In just over a year Huntress have taken the heavy metal world by storm, releasing not one but TWO albums of critically-acclaimed, fan-frenzied, balls-out metal. First it was 2012’s Spell Eater which many considered the best debut of the year. Now, they have unleashed Starbound Beast upon the masses, and are wreaking havoc on the Jagermeister Stage on this summer’s Mayhem Fest.
The reports are in from all over the country:
HUNTRESS ARE THE REAL THING, AND THEY’RE COMING TO YOUR CITY TO GET IN YOUR FACE.
We spoke with lead singer Jill Janus who was kind enough to give us some time on a much needed day off:
Amps: So Jill, first up, how was the show yesterday in Bangor, ME?
Jill: Maine is really cool. We’d never played there before, and everyone was really enthusiastic, and I also met a bunch of Pagans. So, whenever I get an opportunity to connect with those on my own path it’s rewarding as well. I’m living the dream, I really am, Damian.
Amps: The album (Starbound Beast) is number 12 on Billboard Heatseekers, you’re going out on the road with Danzig after Mayhem, and after that you’re playing with Testament, Killswitch Engage, and Lamb of God. How’s everyone feeling about where things are headed?
Jill: Yeah, all of this is so magical, and we are just so honored, and also so humbled that these bands that we’ve idolized for many years are taking us out. It’s surreal, and we keep kicking ourselves to make sure it IS real.
Jill: That’s good to hear. I think we also have a reputation on Mayhem that, well, some other bands that we’ve been speaking to, they’ll tell you we’re very unique, and again, organic in our approach to performing. We don’t have any backing tracks, we don’t use triggers on our drums, what you see is what you get, and that’s pure heavy metal. We’re a bit theatrical, I wear costumes, and the whole presentation is a show. It almost transports you somewhere else. I really admire performers like Alice Cooper and King Diamond for bringing that element of theater into metal, and I want to keep doing that.
Amps: I must apologize, as I am a new fan, whereas I clearly should’ve been listening since album one.
Jill: Oh, no, please. Huntress is still in our infant stages and I think we’re taking a lot of people by surprise, the way that we’re moving so rapidly within the ranks. It’s always nice to meet new fans because I get to tell you stuff that you don’t really know.
Amps: Truth be told, I like this record better than the first one. It seems like the sound is a little more refined this time around. Was that consciously, or by accident?
Jill: What you’re hearing, I believe, is the evolution of Huntress. It’s a very organic, natural process for us. We’re better musicians this time around. Our level of musicianship has risen. We’re also better performers, we have more confidence, and you can hear that on this album. When we recorded Spell Eater we were an absolute new band, and we were thrust into tour world. We toured relentlessly in 2012 never having toured before. So we really learned as we went. By the time we were ready to write and record a second album within a year of releasing Spell Eater, we had this new unity, and a telepathic way of doing things. So what you’re hearing is that we’re growing up a little bit, you know? We’re kind of toddlers now instead of infants.
Amps: I see that you fill all the merch orders yourself, and you’re very into communicating directly with fans via social media.
Jill: I feel it’s vital to the existence of Huntress that our fans are on this journey with us. It’s not Huntress doing this alone, it’s Huntress doing this with our fans, with our Creatures, as I call them. And it’s been a really beautiful experience for me recently, even in starting up the Indiegogo campaign, our Virtual Yard Sale for crowdfunding to raise money to go on tour with Mayhem because Mayhem is a massive production and we had no idea when we were asked to do it how expensive it was going to be. Don’t get me wrong, we get paid to be on Mayhem, but we had to have a bus, and pay liability insurance, things we’ve never had to experience before, and during that campaign, that’s when I really got to know the fans better than ever. I learned what they had to say and I found out that they’re so intelligent and so forward-thinking, it made me respect them even MORE from having done that Indiegogo campaign, which we turned into something funny, something humorous with us, so we could share our humility with our fans.
Amps: So no more bus issues, then? (The bus they shared with Battlecross broke down 4th of July)
Jill: (laughing) No, nothing. Oh my goodness, that was a kick in the ass right from the get-go. That was the universe saying, “You’re cool. But you’re not cool enough!” But we all stuck together, we have awesome bus mates in Battlecross, we’re warriors and we soldiered through it. We went through the hottest weather, I did get heatstroke, so I was down for a day, and that was from having a van with not much A/C driving from Phoenix to Albuquerque, so that was rough but it was boot camp, and we came out of it even stronger and even more grateful for what we have now, which is a bus!
Amps: And again, without social media, we never would have been able to share in what was going on and say, “Will somebody get these guys a bus??”
Jill: Haha, I think it’s really important for us to be honest with the fans, and what I love about it is that I get to explain to the fans, and people who are interested what’s going on during this journey. Because there’s a lot of things in the music industry that people glaze over and hide. They don’t want you to think that we’re struggling, and that we’re larger than life. The truth is that we’re a baby band, and we’re still experiencing all these things that perhaps other bands can benefit from. When we mess up, we can let it be known, so someone else can learn from it and hopefully not have to go through that. Honesty is our policy, and we always try to stay positive.
Amps:”I Want to Fuck You to Death”. LOVE IT!! Every time I play it, it’s all I can sing for days!!
Jill: Well, it is a catchy tune! And when Lemmy handed me those lyrics, I thought, “This is the most romantic thing a boy has ever done for me.” To me it’s a love song. And I brought it to the boys at rehearsal, and they were like, “Oh man, Jill. Like you need any more stalkers (laughs), this is not gonna be good.” But when you strip it down, Lemmy wrote these lyrics and it absolutely conveys the persona of the Huntress. A Huntress is a vicious, horny old crone at heart, and she would love to tear apart these young guys, so the song “I Want to Fuck You to Death” is absolutely 100% Huntress, and the fact that Lemmy tapped into that persona shows me that he’s on a level with us, psychically.
Amps: Well I can’t wait to hear it live!
Jill: We’ll be singing it right into your face.
Amps: Battlecross and Butcher Babies both speak very highly of you guys, as people and as performers. There seems to be a good vibe among the Jagermeister bands on this tour.
Jill: Absolutely. We all respect each other, and we all know that we’re in this together, and it is a fight to remain healthy and sane and pro-active, and be able to get out there and perform the best that you can every day. Butcher Babies, I really admire them, especially coming from Los Angeles like myself, and working hard to get to the level that they’re at. Battlecross as well, they just believe so much in heavy metal and they’re doing it their way, and that is so admirable. And when you’re out there on the stage in 110 degree weather you support each other. I have a little water sprayer, I go around to everybody and I get them wet before they go onstage. Everybody who has anything to do with any of the bands, I always make it a point to say hello, because it’s a family run business, and that’s how it feels.
Amps: Jill, thanks so much for taking time out on your day off to speak with me. I am so glad I found your music, I love it, and I am a Huntress Creature for sure!
Jill: Oh, thank you so much. I’m so pleased to hear you love it. And I can’t wait to meet you in Dallas. Make sure you come see us at the merch tent so I can give you a hug!
There you have it. Beautiful, talented, friendly, and so down-to-earth it’s mind-boggling. That’s Jill Janus for you. She is a rising star who carries herself like a seasoned pro, and that says it all.