Evanescence Guitarist: Filling Ben Moody's Shoes

Terry Balsamo recently talked with UG about filling the shoes of hit-maker Moody and his continued efforts to regain his musical abilities.

Evanescence Guitarist: Filling Ben Moody's Shoes
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Evanescence guitarist Terry Balsamo may appear to be riding a wave of success these days, particularly considering his band's latest album The Open Door hit #1 on the Billboard charts and nearly hit the half-million sales mark in its first week. But the past year brought about a medical nightmare that any guitarist would deeply fear: a stroke paralyzing the left side of his body. Since the November 2005 event, Balsamo has had to retrain himself on the guitar and now says he is using the latest Evanescence tour as his physical therapy. Despite the obstacles, former Cold guitarist Balsamo has been welcomed by vocalist Amy Lee and the rest of Evanescence as one of the primary songwriters, replacing former guitarist Ben Moody (co-writer of songs My Immortal and Bring Me To Life). Balsamo recently talked with Ultimate Guitar about filling the shoes of hit-maker Moody and his continued efforts to regain his musical abilities. UG: You've been through a lot in the past year. How is your recovery going? Terry: Yeah, I still have paralysis in my left arm and hand. I'm like at enough where I can get by on tour. Basically this tour is like therapy right now for me. I'm hoping it will get better, you know. You are so young to have something like a stroke happen to you. Do they doctors know what caused it? When I went in the hospital, my whole left side was paralyzed. All of my vitals were fine, my blood pressure and cholesterol and all that crap. So they had no idea what was going on. They had to do an MRI. When they did the MRI, the doctor came back in the room and he was like, Have you ever had any neck injuries like from a car accident or anything? And I was like, No. Then we were like, Other than banging his head all day and every night for an hour and a half. I've always had weird thing in my neck doing that, but I never would have thought it would have given me a stroke. They think the headbanging is really what caused your stroke? Yeah, they actually saw the clot in my artery in my neck.
"I still have paralysis in my left arm and hand."
What were the events leading up to it? I finished all the guitar tracks on Saturday. On Monday I woke up to get ready to go to the studio and all of the sudden my body went paralyzed. It was so weird. My girlfriend was there. She was like, I'm gonna call 911! And I'm like, No, don't worry about it. I'm all right. I didn't say that I didn't know what the hell was happening. Did the thought immediately cross your mind that you wouldn't be able to play the guitar again? Yeah. A couple of doctors said that I would probably never play guitar again. What was your answer to those doctors? You're crazy. Was it your own mindset that made you believe that you'd still continue playing? One of my main neurologists, he never said that I would never be able to play guitar again. I don't think he was sure about if I was going to be able pick it up. Then after a couple of months had passed, he saw how mentally I think I was just overcoming it and stuff. He was like, I can't believe it's only been two months! If you keep doing your therapy and stuff like that, I think you'll be all right after a while. But he thought also it would be a couple of years. When you picked up the guitar again, was it like having to start from scratch? It definitely wasn't like from scratch. It's kind of like the knowledge is there. My mind would tell my hand what it should do, but it wouldn't do it. The knowledge was still there, it's just training my hand to do what it's supposed to do. Through this all, it sounds like Amy Lee found a kindred spirit in you. When you started writing together, did you know immediately that the songwriting would flow so well? When we started writing, we had no idea. When I started filling in, I was still in the group Cold. We were together touring and Cold was opening up for Evanescence. Basically I came out after Ben (Moody) left and they asked if I'd fill in. I didn't plan on leaving Cold because I was still attached to the guys. We're all from the same city and we grew up together and all that kind of shit. When I came out, things were kind of bad in Cold. It wasn't too terrible, it's just things weren't going good. And obviously, things weren't going good with her and Ben. So when I came out, I kind of like brought this vibe of, Let's have fun and forget all the bullshit that a lot of us have been through and all that crap. We really got along very well. Musically and influence-wise, we definitely had a lot of the same connections of stuff that she liked and I liked. We just basically got along really well together.
"The pressure really never ever got to us because we had fun the entire time."
