Jill Janus – Huntress

Interview by Tony Cannella

Lately in the press there has been some concern as to whether Huntress would continue. Recently I had a chance to interview the incomparable Jill Janus, the front-woman from this very powerful band. This interview was done via email before the whole controversy hit, but I am happy to report that Huntress will continue and continue to kick ass, I’m sure. It would have been a shame if Huntress had decided to call it quits because their latest album “Static” is quite possibly their finest and most complete effort to date. The band is simply on fire and Jill is singing/screaming with a power and passion that is awe-inspiring. Here is what she had to say about “Static” and how – despite some line-up changes – this may be Huntress’s finest hour.

Hello Jill. How are you doing?

I’m keepin’ on! Gearing up to hit the road again with Huntress, making plans for a 3rd music video from our new album “Static” and working on songs for the next album, our fourth studio record.

Your new album “Static” is out now. I love the record and feel that it is your best. Are you pleased with the final result?

I too feel that “Static” is the best Huntress album. I’m so proud of Blake Meahl (guitar) for composing a solid record, collaborating with me, Eli Santana (guitar) and his brother Tyler Meahl (drums). It’s the heaviest and catchiest record we’ve delivered. And our music video for “Sorrow” is the strongest we’ve done. Director Phil Mucci is a genius.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from fans and media?

Fans really connect with “Static”, the lyrics I wrote are cathartic. Writing the lyrics and vocal melodies brought me a new kind of peace after a very tumultuous year. Huntress fans truly embraced the honesty of this record. As far as media’s concerned, I don’t delve into reviews. It’s by far the best reviewed Huntress album and we doubled our previous record sales in the first week. Some people understand we’re evolving, that our sound is expanding like our vision. Others won’t accept that Huntress is growing, and that makes them uncomfortable.

How would you say that it compares to your previous albums?

All three Huntress albums are part of a trilogy. “Static” is precisely the album we envisioned. It represents the final phase of the Triple Goddess, the Crone and she brings wisdom, death and sometimes madness. Our producers Paul Fig and Jim Rota encouraged us to keep “Static” melodic and more accessible. They wanted me to use my voice as a singer rather than a screamer. I have the most vocal harmonies on this one.

“Sorrow” is a great way to start the record. I love the energy and the lyrics to that one. It seems very defiant and – despite the title – kind of uplifting. What can you tell us about that one?

The lyrics for “Sorrow” are a reflection of me as an angsty teenager obsessed with death and Dracula. Most of the lyrics for “Sorrow” were written when I was 17: “Forever I’m your slave, chained to the wet lawn of your grave. Sorrow, can’t let go. I’m done with getting old, all I got is breath to hold”. I wanted to write a melancholy thrasher, with my sadness and fury entwining. We intentionally wrote with “reverse prosody” as the guide – I wanted a title to represent sadness, while the music is all fury.

One of my favorite songs on “Static” is “Harsh Times on Planet Stoked”. Lyrically what is that one about?

The title “Harsh Times on Planet Stoked” came from Blake Meahl. He explained that songwriting was like banging his head against the wall after touring, and being home became a bummer. Typically Blake is a happy hesher, but during the summer of 2014, the pressure to finish writing our record wore him down. I took his title and his music, wrote vocal melodies and lyrics that would capture the bummer summer. I took it further and set the scene on Planet Stoked, a world where humanity lost its way with indulgence and greed. Not unlike Planet Earth. “I feel extinction and exhaust, fueling holocaust”. The song is filled with memories of how it used to be and how it got to be so bad…with the realization that there’s no one else to blame but ourselves.

Another favorite is “I Want to Wanna Wake Up”. What can you tell us about that one?

There are songs on “Static” that were very cathartic. “I Want to Wanna Wake Up” is one of those. I recently shared my life-long struggle with various mental illnesses publicly and had planned to do so on the third Huntress album. Since we signed to Napalm Records, I knew that “Spell Eater” and “Starbound Beast” would be stepping stones to “Static” – the final album in the Huntress/Napalm trilogy. The title “I Want to Wanna Wake Up” came from Blake Meahl (guitarist). He and I were writing one album a year, recording between non-stop touring and band members were overwhelmed with the pace. We were tired.

You’ve had some line-up changes since your last album “Starbound Beast”. Can you tell us what led to these changes and can you introduce us to the new members?

Relentless touring and financial stress are to fault for line-up changes. We have a solid core now, no drama and it’s actually fun again. Eli Santana (guitar) and Blake’s brother Tyler Meahl (drums) bring a new, youthful, melodic dynamic to Huntress.

Do you have any touring plans coming up?

Yes, and I’m thrilled about the plans we have for 2016. Huntress will be announcing tour dates soon. We’re joining Black Label Society on tour this December, I’m really stoked for it.

I saw the band a few years ago at the Mayhem Festival in Hartford, CT and thought the band put on a great set (even though it was so short). What can fans expect when they come see Huntress live?

Prepare to see a live show that is high energy and honest. We do not use backing tracks, unnecessary effects or voice modulators. Every female fronted metal I know uses some type of voice effects to either mask flaws or make their screams thicker. I won’t ever do that. I sing the fuck outta our songs with just a little bit of delay à la Judas Priest. It’s an authentic, exciting show of true musicianship.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Once again, I love “Static” and Femme Metal wishes you and the band much success for the future. In closing, is there anything you would like to add or say to the fans?

Thanks again. Watch the new Huntress video “Sorrow” directed by Phil Mucci and take a ride on the succubus, baby!

 

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