Answered by Marija (Drums)
Hello! Who are Jenner? Please tell the band’s story.
Hello, first of all, we’d like to thank you for the opportunity to do this interview and introduce our band to your readers. So, we’ll start our story from the very beginning, 4 years ago, when the first version of Jenner is created. Sisters Alexandra Stamenkovic (guitarist) and Marija Stamenkovic, now Dragicevic (drums), were already playing in an all female hard rock band, and Alexandra was bassist then. Since we’ve had many problems in finding a good female guitarist, we had disbanded and Alexandra decided to learn to play guitar and form another band. Marija wanted it to be the same stuff they had already played but with other members and band name. Then we had found Jenner’s first bassist Jana Bacic. After just one rehearsal with one more girl on guitar, we knew it wouldn’t work, so we had disbanded again and Alexandra had an idea to form an old school heavy metal band, with the influence of Rock Goddess, Warlock, Judas Priest, Grim Reaper etc… She had no drummer, so Marija jumped in again in order to help her, and with her influence, we decided again to take a risk and form an all female band. We asked Andjelina Mitic (vocals), the girl we knew earlier, to sing, and Jana accepted to be our bassist again. We covered mostly the bands that influenced Alexandra, already mentioned here, and through time, she and our friends realized we should take faster and heavier sound as we had a lot of potential and talent, that’s what they said, haha! We accepted their advice and started covering the bands we liked then – Overkill, Anthrax, Exodus etc… Unfortunately, Jana could not fit in with our new sound, so she was replaced by our current bassist Mina Petrovic, and not so long after that, we recorded our first demo, two songs – Hear the thunder roar and On a judgement day, in order to promote the band and participate in iconic 49th Serbian guitar festival at Zajecar. We made it to the semi-finals and had a remarkable performance which opened us the door of the further success. Few months after, our first album was prepared for recording. Since Marija left the band during the pregnancy, Selena Simic (Nemesis, Vibrator u Rikverc, Goatmare and the Helspades) helped the rest of the band to finish the drum tracks and do a few gigs, and both bands, Jenner and Nemesis, performed the opening acts for the Brazilian female thrash band Nervosa, here in Belgrade. A year had passed, and Marija had returned, the album is finished at Citadela Sound Production from Belgrade and soon will be released by Inferno records from France, actually, 20th of February. And the rest is the history!
Talking about the band’s name: what does it mean? Why did you choose this name?
The name of the band came from the surname of the famous Dr Edward Jenner, the inventor of the smallpox vaccine, not of those American today’s “celebrities” as most people think. Alexandra was in medical school, and learnt microbiology for the exam, when she found out about Dr Jenner. She had immediately took a piece of paper and drew an awesome logo, Marija liked it and we together presented it to the rest of the band. The same logo we use nowadays. That’s it.
Where have you learned to play instruments?
All the members of Jenner are self-taught. We practiced for years and relied only on our sense of hearing. In the beginning, we had used the Guitar pro, in order to practice notes, we wrote many tablatures by ourselves, and then we had a lot of rehearsals instead of musical school classes.
There are not so many female bands that play such music (talking about thrash metal). Why did you choose this genre, and not much more trendy music?
As we’ve said in the biography, Jenner were not supposed to play thrash metal in the beginning. We played only old school heavy metal covers, including Accept, Warlock, Grim reaper, Judas Priest etc… At the festival for young bands held here in Belgrade, we played those songs an won the second prize, the song recording, just guess, at the Citadela Sound Production. We became friends with Luka Matkovic (Quasarborn, ex Space Eater and also a producer), and we can freely say that he had a little influence on our further sound. By hearing Serbian few thrash metal bands, and also many old-school thrash metal bands from ‘80s, we saw ourselves in that kind of music, and decided to cover some songs we liked – Agents of steel (Agent Steel), Hammerhead (Overkill), Bonded by blood (Exodus), Medusa (Anthrax) etc… We’ve been accepted surprisingly good, and that gave us strength and will to continue with our own songs. Jenner needed a year, year and a half to evolve, and become a significant part of the Serbian metal underground scene.
Who writes the music and lyrics in the band?
The main composer in the band is surely Alexandra. She wrote every song on the album, and Marija is in charge with the lyrics. Her husband Ivan and Alexandra helps her too, they all wrote some lyrics together. There are also two songs featured on the album, which lyrics are written by our producer Luka Matkovic.
Soon your debut album ‘To Live Is To Suffer’ will be released. Can you tell more about it? About the whole creating and recording process.
