by Reggie Edwards
Every great once in awhile a new band will emerge and create a large amount of buzz and turn heads with every little bit of news. Often times, they’re side projects involving already-established musicians. Device, the new project featuring David Draiman (Disturbed), Geno Lenardo (Filter), Virus (Dope) and Will Hunt (Evanescence) is quickly picking up steam.
Drummer Will Hunt sat down with The Front Row Report recently while in Florida as Device prepares for some of the festivals this year.
“Anytime you get on a show like [festivals] it’s a really cool blessing, you get to hang out with your peers and see some other bands and everyone tries to up their game, just a good healthy competition,” says Hunt.
Device was announced last year by Draiman after Disturbed had gone on hiatus. Ever since, fans have been eating up every bit of information on the band so when their debut album released on April 9 and sold over 35,000 copies in its first week.
The album along with others such as releases from Ghost, Stone Sour, Killswitch Engage and others debuting in the top 20, shows a steady increase in fans buying rock and metal albums- a trend which dropped significantly in recent years.
“I think it’s in the product,” explains Hunt. “When you make something that stands up like that, that can be played from front to back and strong all the way through, people will buy it- it’s like no excuses, it’s like if you make something that’s good like that I think people will want to invest their hard-earned money into something. But if you make something that’s like ‘let’s just worry about two or three singles and we’ll fill the rest of it up with whatever,’
“People aren’t stupid,” elaborates Hunt.
Now, often times when a band enters the studio, they have a vision for what they want the album to be as a finished product. However, it’s rare to have the final album match what the artist envisions. With Device, however, the situations leading up to the album made for a different story.
“This is a little bit of an interesting situation,” says Hunt, “because, really, the record was made around Geno and David and they kinda went into this with…they had an idea and the first song I heard (“Hunted”) was very different from Disturbed.
“The only thing you could really say was synonymous with Disturbed was David’s vocal, which is unmistakable, he is who he is. But with what Geno was doing electronically with it was…they kinda went from there,” says Hunt. “It was kinda the starting area and the spawning of what they were trying to do and I think they stayed true to that. The record came out just like I thought that it would, which being that it had a lot of elements of hard rock, a lot of elements of electronica, it had elements of Disturbed, it had elements of Filter. It had all those elements in it and made it’s on hybrid and I think it came out like we all hoped it would.
Hunt got involved with Device when he was doing some session work with Lenardo for another band. Lenardo showed him some tracks for what would later become Device and Hunt was hooked from there. It was just a matter of time before the inevitable would happen and he would become part of the band.
“I’ve known David for years,” explains Hunt. “Disturbed took my first band, Skrape, out on our first real tour. In fact, we were on tour with them when our debut on RCA came out and celebrated that with those guys and they were on their first record. “Down With the Sickness” had just started to gain some traction so they were headlining and it was kinda cool to be around that.
“Then I’ve known Geno for awhile, done some session work with Geno,” continues Hunt. “I was doing a session with Geno for another artist a year ago January and he mentioned he was doing some stuff with David and played me “Hunted-” it wasn’t even finished yet but played me a piece of it and I was just blown away by what it was and how different it sounded and I’ve always loved David’s vocal delivery and lyrics. I told Geno, ‘man if that becomes something else, if it becomes a real project, I want in’ and he was like ‘that’s why I’m playing it for ya because I want to bring you in.’”
So Hunt went back to Evanescence to finish up the tour they were doing and six months later, when he was in Europe, he says he got an email from Lenardo. He Skyped Lenardo back, who told Hunt they were doing the project ‘full-on’ and was going to be sending Hunt six songs. He sent six more songs and told him they were working on even more songs and would send them to him.
“I was just like ‘Holy shit, man this is gonna happen,’” says Hunt. “As they say, the rest is history because, timing-wise, this couldn’t have worked out better because Evanescence was finishing in November and taking a hiatus so I didn’t have to ruffle any feathers to make it work. There was a certain amount of fate and divine intervention but it worked out great.
From the second the band went public via Draiman and Lenardo, fans starting sweeping the internet for the smallest bit of news, interviews and sound clips on Device. The band handled the pressure and buzz quite well and didn’t let it affect them.
“I think anyone who’s a true artist, you don’t go into something saying ‘okay, we’re gonna make a record that pleases everybody,’” explains Hunt. “You go into it saying ‘We’re gonna make a record that pleases us and pleases our ears’ and I think that’s how it was approached with David and Geno and I think at the end of the day when it’s all done and you’re listening back to it and the wheels of the machine start turning, it’s about to get out there and people are gonna have it so they can react to it then at that point you go ‘okay, really I hope people like this.
“It’s one of those things where you really wanna share your work and you hope it transcends and people enjoy it as much as you do….I think you have to make it true to yourself first and then everything else follows.”
The cover art for their self-titled debut features what looks to be a futuristic android alien character, one Hunt says was played to perfection by somebody very close to the band.
“That character, actually, was performed amazingly by David’s wife,” proclaims Hunt. “She spent…we did the cover and the video all in one day and she was probably in makeup, getting all the aesthetics done on her for 10 ten hours. There was a real Hollywood makeup guy, he came out and did her all up and by the time he was done we were all a little freaked out. It couldn’t have come out better, it’s what we all were looking for; we wanted it to be not gory or grotesque but more sci-fi Alien but still sexy and cool-lookin.”
Making the music, promoting it, and hearing it are one thing. What it all comes down to is playing the material live and often times when playing music as personal and complex as Device for the first time, there’s bound to be some nerves. So how do the men in Device calm the nerves when it comes to debuting the force that is Device? Easy- treat it just like the beginning of any tour, Hunt says.
“Because this is so in its infancy, it’s a little nerve-racking because what we’re trying to do and bring in our performance is pretty overwhelming. I mean, we’re only three guys up there so there’s a lot of, I guess, nervousness while we’re getting these first shows under our belts. It’s like ‘okay all these components have to come together’ because you want people to get the full experience of what Device is and can be.
“But that’s with any tour in its infancy,” elaborates Hunt. “The first couple weeks are always a little nerve-racking and then you get into it and things start to be smooth, then you can stride and it becomes less nerve-racking and more fun. Not to say we’re not having fun but haven’t been able to calm my nerves down enough to look around and smell the roses so to speak.
“We’re finally to a point where I can say we feel pretty solid with it. There’s not gonna be a lot of shifting at this point. We’re pretty comfortable with what’s going on, everybody’s starting to settle into their roles and right now it looks like its going pretty damn well.”