Device On Stage @ Ft. Rock Festival – Ft. Myers, FL
Photo: Scott Nathanson

As they say, the cream rises to the top. Only a few rock and metal fans in the past decade could possibly have missed hearing rock drumming juggernaut Will Hunt at some point during their musical journey. Need proof? Try reading this portion of Will’s resume in one breath: Skrape, Tommy Lee, Methods of Mayhem, Dark New Day, Motley Crue, Evanescence, Bloodsimple, Black Label Society, Staind, Crossfade, Static-X, Eye Empire, Device. As the go-to guy when ROCK takes precedence over all else, Will was gracious enough to sit down and chat for a bit while in town with his latest endeavor, Device.
–Mark Poiesz

How did your involvement with Device come about?
I knew David [Draiman] for many, many years. He took Skrape out on our first tour in ’01, when Disturbed was just breaking. We’ve known each other for that long. But then also I met Geno [Lenardo] about a year ago January, when I did some session work with him in LA. We hit it off and he had mentioned that he was doing the one song, “Hunted,” with David. He played me a piece of it and I loved it. I told him to keep me in mind if they end up doing something with it because Evanescence is going to take a break after this tour. Lo and behold, they turned it into a full band. David and Geno reached out to me and said, “Why don’t you do this?” The timing was perfect for it. Originally I was going to audition, then David just said, “Look, you got the gig. I know what you can do and what you can bring to the table.” So it worked out!

Did you play on the record or are you just touring?
No, the record is all programmed, because I was on tour with Evanescence when they were doing that. There had been some talk about maybe coming back and re-cutting drums on it, but schedules just didn’t match up and they needed to finish it. The programming is cool. I mean, I would have loved to play on it, but it came out great. The next record – Yeah, I’ll play on it.

Does this project require anything different from you than other projects?
Yeah, absolutely. There’s typically a little bit more double bass drum work in this. But apart from that, there are a lot of electronics going on. A lot of sampling, I’ve got a lot of electronic pads that I’m playing, electronic foot pedals, I’m much busier. There’s a lot more going on. Not necessarily in terms of difficult patterns and stuff like that, but more so with all these samples that I’m firing…which is fun! The only other time I’ve ever done that was when I was playing with Tommy Lee. We had a lot of electronics that we were using. I took a model of what I used for that kit and turned it into this kit. I expanded it a little bit, just got freaky with putting some things up in the air, tried to make it look as weird as possible.

Between all of the different projects you’ve been involved in, from Device to Evanescence to Dark New Day, Bloodsimple and everything else, do you change your approach in any core way? Do you look at the kit differently?
Yeah, you have to get into the mindset of each band; what are their roots? Where do they come from? What kind of music is it? It’s all rock and roll based with Bloodsimple being a little more hardcore, or Dark New Day and Evanescence being more hard rock. When I’m coming into projects like these, I try to listen to bands that are similar, to get those juices flowing, to kind of get in that mode. After I get comfortable, I bring my own flavor into it. You have to think about it differently each time. It’s like being a chameleon. That’s important if you want to do stuff outside of just one band. You’ve got to be able to change your colors. Go in there and really make it believable! So I call it being a chameleon, because that’s really what it is.

With your aggressive playing style, how do you prepare for a show? Do you have injuries?
Absolutely. I’ve got vertebrae in my neck that pops in and out all the time, pinched nerves; one shoulder doesn’t have any cartilage in it. As you get older you mend slower. I’ve tried to get healthier and work out more, train my muscles a little better. It just depends on how you treat your body. I stretch out a lot, do some yoga. I try to warm up my legs and my feet by playing some rudiments and patterns. A big part of my warm-up is listening to other music and playing along to it, playing patterns over the top of it to get limber and loose.

Considering the amount of time you spend on the road, you probably have a unique perspective on the current state of the touring business. What are you seeing out there?
I see that being in a rock and roll band these days is very hard. The only time that I remember it being like this, and I was really young so I don’t fully remember it, was in the mid to late 70’s when disco was at its peak. People didn’t really give a shit about rock music. I don’t think that it’s dead, but I think that it’s in a real valley right now. There are less rock radio stations, so there are less of those types of outlets to let people know about, like here in Miami…. there are not a lot of places. However, at the same time, from that comes some really cool stuff. It’s a good way to weed out the weaklings, the people that really shouldn’t be here in the first place. The crème de la crème really does rise up at a time like this. I think in some ways that it’s healthy. It’s almost like a forest fire; they say sometimes it’s a good thing. It helps the forest to regenerate, its part of the ecosystem. Well, this valley that we’re in is part of the rock and roll ecosystem. It’s weeding out the crap.

