Frontwoman Jill Janus mixes pagan beliefs, a love of black metal and an outstanding voice to craft one of the most intoxicating new metal sounds on the planet.
As she enters her ‘crone’ phase, RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth braves a dark corner of a dark room of a dark club to get the lowdown on one of this year’s bands to watch.
rushonrock: What did you gain from your stint opening up for Lamb Of God on their UK headline tour earlier this year?
Jill Janus: I learnt an immense amount about being a professional touring act when we were out on the road with Lamb Of God in the UK earlier this year. It was so good for us. We took our performance to another level.
rushonrock: Did you feel you could do yourselves justice in half an hour?
JJ: We did well for an opening act on a bill with two huge bands. Thirty minutes was like a headline slot for us considering we normally get no more than 20 minutes a night. Are attitude is ‘we’ll burn through it and kick you in the teeth!’.
rushonrock: How do you approach such a short set in front of a Lamb Of God crowd?
JJ: When you only have 30 minutes as the opening act you have to go for it from the first minute until the last. There’s no point hanging about. It’s so important to make an instant impression.
rushonrock: I Want To Fuck You To Death, from your latest album Starbound Beast, clearly intimidates some male members of the audience – especially when you look straight into their eyes during the chorus…
JJ: When I sing I Want To Fuck You To Death I want the men in the audience to be intimidated. I want to scare them.
rushonrock: The track was written by Lemmy – how did it come about?
JJ: Lemmy and I have been friends for a few years now. I asked him to write a song for the last album and that’s what he came up with. It was the most romantic thing a man has ever said to me. Lemmy is a warrior. He’s fighting right now.
rushonrock: Another of your influences is Venom – have you met the band?
JJ: I met Cronos last year and he was a real gentleman. I told him Venom had been a great influence on Huntress – I’m a sucker for black metal and I have it tattooed on my wrist. I gave Venom a little shout out in the band’s home town, Newcastle, when we were there with Lamb Of God and there’s still a lot of affection for that band out there.
rushonrock: You’ve released two albums in two years – is it all about touring right now?
JJ: We will be playing a lot more shows but we’re already well on with the songwriting for the next album. I write on the road constantly and I have a need to be creative. There’s a back story to the first three Huntress albums – the two that have already been released and the one that should be released later this year. It reflects my pagan side and the idea of the triple goddess.
rushonrock: That sounds intriguing. Tell us more…
JJ: On the first album I’m the maiden, on the second the mother and on the third the crone. Each record reflects a different stage in my life cycle and I’m in the crone phase now. And the crone wants to bone. It’s the best phase yet. I may still be young but my inner soul is old.
rushonrock: You moved from east coast to west coast before forming Huntress – what prompted the move?
JJ: The move to California was the best thing I could have done as a musician. I was working in New York and was at the World Trade Centre on 9/11. My life changed on that day. My destiny changed. It took me out to LA. Up until that point I had never imagined I would live in LA but things happen for a reason. Once 9/11 happened my life shifted and I sensed there was an opportunity.
rushonrock: In many ways the LA lifestyle is the antithesis of what you believe in isn’t it?
JJ: In a way. I grew up on a farm in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. It was a simple life but a life I loved. Less is more – that’s my motto and my most valuable possession has always been my voice.
rushonrock: When did you first realise it was such a valuable possession?
JJ: I was 10-years-old and my mother discovered I had a big voice. I went to auditions for various shows and in my teens it was determined I had a four-octave range. I trained as a classical singer and that classical training formed the foundation for my screaming.
rushonrock: Classical and metal don’t seem like the most obvious mix…
JJ: Having that ability and that range makes singing heavy metal more fun. I don’t ever lose my voice – I’m very dedicated to my work. The voice rules me rather than the other way around. The classical training allows me to control my voice and get the very best out of it. So far, so good.