No, it’s not a “project” or another “super group!” How We End is a new exciting band out there, comprising Jen Majura (ex-Evanescence), Diva Satanica (ex-Nervosa), Jake E (Cyhra, ex-Amaranthe), Tom Naumann (Primal Fear), Mitch Kunz, and Adde Larsson, who are joining forces for new musical highlights. As a sound, How We End delivers a massive sound comprising different styles, including crossover metal, female death growls, catchy clean hook lines, and heavy commercial guitar riffs. There is a lot to be excited about, and here at the magazine, we were really happy to get the chance to speak to Jen. It was that fan moment for us as we spoke to a guitar hero!
Anyone who gets older knows that sometimes, without spotting it coming, a load of trouble can fall on your head. At these times, there are many people who come out with doomsday prophecies, but the trick is to look forward and be even more successful. In the case of Jen Majura, she was a very popular member of Evanescence, but then ‘the chapter ends’ (Amy Lee) and a door closes. For Jen, (who had a 2017 solo album out: Inzenity, full of melody driven rock), one door closed, but she had to open a new one. And just how does an internationally known guitarist move to another band?
Jen- Well, let’s take it back to May last year, when I was two weeks away from leaving home for eight months and I got the call. It was first of all a massive shock as you have to prepare your home and your life to be away from home for eight months. I figured out the little things, like who would be teaching in my music school, and I found a replacement. Then, where does the mail go?! You have to figure out all that normal stuff, and I was starting to pack my suitcase, when the call came. Seriously? Two weeks away from the commitment to head off for eight months, I get that phone call. After the first shock, I honestly felt I would use the time to dive into my third solo album, as people have been asking since 2017 when that was happening. I sat there when I started with a couple of songs and realised that I was numb, it was just not working out for me. I wrote a black metal song because I wanted it to be more metal. Then I thought, “Jen, you are not a black metal musician!” I felt then that I needed more happiness in the music, so I wrote a seventies disco track, and did the same thing. So in the fall of last year, I basically gave up and felt I was wasting my time. I then decided to just live life and do some cool travelling, I headed off to see a friend in Sweden and played a charity show in Italy. I was spontaneously able to do what I wanted. Then, in the fall of last year, I hit a bit of a low point. I, in short, wanted to quit music. There I was, sitting down to be creative, and it wasn’t working. All that white noise and running the hamster wheel of the music business, that has changed so drastically over the decades. I wasn’t sure any more that I wanted to participate. Maybe I would be happy with a 9 to five job.
I think that all of us here would find it difficult to think of Jen anywhere else but in music.
Jen- Oh put me as a cashier in a store! I felt I had lost my creativity and passion. It is a bit dark, but the truth. But then I was approached by Tom Naumann, our guitar player, and he and I went back maybe 20 years, as he was a guitar teacher and grew up in the same area as me, and he called with news of the band. Was I interested in joining? I was getting offers by that stage, the news was everywhere, and there were some really well paid offers out there, as well as some ridiculous and funny offers! The thing is that if I commit, then I commit fully. You really can’t be in a marriage for six years, get divorced, and then just jump into bed with someone else. That is not how I work. The six years (with Evanescence) meant too much to me to just move on and forget immediately. I wasn’t willing, initially, to do anything. There was also this dark cloud over me when he called that made me not want to do anything. I was wishing him luck with the band, but not giving a “yes” or “no.,” I was more observing from a distance. Then we ended up on a call again, and I was asking how the band was progressing, and he was saying, “Not at all.” He noted that he was still waiting for the last band member to confirm! At this stage, I really listened to the music, and it was very convincing. The music up to this point was like modern metal, but it also invoked childhood memories and had retro elements. I am in love with the music, and as my long-term friend asked me, that sealed the deal. And that is how I joined the band! Once committed to the band I told them they had to deal with me now, as we were heading on a rocket trip to make things happen.
In our youth long, long ago, there was a bit of a lack of girls with guitars in rock. Suzi Quatro stands out, but now there are so many girls playing guitar! We wondered about those female role models in rock for Jen in her youth.
Jen- When it comes to role models, I believe there is no gender point. The human race needs to come to the point where it doesn’t really matter. The gender topic is largely irrelevant, as we are all musicians, whether male, female, transgender, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are musicians creating music for the people. As a child, my first guitarist crush was Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi. I was six years old.
Oh, we all love Bon Jovi, come on, “Wanted Dead or Alive” is hard to beat.
Jen- I know. But when people say it was Metallica or Halloween for them, for me, it was Bon Jovi. I am a sucker for pop music, and Richie Sambora back in the day, and I am talking about “Slippery When Wet,” and it was obtainable in the sense that I could play it. It was something that was doable for me, and I played every Bon Jovi song, and that was the first time I had contact with cover material. Sort of briefly after that, I did discover Steve Vai, and that changed my entire life. To this day, I have a Steve Vai tattoo on my wrist, I am that big a fan of his music and contributions. I think he is a wonderful spirit and a smart, wise, and innovative person. That touched me, and back in school everyone was listening to Take That and Backstreet Boys, and you can imagine I didn’t have that many friends! But as far as a female role model, some will say to me that I was their role model, but I don’t think I ever had one. The first female guitarist I really noticed would have been Jennifer Batten, that was probably the one I noticed first. Then Joan Jett of course!
