October 12, 2015 Interview – Will Hunt of Evanescence
When one thinks of some of the most accomplished drummers in modern Rock/Metal, there is no question the name Will Hunt comes to mind. Hailing from Florida, Hunt began his professional career in the late ’90s a founder of Skrape, and since, has gone on to work with everyone from Staind, to Black Label Society, to Italy superstar Vasco Rossi, and became a fixture behind the drum kit of Evanescence nearly a decade ago. What many in the industry call one of the best hired-gun drummers around, Hunt’s diverse style does not limit his ability to do a variety of different projects, thus making sure he is constantly busy. Recently coming off touring with aforementioned Vasco Rossi, playing to over 80,000 people night in and night out, Hunt finds himself back for a reassembled Evanescence tour that has fans buzzing. Recently we sat down with Hunt for a personal look into his vast body of work, his time in Evanescence, plans for the future, and more.
CrypticRock.com – You began your professional music career over fifteen years ago as a part of Skrape and since have gone on to be a part of a load of projects including Black Label Society, Methods of Mayhem, Device, Evanescence, and many more. Tell us, what has the journey been like through the years?
Will Hunt – I have to say a roller coaster would be an understatement (laughs). Some really cool extreme highs, along with some really extreme lows. Anybody that has been in this business for a long time will tell you that is the nature of the beast. That being said, it has been really fun and rewarding. I kind of tend to do things with no regrets. There are some things that maybe I would have done a little differently, maybe. I try not to focus on that though. I just focus on the future and what is coming up. I am just excited to still be in the game. That is awesome.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, and you have done a lot of amazing things over the years. One can imagine you earned a lot of experience earlier on when you were touring with Skrape. You did two records with them when you were still really young. Since, you have gained a lot more touring experience through the years. What are some of the most important things you have learned about performing live?
Will Hunt – As a professional, it is important for me to be really honest with people about what I can do and who I am. I defined what that is and sometimes it is a little frustrating because people pigeonhole me into being a Metal drummer, and I am not just a Metal drummer. The thing that I try to do is, I try to let people know that I am a little bit more of a chameleon in the Rock genre. I can play really heavy stuff and I can also play a nice John Mayer or Steeley Dan type groove too. I just did a gig in Italy with Vasco Rossi, when they told me the guys that had played for him, it was like Deen Castronovo (Journey), Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett, and all these A-list names, I asked them, “Are you sure you got the right guy? They said no, they had the right guy. I was just very honest with them about who I was and what I did and that is what they wanted.
There has been a couple of things come across my desk where I honestly said I could not do it. It was either a little too far out of my box, and too far out to make it believable, or it just did not feel right personality-wise. As far as playing live, when you are up there, you have to be really confident, really good with what you are doing, and if that is the thing about it, it is the final test. You just have to be really ready for it and very comfortable.
CrypticRock.com – Of course, that makes perfect sense, completely. Speaking of performing live, you just mentioned you worked with Italian superstar Vasco Rossi. He is considered like Bruce Springsteen over there. You were playing to like 80,000 people. How did you become involved with Vasco and what was that experience like?
Will Hunt – It is unbelievable. First of all, the band is great, it is very established as far as players. They are just amazing players and amazing people. As far as Vasco Rossi, he is amazing and just to see people to react to that is something special. I have played at a lot of places, and I have played in front of many thousands of people with Evanescence, with big festivals in Europe, with 90,000 people. The difference is with those opposed to with Vasco Rossi, is there are fifteen bands on those bills, and with Vasco Rossi, there is no opening act. It is just that many people there to see him and that band. That is such such a difference experience because there 85,000 there singing to every word of every song. The energy around is just amazing. They are great people, a great experience, and I really loved doing it for sure.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like an amazing experience. Was there any language barrier with him at all?
Will Hunt – Well he does not speak very good English, but he does try. The saving grace for me is that the guitar player has been in that band since 1995. He is this guy Stef Burns, if you go back, he played in Huey Lewis & The News between their peak in 1984-1985. Then he went to more Rock and played with Y & T on two records, Contagious (1987) and Ten (1990). Then after that he went on to be Alice Coopers guitar player, which most people would recognize him from Wayne’s World when they are in the dressing room, Stef is the guitar player that is sitting there. He played with Alice Cooper for a few years and then got this Vasco gig. He has been there ever since, so, he has been there so long he ended up marrying an Italian woman, lives in Italy, and speaks fluent Italian. For me, that is a saving grace because he was able to communicate really well, when sometimes one of the people there just could not communicate. A couple of people speak English well, but it is a little interesting. It is especially interesting being on stage when Vasco is talking to the crowd and I cannot really understand what he is saying or when there is a cue to start the song. That took a bit to get used to, but we figured it out. We made it work.
CrypticRock.com – That definitely is a different experience for sure. Speaking of bands you have been a part of, you have essentially been a member of Evanescence since 2007 when you came on for The Open Door tour and remained part of the band. What has your time in Evanescence been like?
