ticket. So we called her and invited her, left a message on her voicemail. I found out later from her manager that she actually considered going down. Who knows — one day we'll all go see a movie together.



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