The album needed some time to be fully recorded due to Marija’s maternity leave, and rest of the band member’s private stuff, but it all ended good. We had already found a label, even when the album was not yet done. Fabien, from Inferno records, France, gave us a chance, and we must be modest to say that he was amazed by what he heard. Alexandra did the awesome job with the songs arrangements, all by herself, and we all are impressed by her talent. As we have already said, Selena Simic (Nemesis, Vibrator u Rikverc, Goatmare and the Hellspades), helped us to finish the drum tracks, guitars and basses are quickly recorded, and the vocals needed some time but it’s also successfully finished till beginning of this year. Whole album is recorded, mixed and mastered at the studio of Citadela Sound Production, our famous underground metal production, which worked with many Serbian bands – Centurion, Alitor, Infest, Nadimac, The Stone, Kobold, Prisoner, Space Eater, Quasarborn etc, by Luka Matkovic… The release date is 20th of February 2017. , and both cds (1000 pieces) and cassettes (100 pieces) will be printed. We can’t wait to have those in our hands!
According to your demo and all the songs that I found in Internet, you prefer clean vocals. Why so?
Well, our music is not all about playing faster and louder as you can, and growl until your throat explodes. We mixed the melody, guitar harmonies, backing vocals, crowd vocals with high pitched vocal and also few growl parts. Andjelia is very talented singer and our songs are just reflection of her abilities. We just can’t imagine rough vocals combined with our music. At least, we all love Anthrax, and Joey Belladonna also sings clean, doesn’t he?
Jenner is an only female thrash metal band in Serbia, as I know. What is it, to be a female metal band?
To be a female metal band is not easy, not even in Serbia. Prejudices follow us on every step, it’s a kind of an etiquette we all female musicians must carry with. To be a part of a female metal band, that’s weird to most of people. But we learnt not to pay attention and do what we love, the best as we can. There were some stories we’ve heard, that we haven’t even recorded our own demo. One must just ignore the nonsense. We’re trying to give our best to prove that our work and effort is not just for nothing. Serbia has some very talented female bands – Nemesis, Vibrator u Rikverc, Plump, Replicunts etc… But female metal bands are rare everywhere. Now, when we’ll release the album, half of the world have already heard of us and have nothing but praise and admiration for we have decided to deal with the thrash metal.
Rock and metal scene in Serbia: what can you tell about it? Is it big? Is rock and metal music famous in your country, or it’s still underground?
Unfortunately, our rock and metal scene is still underground, small but strong. We are proud of all kind of subgenres of metal bands. Some of them are really successful, for example Infest, Alitor, Nadimac etc, who plays all across Europe, and they’re accepted very well. We’re all holding very tight, hang out together, support each other, help and assist. It isn’t easy for us to deal with the band, cause it can’t make us a living and it needs a years of work and sacrifices, metal is very expensive hobby. But we’re all making it, mostly because we do what we love, and that’s the only thing that keeps us. Although here in Serbia we have some hard working labels, but we noticed that our bands usually seek cooperation with foreign labels which are interested in our scene and help us to promote our music all across the world.
I know, that some of you have families and also mothers (Marija). Is it hard to combine motherhood, family, everyday work and playing in thrash metal band?
Oh it’s damn hard. Marija’s baby is 6 months old, she needs a lot of attention. Alexandra studies medicine, it’s a huge shortage of free time and money. Andjelina and Mina have their own jobs. But we always find a time for rehearsals and gigs. Doing what you love is the most important for us, so we won’t give up on band so easy. It’s only about the work and effort, as much as our free time allows us for it. Only thing that sucks is that we can’t make a living from a band, but we must invest in it.
What are your influences in music? Who or what inspires you as musicians?
The bands who influenced us to start playing thrash/speed metal are mostly – Anthrax, Exodus, Heathen, Overkill etc, and also our friends from Serbia – Space Eater, Alitor, Deadly Mosh etc… Each of us four is a very different person but together we are a perfect match. Our common goal is to show the world what we really know, and what we have to say. We don’t want to be classified to minority which audience never take seriously, but consider us as stupid women and admire them only because they can trigger the string. Anyway, our female bands have a bad reputation that we can’t play. In essence, what inspires us is a continuous flow of energy between the musicians and the audience, you give something and they accept and they return it with positive energy and trust.
What are your future plans?
The most important thing for our near future is our debut album promotion, playing and traveling as much as our free time and money allow us to, spreading the word about our band and don’t give up even it’s hard to handle with.
Few words to your fans?
We’d like to thank everybody for their support! Stay tuned with our official Facebook page for more information about the album releasing, gigs, merch etc, and don’t forget to stay metal!
Thank you for the interview, hope to see you live and waiting for your album! Droll