Here’s an interview that will attract more viewers without much effort from our part! Obviously, when someone who is literally a mercenary of music like Will Hunt called us up, we managed to touch upon more than one type of audience via a single interview. More specifically, Evanescence, Hollywood Undead, Methods Of Mayhem, and more recently, Black Label Society. The man is so busy taping into various things that he is completely overwhelmed. It was now time to discuss the guy’s impressive CV. Time to drool dear readers.
This was our opportunity to ask him about various aspects, including his collaboration with Zakk Wylde, the relationship between Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne, the next Evanescence album, the polemic surrounding Ben Moody and Amy Lee, but most importantly: “Does Limp Bizkit suck cocks?”
As a result, the interview is filled with prospect. Having said this, Will Hunt is a good guy who tends to shy away from problems. It’s pretty difficult trying to get him to dish the dirt since he prefers to have a positive outlook on things.
Zakk Wylde declared that he’s unable to write a song without a riff. He can’t compose with just a vocal line. You work on all sorts of projects yourself. What do you think of this composition method?
"Yes, Zakk’s very easy to work with. As far as the writing process goes, I come from a much different school than him, perhaps more modern. Sometimes I would bring my own beats to the process, just to see what he would think about something more modern and kind of funky. Sometimes he really loved it, and sometimes he just had a clear idea of how he wanted something to go."
Will Hunt (drums) : It’s kind of how I’m used to writing as well. I play guitar as well, although I only wrote the drum parts for Black Label. The songs start with Zakk and a guitar riff. Our bass player J.D. co-produced the album, and he was involved in deciding which grooves felt the best. More often than not, what would happen was, when we got the riff hashed out and we liked it, the rest of the pieces of the songs would kind of come naturally. I like writing that way, I think it’s really neat.How do you see your future with Black Label Society? When your predecessor Craig Nunenmacher left, he was apparently told by the band that the door would always be open for him. What about you? What did you agree on?
I play drums for Evanescence as well as this. I also play for Tommy Lee and Methods Of Mayhem. I know Craig, and he’s a great guy. He made this decision to move on to try and get a little bit more solid ground financially, which I totally understand. I have a family as well, and that’s a concern. In the beginning, all I agreed on was that I would do the record, because I thought at this point, I would be busy with Evanescence. But Amy [Lee] decided to really take the time to make the new record as good as possible. So when the option became available for me to tour with Black Label, I jumped at it. I’m really excited about it. I don’t knew exactly what will happen with Craig. I know everybody’s really happy with the way things are going right now. There are no changes in the immediate future as far as Craig is concerned. It’s hard to say what will happen or not, but right now, I’m happy being here, and everybody’s happy with me being here. We’re having a good time.About his relationship with his musicians and former musicians, Zakk Wylde seems really understanding and open-minded. He said something like: “If you can make more money playing drums for Céline Dion, I’m not going to stop you from doing that. You can always come back to Black Label, you always got a gig here”. Is he also like that during the writing process? Is it easy to work with him and to share ideas with him?
Yes, he’s very easy to work with. As far as the writing process goes, I come from a much different school than him, perhaps more modern. Sometimes I would bring my own beats to the process, just to see what he would think about something more modern and kind of funky. Sometimes he really loved it, and sometimes he just had a clear idea of how he wanted something to go. We really worked together to make it what it was. A really good example of that would be the song “Parade Of The Dead”, or “Crazy Horse”. Those two songs have a particular, different vibe tempo-wise and rhythmically than in past Black Label records. It was really cool to bring in those kind of beats and kind of watch light bulbs go off in his head about what things could be. Zakk knows Evanescence if kind of a high-paying, high-profile gig for me, and he, of all people, understands those kind of opportunities. After all, he’s been Ozzy’s side man for many, many years. The money he made while doing this job allowed him to make Black Label what it is today. I think he’s just realistic and understanding. He’s a normal guy, just like me and you. He understands that sometimes, you just can’t turn down certain opportunities, and he’s really cool about that.The new Ozzy Osbourne album was released about two months ago. Is there some kind of rivalry between Ozzy and Black Label Society?
No, I don’t think so. They like to make up things like that in the press, but everybody in both camps in friends. We’re friends with those guys, and obviously we wish them the best luck.Do you really think Ozzy and Zakk are good friends? Ozzy fired Zakk twice, after all!
I know they are. Ozzy and Sharon and Zakk, they were in New York City having dinner a month ago. We also did the Ozzfest here in the States with Ozzy. When our record came out, on August 10th, Sharon Osbourne came to the record release show we did in L.A. at the Rock Scene. She came to show support, like any good friend would. I wish I had some dirt to give you, but the fact is, they’re good friends!Did you listen to Ozzy’s new album, Scream?