We wondered then whether the sixteen year old Jen Majura, if she were listening to the music today, would be impressed with what Jen was doing, or perhaps surprised.
Jen- The reason I decided to dedicate my life to music was not to reach bigger venues, to live a jet set life, or drive a Ferrari. That said, I would love to drive an Audi r8 LMS Ultra, just in case someone is reading this! But, especially nowadays with all these television casting type shows, there is a false approach to discovering creativity and work in music. To me, it should be about the art, the creative part. As an artist, you have to be creative, and you (as a musician) spend hours and hours there with your instrument. When others would be downtown shopping, I would be there with my instrument practising, and the reason I have done that is the love of music and the creative process.Nowadays, there is a false approach engraved in many young people that it is about the fame element, and the press magnifies that. Fame is being recognised and having the money. But in my opinion, that is the wrong reason for going into music. Times change, but I try to spread the word that it is about creativity, and every person, I believe, has a form of creativity, whether music, art, cookery, or whatever. The gift, if you have it in music, is being able to take people out of their reality and troubles and use that creativity to help them drift away and build dreams for themselves in their lives. That is what it should be about. Fame is not real, maybe nice if it happens, but it’s not real.
As a guitarist, we wanted to know how Jen felt about the role of the solo in rock performance. On one end of things there is the Frank Zappa approach of never knowing what he will play from one night to the next, total spontaneous playing, and the other there is tightly controlled note for note perfection each night. Where does Jen fit in this?
Jen- It depends entirely on the gig. There are different types of acts and venues. I like both and can be comfortable in both worlds. In one show, let’s call it the predictable show, everything is on time because of the lights and so on. Then, as you know in this song, you go two steps to the right or whatever, or now I am on that podium. When it’s like that, it’s okay. But if I think back to when I had my AC DC tribute band (I had this awesome AC DC all girl tribute band for maybe five years), then the venue, the crowd, and the moment were so perfect, I would turn to the drummer and just nod to keep going. I would play another round, and that is something, a time when I was creating for that moment. That has a big charm. But, in another way, you know with the “predictable show” that at 10.23 the show will end, then you’ll shower, have dinner, and so on.
Let’s turn to the single, “My Fighting Heart.” The link to download it is here. We liked it here at the magazine. It was cool melodic rock with these growling vocals. As a taster, it has to be a great start for the band, it has a solid commercial sound. But Jen came late into the process for this one
Jen- I believe the song was one of the first the band approached in the studio together. With me coming in as the last puzzle piece, I was not involved in the early songwriting process, but I could come in and listen to the material from an outsider’s objective point of view. I picked the first three singles. With “My Fighting Heart,” I knew this was the first single, this was it. It is mainstream catchy, and I think of Jake E as a fantastic musician, with the ability to write these great hooks. I like the combination of these guttural vocals from Diva. And Diva is such a sweetheart; if you met her, you would totally not expect her to sing like that! She is this cute girl, and then you hear her sing, and it’s, “Children, go inside and save yourselves!” Jake E is a great vocalist too, I heard the song and felt it was the best way to present the band to the world. Let’s be honest here, the band is very new, only a matter of weeks officially. The second single, Levitate,” will be released at the end of this month, and we are in the final mixes for that. Then a third single will come at the end of June, but there is no announcement about that. We are very excited. I would present the process with a kitchen analogy – in the kitchen, you have all the herbs and spices – and you add them in, and every dish can taste differently. Each song, you can tell its origin, but there is such depth and different influences in there… People assume I am listening to metal all the time, I wake up and go to sleep listening to Creator, yes? No! I like some very well produced pop music by Lady Gaga, and I think highly of her. Then, I am friends with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, and he does music outside the box, then, I like prog metal, I like all styles of music. We shouldn’t write with a view to fitting into a genre, but feel free to write. Nowadays, the world is more open-minded, I hope.
But the music industry copes with the boxes perhaps better?
Jen- From the industry’s point of view, they do like to present you in a genre for the benefit of marketing you, yes. But you should be blending the different flavours, and that is what we do with “How We End.” The music is modern, it’s a big heavy riffing sound. But then there are the childhood memories of the early nineties and so on. It is music from six friends who enjoy writing and working together. We also enjoy listening to it, and that makes the difference.
This is a band to get listening to and watch out for! Good luck to them and we will be reviewing the album when it arrives! Its also terrific to see and hear Jen again !
By Benny (the Ball) Benson
Mark C. Chambers
And if you have had a look around the magazine and read a few features and reviews, (older reviews in “the vault) then you may notice you can read with us without endless pop ups and adverts. That is because we value our readers and their reading experience! BUT, to keep devoting our time to you it really helps if you visit our Amazon affiliate shops while you are here or check out our merchandise shop. We have some great products, all designed in house.