Will Hunt – Evanescence is a trip. When I got the call to do that, it was a big surprise because I had never really thought of myself as being part of that band. I remember when I got the call, I was in Las Vegas doing a gig with Vince Neil. It was interesting because they were really on a big stride and it was exciting. Before I even said yes to it, I was familiar with 2003’s Fallen obviously, and I was familiar with a couple of songs from the 2006’s The Open Door, which had been out for about seven months. Then I just went in and picked The Open Door up to start listening to it. I was blown away by how musical it was and I really kind of wanted to be a part of that. Once that happened, we played two shows in The States and then we went to Europe for six or seven weeks were we did all the main festivals over there. That was a trip, we were headlining and co-headlining these huge festivals. We co-headlined Donnington in England with Iron Maiden, which was just unbelievable. That experience has been amazing.
When Amy hired me and the other guitar player Troy, she said, “Look, I am going to do this for another seven months and finish this cycle and I don’t know what I am doing.” I sort of knew what I was getting into when I got into it, but it was a five year hiatus before we went in and wrote and recorded the last record that was released in 2011. It was a great experience because in back of my mind, as time went on, I did not think about it, because I thought it was done. At that point, when it came back around and we had a chance to write, record, and do another record together, it was great. Here we are again, it has been three years this November, and we are going to do a three date tour here in The states and also Ozzfest Japan. I would love to think that might lead to more of it, I just do not know yet.
CrypticRock.com – Understood completely. Well you did mention that you did do that self-titled record that was released back in 2011, and since you had worked with the band a few years prior in a live capacity, was there a level of comfort going into the studio for that album in 2010?
Will Hunt – Yes, it was interesting. It is kind of a documented story, but initially, I actually was not going to play on the record. Amy was kind of going in a little bit of a different direction and, for whatever reason, it just did not pan out the way she wanted it to be. She kind of went back to the drawing board so to speak and had all of us put our flavor on some songs and do some co-writes. I was just happy to get the opportunity to do that. It really was not a pressure thing.
The interesting thing about Evanescence is, and I say this to people, it is hard to believe, but we are actually friends. When we want to go on tour together, we like hanging out together. It is not a forced thing, we are comfortable with who we are, it is okay if me and Troy geek out to ’80s music and ’90s stuff. Amy is into all kinds of stuff, from that to all kinds of eclectic stuff that I do not even know about. Tim is into some New Wave, and other things, but we are all kind of connected because a lot of that music we do like together. We get on pretty well musically because we are all very musical, very into listening to music, being opened-minded, and getting turned onto new stuff. When we went in to do that record, that kind of parlayed itself into the process I think.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and the record did come out very well, and as you mentioned, you have quite a few co-writes on the record. Now Evanescence is back, they are going to do Ozzfest Japan in November with plans for a US tour as well. This has to be pretty exciting, the fan base is pretty pumped about this.
Will Hunt – Yes, they are excited, and again, it is interesting because we have not played together in three years. It is not like we can just hop in there and spend two days rehearsing and say, “Okay, we are ready to go.” We are really doing a live show from the ground up again, it is going to take some time. I think that Amy decided, and I am speaking for her, I think she decided that it would be a good idea to really warm up before we do Ozzfest and get a few shows under our belt. That is why we have the three shows in The States. We all hope it turns into some more stuff because once the fans found out about us doing the US, obviously people in the UK and Brazil, people all over the world are saying please come back here. Unfortunately, we do not have an answer for that yet, but we will see. I would like to think that this leads to some more. Hopefully this goes well, everybody has a good time and we do some more of this kind of stuff.
CrypticRock.com – Right, it is good to keep that positive outlook. It is all speculation of course, but this is going to go well. It will probably snowball into more because the reception is going to go over extremely well. Again speculation, but the fans are very hungry for Evanescence.
Will Hunt – I hope you are right. Yes, I think, at this point, anything is possible. I get asked a lot of questions from a lot of fans about all this kind of stuff, and always have. The thing that I say is, look, I am happy to be a part of it, I am glad my schedule is able to do this, and at the end of the day, Evanescence is Amy’s thing. It definitely gets treated like a band, but she is great to work with, and I am happy that she has bought me into her world of Evanescence. At the end of the day, she calls the shots, and I have always respected what she decides to do. Hopefully she will want to do much more. Hopefully it snowballs into something else.
Amy is into so much stuff, she is truly an artist, it has never been about the money for her, ever. She is going to do stuff artistically that is right for her, and hopefully that includes Evanescence. She has always said that she is going to keep doing Evanescence, but there are a lot more sides to it than just that, and I agree with that. I think she would be a pretty unhappy artist if she just only did Evanescence. Hopefully right now is the time to do it for a little bit. I think that we are all hoping for that. We shall see, but if not, all respect for what she decides to do, and we will see what happens.
CrypticRock.com – Of course, and that makes total sense. It keeps the fans curious, that is a positive thing.
