“Instead of thinking about that we just went in and had a great time *laughs* and made some music that got us excited and put it together, so it was a different mindset, again I think that the only rules in place were we’re not going to record the record in the same way that we did the last two, and is it good or is it not?…”
Halestorm burst onto the scene back in2009 with their infectious debut album, followed it up three years later in 2012 with ‘The Strange Case Of…’ which heralded the single ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’ which, oh you know, won them a Grammy… now another three years on we get to head ‘Into The Wild Life’ with one of the most fun and friendliest bands I think in recent musical history. This band plain and simply kicks some major ass…
In Nashville getting ready to start rehearsing for their upcoming tour we had another great, fun chat with Lzzy Hale of Halestorm about the band’s new album ‘Into The Wild Life’, its sound and creation, the shaping of the band, what keeps them together and of course the question of when we’ll see them in Australia…
First thing’s first, congratulations on the album, it’s marvelous.
Oh thank you so much, we’re very proud of it and it’s been really fun to just see the roll out and see a lot of the responses and hear the opinions on it I appreciate it very much.
Now what are your feelings like around new album release time?
Oh it’s like Christmas, it’s awesome, it’s still the same as it ever was and anytime that you release anything to the public and especially when you work so hard to put together a piece of music and you’re expressing yourself in a lot of ways, and personally for me it’s my outlet for rebellion and my output for therapy, so it’s always a little nerve wracking, not necessarily nervous but just anxious to get it out, again, not unlike Christmas morning it’s like argghhhh here it is, what’s going to happen? *laughs* what are people going to think. So we’re excited right now, we can’t really wipe the smiles off our faces.
Now, it is of course called ‘Into The Wild Life’ can you tell us about the title, where it came from and what it represents?
You know it’s a couple of different things, we ended up titling the record because look, we’ve been a band for a long time, a lot of dreams have come true, a lot of things have happened to us that we never would’ve thought would have happened, a lot of accomplishments, a lot of things, so we’ve actually been living it up a lot *laughs* we’ve been saying yes to trouble a lot more often than we should I think. Just able to own this idea of Halestorm and this I don’t know, we’ve been a band for so long and it’s just been amazing to enjoy all of the things that have been happening to us but in a more specific way and we’ve been talking about this a lot. The theme of the record really is that ownership of who you are and everything that makes you tick and that really is the crazy part, that’s the wild part, is being able to be yourself unapologetically, to get to that point in your life where you’re able to say that and all four of us are happy to say… now this could all change in like a week or so and we could be all weird again, but we’re happy to say that we’re confident in who we are as people and as friends and as a band and I don’t know, we were able to make this record in a very free way and just chase after whatever got us excited, go back to our roots and do it like I said very unapologetically and say hey, this is who we are and screw everything, throw everything out the window and not try to be something you’re not type of thing. So we ended up titling the record ‘Into The wild Life’ because it was very much stepping into this area that we really hadn’t before, just being ourselves.
The album to me has such a sense of maturity to it, how do you feel you’ve grown as a band over the last six or so years since your debut release?
Well we’ve done a lot of touring *laughs* hopefully we’ve learned a thing or two about each other, that can go either way I guess… you know it’s part of growing up, we’ve done so much, we’ve toured the world together, there’s nothing more rewarding than doing what you love with the people that you love. It’s been absolutely amazing and so many things have happened that we never thought would have, so I guess, I don’t know… it comes with growing up and all these experiences that we’ve had and all these things we’ve had to go through, the ups and downs together I think helped give us that confidence to really take a good look at ourselves as a foursome, a four piece and go with another producer and with another method. We ended up doing this record so much differently than we did the last two, we ended up doing all the basic tracks live and as a performance, so it was just the four of us standing in a circle in the middle of this reformed church made into a studio here in Nashville and it didn’t eve feel like making a record, it felt like we were just creating and we just so happened to be recording and a lot of these intro and outros and a lot of these parts we added into these songs were very spontaneous and like ‘ok we just wrote that, let’s put it down’ and one of the most rewarding things that I hear on this record just because I know these guys and I know ourselves that I can hear that hesitancy, I can hear that excitement of ‘oh my god we just wrote this and now we’re recording it and this is the take’ *laughs* I just can hear it, and to me I hope that just showing that energy and erring on the side of performance and making a moment, and riding the same wave on a song, I hope that growth shows through. In a lot of ways it was taking a step inward in to ourselves and maybe a step back to our roots in order to take that step forward. So I appreciate it.