Yeah, I listened to it. I thought it was cool.What did you and Zakk think of Gus G.’s way of playing? It really sound like Zakk Wylde, actually…
We all kind of spoke about this, and we agree that Gus did a really good job on this album. The interesting thing is that Gus didn’t write any of the music for it. He just came in and basically did what he was told to do. I’m sure he put his own stamp on the songs in a lot of ways. It’s kinda hard for me or Zakk to gauge somebody’s style or worth when they’re playing something written by somebody else. For a guitar player, it’s easier to get the measure of their worth when they’re playing songs that they wrote. If you listen to his other band, Firewind, that’s a better representation of how good Gus is, ‘cause that’s his stuff. So Gus is great, but it does sound like Zakk a little bit, for sure.
"[...] I never really set out to be the hired gun guy. In my dreams, it’s always been all about having my own band, which would be me and three or four of my friends. It would be our baby, something we’ would’ve made from scratch… Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and those things fell upon me."Let’s talk about you now. You juggle with several musical projects: Black Label Society, Evanescence, Static-X… To me it’s kind of a mess! So to get that right, could you just brief us on your current and future projects?
Right now, I’m working obviously with Black Label and Evanescence. Amy’s currently working on songs for the new Evanescence album. I just did some work for a band that’s pretty big here in the States, Hollywood Undead. I also did a record for a band called Crossfade, they have a record coming out. I’m also supposed to do some stuff with Tommy Lee and Methods of Mayhem. That’s about all right now. And it’s enough stuff!Forgive me for saying this, but you don’t seem to commit for long in any band. Is that something you consciously want, not to get involved too much with a band, or is it just natural and spontaneous?
It just kind of always work out that way. I have my own bands here in the States: Skrape, which just signed to BMG, and more recently, Dark New Day – we’re on Warner Brothers. In-between all my work for those bands, I would just get these phone calls about filling in for people. I kind of became a go-to guy for when bands were in need of a drummer. This is how I ended up playing with Mötley Crüe or Static-X. It just kind of happened that way. It wasn’t by design, I’ve always wanted to have a home. Right now, with Black Label, it feels like a home. My main thing is that I want to stay busy, I wanna keep working. The way the industry is right now, so many bands either fall apart because they can’t afford to keep going, or they take long breaks. Amy’s taken a three-year break, and I just have to keep playing. I just like to play, that’s really what it boils down to.Do you like to be a mercenary of music?
Yeah, it’s kinda nice to have a credit list like I have. But at the end of the day, I never really set out to be the hired gun guy. In my dreams, it’s always been all about having my own band, which would be me and three or four of my friends. It would be our baby, something we’ would’ve made from scratch… Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and those things fell upon me. I just like to play, and the guys I play with are friends. All the guys in Black Label, me and Zakk and Nick and J.D., we’re great friends, we hang out together. It’s not like it’s a total business action. It’s cool, ‘cause I get to play with guys that I love and respect, and I still have a really good time. Black Label is going to tour on and off for another 12 to 18 months. Depending on the time frame of Evanescence, I’m gonna stay with Black Label as long as I possibly can. We’ll just see what happens. I take things day by day. But when I do something, I commit to that: I do something with Black Label, I’m with Black Label. We’ve got a two-and-a-half-month tour coming up, starting in about a week, and I’m committed to that whole thing. It doesn’t matter if Ozzy calls me, or Kiss calls me, or Mötley Crüe calls me. No matter who calls me, in the middle of that time frame, I’m committed to Black Label. I don’t jump around like that, not that much!First Tommy Lee, then Zakk Wylde, and finally the producers of U2… You’ve been multiplying prestigious collaborations lately. Your address book must make some people jealous!
Yeah, it’s interesting! When I look at my address book or at my phone, I got some pretty interesting names in there, for sure. I’m pretty proud of the names I have in there, and to call most of these people really good friends. As a kid, all I ever set out to do was just be in this business and be able to play. I wanted to play with the people I considered to be the best in the business, and so far it’s working out. I’m really lucky in that way.Do you have the feeling that your CV opens more doors, or gives you more freedom in terms of creativity?
Oh yeah, for sure. The more projects I do, the more different styles I get to mess around with. I learn from each one. When I go to the next project, I’m always able to incorporate something for the last project. The things that I do aren’t so far away for one another that I can’t apply a lot of the things I learned along the way.
"I think Zakk actually came out later, when he was asked if he really believes Limp Bizkit sucks. I believe the answer he gave was no. It was a joke, and all of a sudden, the press jumped on it: “Oh my God, Zakk Wylde hates Limp Bizkit!”. It got blown out of proportion pretty hugely. I don’t think you’re going to hear a Limp Bizkit CD in Zakk’s truck when he’s driving around, but I don’t think he truly believes that Fred Durst sucks cocks!"You may have followed attentively the tensions between Amy Lee and Ben Moody. I imagine you’ve read Ben Moody’s recent press release explaining his feelings about the creation of We Are The Fallen and his departure from Evanescence. What do you think of it?
