In just a few short weeks, Lamb of God will be returning to New York City for a sure-to-be-brutal show at Roseland Ballroom. While LoG’s legendary live performances are all the reason you need to be there in person, there’s a good reason to come early too - the up-and-coming Huntress, who secured the highly coveted opening slot for the night after their killer run on the Mayhem Festival second stage this summer.
In anticipation of the October 25th Roseland show, I spoke with singer and frontwoman Jill by phone, discussing the upcoming tour, f*cking to death, bong hits versus vaporizers, and much more:
Examiner: Hi Jill, how are you?
Jill: Things are good, just gearing up for this big tour coming up.
Examiner: Where are you calling from today?
Jill: I’m in Los Angeles right now, we kick off on Monday and work our way over to join up with Lamb of God. The first date is Toronto.
Examiner: This tour is Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and Testament... and Huntress. How did you get on the most banging tour of the year?
Jill: Lots of hard work that never ends. It’s been an amazing year for Huntress, really magical and really awesome opportunities and we just tour relentlessly, and I think our reputation is starting to catch on and it’s just such an honor to be chosen to be touring with such legends of metal. Lamb of God is a dream come true.
Examiner: The tour starts in Toronto, and New York is the fourth show. Does it usually take a couple of shows to work out the kinks in production?
Jill: Absolutely. And it’s imperative for a band at our level to be able to work out the kinks and become better performers along the way. We do shows out to meeting up with Lamb of God, and we also do some shows to get back home, so we’ll be playing several headlining dates on our way out to join up.
Examiner: How many songs do you get to play on the opening slot?
Jill: The opening slot is generally five to six songs, it depends how fast we want to burn through it. We pace everything out, coming from a theatrical background I really look at it as a show. We time everything out, we talk about my banter, are we going to take breaks? If we can burn through it fast, get what we need to get done, then we can usually do six songs. If we’re going to take a little longer, we usually pull back and do five. But it has to be vicious, in your face... there’s no messing around here.
Examiner: Not on this tour. I’ve been hearing your single all over XM radio, I Want To F*ck You To Death. I know that Lemmy wrote the lyrics, what does the song mean to you personally?
Jill: To me, it’s the most romantic song ever written. (laughter) Lemmy and I have been friends for a few years, and I met up with him in Los Angeles, whenever we’re both in town we usually go to Rainbow, have a couple of drinks, so I just asked him if he’d write a song for the new Huntress album, Starbound Beast. He said sure, and a couple of weeks later he gave me lyrics over at the studio where they were recording Motorhead, and it was two pieces of notebook paper. And the title was I Wanna F*ck You To Death. I mean, who wouldn’t want to die that way? I think it’s a good way to go. And he said I was the inspiration behind it. He’s a man of great integrity. And for him to do this for me, it was such an honor and it’s amazing that he actually came through. A lot of people talk, but Lemmy walks the walk.
Examiner: There’s really no way to misinterpret those lyrics.
Jill: When Lemmy said the title was I Want To F*ck You To Death, I brought it to the guys and they were like “Oh man, get ready for some real weirdos, some new creep fans.” I said, “Bring on the creeps.” It’s a song written by Lemmy, you can’t deny a song written by Lemmy. And even Lemmy said to me, if the lyrics are a little too funky I can change them. I said absolutely not. Like I said, I think it’s romantic. And when we were writing the music to it, Lemmy only wrote the lyrics... when I brought it to the boys, I wanted to make sure we kept the chorus really melodic, so you can hear that. The rest of the song is hard rocking, and then the chorus has a little bit of melody there so it still has a sense of a love song.
Examiner: It’s catchy, and I think that’s why satellite radio loves it.
Jill: Well XM, Liquid Metal and Jose, those boys have really been amazing for us. We’re just so pleased they’ve really been playing it. Whenever we play shows, I’m noticing everyone in the front row is singing along to it. Like, why does everyone know these lyrics? All I have to say on stage is you guys know this from Sirius XM Liquid Metal and they all scream, so it’s important to have that support. And it’s coming from the East Coast, coming from my home. I grew up in New York.
