It’s a good time to be a member of Halestorm. The hard-rocking quartet has sold more than 300,000 copies of its self-titled, debut album, released in 2009; toured the world with some of the biggest names in the business, including Shinedown, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour; and on April 10, 2012, will release its brilliant second album, “The Strange Case of …,” which already is burning up airwaves with its first single, “Love Bites (So Do I).” The band will spend the spring on the Mass Chaos tour, co-headlined by Godsmack and Staind. Frontwoman Lzzy Hale recently participated in a teleconference with journalists to discuss the tour, the new album and more.
On being a female in a male-dominated band and on a male-dominated tour:
LZZY HALE: What’s a girl to do? Well, I kind of have a different view of all of that than I think many of my female counterparts. I freaking love being a girl on an all-guy bill. It’s an honor to be on a bill like this. I mean, it’s great. You feel like a little sister in rock, almost. You’ve got these big brothers around you. You learn a hell of a lot, and you stick out like a sore thumb. I love it. I think I’ve always taken the positive route when it comes to being a lone woman on a tour dominated by dudes.
On what she is excited about on the new album:
Everything. I’m so proud of this record. I mean, when we made our first record—it’s our first record, so we weren’t really sure what we were doing, and we weren’t sure who would grab on to it and who we were actually going to be singing to.
So with this record, we had just a better concept of our fans, and a lot of what we did was inspired by them and the feeling that we got during our live shows. Also, the music is bridging the gap between what we do live and what we can do in the studio. This was lost on our last record, so for the people that are geeks about this stuff, we recorded drums to 2-inch tape, and we hashed out most of the stuff, just the four of us sitting in a room as a band. So it’s a nice step up from the last record. There’s more energy and also more intimacy. You’re going to be hearing and tasting a lot of different sides of Halestorm on this record. I’m excited about what people are gonna think.
On the sound of the new album:
Well, this new record was a lot of fun to make, and it kind of came together—it’s us really not boxing ourselves in. On our last record, we paid so much attention—we were trying really hard to make sure everything is consistent, that there was a theme, everything was on 10. And with this new one, we just kind of let it be what it was going to be. … The anticipation is killing me, because I want it to be out there now! But, I mean, definitely the sound on this record is a lot more human than the last record. I decided to be brave on this record and go to all extremes. Again, it’s not just vocally, I’m using many gears of my voice, and but also just musically and lyrically not giving a fuck.
On how “Love Bites (So Do I)” set the tone for the writing and recording of the new album:
“Love Bites,” our newest single … was the first song that we wrote and the first song that we recorded for the new record. That particular song was directly inspired by the cover “Slave to the Grind” by Skid Row that we put out a couple months ago. When we recorded it, we discovered that, wow, we can actually do a song at this tempo. We should write one like this. So we ended up recording “Love Bites (So Do I).”
You have to realize that we literally got off tour, had 24 hours to pack and then got on a plane to L.A., were in the studio the next day recording this song. We got to record drums for it at Sunset Sound in the Van Halen room! It sounds amazing, but I don’t know, it definitely set the tone for the record, because we were barely off tour, the amps were still ringing in our ears. So there’s a lot of energy that we captured while we were still kind of in that tour mode.
So really that one and then the first eight songs that we recorded to be considered for the record were very aggressive and probably the most aggressive that we’ve ever done, and they’re very riff-heavy and I’m screaming my head off, and it’s funny because then what ended up happening halfway through was I ended up writing some of the most intimate and personal songs that I’ve ever written, and I was like, “Wow! What a turn.” So the finished product ended up being this record that has a very strange duality to it and showing literally all sides of myself.
But, yeah, definitely “Love Bites” gave us the road map for keeping that sort of live, human element throughout this record.
On whether any of the material on the new album was left over from the first one or previous tours:
It’s not necessarily the same songs from anything that was considered for the last record. Basically, that entire time is kind of cut off and we started anew. However, there were a lot of riffs and small parts that were written around that time that we were incorporating into some of these new songs. … You did hear “Love Bites” on (tour last year), and that was us kind of testing it out to see how a song like that would go over live. … We were listening to a lot of Lamb of God at that time, and my guitar player, Joe (Hottinger), had this amazing riff and I kind of turned to him like, “Do you want to do something strange?” I wanted to kind of harness my inner James Hetfield for the bridge/breakdown and ranted some crazy stuff over his riff. With “Love Bites (So Do I),” we’re trying to do something different that would stick out.
On preparing herself physically/vocally for the tour:
Well, lots of tequila. … You do have to prepare yourself for any tour. I mean, you’re going to be singing every night, you’re going to be talking to everybody. To me, it’s about common sense. We’re practicing as a band, then I’m making sure I’m not doing anything too stupid before we start the tour, and then when we get into it, I’ll do the warm-ups and cool-downs and drink my water, and do a live show. … It’s really quite simple on my end.
On getting star-struck while on tour:
You know, there definitely has been the occasion. I am a girl after all, and being surrounded by such handsome men on nearly a daily basis, it’s a great position to be in! (laughs) Anyway, it’s great, man. I mean, I think that, again, you learn so much from all these people, and the fact that both of these guys, Staind and Godsmack, have had such huge careers and have such experience on the road, I think that, to me, I’m really looking forward to just watching and listening, and just being completely put in my place, because it seems like every time I think, “Well, you know what? I’ve got this. I’m the boss,” and then you play a tour like this and you’re like, “Man, I’ve got to practice.”
