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INTERVIEW: Jill Janus and Blake Mehal of Huntress, July 2013

| 9 August 2013 | Reply

ToddStar: 100% Rock here with Blake and Jill of Huntress, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules today for us.

Jill: Of course, thanks for having us.

ToddStar: Well as I spoke to Jill in the past, this is a repeat interview for our site for us, so thank you again for that.

Jill: Of Course!

ToddStar: We’re blessed to have you a second time. Starbound Beast, this thing, to me is so much more powerful than Spell Eater

Jill: Thank you.

ToddStar: This one hit ten out of ten on our rating…

Jill: Wow!

ToddStar: Your debut got a nine out of ten…

[All laugh]

ToddStar:…so there wasn’t much room for improvement!

Jill: Well let me tell you, no it’s great, especially it being our sophomore album I mean, it’s just been very well received that way and I feel that we’ve become stronger musicians, also better performers, the level of musicianship is better, we’re better songwriters. That comes from spending a year on the road together as well but it’s almost intuitive at this point, I feel like we’re just getting better and better. And that’s what you want as a band, right Blake?

Blake: Oh yeah! Well plus we got the new addition of another guitar player, Ant, since the first record and so he’s helped push us to the next level.

ToddStar: Okay, well, what can you tell us about the disk that somebody listening through the first or second time might not pick up on?

Blake: Ohhh.

ToddStar: Any nuances that you guys placed in there? Or just things that really strike you about the album?

Jill: Well I would say, what’s cool about Huntress albums is the attention to detail, especially lyrically and artistically. The cover art, which is done by Vance Kelly, my art warlock. I always hide occult imagery and messages from far, far away, deep into space. So those messages are hidden within the artwork, they are woven throughout all of the lyrics. Those who seek the secrets can find them. It’s really like a choose your own adventure book, but an album.

Blake: I mean on our side, she’s the space guru and we’re the riff lords… [All Laugh] …as far as the way the instrumentation turned out, it’s something that we look forwards to people noticing and hopefully trying to replicate some day and mimic. Just natural tones, real guitars, un-sampled nonsense all over the place. We wanted to come off as a band, and a real band, and a bunch of musicians as opposed to a bunch of computers, you know? But we’re completely proud of the way Spell Eater turned out, we really wanted to force it more in the direction of the real world, you know…

Jill: Organic, always.

Blake: …That’s the word I was looking for.

Jill: Yeah.

ToddStar: That’s a great word to describe the sound of the album, it isn’t overproduced, I like the fact that it’s straight at you. Nuances aside, and hidden messages and the things for the hardcore fans, this album really just comes straight at you as a rock album. Is that something you guys really sat down in the beginning and said, lets push the envelope, make this a little harder a little more forward than our last album?

Blake: No it all happened so fast, we realized we were coming on mayhem festival and we already had a goal of releasing records quickly. It was like okay, go! We have no time! We were in Europe, I think it was even Amsterdam, and we had a phone conversation with our manager and label about creating another record and we freaked out! We were like, no, you guys are fucking nuts! That’s never going to happen! That’s insane! Then we kind of calmed down and went home and just…

Jill: Wrote it.

Blake:…got to work and I think that’s what you hear is a straightforward approach, it just happened, and its fast, it’s not over thought, it’s not overproduced. The first record we recorded it once before, we pre-produced the hell out of it, it was thought about over and over and over again, and different hands were involved in it. This is just us writing fast and how we do it.

Jill: We were very inspired in a very short period of time, and we didn’t sacrifice out integrity, you can still hear it in there. We never will, we will never compromise our vision.

ToddStar: That’s good. Lyrically, what was the easiest song to write on this disc?

Jill: I Want to Fuck You to Death.  [All Laugh]

ToddStar: The fan favorite.

Jill: Because I didn’t write it. Lemmy Killmister of Motörhead wrote those lyrics for me, and as I’ve said before, it’s the most romantic thing a boy has ever done for me.

ToddStar: Okay, of songs you’ve written for the album…

Jill: Ha ha… Darn it!  Lyrically speaking, I receive all my lyrics via trance, I fall into trances, this is how they come. The one that came to me the quickest was Starbound Beast. Also that was done predominantly in one take vocally. So when you hear Starbound Beast, and I brought it to the boys, we were initially going to name the album something else, and then as soon as they heard that title all four of them were like, the title has to be Starbound Beast. And I said, I believe this too because those lyrics came to me in such a way that it was just too magical to ignore. Then it really had a grasp on everybody, so it was kind of a no-brainer. That is the title of the album for a reason.