Examiner: Oh where did you grow up?
Jill: I grew up in Oneonta, New York. It’s near Albany, about an hour, and then I ended up going to school in Manhattan and living in New York City for about ten years before moving out to L.A.
Examiner: Where in the city?
Jill: I lived on the Upper East Side, at 92nd and 2nd for many years, and then I eventually moved down to Allen and Delancey on the Lower East Side for a bit, I was actually working at the World Trade Center on September 10th, I did the last party there. I was DJing and promoting a show, so I was there actually on 9/11 at 2am when I left. And that’s really, that was the turning point for me. At the time I was funding my music by DJing and promoting clubs, so at that point I pretty much had to restart my life and by a strike of destiny I was brought out to Los Angeles and here’s where I finally found musicians for Huntress.
Examiner: Everyone in New York has a 9/11 story, but that has to be one of the craziest I’ve heard. You were there like seven hours before it happened.
Jill: Absolutely. And I deposited my paycheck at Windows On The World, floor 107 at 2am. I still have that receipt.
Examiner: When you were living here in New York, did you have a favorite venue?
Jill: My favorite venue is Roseland, and I am playing there with Huntress and Lamb of God so for me that is an absolute dream come true. I used to go to Roseland, I saw KISS there back in the day, and I gotta say, that venue to me is going to be a big victory to be stepping onto that stage. We also love playing the Gramercy Theatre, we played there a bunch. And as far as nightclubs, I love the gays, so you’ll usually find me in Alphabet City trolling the gay bar circuit.
Examiner: You mentioned creepers before. Do you feel like as a woman in heavy metal, creepers are to some degree inevitable?
Jill: Yeah. I think that there will always be the inevitable, especially fronting a band and being a female, and that’s just part of the game. I’m not here to change the world, I’m here to sing heavy metal. So you need be protective of yourself, you maintain your privacy as best that you can, and I do. And I really hold that close to me. I have my family and my private life. But with that said, I’m very welcoming to the fans on a different level. I’m very interactive with them online, and you get to weed out certain people that you feel may be a threat. I do have a restraining order on one person, but that’s in the past and I worked through it, so you just have a really good sensibility. Especially after working in nightlife for so many years and being part of the Manhattan scene, I’ve got my New York radar. So I can see it coming. But I won’t ever lose that interaction with my fans.
Examiner: There’s a character in the Batman comics called Huntress. I know this thanks to the couple of thousand comic books still boxed up in my mom’s basement. Is the band name an homage or reference to that?
Jill: No, I honestly never knew about that comic book. I’m just not a comic book nerd. The name Huntress comes from a deity that I worship, Artemis, goddess of the hunt. I grew up pagan so a lot of my pagan beliefs are woven in my lyrics and the imagery of the band. So it’s an homage to Artemis.
Examiner: You did the Mayhem Festival this summer (read my review of the Hartford, CT date here). Was that a great time for you guys?
Jill: We loved being part of Mayhem. Not only was it an amazing experience and a great opportunity to have a whole new fanbase, but it was also bootcamp for us. Every time we do a tour of that caliber, we learn a lot. And it was brutal, I’ll be honest with ya. It was brutal. Because we were performing on stage in 110 degrees at 1:30 in the afternoon almost every single day. I got heatstroke twice, the Mayhem folks were very helpful to me when I went through the process of learning how to deal with the heat early on in the tour, our bus broke down, so they were very helpful. It was like a family. That’s what I love about Mayhem Festival, it feels like family, everyone’s watching out for each other, everyone’s got your back.
Examiner: Who was your favorite band to watch on the tour?
Jill: Amon Amarth! The Vikings from Sweden of course.
Examiner: They killed it.