What kind of musical influences do you and Amy share? Well, that was another thing cool. I turned her on to a lot of stuff like Pantera and that kind of shit. She turned me on to classical stuff and Bjork. So we threw it all together and made a record! Is there a certain process that you and Amy use in approaching songwriting together? From the very first song on the record that we wrote, which was a song called Snow White Queen, she basically sent me some kind of loops, drum beats, plus some melodies she had and some keyboard stuff over it. She was like, If you can come up with anything Right after that, I came up with the chorus and all that. Every song was a little different. Some songs we would start with a bass line or a guitar line or a vocal line even, and then just kind of go from there. There was never any set way of doing anything. How did you come up with the idea of working in Mozart's music to create Lacrymosa? Once we got into it and decided to just really do this, it pretty much came together. At first it was kind of weird. It was like, What are we gonna do with this? But Amy always had this idea of taking the song and kind of adding stuff to it. So we just kind of fit the song with vocals and then laid down some drum loops and shit. Then I came up with the bass line for it. Me and her would come up with a lot of bass lines together. She would just like hum it out and then I would write something funky into it. Then we decided from there to take the song and add a drum loop, add bass lines, add guitars, and it all came together. Do you do a lot of your writing on the bass? If it's something like the song Cloud Nine, we got a cool drum beat that we liked. Then she came up with a vocal melody. It was cool because I just took the bass and started writing the bass line to the actual vocal melody. That was something different that I had never really done. We never really had any set way. If there was an idea, we would just do whatever we could to move forward with it. Is there a big difference between the way you approach songwriting in Evanescence in comparison with Cold's music? In Cold we would pretty much just go to band practice, sit down, smoke some weed or drink. Then we would kind of go from there and write together in a room. This is a lot different because it was just me and her, and we would just sit down and kind of demo everything while we were writing it. That was fun to do because you can kind of like picture ahead what it's gonna be like once we do it for real in the studio.
"In the studio, I kind of use a similar setup to what I used on the last Cold record I did."
Is there any one song on The Open Door that you feel particularly connected to? Yeah, definitely. I mean all of it is definitely very special in some sort of way. I would say called The Only One. I think when we got to that song and started writing that one, when we finished it there was a point in the writing process where we were just really excited. It's not one a big single kind of song. That's not what we were going for. When we got to that song, we were both so excited because we knew we had something. It was like, Okay, we can do this. We can move forward and not have to worry about it anymore. With the huge success of Fallen, was the band intimidated by the idea of trying to write another batch of hit songs? No. The pressure really never ever got to us because we had fun the entire time. It was kind of like, It's either going to happen or it's not. We could do a fucking Back In Black record and it could bomb. You never know how it's going to work. It never really got to us. I think if anything, all those feelings just kind of fueled us in wanting to prove everybody wrong. What guitars and amps are you using these days? I use Ibanez guitars. In the studio, I kind of use a similar setup to what I used on the last Cold record I did, which is mix up the amps and combine the sound together. It's a Diezel and a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier and mixed that for one side. Then I took a Bogner and a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier on the other side. I combined it and made one big wall of metal. A lot of people describe Evanescence's music as ethereal in its sound. Did you explore more effects and guitar pedals when you joined the band? No, I've never been a huge effects guy, other than maybe a delay. What kind of delay do you use right now? Right now on tour I'm using T.C. Electronics, the G-System. Do you find it easy to recreate the studio sound in the live show? Yeah, because I'm using my Triple Rectifiers and the T.C. Electronics thing just has tons of effects. You can dial it all in and match it pretty damn close. I don't think anybody's going to tell a difference live. You recently started your tour in early October. How have the crowds been so far? The crowds have just been amazing. I mean, louder than the music! The sound guy and the lighting guy, they've been wearing earplugs. They're like, We're not wearing earplugs because of the music. We're wearing them because the crowds have been so loud! It's been really cool.
"The crowds on tour have just been amazing. Louder than the music!"
In your thank-you notes on the new CD, you mention Dimebag Darrell. Did he have a big influence on your playing? When Pantera came out, I must have been like I guess 16 years old or something like that. When I saw them live, that was a night probably in my life where I was like, I don't know if this is something I really want to keep doing or what the fuck I'm gonna do. But when I saw them live, it was like, This is what I want to do forever. Would you say he is your primary influence? Yeah, as far as the rock stuff. I mean, I even love U2's The Edge. He's incredible to me and Rush's Alex Lifeson. What's funny is like Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen are big influences, but once Dimebag came along, his kind of influences that he had in them were kind of bundled together. So Dimebag basically took over. Not that I'm in any way as good as any of those guys! Are you and Amy writing any songs while on tour? There's a couple of extra things that we have. But as far as the future of music writing-wise, I think with both me and Amy, it's either the tour or writing. A lot of bands tend to go on tour and bring their rigs out with them on tour, but that's something that never worked for either one of us. She might come up with a melody or something and I come up with a riff or something, and that's cool. If we remember it, cool. If not, it wasn't meant to be. Does the band have any future DVDs planned for release? There's been talks and stuff. But as far as the live ones, I don't when we would record them. I don't want to do something like that until I'm a little closer to being 100 percent better. Right now, I'm just far from itnot far from it, but a good 50 percent from it. Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2006

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    CreateSalvation
    its not all about money you know. Maybe things between the band was bad, i mean think about it. Would you rather be in a band with negative things going on or a band where you could be happier?
