During this year’s edition of the Musikmesse, held, as always, in early spring in Frankfurt am Mein, Germany, we met up with a few drummers whose skills, professional CVs and (as it turned out in eye-to-eye contact) also personalities deserve the attention of anyone interested drums, let alone rock drums.
Will Hunt is an experienced drummer with numerous musical collaborations under his belt. In the last 20 years, he has worked with such acts as Dark New Day, Static-X, Mötley Crüe, Methods Of Mayhem, Staind, Slaughter, Vince Neil, Michael Sweet, Black Label Society, Vasco Rossi or Device. Currently, he is a member of Evanescence, White Noise Owl and Rival City. Evanscence will be on tour across Europe in June. Will is endorsed by such brands as Zildjian, Pearl, Remo and Vater.
Will Hunt (Evanescence) in an interview for BeatIt, Pt. 1
BeatIt: Welcome to beatit.tv – the drummers’ website. Thank you for taking time to talk to us.
Will Hunt: Absolutely. My pleasure.
B: We’re catching up with you at the Musikmesse event in Frankfurt am Mein, Germany. What are you doing here?
W. H.: Goofing off. I’m doing some…it’s not clinics, I’d say more demonstrations, which is kinda cool. I like that different atmosphere. You just get to play and do your thing. It’s less breaking down whatever little nuances of what you do because I’m not even sure if I can explain that anyways. If people ask me about that kind of stuff, I just say: ‘Go play a whole lot. That’s where it comes from’. Here, it’s cool, the atmosphere is great. I’m hanging out with fellow musicians, making some new friends, being very impressed by some of the other drummers that are just mind-boggling. All different styles. It’s cool, man. I love it! Good place, good vibe.
B: What are you up to now professionally?
W. H.: Obviously, Evanescence.
B: That’s going strong.
W. H.: We just kinda picked it back up, which is really cool. So we did a tour this past fall and the winter in the States. It was great. Pretty much everything was sold out. We’re gonna be in South America in a week for about three weeks. Then, we’re gonna be in Europe for about five and a half weeks starting in June. One of the stops is Warsaw, Poland on the 20th of June., which I’ve never been to so I’m looking forward to that.
B: Do you think you’re gonna have time to do some sightseeing?
W. H.: That’s tough, man. I think we have a day off before so it depends. If we’re bussing in, probably. If we’re flying in, might be tough. I’d love to go check some stuff out, though.
B: What about other projects? Are you working on anything?
W. H.: I have two of my own bands. They both have stuff that’s coming out really soon. I would implore you to go check out the sites. One band is called White Noise Owl. We actually have a four-song EP out already. I would say it’s more along the lines of 30 Seconds To Mars, Radiohead, maybe a little U2 in there. Very different than probably what people heard me doing. And then, I have another act, which is called Rival City. The singer in that band is the runner-up winner from the X Factor in the US – a guy by the name of Jeff Gutt – and the original guitar player from Filter is in that band. We have some stuff that’s coming out as well and that’s just more rock. It’s a little heavier maybe. Not even that, I don’t know. Both bands are very different but both very cool. So check them out!
B: Absolutely! Let’s go back to the beginings. How did IT, meaning drums and drumming, start in your life?
W. H.: I come from a musical family. My dad is a doctor but he’s a guitar player at heart. Before he’s a doctor, he’s a musician. He’s a great guitar player. I don’t think he thinks he’s, like, this phenomenal guitar player but I think he’s really good. The thing that I learned from him is that his feel is so good. The way he plays guitar, the way he plays blues and slide guitar is like a black man from the Delta. He’s just good at that. He’s not a shredder, he’s not Al Di Meola, none of that. He’s just a great feel player. My mother is a good piano player. My father actually went to high school with Tom Petty. They were pals. So I was always surrounded by music and then i think I saw Kiss on a television show in the US when I was 5 and I was like: ‘Oh, my God! That’s it!’. I really wanted to be a guitar player so my dad got me a guitar and I had the misconception, being 5, that I just put my hands on the guitar and look cool, rock out and that cool sound would come out. I didn’t know you actually had to do stuff. So I figured: ‘I can still get into this and drums look pretty easy.’
B: Little did you know.
W. H.: Oh, God! I’m punching myself on the face for that one. Nah. I’m glad to be a drummer. That’s kinda what happened. You get into it as a hobby. Maybe it’s like some kids play soccer, which I did as well. Some girls do ballet or whatever. That’s kinda what it is and then it either takes a life of its own at some point or it doesn’t. For me, that’s when the drums chose me and kinda started giving me back things that I needed.
B: The drums is a very broad topic and there’s so many styles.
W. H.: As we’re witnessing here.
B: So when was it decided it was gonna be rock for you? Could have been jazz, could have been the blues, especially given your father’s inclinations.
W. H.: I think when I was a kid and I was just kinda starting to learn how to play, probably around 8 or so, I would jam with my dad and his band. I think that might have been where the feel part of it kind of made itself evident to me subconsciously. My dad listened to all kinds of music. I love Steely Dan, there was a lot of that going on in my house and stuff like that. But the stuff that really got to me will go back to Kiss, Led Zeppelin and, for some reason, the heavier music of that time, which would now be considered rock, I gravitated towards. I didn’t say: ‘Well, I love the heavy rock music but I want to be respected as someone who plays jazz’. Didn’t work out that way. Personally, I don’t give a shit what anybody thinks, I just do what I do. That’s how it should be, that’s how you live your life. I knew that I felt that music, I wanted to play that music and I think that music wanted me to play it.
B: Makes perfect sense. You can still be a Tower Of Power fan…
W. H.: Absolutely. I listen to so much Steely Dan, Earth Wind & Fire…
B: Ohio Players.
W. H.: God, I love all of them! I just know that I love that type of music.
B: What about the first inspirations – specific guys or bands you started gravitating towards?
W. H.: Obviously, Kiss. I think there’s a misconception. If you go back to Kiss records, I think Peter Criss and Kiss in general don’t get a lot of respect. I think that’s unfortunate because if you listen to ‘Alive 1’ and the stuff, let’s say, through ‘Love Gun’, Peter Criss wrote some great drum parts. He was more of a bebop/swing drummer. He was into Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, all that kind of stuff. He played drums in a very unorthodox rock way and he had a swing to the way that he played and he had a swagger to it. I dug that. He was kinda funky. He snuck that in on people. I had a conversation when I was in Black Label Society with JD – the bass player, who’s still there. We were talking about that. That’s one of his favourite drummers. We’re talking about a Berkeley grad. That guy wrote compositions, he wrote great parts. He did, man. I’m not ashamed to say that I was definitely influenced by that guy. Also, obviously, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen. I love Stuart Copeland, I love The Police, the hi hat work. People look at me as a heavy hitter but if you dig into a lot of what I do cymbalwise, it comes from that. It’s all kinds of stuff, I listen to everything. Earth Wind & Fire, depending on who was playing with them what day.
B: Fred White was just…
W. H.: God! Amazing!
Drummers and Drummerettes! Here is Will Hunt in the first instalment of an exclusive in-depth interview for beatit.tv! Enjoy!