Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 57 - Interview with Huntress

HUNTRESS

Huntress is a Californian quintet that plays classic metal with lots of great melody, infused with elements of thrash and doom. They released their debut album ‘Spell Eater’ in 2012 and are currently working on their sophomore release. Roland Oei caught up with front woman Jill Janus to find out more about one of the bands to watch this year.

How did you meet the other guys in the band who were at the time in another act called Professor?

I have been a promoter for many years and I was promoting a rock night called Rock Mondays and so I booked them and the first moment I saw them , it was even before I heard them play, I just said I want that. It was just the look, I just had this instinct, this feeling that something great was going to happen that night and I played them a couple of demos that I had recorded which they described as “diet Maiden” and so they gave me a shot and we had a rehearsal and then after that we just decided to join forces and here we are.

The demos that you first made didn’t make the album did they?

No, they are endearing but I wrote them alone and I feel what was lacking was some riffage and darkness. One day I might release them just for fun but for now they will remain unheard. It was absolutely heavy metal, all NWOBHM stuff as I was obsessed with Maiden and Priest at the time and just wanted a band of musicians at my own level. I had been searching for nearly a decade but I wouldn’t compromise on my vision, so to have someone that can grasp that sense of NWOBHM feel but still keep progressing and moving forward and have that Gothenburg style of Melodic Death Thrash, it was important to find people that could do that … and who knew I would find it in Hollywood of all places! I decided the true Huntress would have a lot of melody but still be brutal. We have this balance between beauty and brutality that I have always wanted and now I have it.

You have a four octave range and you have a vocal coach and a vocal doctor. Does it really take all that to keep it in check?

I don’t know if it does but I don’t take any precautions. I am very cautious. We were signed to Napalm Records and we immediately went into the studio and did ‘Spell Eater’ and then we were thrown on the road before the album was out. Being very disciplined with a strict opera background and music theory I wasn’t going to take any risks. I started touring in March of 2012 and it was my first national tour experience. Up until then we had only done a few things up and down the west coast. I wasn’t going to risk it which is why I have a great vocal doctor and Melissa Cross, who I credit with helping me to achieve that really piercing witchy scream. I don’t warm up every day. Sometimes you don’t want to push it too much with warm ups. Some days you do. I just let the voice rule me.

Can you tell us about the writing and recording of ‘Spell Eater’?

I nearly lost my mind. It was a really heavy experience for me to bring these songs to life and do it in such a short time frame. We had been working on the songs for a year and rewriting for a year so it wasn’t anything new for us but coming from a really different background, this has been a really interesting transition for us personally. I have been in bands distantly but Huntress is my purpose, so everything was a major shift, everything from learning how to be on this journey with these four boys peeing in bottles. It has been a trip. The song writing … I bring them ideas, I give them names, I give them various themes and I sing them melodies and they bring the riffage and I write over those riffs. It is very collaborative, they are like my brothers and I would not be here without them. This is not the Jill show; I would not be here without them. We pre-produced for months. We don’t fuck around. We made sure everything we did was mapped out and very strict.

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You have admitted in the press that Huntress is not reinventing the wheel when it comes to metal. What do you feel makes the band stand out from the pack?

Obviously I have used sorcery to draw you in and I am not afraid to show skin and I understand it is a two-edged sword but for me I think the people that embrace it will understand that it is true heavy metal, that we are bowing down to the Gods of Metal and that it is the roots of heavy metal. We are not claiming to be anything new, we are not recycled but we are interesting. The music and the vocal approach is unique. We will see if we have longevity and that will be the proof. In my head I have a strong background in musical theory and these boys don’t, so it’s really interesting working with them. They are coming off Black Sabbath and this dark riffage of Stoner Metal and Doom and here I am in my mind seeing notes and music written out and it is really interesting how we merged and it worked. For me it doesn’t really matter if anyone gets it, we are just five stoners that love heavy metal and we do it because we love it. We don’t do it for anybody else.

You have released two singles, ‘Eight of Swords’ and ‘Spell Eater’. Why did you choose those to be the singles?

We funded ‘Eight of Swords’. We did it to gain attention from the labels and it worked. I asked the tarot cards to reveal one card that would become an epic metal song and eight of swords chose us. It represents self imprisonment with freedom attainable only if you choose to release yourself so when that happened it was quite a profound moment for me where I had to abolish all other ambitions and completely put all my efforts into Huntress. I lost all of my jobs and basically my house and put everything into storage to go on the road. I really committed to choosing only one path and everything has been coming to us. Napalm Records signed us and it has been a really surreal world-wind, the last year.

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