Shaman's Harvest News
Cancer battle makes rock all the sweeter for Shaman's Harvest frontman
Nate Hunt wishes he had a better story for how his rock ‘n’ roll band Shaman’s Harvest resurrected a 27-year-old No. 1 hit and put it back on the Billboard Mainstream Rock airplay chart.
Alas, it comes down to this: The guys were in the studio to make their most recent album, last year’s “Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns,” and simply ran out of material. So they dug down into their bag of musical tricks and pulled out Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana.”
“It was just one of those songs we all listen to on the road; it’s probably on all of our playlists,” Hunt told The Daily Times this week. “When we got home and were in the studio, we ran out of songs to record, and the producer was like, ‘What else you got?’ So we started tracking that one, and by the end of it, he still didn’t realize it was a Michael Jackson song. That’s a win-win for us, being able to put your own sound onto a cover.”
In the hands of Shaman’s Harvest, Jackson’s R&B rocker about a persistent groupie becomes a scuzzy slab of blues-rock that, despite its alterations, still strikes a familiar chord with both Jackson and Shaman’s Harvest fans, Hunt added.
“Oh, they usually know what it is by the first three notes, because there’s just something about that bass line,” he said. “Usually, it’s the ladies that recognize that song. I think it’s because every girl wants to secretly be ‘Dirty Diana.’”
He laughs — joking, obviously — but it’s a pleasant sound, especially given the seriousness of cancer battle he fought during the making of “Smokin’ Hearts.” The guys had started work on the new album, when a recurring sore throat sent him to the doctor. Tests were run, and Hunt remembers well that fateful phone call.
“I had just pulled up to the studio when I got it, and that’s when he told me it was cancer,” he said. “I was just shocked, really, because I just thought it was a bad case of strep throat. I had to take a minute and call my family and my manager, and then for about 20 minutes, I sat there and wondered, what the hell am I going to do?
“It turned out being a pretty rare form of it, and nobody knew how to cure it, so there were a lot of doctor’s visits and treatments. Since we were already in the studio, I thought I’d go ahead and do my lines for that one track, then figure something out. But the one track turned into the next track, which turned into the next track, and before I knew it, I was focusing completely on making the record instead of being so sick.”
Rock ‘n’ roll, of course, has always been the medicine for Hunt — for his illness, and for his life. He and his bandmates go back a long ways, to their childhood in Jefferson City, Mo. They started weaving heartland rock into intricate arrangements of modern rock and melodic metal and put out three early albums; it was 2009’s “Shine,” though, that put them on the map: The single “Dragonfly” hit No. 16 on the Billboard Active Rock chart and was featured on the soundtrack of film “Legendary.”
It also opened doors for other opportunities, such as the chance to make some songs for WWE wrestlers, staring with Drew McIntyre.
“There was a guy who liked my voice, and he had this song in mind, and he wanted us to give it a shot,” Hunt said. “So we got this tape recording of him half-assed humming into this little hand-held tape recorder from the 1980s. I had to go to pawn shops to find something to play it, and once we listened to it, it was just this humming! We didn’t even know what he wanted us to do or how to do it!
“So we translated it to the best of our abilities and sent it back to him — and he absolutely hated it. He had all these things he wanted us to change, but I think we changed one guitar tone and sent it back, and he said it was perfect. I think we’ve done about six songs for them now, and it’s actually a really, really cool thing.”
As much momentum as that gave the guys, however, Hunt’s cancer battle made them all question what the future would hold. There were days during the recording process that he couldn’t even come in to sing; other days, he would leave in the middle of a session to go to treatment. Throughout it all, however, his two bandmates — bassist Matt Fisher and guitarist Josh Hamler — never contemplated calling it quits.
“We’ve known each other for a long time, and our relationship, it’s a weird thing,” Hunt said. “It’s not family, and it’s not just friends; it’s like a whole new degree of bond, and I don’t even know what it is, but it’s there, man. It’s a tangible thing, and by the time we got done with this record, we knew more about each other now than we ever did. It’s like we’re on some kind of weird spiritual mind-reading level now.”
Four months after the record was completed, Hunt got the welcome news: He was cancer free. After some tears and a celebration dinner at Cracker Barrel, he and the boys got back to work, and Monday night, they’ll celebrate the fruits of their labor with a Knoxville opening date for Theory of a Deadman.
