Will Hunt was no rookie when Evanescence invited him to be their drummer. He had played in groups such as Black Label Society and Static-X, garnering him widespread acclaim.
The musician had even been asked by Motley Crue to come to their rescue when Tommy Lee succumbed to tendonitis during a tour.
Despite his chops as a drummer, Hunt found Evanescence’s classical and dramatic approach to rock music a challenge.
“I think that this is the most musical band I’ve played in,” Hunt says of Evanescence.
“I don’t even know how to explain it – the music is so unique in the way that it is delivered.
“It’s just different – I get to use a lot more dynamics in my playing.
“And on a personal level, we’re all pretty close – we’re good friends.”
Hunt was approached by Evanescence in 2007 during a crossroads in their career.
The gothic-rock band from Arkansas had sold 17 million copies of their 2003 debut record, Fallen, but internal tensions had paralysed the group.
During the recording of their second album, The Open Door, guitarist Ben Moody, keyboardist David Hodges, drummer Rocky Gray, rhythm guitarist John LeCompt and bassist Will Boyd all walked out of the band.
This left only glamourous singer and creative force Amy Lee, who enlisted new musicians to help finish the album.
Hunt stepped in to help finish The Open Door.
“When I came in I was playing someone else’s parts and trying to make sure that the integrity of the songs was intact,” Hunt says.
“Gradually, over time, I inserted myself into it.”
Initially a hired hand, Hunt wasn’t sure if he would be needed after the touring of The Open Door.
“When Troy [McLawhorn, bassist] and I joined the band, we didn’t know if we were going to make a record with Evanescence or not, because she [Lee] told us that she was going to take a little down time and get back to being her.”
But Hunt was invited to write and record the third Evanescence album in mid-2009 but the project took longer than expected.
By June 2010 the band had stopped recording and left the studio to refocus – or as Lee put it, to get their “heads into the right creative space”.
The break seemed to work because in October 2011 the band released an impressive self-titled third record – it is a colossal collision of melody and energy.
Hunt and McLawhorn were invited by Lee to be involved in the writing of the record from the ground up.
This was a big sign of trust from Lee, who had developed a reputation for being controlling in the writing process.
“It was awesome that both of us [Hunt and McLawhorn] were able to make a record, where we sat down in a room together and wrote,” Hunt says.
“That’s what I’ve always done, since high school.
“So we were really able to make this album ours.”
Hunt reveals that Lee’s initial attempt at the band’s third record was moving in an electronic direction.
“But then she decided to shift gears and do something closer to what Evanescence is,” Hunt explains.
“Some of [those songs] made it into [the third album] and we took those songs and made them ours.
“But most of the record is from the ground up.”
Working on the writing and arranging of the third album gave Hunt a chance to have a creative influence on the sound of Evanescence.
He believes his approach is noticeably different to his predecessor.
“It’s funkier, maybe?” Hunt says of his own style.
“I don’t mean Parliament funk, but it swings a little more.
“Rocky is a much different drummer than me, we come from two totally different schools.
“I’m a rock drummer, I’ve never tried to be anything else.
“I’m not a super-speed guy – I can play fast when it’s time for it, but I’ve never aspired to be like [Slipknot drummer] Joey Jordison.
“This band is really about the music and the melody and the music is a vehicle for that to travel in.
“When I do a fill or something, I try to make it really special.
“I stick to my roots – I think, ‘how would John Bonham approach something like this?’ or ‘what would Stuart Copeland do here?’.
“I just explore all my inspirations as a kid and try to incorporate them.”
Evanescence are returning to Australia this month and it will be Hunt’s maiden voyage.
“In all the bands I’ve played with, I’ve never been to Australia,” Hunt reveals.
“This will be my first trip, man.”
The drummer says that fans can expect the live shows to reflect Lee’s “theatrical” delivery and they have “an amazing light show”.
“It takes a lot to impress me with just lighting,” Hunt says.
“But we have an amazing light director for this tour and he has put together a phenomenal light show, to the point where I’m questioning if it’s actually lights because they look so cool.
“We’re playing a long set, so I don’t think anyone will leave disappointed that we didn’t play their song.
“It’s a sonic and aural spectacle, for sure.”
# Evanescence perform at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Wednesday, March 28.
The show is all ages and tickets are available through Ticketek.
The Mercury has two double passes to giveaway. For your chance to win fill out the coupon in Thursday's paper and return it to the Mercury by noon next Wednesday.
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