I think it’ll come around. Somebody will come up with something. There are still bands these days that that I hear that make me think “damn, that’s really kickass!” At some point one of these bands is going to really grab traction and when they do, that’ll be the next movement. It hasn’t happened yet but I think that that band exists now. It just hasn’t happened yet.

Anyone that’s seen you play or heard you on record knows that you have an unmistakable energy, feel and groove. What do you see as the strengths that created that? What is it that makes everyone want to hire Will Hunt?
Man, I don’t know (smiles). I didn’t set out to do that, it wasn’t by design. If I had it my way, Skrape would’ve sold millions of records and I’d still be in Skrape. I’d still be in one band. But you wind up meeting people. When I auditioned for Tommy Lee and I got that job, well I could say that was the start of that whole thing. People say, “Oh, well he’s Tommy Lee’s drummer, he must not suck!” Then I became the guy that people would call in a clutch… like “this guy can learn your 18-song set in 24 hours, call him up!” It got to be that thing.

I know one thing that I used to do that doesn’t happen a lot now. Back when I was coming up right out of high school I joined a cover band. But nothing like that exists now. There was a whole scene back in the day where we had a semi-truck, a full PA, a 100 can light show… I mean it was an arena show that we brought to a club. I did that for four and a half years. That was my college. We were playing rock music, everything from Zeppelin to Def Leppard to Motley, all the stuff that was popular then. If you do that three to four sets a night, six nights a week for almost five years, you start to figure some shit out! You start to watch people; you get to learn what moves them. I would watch people’s feet to see if they were moving them, if they were dancing. I paid attention to that. The guys like Clint from Sevendust and Corey from Eye Empire… the guys that were in DND with me, they all did the same thing. That’s why we gel so well together. It’s a certain seasoning, a certain amount of…. well it’s kind of like having a Master’s degree. We put the time in and studied the craft. We weren’t just playing in some crappy bar band that plays on the weekends. This was something that we took seriously. Like I said, we were bringing an arena show into a club. I think that had a lot to do with how I am now.

You’ve joined the ranks of players such as Josh Freese and Kenny Aronoff, players that are always out there and always visible – Why am I so broke? [Laughter] With that sort of recognition in the business, where do you see yourself going from here, say in the next 10, 15 years? Any goals?
Retirement [Laughter] No, I don’t know man, I mean you look at a guy like Tommy Aldridge. To this day, he still f’n kills it! I don’t know how old he is, but he’s gotta be pushing 65. And he’s had a hell of a run at this, man. There are a couple of guys that have done that. And I’d like to be that guy. I would love to have the opportunity to be in one band that does well, where I can go tour, do an 18 month cycle, but come off the road for a year, you know, 6 months. Pull my head together, hang out with my family, make another record and do stuff like that for a little bit and have that sort of freedom where I’m not hustling quite as much, know what I mean? But on the flip side of that, I’m blessed that I get to play as much as I do. So I don’t know, it’s a double edged sword. I really like being home with my family and I miss them, but at the same time I love to play, and I feel like I have a gift and a purpose, and I’m doing what I should be doing. As long as I’m a good dude, and I live an honest life, I’m good to my family and good to my friends; I think everything else kind of takes care of itself. So I’m just going to stay on this path, man. Keep doing what I’m doing. What does he say in Boogie Nights? I’m going to keep rockin’ and rolling man!!!

If the phone rings at the end of this tour and you have nothing on your calendar, who would you want it to be, among people you haven’t worked with yet?
I don’t know, man… I’ve got a long list of those guys!! Bono would be pretty amazing. Bono and the Edge… saying “come collaborate with us, we’re going to do something heavier!” That’d be cool. Maybe I’d go with John Mayer, do something like that… I know these are people you don’t normally think of. If AC/DC called up and said “hey man, Phil Rudd’s not gonna come on this run… he just wants to stay in New Zealand and fish.” I’d be like, fuckin’ A. I’m your guy. I’d be there. That’d be badass.

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