It is also somewhat of a softer album compared to your previous two, did you set out with an idea of how you wanted this one to sound or was it something that just came together as you talk about going back to your roots?
We didn’t really set out to do anything other than to chase after what got us excited, and this is what the result was. Also I think we had a different view of what heavy meant to us this time around, when we were talking about making songs heavier, it didn’t necessarily mean stacks of Mesa Boogies and a lot of crunch and layers and walls of guitars, it means the weightiness of the heaviness, the Sabbath, the Zeppelin and I guess the Judas Priest aspect, a lot of those kind of classic rock weightiness that we ended up just kind of following on this record and we didn’t really plan on that happening that way, again we were chasing after whatever got us amped up, and those sounds were what was in our heads at the time. It’s funny, we were talking about this the other day, the idea of an album and actually the word album obviously because that’s exactly what it is, it’s a snapshot or a collection of images or in this case sonic images that are a part of who we are right now in our lives and where we’re at, and what makes us tick and so again instead of going into a record thinking, oh my god is our fan base going to like this, is this gonna work for rock radio? Where is the space, how can we label this? Instead of thinking about that we just went in and had a great time *laughs* and made some music that got us excited and put it together, so it was a different mindset, again I think that the only rules in place were we’re not going to record the record in the same way that we did the last two, and is it good or is it not? *laughs* does it get you excited or does it not get you excited? Those were the only things we were following on this record.
Well it got me excited, I reviewed it and I think it’s your best work to date…
Oh thank you so much, that means a lot darlin’
You worked with Jay Joyce as the producer on the album, who has leaned more towards the country side of music in the past, why was he the right choice for the new album and what did he bring to the band?
Again we wanted to shake some things up and he was actually suggested by our A&R guy at Atlantic as kind of an odd choice, Jay Joyce is this crazy rocker dude *laughs* he’s like this cool, chain smoking, he’s just a creative ball of energy, and his bread and butter because of circumstance and the area that he’s in in Nashville, his bread and butter has been a lot of country artists and a lot of alternative. I believe we were the first hard rock band that he’s recorded, and so it was just a really neat perspective to have, having somebody that loves rock and roll that hadn’t really had the opportunity to show that. So Jay Joyce was fired up about it and he was also the only one brave enough to do this record the way we wanted to do it which was a very challenging way to do it, like I was saying we did all the basic tracks live when we know we have the technology at our fingertips to make it a lot easier *laughs*but here we are doing forty takes all four of us of the same song trying to ride each other’s wave and sometimes doing a song without even a click track and just following wherever our internal tempos go. So to err on the side of creating a moment and performance is much more difficult for anybody, for any producer to reign in and to really capture, so Jay Joyce was crazy enough to do this with us and I’m tellin’ ya I’m so glad he did, it was so much fun with that guy.
It comes across and what I love about you guys is that you can tell you work together as a band and it shows, you’re not four people doing it because you have to, you’re doing it because you love it.
*laughs* Well believe me if we were doing it because we had to, we probably wouldn’t have lasted this long *laughs* thank god it’s fun, and like I said, we still like each other which is funny too because I was telling some people the other day that we get teased sometimes on tours, we’ll go out on tour with a band and they’ll ask me ‘so what are you doing on your day off?’ and I’ll be like I don’t know, the guys and I were thinking of maybe going and having a beer, maybe doing some bowling or something cheesy like that, and they’re like ‘wait? You’re all going to hang out together?’ and I’m like yeah, don’t you? And there’s a lot of people that we met on the road just have a business relationship, so we’re very lucky to have A) not killed each other yet and B) to still be friends and still enjoy each other’s company, so that’s definitely a huge accomplishment on our part *laughs* beyond anything else.