I try not to get involved with that stuff. A very good friend of mine I played with in Tommy Lee’s band, Marty O’Brien, plays in We Are The Fallen. When we talk to each other, we don’t even talk about Evanescence or We Are The Fallen. We talk about other things. On one end, I have to agree with the fact that Evanescence is Evanescence, Amy Lee is Amy Lee, and it’s always gonna be that way. The other thing that I agree with is that Ben was a huge part in creating that sound with Amy. He said something in this statement that I agree with: people can accuse him of ripping Evanescence off, but when they do that, they’re accusing him of ripping himself off, because he was a huge part of that. I don’t know if I fully agree with him saying that he didn’t put We Are The Fallen together to be in direct competition with Evanescence. If he didn’t, I don’t think he would’ve ended up with a singer that looks and sounds like Amy Lee. But I’m not here to judge either camp. I love Amy to death, she’s a great person, and I only know about that. I don’t pass judgment on anybody.What is your actual role in Evanescence? At the beginning, you only played drums during gigs. What’s your role in the band now?
I’m the drummer, and I can write songs as well. We’ve been in the studio, and I’ve brought in a couple of guitar riffs that have become songs. Lately, in the last few months, there’s been a real band dynamics. It’s kind of a band situation right now.Do you have any new information about the release of the album?
All I can say is that Amy’s a very hard worker. She’s very critical of herself. It’s important to her that the album is up to her expectations first and foremost. She’s gonna take as long as she wants to take doing it. As a fan and a band-member, I wish things were a little quicker, but at the end of the day, I totally respect how she wants to do this. And I understand, because it’s a very important and critical album for Evanescence, so it has to be exactly right. I know why she’s taking her time on it. It will be ready when it’s ready.Do you share Amy’s extreme enthusiasm for the new compositions? She describes them as “the best Evanescence compositions since the beginning of the band”. What do you think of the new songs?
Honestly, I think it’s amazing. I think she’s taken some real big risks. As artists, I think it’s important that we challenge ourselves to find new ground. If you look at any band in history who’s done really well, they continue to reinvent themselves and be relevant. It’s always going to sound like Evanescence, ‘cause it’s Amy Lee singing, but the vehicle for that voice can be different and still be Evanescence. I think people are gonna be pleasantly surprised, because all the really cool elements, the things people love about the Evanescence of the past are still there. But there are new colors in the pattern. There’s a lot of cool new things going on, both electronically and futuristically. I think she’s doing something that’s very special and hasn’t been done before. I’m a supporter, I think it’s killer. It’s really good.Last question, the stupid question of the interview: it is known that Zakk Wylde considers that “Limp Bizkit sucks cocks”, he’s said it live with Black Label Society. Since you belong to the neo-metal scene, what do you think of Limp Bizkit?
I like Limp Bizkit, I don’t have any problem with them. Those guys are from Florida, which is where I’m from. Let me get something straight, here’s my opinion about things in general – and this is in relation with We Are The Fallen or Limp Bizkit or whoever. I look at things like this: if you’re man enough, if you have enough balls to get out there and commit yourself to what you believe in, if you go on tour and support it, and you put your blood and your sweat into it, I’m a fan. I don’t care what kind of music it is. If you believe in it, and you’re out there working it as hard as you can work it, then that’s fine with me. People who just talk about stuff, I don’t have any respect for it. People who are actually doing something, I respect that. Whether it’s Limp Bizkit or We Are The Fallen, it doesn’t matter, I like it. I like Limp Bizkit because I think that rhythmically, they do some really cool stuff. As a person, I don’t know Fred Durst, so I can’t comment on that. But as a band, they invented a sound, and hate them or love them, they’re really good at what they do.I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying you respect them simply because they’re musicians?
I respect them because they’re committed to what they believe in. I respect them because artistically, they’re not trying to be somebody they’re not. They are who they are. I respect them because they get out there and tour, they make records and they write songs. They’re a hard-working band. And stylistically, I’m not ashamed to admit that I like it. I’m not a fan of all of it, but I like some of the grooves. Some of it is really interesting. I can’t say anything bad about it. And I think Zakk actually came out later, when he was asked if he really believes Limp Bizkit sucks. I believe the answer he gave was no. It was a joke, and all of a sudden, the press jumped on it: “Oh my God, Zakk Wylde hates Limp Bizkit!”. It got blown out of proportion pretty hugely. I don’t think you’re going to hear a Limp Bizkit CD in Zakk’s truck when he’s driving around, but I don’t think he truly believes that Fred Durst sucks cocks!
Interview conducted in September, 2010 by phone.
Transcription : Saff'
Myspace BLACK LABEL SOCIETY : www.myspace.com/blacklabelsociety
Myspace EVANESCENCE : www.myspace.com/evanescence
Myspace METHODS OF MAYHEM : www.myspace.com/methodsofmayhemff
Myspace HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD : www.myspace.com/hollywoodundead
Myspace CROSSFADE : www.myspace.com/crossfade
This post is also available in: French