So I am star-struck. I’m amazed every night at what there is to learn from these great bands. I’ve also had the amazing privilege to open for some of my classic idols, such as Megadeth, Black Sabbath with Dio, Alice Cooper. And they definitely leave me speechless. I’m going to be talking with Pat Benatar soon, too. It’s like, “Man, what do I say to these people?” (Staind guitarist) Mike (Mushok) and I go way back, and today, I’m talking to (Godsmack frontman) Sully (Erna) on the phone! (laughs) Hopefully, he likes me in person.
On last year’s covers EP (“ReAnimate”):
We loved running the gamut and covering Beatles, Skid Row, Guns N’ Roses, Temple of the Dog, Heart to Lady Gaga. They all had reasons for being chosen. The Beatles cover was the first song that the guys in my band and I ever jammed to, just to kind of feel each other out when we first met. And the Heart one was my go-to karaoke song. We used to crash some karaoke bars every now and then, and now I don’t voluntarily, but my guys will sometimes volunteer me, and I’m like, “Really, guys?” So it was the deal, that if I did the song on the EP, they won’t make me do it 20 times at karaoke! (laughs)
On the differences and similarities between herself today and when she started the band at 13:
Definitely more confident than at 13. I mean, my brother and I started the band, named the band Halestorm, when I was 13 and he was 10. We were playing anywhere and everywhere. And after we started making a name for ourselves after couple years, you could see that it became my identity, and it’s just something that I couldn’t live without. So definitely confidence is a factor from before I was a band member to now, but some things are different and some things stay the same.
In the beginning, you’re in a rock band, you’re having fun, and you’re just getting a little bit of a taste of it. You don’t care what’s going to happen. You’re just in love with what’s going to happen next. So we play one club and then that leads to another club, that leads to a tour. Now, I still have that fire, but it’s also balanced with a lot of politics and a lot of business sense. So in a way, it’s just growing. There’s more things I’ve got to think about now, like maybe I should sleep a little bit, because I’ve got some big gigs coming up. (laughs) So things that you don’t really have to worry about as a kid.
I look back fondly at the early years, and I’m lucky to still have that spark and still love it as much as I ever did. And I’m very lucky to have turned something I love into my career. I get to go up on stage rock out with my best friends and with my little brother. I have the best job in the world!
On her influences:
Oh, well, I’ve always been about 10 to 20 years behind when it comes to my interest in music, much to my little friends’ chagrin. So, when I was growing up, I listened to a lot of my parents’ music. So it was a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s hard rock. Deep Purple and Pink Floyd—anything with a color basically. (laughs) Black Sabbath. And, I mean, I had a very crazy family. It was very Partridge Family meets Spinal Tap. We always say—when my brother and I started the band, our parents were like, “Sure, absolutely.” So obviously they are out of their minds. But that really was what influenced me at an early age and also the reason that I kind of dropped piano for a while and started guitar, because you had to kind of say to yourself, “Well, do you want to be Elton John or do you want to be Black Sabbath?”
You know, the great thing about a lot of those old records, though, is that even now you can still go back to them and still learn something new and still be inspired. And those records are definitely responsible for how I identify with heavy music. When I was a teen and Spice Girls was what all of my friends wanted to be, I was listening to Alice Cooper. I feel it was the wiser choice.
On whether she ever wanted to walk away from the music business and when she realized Halestorm was setting itself apart in the local music scene:
As far as being discouraged or anything, I mean, this is a crazy business and there’s no real set way to do it, and I think a lot of it is learning as you go, and you learn a lot about yourself. I think there were a lot of moments that I thought, “Am I really this crazy to do this?” But I think in a lot of ways, there’s a fine line between obsession and determination, and over the course of many years, it’s a little bit more towards the obsession.
So I think in a lot of those moments now, where I’m like, “Oh, my god, I can’t do it,” it’s just kind of making the decision to put one foot in front of the other. And we celebrate the low times, as well as the high times. My guys and I do—we have a song on the record called “Here’s to Us” actually written about that. I mean, my guys and I literally celebrate the low times, like when you think, “Well, guys, we could go home right now. This could all be over tomorrow,” then you literally go and buy a cheap bottle of champagne and write the date on it and say, “I’m just glad we did it with each other.” … I just think that it’s all about putting one foot in front of the other, and we’ve just always had that goal.
But as far as setting ourselves apart from the local band scene, I mean, we definitely stuck out. I started when I was 13, my little brother was 10, and then throughout, I mean, throughout our early years, it was always like there’s that kid band with the chick and the tiny kid on drums, that has always, by the way, looked younger than he was! You can’t stick out more than that! So we definitely knew that we were different, but we were very lucky, though. We had a lot of the local bands and a lot of the bands from around the Central Pennsylvania area and on the East Coast who’d give us a chance. We would open up for them and for local bands and stuff. We did a mini tour with a couple of them, and so, I mean, I owe our first real leg up as a band to all of those bands.
I’m telling you, it takes a village. It takes a village to break a band and to raise a band. I’m literally in awe at all the support we got from you guys. Because we were little tikes. We want to thank the entire scene there for that.