“The ups, the downs — everything I ever felt is in that record, and I kind of knew early on that it was going to be the real thing,” he said. “Making it was the first time we didn’t say, ‘How’re we going to make this song radio-friendly?’ We just let the whole damn thing play through and be what it was going to be, and I think it turned out pretty alright.”
Steve Wildsmith is the Weekend editor for The Daily Times. Contact him at email@example.com or at 981-1144, follow him on Twitter @TNRockWriter and “Like” Weekend on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dailytimesweekend.
The Music Impulse June 1st, 2015
One year ago things were a lot different for Nathan Hunt. The lead singer for rock outfit Shaman’s Harvest had just been diagnosed with throat cancer in the middle of recording their fifth full-length album. Instead of taking a break, Hunt opted to make the four hour commute between the treatment center and the facility. The end result, Smokin’ Hearts and Broken Guns, would go on to be their most successful album to date, housing a variety of successful singles including their latest, a cover of the Michael Jackson hit, “Dirty Diana.” The Music Pulse sat down with Hunt prior to a show at the famous Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA to talk recovery and the power of rock n’ roll.
TMP: So you guys are coming here from Rock on the Range in Ohio, how was that?
NH: It was killer! I definitely think if I did Rock on the Range every day it would ruin me though. There’s just so much going on the whole weekend that it’s a lot to take in.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 23, 2014
MASCOT LABEL GROUP ANNOUNCES SIGNING OF SHAMAN'S HARVEST
September 16 Release Date Announced For Smokin' Hearts & Broken Guns
BAND AND MLG PREMIERE "COUNTRY AS FUCK" ON ARTISTDIRECT.COM TODAY AT 10AM PACIFIC / 1PM EASTERN
New York, NY --- Mascot Label Group North America has announced the signing of Jefferson City, Missouri's Shaman's Harvest. The band's MLG debut Smokin' Hearts & Broken Guns will be released in North America on September 16. Mascot Label Group North America President Ron Burman offers, "Nathan Hunt is an amazing, powerful vocalist and the band write universally appealing songs that rock! I’ve been a fan of Shaman’s Harvest for a few years now and I'm very excited to be working with them."
Mascot Label Group and Shaman's Harvest have premiered the album track "Country As Fuck" with ArtistDirect.com.
Shaman's Harvest achieved significant success with their independently released Shine album, which featured "Dragonfly." The song rose to number #16 on Billboard's Active Rock chart and #9 at Heritage Rock, selling over 150,000 singles and tens of thousands of albums. To date, the video has been viewed 2.3 million times on YouTube. Additionally, the composition was featured on the soundtrack of the major motion picture Legendary. In 2010, Shaman's Harvest recorded "Broken Dreams" for the WWE as the theme song for wrestler Drew McIntyre, and cut "End of Days" as the entrance track for Wade Barrett and The Corre.
The band members all grew up together sharing dreams, and becoming men in the heartland of the U.S.A. Hunt shares, "Living in Missouri is awesome. There's a beauty in the grit of us Midwesterners. We work hard, make babies, drink too damn much, and we're not afraid to rebuild and start over when we get God-smacked. We have an art community all our own, inspired by wind in the wheat fields, and summer morning haze off the rivers and streams. If shit is broke we either fix it ourselves, or put it up on blocks for yard art."
As they began recording Smokin' Hearts & Broken Guns, singer Hunt was diagnosed with throat cancer. He reveals, "I immersed myself in this record, committed to not missing a day. I didn't know if it was gonna be my last record so it was treatment, then studio, then some days back for more treatment. Everyone deals with cancer differently. There was a period I felt alone and a couple tracks speak to that directly and other times I felt overwhelming love for my mates and people who were there for me. I was lucky enough to be recording during it and it's all there."
The album is pure in the way it breathes feelings and emotions that are diverse track to track. They are cinematic, and offer audio beds for flashback memories or present experiences that are our lives. Hunt states, "Whether they're driving down the highway, at work, or doin' the nasty, these songs should be the soundtrack. I think people will accept the diversity from song to song whether it's a riff rock vibe like 'Here It Comes' or it's a darker, emotional anthem such as 'Ten Million Voices' without categorizing Shaman's."
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