Happy 2023, my dear metalheads! Are you ready for another year of underground awesomeness here at The Heabanging Moose? I’m sure you are, and in order to properly kick off such promising year for heavy music let’s continue our tradition of honoring a badass bass player as our metal lady of the month of January, just like what we did in all previous years, sounds good? And you better get ready as our ruthless bassist will crush your skull with her rumbling bass and rebellious attitude, helping to put her homeland Switzerland in the map of Heavy and Power Metal together with her also extremely talented bandmates. I’m talking about Jeanine Grob, the red-haired bassist for Switzerland-based all-female Heavy/Power Metal coven Burning Witches. Having said that, it’s time to bang our heads and raise our horns to the sound of the thunderous bass by Jeanine Grob, and let the witches burn in the name of heavy music.
Born on June 4, 1990 in Brugg, a Swiss municipality and a town in the canton of Aargau, the talented Jeanine, or simply Jay as her friends like to call her, considers herself some sort of “novice” in music, as she explained that after meeting Romana Kalkuhl (rhythm guitarist with Atlas & Axis who had been looking for a cast for an all-female metal band for a long time) at a party she actually went to her music school for guitar lessons just for fun, but after a while Romana asked if she could handle the bass guitar. Needless to say, she fell in love with that instrument, and of course Romana asked her if she wanted to be part of her all-female band, leading to the creation of Burning Witches. “Romana is something of the fun factor. She didn’t start the band to be famous or anything like that. She just wants to have fun and see how an all-female band works. For me that was great. I could stand on stage with my best friend and bang my head. Never thought it would develop this far with the band,” commented Jeanine in one of her interviews.
It was during the spring of 2015 when Swiss Heavy/Power Metal act Burning Witches was officially formed by Romana, with Jeanine becoming the band’s first official member, later being joined by vocalist Seraina Telli, drummer Lala Frischknecht and guitarist Alea Wyss. Although there have been a few changes to the band’s lineup since their inception, Romana, Jeanine and Lala have remained as its core, with vocalist Laura Guldemond and guitarist Larissa Ernst being the other two current members of the band. As you all know, Laura is from the Netherlands, which means her mother tongue is Dutch and not German like the rest of the band, but that’s not an issue at all for the band according to Jeanine. “Our band language is now English. Of course, situations can arise from time to time in which you have to ask exactly what that was meant to prevent misunderstandings. But before we quarrel about it, let’s talk about it. But it’s definitely not a problem – and then there’s Google.”
Together with the Burning Witches, Jeanine recorded their self-titled debut album in 2017, the 2018 album Hexenhammer, the 2020 album Dance with the Devil, and their 2021 opus The Witch of the North, as well as the EP’s Wings of Steel, in 2019, and Acoustic Sessions, in 2020, the live album Burning Alive, in 2018, and of course their self-titled debut demo in 2016. In addition, Jeanine has also been featured in several compilations alongside the Burning Witches, including Maximum Metal Vol. 243 (Metal Hammer, 2018), Lauschangriff Vol. 67 (Rock Hard, 2018) and Metal Hammer 1/2019 (Metal Hammer, 2019) with the song Executed; Maximum Metal Vol. 254 (Metal Hammer, 2020) and Lauschangriff Vol. 79 (Rock Hard, 2020) with the song Sea of Lies; and Maximum Metal Vol. 264 (Metal Hammer, 2021) and Lauschangriff Vol. 86 (Rock Hard, 2021) with the song Flight of the Valkyries. You can find those and plenty of other amazing songs and videos from the Burning Witches on YouTube, such as The Witch Of The North, Hexenhammer, We Stand As One, Black Widow, and Dance With The Devil, and countless live footage where you can enjoy Jeanine kicking ass armed with her bass, like the band’s performances live at Salzhaus Brugg in Swtizerland in 2018, at Hell Diest in Belgium in 2022, and at New Wave of Heavy Metal Festival in Germany in 2018.
When asked about how the band managed the transition from Seraina to Laura on vocals, and if there was a lot of pressure to find the right replacement for a much-vaunted frontwoman like Seraina as quickly as possible, Jeanine said that because Romana writes the music to sound like Burning Witches no matter what, there were no issues nor pressure during that period of change, complementing by saying she thinks Laura sounds even more metal than Seraina (although she considers both great vocalists). “And what makes us very happy, of course, is that Laura is very well received by the fans, and that is ultimately what counts. In terms of character, Laura fits perfectly into the band, she’s just as crazy as we are,” said Jeanine, who doesn’t know exactly where the band could go, while also saying the band would never change their style just to be more successful, and that it was never their declared goal to become such popular metal band. “Hey, we were allowed to perform in Wacken – the dream of every musician who is at home in the metal scene. But we kept our feet on the ground and didn’t take off. And I’m not planning where I want to be in five years, for example to tour with Iron Maiden. We take it as it comes and enjoy every single step!”