ToddStar: On the flip side, Blake, musically what was the hardest song to put together, once you were given the lyrics?

Jill: Oh the lyrics always come secondary.

ToddStar: do they? Oh you lay them out…

Blake: Except for Fuck You to Death… well that one actually the song was already written, and I had been working on an instrumental song and as soon as she came home with those lyrics, she just handed them over, I was like OK I’m going to figure out a way to do this, and just started putting it into all these tracks that we already had been working on, and hoping that one would fit, and that was the one.

Jill: Yeah. With Fuck You to Death, we wanted to keep the chorus very melodic, we didn’t want it to just be an obvious rah rah riot girl song, I wanted it to be a love song. So it’s still heavy as fuck, but it’s a love song.

ToddStar: It comes across as both so that’s nice. You mentioned that you were overseas and you said you got the Mayhem deal. How big is this for you guys in your opinion to get Mayhem?

Jill: It’s massive! It is the biggest tour of our young careers. You can’t ask for anything better in America than the Rockstar Energy drink Mayhem Festival, this is it, this is the pinnacle for summer touring. So we’re very honored to be part of it. It’s boot camp for us, we’re learning a tremendous amount, meeting a lot of awesome bands that really have a lot of faith in Huntress, and we have a lot of people here that are just really rooting for us, and it’s awesome to see.

ToddStar: Cool, any thoughts Blake?

Blake:  We wake up at nine o’clock, eat breakfast and get to work, and by 1:30 in the afternoon we were playing to 1,000 to 3,000 kids that are just so pumped, so fired up, and not your normal crowd where it’s like, okay I heard about this band on the internet once, maybe I’ll go check them out and it’s already sunk down with the preconceived notion and something uptight about it. These kids just come out to party, it’s like their Christmas every summer and they just come out and just love it, and eat it up, and that’s the kind of crowds that we want to be playing to, that’s like the real world, you know?

Jill: Yeah, we like the real world, the real worlds actually pretty cool!

Blake: It’s not so bad!

ToddStar: It probably doesn’t suck not stealing muffins from hotels as I’ve seen happen before…

Jill: Dang! You got me! Yeah yeah, I’ve been guilty of that…

ToddStar: I think we all have at some point.

Blake: We’ve never eaten so well… ever.

Jill: …yeah we’ve never eaten so well, the catering is just top notch.

ToddStar: Now you’re going out to do another big tour with Danzig and you’ve been going crazy on Facebook psyching up the Danzig tour, how blessed to you guys feel to have that gig?

Jill: We are beyond blessed, and the fact that Danzig himself is taking us under his black wings…

Blake: Ha ha ha, good one!

Jill: …is mind blowing. Like I said, we’re all gonna take a time machine back to our 13 year old selves to high five, and then come back and freak out some more. Danzig dude, fucking Danzig!

ToddStar: It doesn’t get any bigger.

Jill; No it doesn’t, it’s the 25th anniversary as well with Doyle, so we’re looking at some Misfits connection there, I mean Blake and I can tell you right now that both of us were hugely influenced by The Misfits growing up. That’s kind of the gateway into heavy metal in my opinion.

ToddStar: And then you’re getting some of the new, I want to say up and coming, but after that tour then you’re jumping out with Lamb of God, I mean Testament…

Jill: Killswitch Engage…

ToddStar: I mean, you guys are just falling, I don’t want to say falling into, you guys are finding your spot, is that how you guys kind of look at it? Of do you look at it as the universe saying, thank you for doing what you did?

