Shortly after leaving Evanescence in October of 2003, Ben Moody was picking up the pieces of his life.
On one hand, he was relieved: The goth-rock behemoth had become a chore, and Moody and singer Amy Lee were barely on speaking terms. But he was also deeply depressed that the multiplatinum band — which he and Lee had formed in high school, and in which he had invested almost a decade of his life — couldn't overcome its personal differences (see "Evanescence Co-Founder Ben Moody Leaves Band During Tour").
There was also the drug habit he had picked up to numb himself to the inevitability of Evanescence's demise.
That November, a distraught Moody flew to Los Angeles to write songs with an unlikely partner: Avril Lavigne. While working with her, Moody's life after Evanescence was born — thanks to Avril.
"I didn't know what Ben Moody as a solo artist sounded like," Moody said. "I didn't even know there was gonna be [a solo record] until Avril Lavigne told me I had no choice. I played her 'Everything Burns' and she was just like, 'You're going to do a record, and that's that!' I didn't want to argue with her."
"Everything Burns" is the first single from the new "Fantastic Four" soundtrack, and features dance-pop singer Anastacia in the Amy Lee role of Moody's familiar boy/girl hard-rock schema.
And Moody's solo album, almost two years in the making, is in its final stages (see "Former Evanescence Guitarist Ben Moody Begins Work On Solo Debut"). On it, he's accompanied by Methods of Mayhem bassist Marty O'Brien, Living Sacrifice drummer Lance Garvin, studio guitarist Michael "Fish" Herring and Godhead vocalist/guitarist Jason Miller, who also sings lead on a couple tracks.
Slated for a fall release, the ironically titled Can't Regret What You Don't Remember is a self-deprecating dig at Moody's drug haze, but belies the dark and harrowing times Moody struggled through to get clean.
"It's brutally honest," Moody said of the album, which he describes as heavy, organic and at times stripped-down. "Can't Regret has been very much of a saving grace for me. It [helped me get] through rehab, even. But also, when I had moments of clarity about [drug and personal problems] and could actually, in a constructive and eloquent way, articulate what I was feeling at the time, as opposed to just ranting with rage and hatred."
One of the key songs on the album is "10/22," which commemorates the day he walked away from Evanescence. Originally penned as a diss at Amy Lee, Moody recently had an epiphany about the track.
"About three weeks ago, I realized it wasn't about Amy at all," he said. "It was about me — and I was projecting feelings I had about myself on the day I left the band onto her. It's going to sound like I'm bitching about other people, but I'm not — it's 100 percent focused on myself."
On paper, the single "Chasing Yesterday" sounds like it could be another struggle with the Evanescence implosion, but the song has darker implications. "It could be about any relationship gone bad that permanently haunts you and you're always trying to chase. That feeling of when it was good ... was about my love affair with many, many narcotics. It's a very constant theme in my life right now, trying to focus on what made me that way to begin with."
The lyrics to "Sanctuary" — a song that Moody calls the grand "opus" of the album — address the good and bad elements battling for control of Moody's soul. The harrowing track climaxes with Moody shouting "I am the enemy! I am the enemy!" over and over again.
Considering the vivid subject matter of the songs, it's not surprising to learn that Moody has already written video treatments for every potential single on Can't Regret.
Balancing his songwriter-for-hire fare and his solo record is one of the many reasons the album took so long to complete (Moody has also worked with Kelly Clarkson and the band Blank Theory, as well as recording a song for "The Punisher" soundtrack with Godhead's Miller and Drowning Pool's Jason Jones). But he says those collaborators are the reason he has a solo career at all.
"The artists I've worked with have been a huge support. Kelly, I swear, is as big a fan as my mom. She and Avril have been a huge encouragement."