Halestorm‘s Lzzy Hale is a different breed of rock star, gifted with the voice of angel and a bad girls smile, she perfectly encapsulates everything a woman should be in rock in 2012, not only is she stunning, but she’s also a ridiculously talented guitar player and singer, within her also lies the spirit that made Pat Benatar, Joan Jett and The Wilson sisters such enduring figures in rock history, meaning that she is more than just a pretty face.
As the leader of Halestorm, she is currently taking the rock world by storm, writing anthems for the masses and inspiring a new generation of young women to follow suit and take the world by the balls and show it what your made of.
Even a personal level, she is intelligent and engaging, she is a joy to be around and conducts herself in such a manner that you feel comfortable in her presence, but also as if you are old friends. It was with great pleasure that I got to spend some time with Miss Hale on a roof in Portsmouth on Halestorm‘s recent UK tour to discuss touring, the bands latest album “A Strange Case Of…” how it feels being the hottest chick in rock, impromptu performances with Corey Taylor and her fear that one day she’s going to be pelted with tomatoes.
This is your third trip to the UK in 2012, how does it feel being here on a headline run this time?
It feels absolutely amazing, because we had no idea what to expect. We would be happy playing the same show to 3 people that show up, but so far the majority of the shows have been sold out and people over here are so loud man,and they are singing every word, even the verses, not even just the choruses. It’s been amazing it really has been.
You Mentioned the shows being sold out. Was that a weird feeling for you to have everything sell out so quickly?
Hell yeah. We really didn’t expect that at all, we don’t even expect that really when we’re doing headline stuff in the states, and so the fact that we’ve never done a headlining tour overseas, this is our first time, our maiden voyage so it’s very humbling, to me it’s a true testament to rock fans over here, apparently if they like you then they come out (laughs)
I think you guys made a really big impact back at the Download Festival in June with your performance, which in turn has helped with this headline run.
Download was amazing, we’ve been to Download twice but this was the first real Download because it was crazy and muddy, it was raining, it was just a great experience. I do have to say and believe me I love my country and I love the rock fans there, the mid west its usually really awesome, but its hit and miss if people will actually show up that early for bands that are going on at the crack of dawn, and with Download it was muddy to the point where I wasn’t quite sure who was the guys or the girls (laughs) and there was beer for breakfast, it’s a great time, its one of those things playing festivals over here and now doing our own headline tour,it’s been a dream of ours since we were kids, so all you freaking rock fans over here are making our dreams come true.
As this tour winds down now what have been some of the most memorable moments for you?
In the UK? Let’s see…. London was crazy, Glasgow was crazy. I think honestly each night had something a little different, and each night got a little bit louder, a bit rowdier and a bit crazier. There was a point that where we were playing in London, there wasn’t really a barricade, so everything kind of came up to the front of the stage and it was awesome, because you got hands, and you got to see everybody, it was really neat the rapport with the audience is really cool, you get to kind of screw with people and someone will yell something and you get to hear everybody. We’re having a great time and every year we’re getting to show everybody a little bit more of what we can do.
The new album ‘A Strange Case Of…’ came out in April. Have you been surprised by how well the album has been received?
Definitely, mainly because we love the record but as we’ve noticed in past years just because of what we like and don’t like, just because we like something, it doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to like it (laughs) but yeah it was very cool, not to be cheesy but it was very strange, we’d had some success on the last record in the states and a little bit over here, and we were just a little worried that it was a little too all over the place or for me personally that some of the more vulnerable parts of the record would put people off, that they wouldn’t want to hear that from me, because on the last album it was all superhero all the time, and it’s like ‘Hey I’m a tough chick’ and all that, so to open yourself up like that, I was a little nervous about, but so far so good, and its already exceeded the last record. I feel like everyone over here has gravitated to this one versus the last one.
As the lyricist in the band, how do you write some of the more personal songs but still find a way to make it relatable enough that it stands as a good representation of Halestorm as a whole band?
You know what’s funny about that is that I did more of that on the last record than I did with this one. I was thinking a lot on the last record like “Ok, is this right for us as a whole band?”, are the guys going to be ok being able to be up on stage singing this with me’ where as on this record the guys pretty much gave me carte blanche and just said “Hey, whatever you feel like writing just write and try not to think too much” because we really didn’t have a whole lot of time to think, the story is true you have your whole life to write your first album and only a few months to write the next one.
