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Huntress’ Jill Janus Talks Mayhem Festival, Collaborating With Lemmy Kilmister + More

Kathy Flynn, WickedGoddessPhotography.com

If you’re looking for a breakout band at the 2013 Mayhem Festival, Huntress certainly fit the profile. The group issued the buzz-generating ‘Spell Eater’ album last year. They just issued their sophomore set ‘Starbound Beast,’ featuring a new song co-written with Motorhead‘s Lemmy Kilmister, and they have everyone waiting in anticipation for the awesome looking ‘Zenith’ video after recently issuing a trailer for the upcoming clip.

Loudwire caught up with frontwoman Jill Janus at the 2013 Mayhem Festival kickoff in San Bernardino, Calif., and she spoke about this exciting period for the band, their upcoming ‘Zenith’ video and the crowd funding campaign they put together that will allow the relatively new band to afford the costs of traveling across the country on Mayhem this summer. Check out our interview with Huntress’ Jill Janus below.

Back at the Golden Gods, you couldn’t really talk too much about the new album but since then you’ve had a few great songs come out. Now that ‘Starbound Beast’ is out this month, can you talk a little more about the disc?

It’s such an exciting time. There’s such a profound shift happening right now within heavy metal. It’s really a cool time to see true heavy metal thriving again. With this album, we’re putting out an album a year. ‘Starbound Beast’ wouldn’t have been possible unless all of us agreed and focused on doing this. Luckily we’re all very inspired and especially inspired by the cosmos, the Anunaki and aliens, extra terrestrials and still keeping our Pagan roots and still staying true to heavy metal. It’s a very thoughtful album. Very melodic as well, still brutal but we have a plan. Three albums in three years. Maiden, Mother, Crone.

You mentioned the cosmos, and you’ve got the amazing trailer for the new video for ‘Zenith’ — and it looks pretty awesome …

Get ready to have your mind tripped out, man. That video for “Zenith” was directed by Phil Mucci who’s done amazing videos. One in particular, ‘Fertile Green’ by High on Fire and we just absolutely fell in love with his work. Luckily he was already a Huntress fan and when we met it was almost telepathic. We just both knew the way this needed to be. He really made our vision come to life and his concept for it. He cast the whole thing. It was a legit video. Again, it was very expensive to do it because we do not compromise on our vision. It’s been really great having the fans support us and being able to almost, crowd fund Mayhem, which we did. We surpassed our goal. It really comes down to the fans. The fans, that’s who ‘Zenith’ is dedicated to.

The clip reminds me of those black light posters for metal bands in the ’70s and ’80s.

It’s kind of like smoking weed in your bedroom with the black light on, for sure. The song is also a little tribute to getting as high as you can by going into the Zenith and smoking weed with aliens. There you go. There’s the set up for it.

Also you have the song ‘I Want to F— You to Death’ co-written by Lemmy …

Absolutely.

Having a God like Lemmy to work with, can you talk about your experience and what it was like? I know you guys go back further than doing this song, but…

Yeah, we’ve been friends for a few years now and to have the Godfather of heavy metal hand you lyrics for ‘I Want to F— You to Death’ blew my mind. It blew everybody’s mind on our team, and the band. We’re really so honored that he did this. First of all, when he handed me lyrics with that title I said, “This is the most romantic thing a boy has ever done for me.” I feel it’s a love song. So when we wrote the music for it I wanted to maintain the chorus to be more melodic and not so riot girl. That’s the easy way to go but to me, it’s a love song. Today when we performed it people are already singing the words back to me. That’s so rewarding.

How much of the new material is now working its way into sets? I know sometimes bands hold out on playing new material until a record is out. But, here at Mayhem what are you working in?

We have a 25 minute set. Today we did 6 songs. We performed about 3 new songs and 3 older songs from ‘Spell Eater.’ What we’re going to do is rotate those. We’ve already been putting the new album ‘Starbound Beast’ songs into the set even when we went to Download festival and we were at Sweden Rock. That was the first time we ever put new songs into the set. That was great.

You mentioned the crowd funding campaign you guys did to support your expenses on the road. You had some great items for bid on there. Did the van ever get sold?

It didn’t! And you know what the funny thing is? I’ll tell you a little secret about that. That is Blake Meahl’s baby. That’s his van. He marked it up that high and he was hoping no one would buy it and no one did buy it. But we’ve had a couple of people make other offers so, the truth is we’re vagabonds. We’re gypsies. We don’t have a home. It’s hard for us to park a van anywhere, except a tour van. So we’ve really learned to surrender to the road and we’ve given up all of our possessions. Anything we really want to keep we put into storage.

Part of this thing, it’s obviously for the cost, but you are sharing a bus with Battlecross.

We are.

What’s the relationship with those guys?

They’re a bunch of nerds just like us. They like smoking weed and playing Donkey Kong Jr. I think it’s a good combo. The crowd funding with IndieGoGo was a huge success. We surpassed our goal of 15k. My most rewarding thing about it was really being able to connect to the fans. I have a whole new level of respect. Being able to talk to them one on one, away from just a meet and greet in a tent after a show. They’re so intelligent and so in love with heavy metal and so supportive. So, without them we would not be able to be here. I feel like I would pass out and die. So thank you for keeping me alive fans!

Playing Donkey Kong Jr. was part of the fan incentives, as well, so I have to ask, is there someone who’s the champ in the band?

That would be Ian Alden. He’s really good at Donkey Kong Jr. Then we have other guys that are good at Frogger and a variety of Nintendo games. We have two boys who are here today that actually bought that perk and we’re getting ready for a water balloon fight.

As a female in metal, what are your thoughts about holding it down with all these guys that are out here?

I am a woman who is very content on being in a male dominated world. I have big burley Vikings surrounding me and protecting me and supporting me. I’ve not felt any heat. I do aim to be sexless, hopefully. I really feel that being thought of as a female singer, of course that’s going to happen. There’s going to be stigma. But in the long run, I want the voice to stand alone and live on its own — hopefully one day legendary status. I think big, but I know it’s a long road ahead. I know there’s a lot of dues to pay. Being here today and being on Mayhem Fest, my first priority is learn and learn a lot. That’s really where we’re at. This is our second album; we’ve been at this for two years now. We’re infants in the metal world but we’re very excited to see what’s to come. So far so good.

Loudwire thanks Huntress’ Jill Janus for the interview. The band is currently touring in support of their ‘Starbound Beast’ album, which can be purchased via iTunes.

Next: See Photos from 2013's Mayhem Festival Kickoff

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