Jill: They did! And I gotta say, their stage design, with the Viking ship that breathes smoke, that was awesome for anyone to see on the US tour, but if you see them in Sweden, we played with them on Sweden Rock Festival this past year, it’s like 100 times bigger than that, it is out of control. So I love that they really bring it hard with their stage design, and we became really good friends with them and had a couple of barbecues, they’re just really cool, down to earth guys, and you can see how hard they’ve worked to be where they are and that they’ve earned every bit of it.
Examiner: On the Mayhem stage, you gave a shout out to the G-Pen vaporizers every show. I know you love to talk about weed, so let’s talk about weed a bit.
Jill: Let’s talk about weed! It’s no secret that all of us are big stoners in the band, me actually less of that because of my vocal approach, and it’s no secret that the voice rules my entire life so I only use the G-pen now. And I’m really happy that we connected with each other, because the vapor makes it possible for me to still enjoy being stoned but it doesn’t hurt the chords. So for me, G-pen is a beautiful thing.
Examiner: Do you feel like vaporizing isn’t really the same as actual smoking?
Jill: It ain’t the same as ripping a bong, don’t get me wrong. That’s my number one. If I had a choice, it would be a bong. But using it during the day... I can do errands, I can drive, I can hit my G-pen, it’s still mellow enough. It’s tastier though. And you can get varieties of wax, and it’s like a whole artform. And it’s been fun going to the shops and picking out goodies, it’s a whole new world. And everyone’s really excited about G-pen and the whole new vape revolution.
Examiner: Are you scared to travel with weed on tour?
Jill: We’re very careful. We were going through a checkpoint, I think it was in California, on the way to Arizona. And man, this is hilarious. We’re always talking on social media with our fans about meeting after the set, we always meet our fans, bring us a joint, we’ll smoke a joint with you after the set. So we were on tour and we just had an immense amount of weed, it’s hidden in everybody’s pockets, and so we got pulled over. And we were like “No, we just have this,” and sure enough we pulled out like... a ton of weed.
But we got off. Because while they were going through our van, they were like “Oh, you’re in a band? Well let’s hear your music.” So they made us play our album Spell Eater while they were clearing out our van. We were like... our minds were blown. They were blasting Spell Eater while they were going through our van, they pulled out all this weed, they pulled out our G-pens, luckily we got to keep the G-pens but they took everything else. And there was one pipe that a fan had brought me, and they were like “Is this for tobacco?” And I was like “Yes sir, it’s for tobacco.” So I got to keep it too.
They seriously were blasting our album while clearing out our van. And then, they had the audacity to actually ask for t-shirts and CDs! But you know what, I’ll give you t-shirts and CDs if we can avoid jail time and tickets. Done. So we actually got off really well.
Examiner: Are you a little paranoid about crossing into Canada on this tour?
Jill: No. This is the deal. Once you tour as much as we do, you realize there’s no bullsh*t. You have to be professional. We never, ever... when it comes down to Canada, you don’t f*ck with Canada.
Examiner: So the Canadian fans will hook you guys up.
Jill: Oh man, we get hooked up wherever we go. We got great fans, there’s a whole society... there’s a whole clan of Huntress fans that bring us weed and take really good care of us on the road. And also, a whole unity with my fellow pagans that bring me crystals and little gems and spells, and so it’s really weird and it’s really cool being on the road because you get to experience a whole other level of strange cosmic connections that’s really neat. That’s what’s cool about Huntress fans, they really love that aspect of it. They get to get weird with us.
Examiner: I’m told that’s all the time we have today, but I’m really looking forward to this show in a few weeks. Thanks for talking to me today!
Jill: Dude, awesome. We’ll see you there in New York!
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New Yorkers should be sure to arrive as early as possible to catch Huntress’s set at Roseland Ballroom. Tickets are still available here, and the tour will hit New Jersey's newly revamped Starland Ballroom at the end of November as well.
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