We started writing this album with a handful of ideas, and we had no idea what we wanted it to be thematically, we had literally a handful of ideas, we had 24 hours to pack after our last tour, and then went right into the studio and did double duty, I was finishing up songs in one room and they were recording parts in another so it was a mess, in a lot of ways what I feel like happened was by us not stressing out too much about what everyone thought about it or whether it was going to work on radio or if anyone could related to it, we just kind of let each song be its own entity and its own thing, and that in turn is why it’s all over the place (laughs) and there’s so much diversity on this record because we approached each song like that was the only thing that was going to be on this record and then we ended up having to narrow it down.
During the process of writing this record we ended up writing about 56 songs and that had to whittle it down to 12 or 13, that was pretty crazy.
Was there a point when you were writing some of the slower more personal songs like ‘Break In’ and ‘Beautiful with you’ that you were worried that you were putting too much of yourself on display?
Definitely. I feel like with songs like that, I write them anyway but I hardly ever show them to the guys in my band, only because I assume that no one is going to want to hear that from me, or the guys in the band are going to think its too cheesy or too girly of a subject. I went through a period of my life and as a writer, especially as a teenager where I was like “Screw power ballads and piano stuff, I’m going to write heavy stuff and scream my head off, its going to be annoying and obnoxious” but I kind of settled down a bit during the making of this record and the song that spurred the whole thing off was a b-side called ‘Hate it when you see me cry’ and I wrote the song in 5 minutes after a bottle of wine and recorded it into my phone, and I had the brilliant idea at the time to send it to my a & r guy, which I remembered I’d done in the morning and was like “Dammit, I’m going to get it, someone is going to be mad at me” the a & r guy called me and I kind of ignored his call, then he called me again two more times, so I answered and said “Yeah I know…I’m sorry I sent you this thing that’s just on acoustic guitar” and he was like “no, no, no. I love the song, can you do more like that?” basically he said they didn’t think I had that side to me, so it was kind of a surprise to him and my guys, and after that the floodgates opened and I did a lot more of it, but even then you put it down and you record it and you hear it, it sounds great and I love the collection of songs on this album, but then you’re thinking “Did we do the right thing?” and you never really know until you kick it out into the world and see what people think.
When you did the Carnival of Madness tour in the states, you performed ‘Break In’ with Amy Lee from Evanescence. Was that a strange experience for you to share something so personal with someone else like that?
I’m not going to lie to you, I was a little shy when I first met her, because she’s been famous a hell of a lot longer and had to deal with a lot more than I have, she’s not really into a whole lot of the more upbeat rock stuff that we do, like the ‘Love Bites…’, kind of stuff. after a few dates of us playing together she came bounding out of her bus one day because she’d seen my walk passed and was like “I’ve just heard ‘Break In’ and I can’t stop listening to it, I know all your parts, and I had this weird idea, do you think you would let me come up and sing your parts with you?” and I was like “Dude of course” it was actually very reassuring for me, especially as she has always shown that vulnerable side to her, so it was reassurance and a big ‘Fuck yeah!’ for me, it made sense, and if I hadn’t put that song on the record, you never know… she might not have come up and sang with me, so it was a very cool experience.
I’m going to get a bit old school with you now. When you were teenagers and you guys were writing ‘Don’t Mess With The Time, Man’ and ‘Breaking The Silence’ did you ever imagine getting to this level of success you’re at now, especially with a sold out UK tour to your name.
I don’t think we had any idea that we were going to take it this far, I think that the mentally that my brother and I had kind of bled through to the rest of the guys, and that has always been just to try and be in the moment, to enjoy what you’re doing and put one foot forward.
The goal was always to keep going, but I had no idea that I would be standing here on a roof with you right now in the middle of my first European headlining tour, its definitely humbling to think about in a lot of ways, but I do have to thank my parents for not thinking we were nuts, and actually letting us do it, I’ve got to live about 6 different life times because they were behind us, so I’m very appreciative of that.
I wanted to talk to you about collaborations. You’ve worked with a number of artists, including Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, Adrenaline Mob, as well as James Michael from Sixx:AM and you also appeared with Corey Taylor at the Download Festival. What do you feel like you’ve learnt from these experiences?