Will Hunt – Yes, and I guess the thing about it is she has never said bye, and a lot of people thought the band was done. Amy never said that and she has been really clear about that. Us as the band, of course we are always hanging onto that string of hope, that she is going to want to do this and we will go rock it. It seems like that is where we are at. The thing is, I think what is cool is these fans are loyal, that is one thing. Even if we went away for five years, by the time the album came out, it was close to six years and it debuted at number 1 on the Billboard chart. It debuted really high around the world, and that is just a statement how dedicated and loyal Evanescence fans are. I have never seen anything like it other than maybe Vasco.
CrypticRock.com – It really is something special. Now speaking of your other projects, back in 2013, you joined up with members of Lo-Pro in a new project called White Noise Owl. You released an EP back in 2014. There has been talks about a full length record. Is there going to be a full length record from White Noise Owl?
Will Hunt – Well, it is an interesting question. We have been working on new material now for the better part of a year. We have got some really cool stuff and it is certainly much different than anything I have ever been a part of. I think that we have got a deal in play right now, and I cannot say what it is yet, but it is not from America, it is for overseas. We are still working on America. For America, it is a new band, which you know is hard to break here as a Rock band.
It is really tough, and I guess the thing is, with White Noise Owl, we are just looking for the right situation. None of us are young anymore, none of us can say, “Hey, let’s just hop in the van and eat bologna sandwiches and try and break our band that way,” that is just not realistic. We are taking our time with it, we are not in any hurry at all, and I think that the thing is, that the way that we carry ourselves about it, that it is kind of this open ended thing. We are hoping that this deal that I am talking about will allow us to go tour overseas for a little bit. That being said, we will see. We were talking about Evanescence, I know where we are at, but it just depends how things shake out over the next couple of months. There is a lot of on-edgeness in my world in this business (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – One can imagine it is. Well it will definitely be exciting to hear more from White Noise Owl. Pete Murray is a really interesting vocalist. He is probably one of the most dynamic and underrated vocalist in Hard Rock/Metal, that a lot of people have never heard of unfortunately.
Will Hunt – Yes, I agree with that. I think it is a crime that people have not heard Pete Murray’s voice so on a massive scale. Like you just said, he is so unique, so powerful, and writes great lyrics. That is what we are thinking, “What are we going to do to change that?” “What can we do to get this guy who deserves that kind of attention?” He is an amazing human being on top of all that stuff we just said, who truly deserves it. We are thinking what can we do to make this come to fruition, and we are working on that. We are working really hard on that and hopefully something does come soon.
CrypticRock.com – Hopefully, that would be really good for everyone involved. I had one last question for you. At CrypticRock.com, we cover all kinds of music and also Horror films. If you like Horror films, do you have any favorites?
Will Hunt – I do, I love them. I cannot claim to be like some people, that it is there whole world. I cannot claim to be that crazy about it, but I do love them. Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. It kind of runs in the family, my wife and daughter, we all love Halloween. We always go to the Halloween Horror Nights out at Universal Studios. We do a lot together with that kind of stuff. I love all the Halloween movies, I love even the remakes, I love the original ones, the Friday the 13th series, The Shining (1980), I love all of it. We have Horror movie nights here in the house occasionally. My daughter gets a bit spooked sometimes, and will not watch them, but sometimes she finds them funny when we are scared out of our pants. It is kind of interesting (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – That is really cool that you are a fan of it and you watch the Horror movies with the family. They are fun. Sometimes, people cannot get into Horror because of maybe the suspension of belief or just they find them too gory, but they are fun. They are an escape from everyday reality.
Will Hunt – Absolutely, it is interesting. The other guitar player with the Vasco thing, this amazing musician, this guy Vince Pastano, he is the biggest Horror movie fan I have ever met. He constantly watches Vincent Price Horror movies and a lot of the older stuff in black and white, and the original Dracula’s and stuff like that. He is that avid fan we are talking about, he is so into it. He lives and breaths it. He does some pretty crazy stuff, where he kind of looks like Vincent Price, but young.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) That is pretty cool. Have you seen any Horror movies lately that you have enjoyed?
Will Hunt – The last Horror movie that I saw was the remake of Friday the 13th (2009). I saw it on HBO or rented it, but I thought it was great. Like you said, it is fun and an escape. It is always a good time to see that stuff and we had a great time watching it with laughs.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and you speak of films that are films like The Exorcist (1973) and The Shining, those films are very slow moving, but that is what makes them so scary. There is so much room for everything to breathe and that is what makes them terrifying.
Will Hunt – Yes, it is, and The Exorcist, it is funny that you mentioned that because I had never seen it and I went to do the Order of the Black (2010) with Zack Wylde and he is a huge Exorcist fan. He had Exorcist memorabilia all over the studio, and if you are in that studio, he has an almost life sized doll of Linda Blair, and all jacked up. It is pretty scary just going in the bathroom in that place at night. Anyway, we had movie night one night and he made popcorn and played The Exorcist on the big screen and it was amazing. So I watched The Exorcist, it was pretty rad stuff. That is one of the cool things about entertainment, there is always something to discover, and it never gets old.