[All laugh]

Jill: A little bit of both, I think it’s a little bit of both. We have an amazing team around us, we have an amazing booking agent, Tim Borror of the Agency Group who nailed these down for us, our management Jackie Kajzer, Tenth Street Management, she’s such a pimp. I mean we have a really good crew of people around us, but I think what’s showing these massive tour productions that Huntress is viable is the fact that we are the real deal, we don’t fuck around. We pulled off over 130 shows last year, I don’t lose my voice, we don’t miss shows. We are a responsible, professional, young band that has… you know…

Blake: I think another part of it that’s been so cool for us is the support were getting from the inside niche. All these bands and the support that… honestly feel like they’re excited to have us around. To be here and to have all these incredible bands that we’ve been looking up to and hearing about for years, coming up to us and being like, oh it’s so refreshing so glad you guys are doing what you do, not too much guitar again, you don’t have the drum trigger samples. It’s like ah this reminds me of Merciful Fate. I love metal and I grew up on Merciful Fate, and we’re like a throwback to these guys that just gets them so pumped, and they’ve seen the same thing over, and over, and over again. So I think that’s been really the most fun thing, is having these people that are heavy hitters, that we would never expect to even know who we are, let alone be excited about what we’re doing.

ToddStar: That’s awesome, that’s awesome! Again, well earned! Speaking of touring, let’s step outside the realm, if you guys could pick a tour that Huntress is either headlining or supporting, pick the ideal tour?

Jill: Do you want to say at the same time?  1…2…3…

Both: …King Diamond!

ToddStar: I’d just like to see the show!

[All Laugh]  Blake: We’d make sure that we get to hang out and watch it.

Jill: Yeah, Kind Diamond, and of course Judas Priest. We’re a very modern current metal band, but we stay true to the roots of heavy metal. We love NWOBHM we love 70’s proto-metal, this is always going to be true for Huntress, and we have the very strong sense of melody. But at the same time we won’t shed that aspect of NWOBHM and true heavy metal, that’s just the way it’s going to be.

ToddStar: I asked you a question last time, I’m going to throw it back out there and I’m now letting the same question go to you Blake. If there was one song in the history of time that you wish you had written, what would it be?

Jill: Did I answer this last time?

ToddStar: No you were stumped, and you said to ask me this next time we talk.

Blake: Victim of Changes by Judas Priest.

ToddStar: Wow, he didn’t even hesitate!

Blake: No I don’t man, try me, I’ll give you a few.

ToddStar: Why that song?

Blake: That’s the definition of an epic metal tune, like the lyrics are relate-able, the intro’s awesome, it goes straight through an amazing verse, breaks down for the bridge area where Rob just nails it, comes out with the heaviest riff of all time at the end, and then Rob’s just bringing it on the final vocal line…

Jill: Oh, brings it, brings it.

Blake: … It’s got everything you could ever want out of a song, and it’s like (imitates riff from Victim of Changes) That’s a damn riff right there you know?

Jill: It’s a brilliantly crafted song, and I still don’t have an answer for you!

Blake: Ha ha, that’s what I’m here for!

ToddStar: Okay, I know we’re running out of time, a couple of minutes. 2013, you’ve got your sophomore album out, it’s doing well, there’s no such thing as a sophomore slump when it comes to you guys, you’re on Mayhem the biggest tour, you’ve got two huge tours coming up. Compared to the rest of the time on earth, right now, what is the meaning of life to you?

Jill: To live for your purpose, and nothing else, that’s all there is.

Blake: And to drive in circles…a lot.  [All Laugh]

ToddStar: There’s got to be a story there, there’s got to be a story there, you mind sharing?


Blake: Oh we’re just touring, city, city, city, city, back and back…

Jill: Circles, around the US, yeah.

Blake: …and then tour of Europe, and then back in circles.

Jill: Yeah.

ToddStar: Well again, we love you guys, thank you so much for coming. We cannot wait to see what you guys do on the next disc, we’re going to have to change it from ten stars to 11 stars to account!

Jill: Ha ha, yeah, turn it up to 11!

ToddStar: We’ve got to now, because you guys have really hit it out of the park with this, so again congratulations so much on this tour, but even more so with the Danzig gig, that’s huge for you guys.

Jill: Thank you.

ToddStar: Because you’re fans of the band…

Jill: Oh my god, you know we’re also huge fans of Lamb of God and Testament and I have to say I’m not already familiar with Killswitch Engage, but I’m listening to a lot of it on the bus.

ToddStar: Great!

Jill: So yeah, big, big Lamb of God fans.

ToddStar: Awesome, again, thank you so much for taking your time out, and we wish you well on the last few days of this tour and into the next couple. Thank you so much!

Jill: Thank you so much!

Blake: Thanks!

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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