I love collaborating with other people, writing with other people and also singing with other people, because it gets you out of your comfort zone, I’m very comfortable with myself and sometimes that’s not necessarily a good thing, in fact as soon you become comfortable with yourself and then you see someone else you then feel like you need to practice. Its really neat to be in a room with a great writer or a great singer, someone who is more established than you, and you step it up a little bit and you have more to prove all of a sudden and you want to do right by them and right by yourself, so to me I always enjoy the challenge, and I’m lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people and amazing performers that like me enough to at least want to be on some of their records.
A lot of the stuff that I’ve done has happened really organically though, for instance the performance at Download with Corey Taylor happened five minutes before I was due onstage, I was in the van because I was going to watch him play anyway, and so he’s like “Come in the van with us, we’re going to the stage” so I was like “Ok, sweet” and then he looks at me and says “By the way, do you wanna sing?” so I said “Sure, what do you wanna sing?” and he said “Well, I was thinking about adding in some AC/DC, or maybe some Fleetwood Mac” and I was like “Sure, AC/DC is fine” so he said “Well what song do you know?” I said “I know a lot of them, how about ‘Shook me all night long’, I know that one pretty good” he was like literally backstage figuring out the chords and was like “Cool, I’ll call you up then” and I was like “jesus…, seriously?” (laughs) but yeah he’s really crazy like that.
With Black Stone Cherry we were out visiting them while they were out making their record ‘Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea’ and Chris (Robertson, Vocals/Guitar) comes up to me and says “Dude, we have a song that has some high parts, and I can’t hit the high parts, would you mind coming and singing on it?’”and I said “Oh absolutely man, just gimme a call and I’ll work something out, I’ll come fly to you or whatever” and he was like “No girl, there’s a microphone right there, we’re gonna do this shit right now” so I ended up kind of doing that and learning the song on the spot that was a cool thing for me.
The James Michael thing for our record was a beautiful thing, I spent five days with him in his home in Nashville, and we got nothing done for four of those five days, because we’d just go out and grab a beer and talk about everything, he’s such a great dude, then on the last day he was like “Maybe we should get something done,so you can write this off as a business trip” I was like “sure, ok” and we put together the ‘Private Parts’ song really quickly, its a really strange song, its one of those things where I didn’t really notice until we’re up there onstage yelling ‘Show me your Private Parts’ (laughs) we’ve done it twice on this run, it’s a beautiful song, but I always worry that I’m going to look out into the audience and see balls or boobs or something. (laughs)
One of the things that has happened to you recently is that you were voted Revolver Magazine’s Hottest Chick In Rock 2012. How did that feel for you?
It was very flattering and very humbling, The coolest thing about Revolver is that they spend a lot of time on it, and there’s always an article to be done, so there’s always a story behind it, its not just a centrefold, poster child kind of thing, you can always dig a little deeper. It’s fun though man, and I ended up keeping it classy on the cover (laughs) I definitely enjoy it, sex and rock & roll go hand in hand, I enjoy that aspect and the dressing, but the one rule that I go by is that I make sure I have something to back it up, if over the course of this it becomes all about that type of stuff then I did something horribly wrong (laughs)
You also have your own Lzzy Hale signature guitar through Gibson. How does that feel for you?
I’m still stoked about it every time I play it onstage. It was such a cool experience, I didn’t expect it all, we did an acoustic performance for Gibson at the NAMM Convention, and then some of the Gibson people came up to me after the performance and said ‘We’ve been talking, we’d like to do a signature guitar with you’ so I look behind me and I’m like ‘Are you talking to me, or is Slash behind me?’ its been a dream of mine,since I was a kid and I started playing guitar, I’ve always known what I’ve wanted to do with it if they ever asked, they were really really excited about my ideas, but right now there is only one and I have it.
Last question, because I know that you are pressed for time. If someone was putting together a time capsule to commemorate the career of Halestorm, which 3 songs would you pick to represent you guys?
For the rockers I would say ‘Love Bites (So do I)’, I’d go back in time and put ‘Rose In December’ on there and maybe I’d throw in ‘Don’t Mess With The Time, Man’ so it would be a nice little thing from beginning to end.
In closing, do you have a message for all the Halestorm fans out there?
Honestly, if I can be so cheesy, just thank you so freaking much, we had no idea what was going to happen when we came over here, and every night has been so incredibly amazing and we promise to keep coming back as long as you’ll have us, until you’re all at the border throwing tomatoes at us (laughs) I have a thing about people throwing tomatoes, I figure it’s going to happen at least once in my life so I’m just waiting for it I think.
The album “A Strange Case Of….” is available now through Roadrunner Records.
For more information visit the Halestorm website.