Guest Blog: Huntress Frontwoman Jill Janus, Part 3
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 third in a series of guest blogs.
I’m thrilled to bring you a weekly Guest Blog while Huntress is on tour with Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and Testament. Being the only woman on tour is always interesting. Can’t deny it: I love being surrounded by a bunch of bearded, burly metal men. I’m often asked, “How do you tour non-stop and not kill anyone? Like, you’re a woman.” So, I thought I’d share some of my personal tour guidelines since I’m still alive out here and not in jail (yet).
The Girl’s Basic Guide to Surviving Tour Life
Any woman attempting to tour relentlessly in a heavy-metal band while living in a van with several dudes needs to take a moment and make some choices. This path is ALL about choices. When Huntress landed our first national tour with Pagan Fest America in March 2012, we had never toured before and our debut album Spell Eater on Napalm Records was still unreleased. I almost lost my mind. And on the verge of losing my mind and my band, I had a flash of clarity: Ditch the Female Drama. And that is where the journey begins.
Here are the five basic guidelines I follow when I’m touring relentlessly:
1. Ditch the Female Drama – When we first started touring, I felt a sense of entitlement because I was the only woman in the band. That caused a lot of tension amongst us while in the van, and after fighting for my female comfort and feeling completely alone, I surrendered. I ditched the bitch and started peeing in bottles. I learned to minimize my belongings, only keeping what I need to survive simply. I’m completely self-sufficient with my daily preparation, doing my hair, whore claws, make-up and getting into costume in under 15 minutes while sitting in the front seat. I focus on writing music, making crystal jewelry and vocal resting on long drives. I learned to sleep in a van and actually find that I miss it once I’m back in a real bed. Once I decided to surrender to the road, I found peace.
2. Check Your Ego – Ain’t no secret, lead singers can be nightmares. We’re the center of attention. All the feedback, positive or negative must not be manifested. It will grow into a monster that brings destruction. The moment I believe my own hype, is the very moment I become an asshole. I choose to never read reviews or forums online; all this does is feed the beast. My interaction with fans is special, yet limited and on my own terms. I prefer to stay down-to-earth and humble because all that noise, even if its fans chanting your name after a show, must fade away once your make-up comes off and you lay alone with your human self to fall asleep.
3. Health First – Tour life is synonymous with bad health. It’s so easy to eat processed foods that break down your immune system. I found the best way to combat crappy food is by juicing a few times a week with the boys, and BBQ’ing fresh meat and vegetables in parking lots along the way. Add partying into the mix, the endless supply of booze and drugs that surround a successful band, and good health becomes a major challenge (shut up you bitch, be glad you get free drugs - me). I choose to not drink on the road (except for the occasional shot of Jägermeister) and I keep my drug use to weed only. I also find B12 injections to be life saving. Not only do B12 shots boost my immune system, they bring me clarity and help to balance my ever-shifting moods.
4. Tour is Work – It’s an honor to have such amazing opportunities, sharing stages all over the world with metal bands we’ve admired for years. But I never forget that this is work. We don’t have a crew, and there are so many responsibilities we can’t let slide. Arriving on time for load in after taking shifts driving throughout the night, setting up merch, warming up, maintaining your gear, performing and getting in the zone with each other… then load out, meeting fans, working merch, and getting everyone back in the van for yet another long haul. It feels like that Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” sometimes. Hotels are an oasis for us. Find those days where you can get a cheap hotel room and do it. Boost band moral.
5. Apple Bongs – Huntress fans know we love us some fine ass weed. Our fans are very cool to bring us goodies and burn after the show. We don’t travel with it, considering we’re driving rapidly across the US and into Canada often. The best way to smoke weed on the road? Use an apple bong. Easy to make, easy to ditch. And a healthy snack too!
Check back next week for more behind-the-scenes action with Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Testament and Huntress!
Ladies, stay cool.