Huntress – “I’m Preparing for Beast Mode”Wednesday, 23rd September 2015
It’s safe to say that Huntress has built up quite a following over the course of their three album with Napalm Records. With a blistering pace (only 4 years for three albums), a feeling of pure occult heavy metal, and Jill Janus’ easily identifiable 4-octave range vocals, it’s no surprise that the band has taken off in the way that it has. The band’s newest album, Static, is easily their strongest yet and should easily find the band ratcheting up more fans due to its massive, hooky riffs and powerful vocals.
But there’s been more to Huntress lately than just Static. Janus’ calculated moves with Huntress planned to unveil her life-long battle with mental disorders with Static, but she was also diagnosed with uterine cancer as well. With plenty on her plate, Janus was kind enough to answer some questions shot to her through email form. We engaged her on her current health (and it’s ramifications of the band’s now cancelled tour with Avatar), Static and the Huntress trilogy, the band’s Jägermeister sponsorship, and more!
Dead Rhetoric: You just had to drop off the Avatar tour due to doctor’s orders following your hysterectomy. Was it frustrating to get out there for your show with Holy Grail and then realize you’d have to step back for a bit?
Jill Janus: Not frustrating, but definitely a bummer. I had major surgery so taking more time to heal is expected. It was only 2 months post-surgery when we played our warm up show at Loaded in Hollywood. Although my voice is stronger than ever and the band is in top form, I have to be realistic and heal properly so Huntress can have longevity.
Dead Rhetoric: Likewise, you opened up about your diagnosis with uterine cancer and surgery as well as a life-long battle with mental disorders over the summer. Was it tough deciding whether or not to go public with this information?
Janus: No, this wasn’t a tough decision because I had planned to reveal all of my personal struggles with the release of third Huntress album Static. Every album in the Huntress trilogy, meaning the first 3 albums with Napalm Records, has been calculated. I created the imagery and lyrics to reflect three phases of the Triple Goddess: Maiden (Spell Eater), Mother (Starbound Beast) and Crone (Static). We’re in the final phase of death and wisdom. I have nothing to fear.
Dead Rhetoric: Static also sees you opening up a bit more lyrically. Do you feel it makes the songs stronger with a more personal touch?
Janus: It’s sobering to write lyrics that make you vulnerable. But I have been through so much weird shit that I can either let it make me stronger or I can sulk and throw a pity party. Writing lyrics for Static was cathartic.
Dead Rhetoric: How else do you feel that Static continues the Huntress evolution?
Janus: We wanted to work with producers Paul Fig and Jim Rota because they could take Huntress to a new level of evolution. This album is catchy and vocally driven. It’s accessible to a new fanbase. It’s exactly where we should be and it’s effortless.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been running an intensive pre-order for Static over at Pledge Music with a number of rare goodies for pledgers. How has it been received so far?
Janus: It has been intense! Working with Pledge Music is awesome. I love interacting with fans and sharing the experience from pre-order to album release. We’ve raised over $20,000 for music videos within one month. Prior to our Pledge Music partnership, we did a crowd funding campaign with Indiegogo to raise money for Mayhem Fest in 2013. We surpassed our goal of $15,000 and our fans were truly part of that journey. Together we are very powerful.
Dead Rhetoric: Vance Kelly is your go-to for album covers (and other merch). Do you feel it would be odd to shift away from him in the future at this point?
Janus: I can’t imagine it! Vance Kelly is the biggest sweetheart, no ego, fast, talented and we have a telepathic artistic connection. I hold on to kindred spirits for life.
Dead Rhetoric: Static is the last of the Huntress trilogy (Maiden, Mother, Crone) – where do you go from here?
Janus: The possibilities are limitless. Static is our final album with Napalm Records. We have so many opportunities for the fourth album, it will be exciting for the band.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that the occult themes are a big part of Huntress’ identity?
Janus: Absolutely. Huntress is an occult metal band. Witchcraft is present in all aspects of my life, my band mates understand this and embrace it.
Dead Rhetoric: Huntress has become a big touring machine over the past few years and hitting the road with a number of high profile acts; do you feel that the band is best experienced in the live setting?
Janus: Huntress is known for our live shows, no voice modulators, no backing tracks, no unnecessary noise. As we make more money, our stage design will expand. My costumes and performance will become more theatrical.
Dead Rhetoric: You (and all of Huntress) are very open and interactive with your fans. Do you feel this genuine interest and accessibility aids in propelling the band forward?
Janus: Yes! We are so powerful together! I can’t walk this path without my Creatures. Together anything is possible, I respect my fans and truly love meeting them after shows.
Dead Rhetoric: Being a female in metal that avoids the stereotypical (pop-ish singing and corsets for example), why do you think that many females in the scene play into that image?
Janus: Females often play into the “easy listening metal” stereotypes because it is easy. I understand why the stigma exists. It ain’t no secret I’m not a fan of female fronted bands or symphonic metal. Even I’m annoyed by myself, I self-loathe and get embarrassed to be a woman in metal when I’m compared to those chicks. Yet I strive to unsex my vocals and challenge myself beyond the light-weight mezzo soprano fuckery. Yes, I’m also an opera snob and a coloratura soprano.
Dead Rhetoric: You don’t see a lot of metal bands with sponsorships outside of their instruments. How did the Jägermeister deal come about originally?
Janus: Huntress met the folks at Jägermeister Music through our manager Jackie Kajzer. I love the dark elixir and had made it my beverage of choice for many years. We’ve been partnered since 2012 and I truly respect the brand. We have a lot of fun being part of the Jägermeister family, they’re very supportive of Huntress.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on tap for Huntress for the next few months?
Janus: Besides shots of ice cold Jägermeister? Huntress premieres our new music video for “Sorrow” directed by Phil Mucci around the release date of Static on September 25th. We’re playing Motorhead’s Motorboat cruise September 28 – October 2. After that, I visit with my doctors again and we’ll plan out more touring for the fall. I’m preparing for beast mode!