Perhaps the chairman of Wind-Up Records asked himself the eternal Christian query, "What would Jesus do?" before making the decision to recall copies of Evanescence's Fallen.
Alan Meltzer sent a letter to Christian radio and retail outlets last week to explain that despite the "spiritual underpinning that ignited interest and excitement in the Christian religious community," Evanescence are "a secular band, and as such view their music as entertainment." Therefore, he wrote, Wind-Up "strongly feels that they no longer belong in Christian markets."
The letter coincided with an interview published in Entertainment Weekly, in which the band's principal, guitarist Ben Moody, who founded the band in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the late 1990s along with singer Amy Lee, made it clear that they weren't a proper Christian group by dropping a few taboo terms and taking the Lord's name in vain — a direct violation of the Third Commandment.
"We're actually high on the Christian charts, and I'm like, 'What the f--- are we even doing there?' " he said.
Later in the piece, he compares himself to the "the guy who was crucified next to Jesus" because "all I want you to do is remember me."
Singer Amy Lee echoed her bandmate's puzzlement at their album's placement in Christian bookstores. "I guarantee that if the Christian bookstore owners listened to some of those songs, they wouldn't sell the CD."
Fallen has sold more than 561,000 copies and has been a fixture in the top 10 of the Billboard albums chart since its release six weeks ago (see "Evanescence's Frontwoman Leads Rock Into Fem-Friendly New Frontier").
Meltzer expected an adverse reaction from the Christian community after knowing what was said in EW, so he issued the letter a day before the current issue arrived in subscribers' mailboxes, according to a Wind-Up Records spokesperson. Almost immediately upon receipt of the letter, many Christian radio stations pulled Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life" from their playlists.
While Wind-Up isn't exclusively a Christian label, it secured ties to the community through the success of spiritual rockers Creed and 12 Stones, whose frontman Paul McCoy appears on "Bring Me to Life." Meltzer claimed the decision to push Evanescence in the Christian market was made with the band's consent.
"The decision to release Fallen into the Christian market was made subsequent to discussions with and approval by the artist," he wrote in the letter.
However, in the article Lee made it sound like it was unfair pigeonholing that led to their album sharing shelf space with Jars of Clay and Steven Curtis Chapman.
"There are people hell-bent on the idea that we're a Christian band in disguise, that we have some secret message," she's quoted as saying. "We have no spiritual affiliation with this music. It's simply about life experience."
The fact that Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray also plays with outspoken Christian metal bands Living Sacrifice and Soul Embraced doesn't help distinguish Evanescence from the Christian set; neither does a 2000 interview with the spiritual-leaning magazine Stranger Things, in which Moody said, "The message we as a band want to convey more than anything is simple — God is love."
Wind-Up is giving retailers until June 30 to return copies of Fallen. The label will cover the shipping charges.