“We didn’t box ourselves in, we threw everything at the wall and basically I don’t know, we showcased nearly everything that we know that we’re capable of doing on this record, so I feel like since the last record, it’s your first record, you just kind of do everything and just throw everything out there.”
In 2009 a band called Halestorm delivered their kick ass debut album to the world and it had been a long time coming. Siblings Lzzy and Arejay Hale had been making music together for many years prior, and by forming and finalising the Halestorm line up along with Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith in 2004 they finally got their break after relentless touring and shows played. Three years on from the debut release and with an EP of covers to tide us over in between we now have a new album from these Pennsylvania rockers in ‘The Strange Case Of… Halestorm’ and wow, it’s good.
Prior to the album release we had a chance to speak to both Lzzy and Arejay Hale in one of the most fun chats we’ve had yet, lots of laughs in this one, we discussed the new album ‘The Strange Case Of… Halestorm’, their covers EP and just who is the one doing the biting…
Lzzy kicks us off and then Arejay pops in a few questions in… take it away Hale’s!
I need to start by saying that I think the new album is amazing, can you tell us what people can expect from it and are you excited to unleash it on the world?
Lzzy: Well first of all yes I’m very excited to unleash it ha ha ha the suspense is killing me. As far as what’s on the record, it’s definitely, you’re going to be seeing and hearing and smelling and tasting a lot of different sides of Halestorm on this record ha ha ha. We didn’t box ourselves in, we threw everything at the wall and basically I don’t know, we showcased nearly everything that we know that we’re capable of doing on this record, so I feel like since the last record, it’s your first record, you just kind of do everything and just throw everything out there and I think this one will definitely give everyone a little bit more of what we’re all about.
You’ve signed with Roadrunner here in Australia, hopefully this will give you some exposure in Australia that you haven’t seen previously, any chance you’ll be coming to visit us?
Lzzy: we definitely want to, it’s been kind of a dream of ours to go over there and we still haven’t gotten there, you can definitely count on if we have anything to do with it ha ha ha and obviously Roadrunner have been absolutely amazing, so I have a feeling we will.
What was the idea of releasing the ‘Mz Hyde’ EP prior to the album release? A nice little tease?
Lzzy: That was just something we needed to do, we’ve taken so long between records and we’ve been touring so much that I think it was a little impatience on our part ha ha ha ha, we wanted to give everybody just a little bit of something they could expect on the new record and luckily I think that everybody seems to be enjoying it, so I can’t wait for them to hear the rest of it.
When I was in the States in 2009 and heard ‘It’s Not You’ I immediately picked up your debut album and loved it from day 1, now that was 3 years ago, how do you feel you’ve grown as a band in that time?
Arejay: That’s awesome man.
Lzzy: Arejay how do you feel that we’ve grown? I mean musically I hope that we’ve grown ha ha.
Arejay: I think definitely having all that touring under our belt really, really helped us. It really helped us in the song writing process and also in the performance on the record. Performance wise I think it was better as we’d already gone through the experience of making an album and we felt more comfortable going into it knowing what to expect and we were able to take more chances and kind of have more fun with the music on the record. As far as the song writing goes, it definitely shows how much the crowds and the people that we’ve met have really inspired us to write songs and to write songs about them, a couple in particular are about people we’ve met on the road and that whole experience I think just really helped mature us as song writers and musicians.
Inspiration wise, on the first record you can see there’s a lot of relationship style songs, and somewhat on the new record, can you say it’s loosely based on that also?
Lzzy: A little bit, as far as this record goes, you write about whatever you’re feeling at the time and you chase whatever gets you excited and for us as the story goes, we came right off the road, literally with 24 hours to pack to get into the studio ha ha, so I mean the amplifiers were still ringing in our ears and the hype of the crowd and that whole feeling of being on tour was still very fresh on our minds and in our heads and our hearts, so pretty much for the first half of the record was some of the most aggressive stuff and also a lot of influence from our fans.
The song that truly stood out for me was ‘Beautiful With You’ is there a story behind this one you can share with us?
Lzzy: You know, that song was definitely a learning experience for me. I definitely have had issues in the past with letting myself be human and letting somebody else be my shoulder to cry on type of thing. I love being a leader, I love being tough, I love doing my thing on stage, these are all parts of me, but there’s also another side of me that’s a little bit more, it’s just me, and I don’t always feel like a rock star every day. So with this song I kind of wanted to give hope to anybody who is in charge of their career , or a parent and just say, Look, just because you need someone every now and then doesn’t mean you’re weak you know?
You worked again with Howard Benson as producer, what was the decision behind using him again?
Arejay: I think a big part of it, it wasn’t just him, but his team that he has in the studio, his engineer, the guitar tech, his drum tech that comes in, the assistant engineer, everybody involved. They all know us really well, we all know them really well, we know that they can come up with the most amazing sounds and I feel that Howard and Lzzy work together really well on the vocal end.
Lzzy: The list of bands that have been successful under his belt, something’s working ha ha.
Did you do anything differently this time around recording wise?
Arejay: Actually we did, we recorded all the drums to two inch tape instead of just going straight in to pro tools, so I think it sounds way more organic, more aggressive than the last record. It doesn’t sound quite as sterile as the last record. That was a big change, what do you think Lzzy?
Lzzy: Yeah your personality is oozing through the speakers ha ha.
Arejay: Why thank you ha ha ha.
Lzzy: Of course. That kind of sounds bad coming from your big sister. I don’t know, it was interesting, we ended up coming from a much more organic place and keeping some mistake sand we wanted to have that human element in there to kind of go along with the story line and everything. It was just fun, there were some times we just sat around and we didn’t know how the song was going to turn out but we just sat in a room and jammed until we got it right. It was definitely different to the last time.