In terms of her idols and influences, Jeanine and the rest of the band are of course inspired by bands the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Manowar, Amon Amarth, and Switzerland’s biggest metal band of all time, Celtic Frost, always listening to a variety of music ranging from Jazz to Extreme Metal. Our dauntless bassist is also a huge fan of Exodus, but of course she said the biggest dream tour for her would be with Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, saying she would probably faint if she could go on tour with Iron Maiden. Furthermore, as their musical roots are definitely in the 80’s, Jeanine said there are many parents who attend their concerts and take their kids with them, which certainly has a positive impact on the future of heavy music. Speaking about touring and the life on the road, Jeanine mentioned that playing at Bang Your Head, one of the biggest festivals in Germany, was a fantastic experience to the band and a moment that will be remembered by them. And when asked about the band’s cover version for Manowar’s classic Battle Hymn, Jeanine said that “we’re all Manowar fans and Romana had the brilliant idea of asking Ross The Boss to play on our cover version. And to our delight, he absolutely loved the idea. His bassist Michael Lepond (Symphony X) also found the suggestion exciting, and that’s how the whole thing got rolling.”
Jeanine also has an interesting view on the use of Spotify, YouTube and other streaming services today, and how they impact her music. “Everything is more fast-moving today, especially with all the media platforms that are now available. But I think the real fans who are interested in our music will listen to everything online as well. What was certainly better for us musicians in the past, when everything was still released on disk or CD, is that there were no platforms from which you could simply download music for free. A lot of people are not even aware that we musicians are not doing us any favors because we don’t get anything for our work. On the other hand, these new technologies also offer completely new possibilities. Nowadays it’s much easier to reach people and make them aware of us and our music. If you used to walk into a record store and see a CD from a band you’ve never heard of in your life, you probably hesitated rather than grabbing it spontaneously. Today you’re online, just listen to one or the other song, and if you like it, then you buy it. Everything has its pros and cons.”
In one of her interviews, Jeanine said she likes the fact that the Burning Witches are known as an all-girls group, complementing by pointing out to the importance of having more women in a male-dominated scene. “As a woman, it takes a lot of courage to stand up and fight to be taken seriously. When it all started for us back then, we had to fight against the prejudice that we didn’t set it all up ourselves. It was rumored that we first got a record deal and only then gave concerts, which of course is nonsense. And you really have to want success, because the music business isn’t always a bed of roses. What I can also imagine is that female bands quickly get in each other’s hair and then the whole thing falls apart quite quickly. Luckily, that’s not a risk for us, because we’re all very direct and open when dealing with each other and discuss differences of opinion straight away,” also saying that being called “witches” makes total sense for them, as in metal music no woman wants to be a “princess”. By the way, although Jeanine said the band doesn’t have any male groupies, there’s a fun video on YouTube from when the band played in St. Louis, a major city in Missouri along the Mississippi River in the United States, where one of the guys told Jeanine he loves her, and of course the band played along to make the experience even more fun.
As it happens to many, many bands and musicians out there, the girls from the Burning Witches have what can be called regular jobs, including of course Jeanine, but she said that luckily they all have great bosses who support them, saying that if they’re absent for several weeks then they take unpaid leave. “I work in sales, where it wasn’t always easy for the last three years – a lot was promised, but when it came down to it, they suddenly said I was here to work and you couldn’t make money with music anyway. But I was lucky enough to find a new job where I am now really supported. The whole thing is always based on reciprocity. I’m willing to give a lot, but I expect something in return. But this flexibility is not a matter of course, especially in sales, so I was really lucky.” Moreover, on the music side of business, Jeanine is very happy with all the support the band gets behind the scenes from VO Pulver (Poltergeist, Gurd), Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer (Destruction) and Damir Eskic (Destruction). “It’s definitely not the case that Schmier dictates anything to us, like getting involved in the songwriting or something like that, we really enjoy total freedom there. But of course we are also extremely happy about his input, after all he has been in the scene for over 30 years and brings a lot of experience with him. In the end we design the songs the way we want them to, but we also have an open ear for tips and ideas.”
There are several interviews with Jeanine and her bandmates online, such as this one in 2019 with Metal Underground when the Burning Witches performed in the UK for the first time supporting Brujeria and Cryptopsy, talking about the origin of their name, the role of women in modern metal and much more; this one to Bloodstream TV in 2022; this one right before their show at Hell Diest in Belgium in 2022; these five question by Rockers Den Magazine in 2022; or this simple but fun backstage footage from Dortmund, Germany when they were touring with Destruction in 2020. There’s no escape from Jeanine and her rumbling bass, as you can see, because you know, our red-haired diva is a witch of heavy music, and that’s all that she needs to hypnotize us all and drag us to their metal coven for all eternity.
Jeanine Grob’s Official Facebook page
Jeanine Grob’s Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official Facebook page
Burning Witches’ Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official YouTube channel
Burning Witches’ Official Twitter