Huntress Tour Blog: Jill Janus Recalls Filling In For Amon Amarth Vocalist Johan Hegg
Huntress are in the midst of a European tour with Amon Amarth + Savage Messiah, and Huntress frontwoman Jill Janus is giving you some insight into life on the road with this new Loudwire tour blog. In this entry, Janus discusses stepping in on vocals for Amon Amarth after vocalist Johan Hegg lost his voice. Check out what Jill had to say about the special performance in her blog below:
Huntress joined forces with Amon Amarth for a European tour just days ago. After our first performance in Brighton, England, frontman Johan Hegg blew out his voice and was taken to the hospital the next morning. Many singers will experience vocal issues during their career. You can't go to Guitar Center and buy a new vocal cord like a guitar string. It's heartbreaking for a singer to lose their voice; it's like a bird losing its wings. Johan was so gutted. He's never had to cancel a performance.
We arrived to soundcheck in Plymouth and were told to hold off on loading in our gear until a decision was made about canceling the show. The night before in Brighton, I was having fun with banter during the Huntress performance. I'm quick with impromptu "schtick" on stage from all my years in theatre and performing with the gays in New York City nightclubs. After cracking jokes with the crowd in Brighton, Amon Amarth took notice.
As we were waiting to load gear in Plymouth, I was asked to come see the band in their dressing room. I was told "Big J" could not perform and had to be on complete vocal rest. Instead of canceling the show, we came up with a plan to have the band play an instrumental set in between my banter, and I'd perform 'Guardians of Asgaard.' I'd also choose two fans to join the band onstage to perform 'Twilight of the Thunder God' and 'The Pursuit of Vikings.' I left the dressing room thinking, "I could totally be murdered by angry Amon Amarth fans tonight. F--k it. Showbiz!"
Olavi, Ted, Johan S. and Fredrik stormed through the first two instrumental songs -- 'Father of the Wolf' and 'Deceiver of the Gods.' The crowd was a bit confused at first, not seeing Hegg onstage, but soon they were screaming the words. I then walked onstage saying something like, "Remember me? I'm Jill Janus of Huntress and we just played for ya. Did you seeing the Viking ship just outside in the sea? That's because Sweden is now at war with rebel vikings and they came to get their most powerful warrior to battle the bad Vikings. Nah, not really. His voice is f---ed. So the band will play an instrumental set for you tonight. This will be very special. We've got some surprises for you!"
The set continued with instrumental versions of 'Death in Fire,' 'Live for the Kill,' 'Varyags of Miklagaard' and 'As Loke Falls.' Meanwhile, I was backstage listening to 'Guardians of Asgaard' on headphones. I only heard the voice in my head, not sure what sound would come out of my mouth. Without any rehearsal, armed only with a lyric sheet and Big J's ear-in pack and his microphone, I stepped onto the stage at the Hub and went balls out. I didn't know what to expect.
"How f--king cool is Amon Amarth? They didn't cancel, they wanted to make tonight special for you. After all, we are 'Guardians of Asgaard!'" As soon as the opening riff began, the crowd went insane! They were singing along with me and delivering support to their beloved Amon Amarth. I stepped off stage and couldn't really remember what had just happened. It was like a dream.
Onwards they slayed with instrumentals of 'Cry of the Blackbirds,' 'War of the Gods' and 'Victorious March.' Next, I returned to stage asking the crowd, "Who thinks they got Swedish meat balls big enough to get up here and sing 'Twilight of the Thunder God?'" I picked a dude named Buster. He started and within moments, Johan Hegg came out with his huge Thor hammer. The crowd went nuts! They chanted his name! Hegg stayed onstage, mouthing the words yet remaining silent. He pulled another fan onstage to sing along, then left once the song was over.
Next up, the final song of the night, 'The Pursuit of Vikings.' I grabbed a fan named Erik and pulled him from the crowd to the stage. He went on to slay it and the audience was stoked! Phew! The show came to end, I thanked the audience. Big J went to the merch booth to meet fans and take photos, still silent like a pro. Amon Amarth is a class act, dedicated to their fans and supportive to new bands like Huntress and Savage Messiah, who join us on this tour as opening act.
Laying in the hotel room that night, still buzzing from the dreamy performance with the Vikings from Sweden, I remembered standing in line at the airport on our way to join the tour a few days ago. I thought about the woman standing in front of me, dressed in head-to-toe leopard print. Her bleach blonde hair piled high in tacky splendor, the scent of cheap perfume leaving a trail of skank as she walks forward to the check counter. Her four screaming children causing havoc along the way, pulling down the separation ropes. One of the kids falls with a thud onto my feet and legs. I dart an icy look at her, no apology. And then I smile. Those brats aren't mine, I am free. I'm boarding the same flight to tour with my band overseas. I'm not pissed off, I'm living the dream. My life rules.
Our thanks to Huntress' Jill Janus for her latest Loudwire column. The group has several more European dates ahead of them, as they are booked into mid-February. See all their tour stops here.