Now you said before that you got better by touring the world, but um… you’ve sort of missed somewhere out of the rest of the world being here in Australia, and I’ll ask you again as I did when I spoke to you and Arejay last time back in 2012, when are you going to come and see us in Australia?!
Yes… *laughs* Oh I hope soon, we’ve actually begun talking about that for this year, and this has been something that I wanted to do since I was a kind. I’ve never even been to Australia to visit, so by hell or high water I am going to make that happen *laughs* if I have anything to do with it, and I do… *laughs* we’re coming down there. I do have to warn you that if we like it there you’re probably going to see a lot more of us, so you may be sick of us before long, so be careful what you wish for *laughs* but no we’re definitely coming down there very soon.
Also since we last talked you’re now a Grammy winner, I mean that’s gotta be pretty cool in terms of a highlight for the band’s career thus far, right?
Oh definitely, I think what we should’ve won was an award for most genuinely surprised band that won a Grammy, because we seriously didn’t think that was going to happen with us, we weren’t banking on it, honesty, we just wanted to go to the parties *laughs*. The nomination was enough of an accomplishment considering everyone we were up against; the majority of these people are our idols you know? Some of them actually inspired the freakin’ song that we were nominated for so we just didn’t think that was going to happen; it’s very cool that it did and we took it as kind of a personal triumph for us, we were giggling manically throughout the entire rest of the day thinking “ha ha ha we just won a Grammy, who screwed up?” *laughs* it was awesome, we made all of our parents cry, so yeah…
So you’ve only been releasing major albums since 2009 but you’ve been making and playing music since you were a youngster, do you feel that by being so musical from an early age that it helped shape who you are as an artist today?
Oh definitely, I still listen to a lot of the music that I was when we first started the band and also I don’t know, I don’t think the fire has changed at all, the drive and the goal still hasn’t changed and just from where we were at, we’re still kind of a simple rock band, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just trying to be the very best Halestorm that we can be *laughs*. I don’t know, the goal has always been to continue, what’s the next fork in the road? Where do I go, left or right? Let’s toss the dice and see… so a lot of that stuff has remained the same. I grew up on a lot of my parent’s music too, so a lot of classic rock, a lot of Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Van Halen and Dio and all that good stuff, and I still listen to those records and can learn something new from them, so not much has changed. My sense of humour hasn’t either, I still hang out with a bunch of guys and we’re all quite immature, so haven’t changed much *laughs*.
Well you’ll fit in perfectly here then…
See, I was meant to come to Australia. *laughs*
So what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned about being in a band that you never expected would be part of the whole thing?
Oh wow… I think it’s s been a series of lessons and we were just talking about this today, is I think that the biggest reason we’ve accomplished so much so far in our career is because we didn’t break up.. I never thought that the aspect of keeping a band a family, I mean literally my brother’s in the band with me as well, but that mentality of you don’t break up the family therefore you don’t break up the band has always been there in our band. We never really talked about it, it’s just this unspoken thing where this band is so much more to us than a career choice, it’s an identity, it’s a way of life, it’s part of who we are as friends and part of who we are as individuals and I don’t think I would’ve ever thought that would have been pretty much 90% of the reason that we’re still here and we’re still accomplishing things is because of that mindset and that mentality, in a lot of ways you out last them all *laughs*. I say that to a lot of young kids… number 1: don’t be an asshole, number 2: practise and write every day, number 3: just don’t break up *laughs* because it’s so easy to just say uncle and give in and because I have these amazing guys around me and we all know each other so well I think that’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as being a keystone as to why we’re still a band and we’re still here.
From: Pennsylvania, USA
Band members: Lzzy Hale – Vocals, Guitar, Arejay Hale – Drums, Josh Smith – Bass, Vocals, Joe Hottinger – Guitar, Vocals
Latest release: Into The Wild Life (Out Now – Warmer Music / Roadrunner Records Australia) – Check out our review of the album HERE