Interview by Chantelle Marie for CackBlabbath
On the 16th of January 2014, we travelled through to catch the mighty Lamb of God return to Scotland to play a blistering set at Glasgow’s 02 Academy. They brought with them a meaty amount of support in the form of the crushingly heavy, Decapitated and female fronted, thrash purveyors, Huntress. As the crowd filled in, eager for a night of heart pounding metal, our secret guest writer Chantelle Marie managed to slip backstage and secure an interview with Jill Janus, lead singer of rising metal band Huntress.
First of all, we would like to congratulate you. Already this year Huntress have made big announcements to play festivals such as Download and Graspop… You must be really proud?
We are so proud and so humbled and so honoured to be part of this amazing journey. We are also doing Nova Rock and Rock AM Ring, so you know it is a really magical time for Huntress.
Tonight you take the stage with Decapitated and Lamb of God. How has the tour gone so far and how do you deal with the pressure of opening for a band as successful as Lamb of God?
Fortunately we have had a run with Lamb of God prior to being here in the UK and Europe, as we were touring with them this past Fall all over North America. Going into a tour like this, it is definitely a bit nerve wracking… You’re taking the stage with absolute legends of metal! We go into it very prepared, very professional and our first rule is to make sure we stay the fuck out the way! They have all become such good friends of ours though, everyone has been so supportive and being chosen by Lamb of God to tour with them across North America and now in the UK and Europe is just phenomenal. We never forget for one moment how fortunate we are.
Towards the end of this month you are back over in Europe for some headline shows. How do you find this differs from playing to these huge crowds on the Lamb of God tour?
We have really loved being the opening act for a large scale band. We learn a lot and it has been amazing and a lot of fun…. but you do have to grow up! We have been doing headlining shows to get us back and forth and to make a little extra money and these headline shows we are doing are in very small clubs. They are important to us for several reasons… They help us build our fan base, they help us become better performers and it’s great because it’s more intimate and I get to meet my fans a lot easier. I am very involved with the fans and we always meet them after every show, but small club shows are really quite cool because you get to really interact closely with the crowd.
You are on tour an awful lot. I have to ask… girl to girl… how do you cope being stuck on a tour bus with all these hairy men day after day?
I love it! It’s very sexy! The first rule for me is to ditch the female drama and realise that you are going to need to man up if you are going to survive. When we were promoting our first album I had never toured before and I very nearly lost my mind. It was really rough. You have to learn to surrender to the road and once you realise that you are living for your purpose, things change and it just becomes easy
I’ve read that you believe keeping your ego in check is one of the most important ways to survive touring… Does this get harder the bigger the band get?
It’s not hard to stay grounded when I’m living in a van with four boys! We are a very ground roots band and we are very level headed and these boys really do keep me in line. I think the moment when I start believing my own hype, is the moment I become an asshole. I won’t let that happen. I stay grounded with my beliefs in Paganism and I stay grounded by trusting my band mates and looking at them as my family and you know… smoking weed. Let’s be honest with that. Weed helps!
How do you find being a female front of a successful band? Obviously you are a very beautiful woman, but you also have an incredibly powerful voice. Is it hard to make people see past your looks and judge you for your skills as a vocalist?
There will always be preconceptions about Huntress. I’m not here to change the world, that doesn’t really affect my path. What I aim to do, is win people over… and that’s fun! I like a challenge. I’m not afraid to use sex appeal because I know I have the skills to back it up. I’m actually quite shy when it comes to taking any kind of recognition so I appreciate you saying such nice things about my voice and how I look. Positive or negative… whatever people say about me, I can’t let it affect my purpose because that can derail the vision.
It took you a long time to find the right lineup for Huntress. How did you know when you got it right and what was the moment when you knew you were onto something a bit special?
Everything in my life that has been profound, has been magical. I just sense it. This is the way my life works… I am surrounded by magic constantly and there’s so many amazing signs that come from the universe when things are right and are going to plan. I first met a band named Professor in Los Angeles, I had booked them at a night club I was promoting at the time. As soon as I saw them… even before I heard them play… I just had this feeling and I knew that we were going to be forming a band called Huntress together. After just one rehearsal we decided to join forced and Huntress was birthed. It’s a little bit metaphysical. I use my intuition, maybe that comes from being a woman… all women are more intuitive and more emotional and for me that really is very true for Huntress.
Lemmy is actually a good friend of mine. We have been friends for a few years and every time we are in Los Angeles we’ll meet up at the Rainbow for drinks. One night we were out and I asked him if he would write a song for the next Huntress album, which is Starbound Beast, he said sure, and he delivered two pieces of notebook paper to me that contained the lyrics to ‘I Want To Fuck You To Death’. My first reaction was, “this is the most romantic thing a boy has ever done for me” and what I love about Lemmy is that he’s one of the very few people that walks the walk and doesn’t just talk the talk. I didn’t expect him to actually give me lyrics… and he did. I think that shows such integrity and he’s such a wonderful man so it was definitely a high five from the universe having Lemmy of Motorhead write Huntress a song.
As you said, that track appeared on your latest album, Starbound Beast. How are you finding the reception in comparison to your debut album, Spell Eater?
The reception has just been so overwhelming. It’s been interesting to see the natural progression of Huntress… occurring within the band and also occurring within the fans and music fanatics. Everyone in the band I feel has this strong sense that we are becoming better musicians, better song writers and I think you can hear this on the second album. The first album was very ferocious and you know, we were still a very new band and we just kind of did it without knowing too much. The second album we were a little bit more thoughtful with it and now coming into the third one, which we are already writing and will record in 2014… it’s going to be even more fun. These first three albums are all Napalm Records and I had a plan and a very strong vision from the start that I wanted to do one album a year for the first three albums and they’ve kind of reached a thematic scope of Maiden, Mother and Crone which connects to my Pagan beliefs as well.
Final question… If you could have anyone in the world… alive or dead cover one of Huntress’s songs… Who would it be?
Any well known band?
Anyone in the world that you would like to see on stage performing one of your songs…
Miley Cyrus! That would mean I would be making some serious money! I would love to see Miley Cyrus cover a Huntress song. Can we make this happen? Who do we speak to to make this happen?
Er… I can try my best for you?
Make it happen! This has to happen!