    my_last_escape6
    One thing I definately noticed when I first heard "Call Me When You're Sober" was the guitar...not amazing stuff but it was tuned pretty low like COLD used to do and I had to stop and laugh that Terry brought his style with him to Evanescence. Good for him that he's getting back on his feet but I will probably always respect him more for being in COLD...Peace out.
    tstrebeck
    Yes, respect for him for coming back from an injury like that. However...not trying to disrespect, but why is it that the people in these interviews sound so ignorant, I mean like, seriously?
    Guitar_Poet
    "No, Ive never been a huge effects guy, other than maybe a delay." "Yeah, because Im using my Triple Rectifiers and the T.C. Electronics thing just has tons of effects."
    lol.
    custom16
    i think this Evanescence album is better than the last. the heavy parts are heavier and the softer parts are softer. they've evolved like most bands do and i think its just another phase of a great band. except i think she's talkin a lot of trash on shaun morgan and that is f@#*ed!
    rubysoho8779
    HavokStrife wrote: Some people just can't have enough money... It's like, you're in a really great, really respected band like Cold, who ended up getting on a major label and getting on MTV and shit, to make even more dough with the Amy Lee, her backing band, and their quadrople platinum albums... of complete garbage.
    they're not crap, that's why they sell...people DO need to have careers too. it's not all about being an "artist" all the time. people need money to buy food to eat, and pay bills, and pay for gas money and car insurance...but i'm sure you know that.
    lightblublood
    wow, this guy is awesome. He had a frikin stroke and he still plays guitar. That my friends, is the coolest thing any musician could do. So what if he wasnt the greatest guitarist of all time. But skill isnt what makes the musician, its the heart you put into your music. Its the fact that he went through all that crap and STILL wanted to play guitar...not to mention using a tour as physical therapy. thats awesome.
    stk23335
    There's a lot of free-flowing hate here. Why can't we all just get a long and remember that Evanescence is clearly taking a direction that some of you don't like. Let's not forget that Moody left the band while they were ON TOUR (i think in Europe somewhere if i'm correct). Who does that? Someone way too involved with themselves. A band is a BAND, not just one person (unless you're megadeth, then you're dave mustaine, but that's different).
    Jard_weirdo
    keep Rockin' on dude. Dont forget to lose some weight to lose your cholesterol. John is nothing compare to Terry's guitar music.
    FrenchyFungus
    kingjiyoon wrote: nice but i dont really get the title. isnt it suppose to be the other way round or "Filling Terry Balsamo's Shoe" because ben moody is replacing him? sorry if i'm wrong though
    No, Ben Moody was Evanescence's old guitarist, he was replaced by Terry Balsamo
    Rocker3829
    people people, we are all glad he is recovering and we all commend him but lets realize that wen David and now Ben left the band it is no longer Evanescence its Amyesence. John and Rocky never got grammys even as a part of the band! Her whining vocals get old very quick but i still like a couple of songs
    RHCP603
    Evanescence wasn't a bad band before and they aren't any worse now. Terry Balsamo is a great guitarist, i think he is better than ben moody. It doesn't matter though, it was just a switch really, Amy Lee and Ben Moody were arguing, and now he left for another band, and they got Balsamo.
    kingjiyoon
    nice but i dont really get the title. isnt it suppose to be the other way round or "Filling Terry Balsamo's Shoe" because ben moody is replacing him? sorry if i'm wrong though
    Bristlehead
    Because that's how Terry talks, haha. Doesn't mean he's ignorant -- saying "like" is a horrible habbit.
    umbilical_mind
    just got the album, it ain't half bad. It's not the same kind of musical masturbation that most metal music is, it has a nice kind of emotive feel in it. Quite similar to the old moody style of guitar playing on fallen though, it shows a nice kind of growth in the band I spose. Not a bad album as far as albums go. Kudos to the the guy, he's no hendrix but he's got some serious balls and plays what the songs need. Damn fine musician.
    Unleashed
    Oh yeah and by the way Hendrix changed the face of music and has anyone ever heard Eruption. Jesus christ next Otisbum will be saying Yngwie Malmsteen sucks. Im not saying that Balsamo sucks or anything and I respect the guy for fighting back from a stroke but the only person who I would compare to any of the great guitar players is Alexi Laiho.
    lod5150
    I was heartbroken when he left Cold! I wish him the best of luck with his rehab, but shame on him for being a money grubbing jerk!!
