The first time I saw Will Hunt, I was standing with a group of moms at a conservative private school in Orlando. A long, blond-haired guy with tattoos walked by with his pretty blond wife, amid a crowd of business professionals. “Who’s the rocker dad,” I thought.
Currently the drummer for Evanescence, this local rock star’s music career has spanned decades. He has shared the stage with Motley Crue, Methods of Mayhem, and Vince Neal. So who is this everyday dad who sells real estate by day and plays rock ‘n roll by night?
Hunt started drumming at 5 years old. One month out of high school, he fell into a professional gig. While he had originally planned to go to college, it was a huge opportunity. “I figured I would give it a year,” he says. “If it didn’t work out, I would go to college.”
Eventually, he moved from Tallahassee to Orlando to launch his music career. He thought it would be the next best step based on what was happening in the music industry at the time.
“It is so much easier now to get into the music industry with the Internet and social media, but I knew I could figure out a way to make it,” Hunt says.
In 1997, Hunt started his own band, SKRAPE – 2000, and after signing with RCA Records, they saw success in Japan. His big break came between the group’s second and third record in 2002 when he was invited to audition for Methods of Mayhem, Tommy Lee’s solo band. At the time, Lee’s bass player was filling in for the guitarist in Hunt’s band.
As the guitarist was leaving on his last day, Hunt yelled, “Hey, if Steven Perkins shits the bed, give me a call.”
He was tracked down one month later for the audition. Hunt withdrew the last $600 in his bank account, bought a plant ticket, and flew to Los Angeles. He was the 32nd person in line and the last person to play for Lee.
Throughout the audition, he noticed that Lee’s eyes got huge. He thought, “I’m either killing it or dying out here.”
When he finished playing, Lee asked if he wanted to return the next day for another audition, adding that Hunt could bring his mom with him. It turns out that Lee thought Hunt, a 30-year-old man at the time, was just 14 or 15 years old.
He went back for the second audition and got the gig. It was just the opportunity he needed to brand himself as a drummer, and he eventually landed a job with Evanescence in 2007 without an audition. He has been with them ever since.
Hunt credits his wife for supporting him during long stints on the road. The couple met in 1999 and had their daughter Laila in 2001 during his record label debut. His work commitments during this time almost kept him from seeing his daughter being born. Luckily, Hunt ended up coming home for a three-day break, and she arrived the day before his wife was to be induced.
“I can’t give my wife enough credit,” he says. “There was a slight chance that I may have missed the birth, but she was always supportive, never made me feel guilty.”
One of Hunt’s biggest regrets is missing Laila’s First Communion although those thoughts are quickly replaced when he thinks of his happiest moments: “Every time I see a smile on Laila’s face.”
He remembers being onstage during an Evanescence show with more than 20,000 people watching. Laila threw his drumsticks into the audience with a big smile.
Hunt also brags about Laila’s achievements every chance he gets: the fact that she has been a ballet dancer since she was 3 years old, is on the dean’s list and is an overall extraordinary person.
“She makes me work harder,” he says. “I see passion in her eyes. She’s better than I am.”
Hunt’s road to success has been paved with rock star moments and experiences that not many people will get to have in their lives. And he never forgets that.
“I’m not going to lie, I live an exciting life, get to meet interesting people, travel and expose my family to unique experiences,” he says. “But in the end, I realized there is no right way to live your life except to be a good person, and no matter what your plans, God has other plans. Embrace it and rock on.”