Arejay: Yeah, I think that was a big help this time around during Pre-Production, Joe, Josh and Myself, our guitar player, bass player and myself went in to the actual live room in the studio and just sat there and hashed out all the musical parts so we could come up with all the riffs and the beats and I think that really helped being able to hear everybody. On our first record we set up in a rehearsal space with the amps blaring and we couldn’t really hear anything, we didn’t know how it was going to turn so this time we could actually examine everything before we hit record.
I have to ask, even though it can be somewhat of a curse word here, how did you get your song ‘Here’s To You’ on Glee? Obviously it was a much more radio friendly version used on the show ha ha
Lzzy: You know what, for some odd reason the people at Glee, the head honchos there loved the song and at the time, and obviously you’ve heard the actual version and you know there are three words that cannot ever be featured on Glee. So I keep telling them, how are we going to do this and I had to quickly rewrite some words and make sure that they could actually sing it on the show. It’s very strange, it’s something to that left field of a situation, we’ve never actually done anything like that before, but in all honesty it worked out nicely in our favour because there were so many people that wouldn’t normally seek us out that have ended up seeking out our band and getting our EP because of that and boy were they surprised ha ha.
Arejay: It was great exposure.
Lzzy: Well I have to tell you it was very strange to watch those kids singing your song on TV ha ha ha.
I wanted to ask about the covers EP you did ‘Reanimate’, which had some great choices, including Skid Row and rocked up version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, but especially your amazing version of Heart’s ‘All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You’ how did you decide on what songs you were going to put on the EP?
Lzzy: Well a lot of those songs were picked for silly reasons, for personal reasons. We did The Beatles cover because that was the very first song that the guys and I jammed to when we all first got to know each other to kinda like figure each other out and it’s a long enough song so we knew everybody could get a chance to solo ha ha. Then the Heart tune was my go to karaoke song, usually was my brother’s fault… Arejay…
Arejay: She’d get us free drinks, we’d get free drinks from people ha ha.
Lzzy: My brother’s whoring me out ha ha.
Arejay: Not like that ha ha.
Lzzy: So basically I would sing this particular song in a bar and a lot of times we would get some attention for it so the guys would end up getting free beers for it and so I told the guys when we were picking the songs, I’ll do this song but I can’t do it at karaoke anymore ha ha ha, so that was the deal. The Lady Gaga one was silly because we actually put that up on our website as a joke amongst fifty other songs including ‘Sad But True’ by Metallica and I think there was a Judas Priest song on there and we threw in the Lady Gaga song in there to be funny thinking no one would ever pick this song for us to play and it ended up being a poll for the song on our website, and lo and behold it was the most requested song that our fans wanted to hear.
Arejay: I think that was the thing, I think most of them were really curious and were like ‘OK how are you going to pull this one off?’ so we stepped up to the challenge and we tried our best you know?
For those that aren’t aware, the Halestorm journey was quite a long one prior to your debut release in 2009. Was there ever a time you thought it may not happen for the band?
Lzzy: Oh we’ve had so many ups and downs ha ha ha and it’s not necessarily do you think it’s going to happen for the band because our goal was never to get signed or take over the world, there was a lot of things but it was always just what’s going to happen next, can we keep the band together, can we stay together, can we not kill each other on the road ha ha you know. Small goals and we would celebrate the low times as well as the high times, in fact that’s what ‘Here’s To Us’ is about actually. But I think there are mostly the times where you think ‘Wow, am I really this crazy for still doing this?’ but it’s never like an OK guys I think we’re going to break up or anything, we’ve never had those conversations. There has been certain times when we think well maybe it’s not going to work out with the label, maybe we’re all going to go home and play the local clubs in Pennsylvania, which we wouldn’t mind doing anyway, but it’s definitely been a journey, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride.
Looking back at some of your EP’s before your major release, have you ever thought about going back and reworking some of those old songs?
Lzzy: Definitely, well we’ve had a lot of requests… Arejay what do you think?
Arejay: I say don’t mess with the time man, revamp ha ha ha.
Lzzy: It could be something that comes up, but I’m not really sure, we’ve always just had tunnel vision to keep it moving.
Arejay: Yeah we’ll play them live every once and while, we’ll play the song ‘The Hand’ from our old live EP, and Lzzy sometimes rolls out the piano and plays this old song called ‘Rose In December’ from a long long time ago, so maybe someday who knows?
I love that song…
Arejay: Oh so you know it? Cool!
Well when you come down here you can maybe bust that one out for us too.
Lzzy & Arejay: There you go ha ha ha.
So, your song, Love bites and so do I… who’s the one doing the biting?
Lzzy: ha ha ha.
Arejay: That’d be love ha ha, that’d be Lzzy ha ha.
Lzzy: Hmm, that’d probably be me, because that would just be silly Arejay if you went around biting people.
Arejay: *sings* Love bites and so does that guy… ha ha ha. We figure that ‘So do I’ is a better line that ‘So does that guy behind the drums…’
Lzzy: Ha ha it sounds a little nicer.
Anyway, it’s time to wrap it up so, thank you for your time guys, Lzzy I think you hands down have the best female rock voice out there and, and hopefully we will see you down here in Australia one day as you’d kick ass down here.
Lzzy: Oh thank you so much, I’m definitely rooting for it, I’ll do everything in my power to get there if I’ve got to frickin’ grow wings.
Arejay: Thanks man, take care.
From: Pennsylvania, USA
Band members: Lzzy Hale – Vocals, Guitar, Arejay Hale – Drums, Josh Smith – Bass, Vocals, Joe Hottinger – Guitar, Vocals
Latest release: The Strange Case Of… Halestorm (April 10 UK / USA – Atlantic Records – April 13 Australia – Roadrunner Records Australia)