    Jondy
    I have alot of respect for the guy, but I still say the new guitar work sucks. It just doesn't fit, and it's kind of dull...
    M@.
    I agree amy is starting to drown herself in self pity, but at the same time writing music based on life experiences is a lot better than this "whered you get your grille" rap bullshit nobody wants to hear somebody rap about thier ****ing teeth? lol
    SoundInTime
    I wouldn't really compare this guy to Dave Mustaine, especially since Dave faked his injury to dissolve Megadeth and get a new lineup. First case of headbanging stroke in 30 years? God speaks in mysterious ways...
    mya/shmoosh
    like i needed another horrible story to put me off headbanging frst some guy pops an eyeball then this guy has a stroke
    Guitar_Poet
    amyleefreak[pl] wrote: Guitar_Poet I'm not defending Amy and I don't approve what she is lately doing (and because of that I'm not going to change my nickname) but believe me or not that they hired Terry in November 2003 and the stroke happened exactly 2 years later. These are facts not just my imaginations.
    i know, i acknowledged your point. i shoulda looked into it i guess, but the interview was too long and i didnt care enough to start readin the whole thing. =)
    poona
    Moral of the story: Don't headbang, you will lose your left side. But screw that, I love headbanging more than Jason Newsted (ok maybe not as much as Jason...)
    Bristlehead
    the 6s are suposed to fill in after the 4s... you get it. Haha. But like... where do you pick for something like that? grrr
    Bristlehead
    fkndave wrote: Well, it's funny so many mention Moody is a good guitarist. He's not that good. C'mon, Going Under is a one chord song. LOL. It's Amy that brings the dynamics to it. Terry may not have 'solos' (Moody's solos really sucked azz as far as solos go), but Terry uses many different guitar techniques than Moody. In Sober, example, he uses tapping techniques to fill in sounds. Moody was good for Fallen, but too overrated.
    I agree that the tapping was a really cool effect, but like... I don't know. The solo in Haunted is pretty wicked. I'm not saying that I'm great -- but I'm good -- and I can't pull off the part with the straight 32nds on... B|-4h5p4---4h5p4---- G|-----6-----6-- I guess that's a pretty common solo techniqu (not "pretty common", but I saw them teaching the type of thing in the kirk hammet video), but I have still yet to master getting it as clean as he could -- it was a really nice. Maybe I just haven't found the "trick" to it yet
    fkndave
    Well, it's funny so many mention Moody is a good guitarist. He's not that good. C'mon, Going Under is a one chord song. LOL. It's Amy that brings the dynamics to it. Terry may not have 'solos' (Moody's solos really sucked azz as far as solos go), but Terry uses many different guitar techniques than Moody. In Sober, example, he uses tapping techniques to fill in sounds. Moody was good for Fallen, but too overrated.
    CTownMusic
    If you actually listened to the whole album of open door, you'd really like it better than Ben "Moody" Moody. He just couldn't see past his ego. The edge that Terry brings to the songs is what I truly like about Evanescence. There's lots of effects in the music, but they are so beautifully woven into their tapestry, that the polar opposites of the Hard rock riffs and angelic voice of Amy lee really shine. Keep up the good work and best of luck.
    Bryce-433
    Give the guy a break-- he has to relearn everything, and he will never be Ben Moody. The latter is a good thing b/c Moody went on a downward spiral after Fallen, and if that continued then Evanescence would be pulled into it-- and they would never have released the Open Door (even though it pales to Fallen anyway)
    Krayzie-Bone
    Harmonius wrote: I think Terry is a terrible lead guitarist. He hasn't done a really good covering old evanescence songs with solos, for example, Going Under, Haunted or My Immortal. I have to refrain from skipping his solos because they are so bad. But no, it's not all negative. His rhythmn is fine, there's nothing wrong with it, infact, it's perfect. He has proven that he can play rhythmn and that's not all. He's proven himself to be a good songwriter too, especially with the new album. I couldn't be more happier with the new record. However, admitably, I did have my doubts on whether it would be a good record. I was wrong. A lot of the songs are better than on Fallen but the old Origin tracks on Fallen (My Immortal etc) are superior. I prefer the production of the new album to Fallen. I have respect for Terry Balsamo for continuing and carrying on. Let's just hope, his addition will not lead them more into a nu metal direction.
