Guest Blog: Huntress Frontwoman Jill Janus, Part 1
Jill Janus is the vocalist of heavy-metal act Huntress. The band released its sophomore album, Starbound Beast, earlier this year. Currently the group is on the road with Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and Testament. Below, the vocalist contributes the first in a series of guest blogs.
Today I offer up my first tour blog for sacrifice. Huntress has just embarked on the most exciting tour of our lives thus far with Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, and Testament! Huntress is opening shows throughout North America from October 22-November 26. Knowing the magnitude of this tour, we had four small shows prior to joining forces with LOG to work out any kinks and lock down our flow. It’s imperative for us to be fearless performers, especially when you’re sharing the stage with three seasoned and respected metal bands.
Huntress tours virtually nonstop. The pace at which we work is neck-breaking, but there’s no rest for the wicked. My bandmates and I share the same musical vision, and that is what makes our journey possible. Last year, Huntress was touring North America with Dragonforce when we received an email from Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler. He wrote us to say he loved the band. I remember reading that email with my bandmates–it was surreal. At that moment, I started visualizing Huntress on tour with Lamb of God. When I got my LOG/Killswitch Engage tour laminate in Toronto last week, it became real for me. It took that one tangible item for it to really, really hit me. Every band we’ve supported on tour during our early existence has reached out to us, given Huntress encouragement, and advice. We are eager to learn and understand the hard work never ends. When you enter the next level, with bands you’ve admired and respected for years, all the noise vanishes. Clarity takes hold. I know exactly what I’m doing. I am living for my purpose.
Tonight I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Tridelphia, West Virginia. We’re joining up with the tour again tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio. We’ve burned through fives shows so far: Toronto (two dates), Montreal, New York City, and Wallingford, CT. The crowds have been amazing! Sold-out venues and metal mania! We even managed to visit Sirius XM to “Take Over” Liquid Metal before our show at the Roseland Ballroom on Friday October 25. Blake Meahl (Huntress lead guitarist) and I co-hosted a special radio show with Shawn “The Butcher.” Jose Mangin and the folks at Sirius XM Liquid Metal are true headbangers. Their support helps legions of heavy metal bands gain visibility.
Production for the LOG tour is run like a tight ship. We’ve got 25 minutes to deliver a vicious set, and then all our gear is hustled off to make room for Testament. Being the opening band to three legends of metal reminds us to remain humble. We never take anything for granted. If we get a dressing room, it’s usually a broom closet or hallway, and that is more than we expect! In Montreal, we could only use the public restroom since all the dressing rooms were taken. I was backstage after our show and had to pee, so I knocked on Testament’s dressing room door. I walk in and see Gene Hoglan sitting there with an apple bong in his hand. I thought, Dang, it’s Gene Hoglan! Don’t be a fucking dork, Jill. Suppressing the fan girl within me, I asked if I could pee in his toilet. Being a gentleman, he accepted my request. I came out of the washroom and he held up his apple, like a wise heavy-metal wizard, and invited me to toke. I’d already been burning joints with crazy Canadian fans after our set, so I was about to get real stoned. Now let’s pause for a moment: Gene Hoglan is a living legend. He’s known as “The Atomic Clock” and played drums on Death’s Symbolic album, which has heavily influenced Huntress. He’s played with a slew of our favorite metal bands and most recently worked with Dethklok. So, I’m standing there, trying to play it cool when Gene says he’s got a bit of advice for me. “Have you ever smoked a peace pipe?” I said, “No. I haven’t ever been offered yet.” He then drops this gem on me: “If you ever smoke a peace pipe, toke slow.” May his words of wisdom inspire all young grass smokers around the world.
Check back next week–I’m going behind the scenes from the Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Testament and Huntress tour. To be continued…