The rigors of touring can test one’s health and stamina, but even before Shaman’s Harvest hit the road in 2015, singer Nathan Hunt had already gone through a major physical scare.
As his Missouri-based hard-rock band began tracking Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns (released in 2014 and featuring a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”), Hunt was diagnosed with throat cancer. Following treatment, he has done things a little differently on the road, and Hunt recently checked in to discuss what’s changed for him and what fans might hear at the band’s shows this month.
Medleyville.us: In what ways did your throat-cancer treatment change your approach to singing, particularly your preshow preparation while touring for Smokin Hearts & Broken Guns?
Nathan Hunt: “Oh, man. I’m definitely a lot smarter and a little more careful on how I party on the road as opposed to before (laughs). You gotta live smarter and do your homework: try and eat better, try to get to the gym. It’s not that we don’t throw down on occasion, but it’s a lot fewer and farther in between than it used to be.”
Did you at any point have any vocal coaching, and do you go through any exercises before or after a show?
Hunt: “Yeah. It used to be you gave what you got, and at the end of the day, you’re throwin’ back a whiskey, and it didn’t matter. Now I’ve been seeing a vocal coach for the first time, and it opened my eyes as to what a voice is capable of doing — not just for hollerin’ into a microphone. If you want to do it every night, you’ve got to do some preparation and do vocal warmups. And at the end of the night, don’t stand out in the crowd and holler when you’re trying to talk to fans. I still talk to fans, but I try to keep it to a minimum.”
Did your recovery play a part in how many consecutive shows you could play, or the number of shows per week, throughout 2015?
Hunt: “I can actually go longer than I used to be able to. I can do more consecutive shows as opposed to before because I am taking care of myself and my vocals. My hand was forced to be smarter about my preparation, whereas before I didn’t know about that. There’s a knowledge gained because of the treatment.
“I have an awesome vocal coach. She knows my vices, and I still have some vices. And instead of being like, ‘OK, you can’t have any vices,’ it’s more like, ‘OK, well let’s figure out how to work around some of these vices.’ ”
Does the band follow a preshow ritual, collectively or individually?
Hunt: “We turn on some tunes and get together on the bus — kind of sink into ourselves a little bit. It’s almost like we’re psyching ourselves in the locker room before a game. We delve into our own psyche a little bit. I like to have a little bit of quiet time before we go on to internally see what we have in the well to throw out there onstage.”
What was the funniest thing you’ve experienced onstage?
Hunt: “Theory of a Deadman thought it would be funny if they hung our drum rug up on the banner hanger. So it was 20 feet in the air before we got onstage, and we had no drum rug in place, so the drums were sliding all over the place [when we played].
“We did a prank to a band called Black Sunshine; we threw black dye in some beers and brought them onstage for ’em. The lead singer had a bit of a sore on his lip, and he’s singing away, and everybody’s cheering because he’s got this black stuff all over his mouth, and his teeth are completly black. After the show, he realized what happened — and that black dye got up in that sore, and now he’s got a tattooed dot on his lip for life. Poor guy.”
Will the band be working new material or cover songs into the setlist this month?
Hunt: “It’s definitely time to get back into the studio to record new material. We’ll maybe try a few songs while were out on the road, so on a couple nights, we’ll randomly throw a couple in.”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Shaman’s Harvest on tour (schedule subject to change):
• Jan. 12: Main Street — Rochester, New York +
• Jan. 13: Toad’s Place — New Haven, Connecticut +
• Jan. 15: Upstate Music Hall — Clifton Park, New York +
• Jan. 16: Jewel — Manchester, New Hampshire +
• Jan. 18: Sherlock’s — Erie, Pennsylvania +
• Jan. 19: Rodeo Music Hall — Youngstown, Ohio +
• Jan. 20: Home Bar — Arlington Heights, Illinois +
• Jan. 21: Rusty Spur — Fort Wayne, Indiana
• Jan. 22: The Intersection — Grand Rapids, Michigan +
+ with Hinder
Photo by Lou Brutus