    Im pretty sure he was doing Rhythm Terry only did 1 or 2 solos and John was more the Lead guitarist he did most of the solos back in the days
    10warkar
    evenesence makes me wanna rock all the time but for some reason my school went through this whole omg there so emo phase but now i found bunches of people who loveum! ^_^ Evenesence should live on forever!!!!!
    transparent58
    To answer a few questions... Yes, Terry was the guy who wore the Michael Myers mask on stage for Cold. Just because you're signed to a major label, doesn't mean you're rich. The contract Cold had with Geffen was basically for Scooter...and, back in 03 Scooter was having some personal issues, and the band was having label issues, which lead to them being dropped or the contract with Geffen being dissolved. Kelly Hayes also left the band in early 2004, which lead to a succession of guitar players through the recording of their next, and last record. Terry made the tough decision, and he is still tight with his former band mates, I think. At least I saw him and Scooter exchange pleasantries on the old Cold MB. Terry is great guy, who I've had the opportunity to talk to on a few occasions, and, while his style is neither better or worse than Moody's, he definately brings a different energy to their music, as well as different influences. What I've heard so far is interesting, I hope he sticks around long enough to make it even more interesting... Best wishes on a full recovery, his story should inspire all musicians...
    RedFalling
    this is a inspiring story really, but one that hits to close to home.. i was in a car accident a few years back with a fellow guitarist and i ended up being the lucky one with nothing wrong. but my friend has lost all feeling in his left hand. i'm sure this is the same nerve in a sense. but my friend is back in the flow again ( thank god ). anyway, just wanna wish lots of luck to Terry, Evanescence, and all that have overcome. never give up!!
    Fadidechobass
    thirdeyepried : Lacuna Coil is 100 times better..... even though the guy singer tries to sabotage their songs sometimes
    i sooooo agree dude i saw luna coil live they were awesum
    thirdeyepried
    Lacuna Coil is 100 times better..... even though the guy singer tries to sabotage their songs sometimes
    LORD V4DER
    I don't like Evanescence, but this is a pretty miraculous story. Good for him. I still won't buy their albums, but good for him.
    Axeman20
    lol im nvr going to headbang again. ... ok, mayb a few times but not everyday ^_^;;
    nightmare10999
    First off, I am never headbanging again because I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't play guitar anymore. Second, some of you people should give Terry a break. He's not going to play the old Evanescence songs the same way Moody did, he's trying to make them his own (as EVANescence 1500 put it). On top of that, the guy did have a stroke, so it's going to take him a while for him to get back up to how he played before. Even though Ben Moody was a better guitar player than Terry, I like Terry more because he's not a complete jackass like Moody was.
    EVANescence1500
    if lacuna coil was just cristina doing vocals and not that other dude, id like them a lot better, i get pissed off everytime that guy starts to open his mouth and sing, i agree though with a previous post, terry pretty much butchered all of the fallen solos, however, it is kind of nice to see him make them his own
    zerowing
    ha! another reason why i shouldn't headbang i wonder if he's really gonna recover tho..that must be depressing just imagine not being able to move your left arm... i'll go crazy without my guitar!
    dertjoe
    im the first to say i like cold far better than evanesence and i loved moody but he diddnt do it for the money cold was on a major label, they had money, they had radio hits, and cold never broke up theyre still going, scooter is cold, thats how it is thats why kelly left scooter wrote alot of the songs, but to over come a stroke does give me more respect for the guy he obviously loves it or he woulda given up taken the song writing royalties and left
    umbilical_mind
    poprockgirl wrote: Oh my god! Don't you get how stupid you are? The guy had a STROKE and he still does what he loves best and what he does best and you call him a BAD GUITARIST? What IS your problem? And also, Amy and Ben were together for sometime and he emotionaly sexualy and fisicaly abused her! I think that being a better person is FAR more important that being a better guitarist. Anyways, didn't anybody tell you before that you should say only the good things and not say anything if it's not good? Are you like, stupid? THE GUY IS A GENIOUS! HE is the kind of person you need to look up to! Not ****ing Ben Moody who abused poor Amy! If you don't like the Evanescence you're just idiots! They're GENIOUSES! GOODBYE!!!!!
    tard. as for evanescence, i loved their old album (1st band I ever saw live, cuh, don't I sound old?), but havent really been inspired to listen to their new stuff much after "call me when you're sober" came out, I didn't really like it.
    riffmerchant
    no offence dudes, not really into evanescence music (not heard much of their tracks only one or two lol) (i guess theres always one) but i thought i would read the article and like to wish him good luck on the paralysis, hope he overcomes it, im sure thats the last thing any guitarists wants is is favourite thing taken away from him or her, get well soon dude
    HavokStrife
    Some people just can't have enough money... It's like, you're in a really great, really respected band like Cold, who ended up getting on a major label and getting on MTV and shit, to make even more dough with the Amy Lee, her backing band, and their quadrople platinum albums... of complete garbage.
    kuher
    i like Moody's guitar work better...dont like how Evanescence sounds anymore. not the same