Will Hunt has had the drum gigs that any drummer would want. He is known for his impressive recording credits: BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, DARK NEW DAY and STAIND, to name a few. And, now in the November issue of DRUM!, Hunt discusses his recording career and return to his drumming roots with EVANESCENCE.
Bob Doerschuk, an award-winning music writer with years of experience, sums up well the contrast between Hunt, the hired hitter who has played for several bands, and his ability to commit to the EVANESCENCE seat. Doerschuk says of Hunt, “As the current go-to hard-rock session ace, Will Hunt is seemingly everywhere these days. But his return to EVANESCENCE has reminded him what being a real band member feels like and left him wondering if any one gig could ever be better than that.”
Hunt has made a number of changes to his drumming and mindset in regard to EVANESCENCE, which, in part, reflects his session experience. His playing is straight-ahead and intended to drive the band rather than focus on his power chops. Two examples that Doerschuk discusses are “What You Want” and “The Other Side”.
On “What” Hunt builds the beat slowly rather than attack; one of the drum highlights is his military snare patterns with quick shifts in feel to half-time. But, the beat is always there….
Hunt‘s performance on the new EVANESCENCE album, is “polished but elemental rock drumming pared down to its core.” Hunt even notes on page 38 that it would have been easy for him to overplay, further proof that his days on the metal bus have given him an appreciation for playing only for the music.
Hunt began to study the rudiments at age five while growing up in Gainesville, Florida. Several years later, his family moved to Topeka, Kansas, where he got his first taste of punk in the city’s thriving scene. This was a pivotal point in his career when he began to study with Willie McNeil, who was deeply involved in the local punk community and, had been traditionally trained. Hunt learned how to incorporate his rudiments into what would become his percussive passion: hard-hittin’ metal.
In Topeka, Hunt played, experimented and matured to the point in which he really was in demand. At age 17, he was working steadily with guys 10 years older than him. Then came the time when he had to put his own group together, which resulted in the formation of SKRAPE, which Hunt describes as a band that would be his “home base.” Yet through his time with SKRAPE he also was playing with established bands, such as MÖTLEY CRÜE. And, he accepted a temp tap with EVANESCENCE to play the final leg of their 2007 tour after which, the band took a break.
But suddenly, at that point in his career, Hunt stopped getting the call. For the first time he found himself without enough studio or road work, and his family finances suffering. Time pushed on and before Hunt knew it, a year and a half had passed without a gig. Hunt poignantly describes the challenges of what happens when it appears a long career has evaporated.
However, it all took a turn for the better when he was invited to rejoin EVANESCENCE. And his drumming matured dramatically as he took on a new mindset. He switched to emphatic beats when needed in lighter sections of songs. He became very in tune with how to back up Lee‘s vocals. In essence, he made a significant change to his approach where he put away the some of the style he’d developed when playing heavier music.