The raddest storm ever is about to invade House Of Blues Atlantic City at Showboat this Friday. We’re talking about Halestorm, the last group to win the latest Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song “Love Bites (And So Do I)” off of their most current release, The Strange Case Of, and our local friends who got their start in the Philly area before signing with Atlantic Records in 2005 and taking the world well…by….storm.
Front woman Lzzy Hale and younger brother, drummer Arejay, almost unknowingly formed Halestorm in their parents’ living room in Red Loin, PA. In 2003, they picked up guitarist Joe Hottinger and then bassist Josh Smith in 2004. The band has seemingly gained increasing popularity every year since its inception, probably due to their non-stop extensive touring and plainly just because they rock. They’re real. And they have fun doing it.
We recently got the chance to speak with Lzzy Hale about Friday’s show and so much more. We have to let it be known that she is such an cool, down to earth chick. Her enthusiasm for her craft was totally refreshing and amazing. Check it out, below.
TAC: You and your brother Arejay were musicians from a very young age and released your first EP together when you were just teenagers. Did you always know that this is something you would be in for the long haul together?
Lzzy Hale: I don’t even think that we felt that we were going to take it this far. It became this obsession. From the first time that we played our first show outside of our parents’ living room, we were like oh my God, we have to do this more! It became this is what we want to do with our lives and even now we sit back and are like can you believe we’re still doing this?! Look at how far we’ve come! It’s definitely crazy to think about because we didn’t set out and say we’re going to be musicians now and this is going to be our life. We played a show and then said I wonder what it would be like to do this for the summer. Then it became a no-brainer like this is our identity, we are a band to the point when we would meet new people I would say I’m Lzzy Hale and I’m in a band called Halestorm. We had tunnel vision for a long time and we fell in love with the chase of it. We said if we play this one club, maybe this club owner will talk to that club owner and we’ll get to play that one, and then maybe eventually we will get out of Pennsylvania and then we’ll get out of the East Coast. It still is that way. We still have that same fire that we had when we were kids like wow! What do you think is gonna happen next?!
TAC:How was the process of finding Joe & Josh then?
Lzzy Hale: Joe answered an ad in the paper. You know, single, white, female searching for…no! I’m kidding! It wasn’t that kind of ad. We were working in Philadelphia with this local producer; his name is David Ivory, and he let us use his studio. We were recording demos and doing a lot of writing there. We had had guitar players and bass players come in and out of the band since we were teenagers, but it was hard to find kids our own age who were as obsessed as we were and had the parental support. The last people that left our band were in the band for six months and then they said their parents didn’t want them to be in the band anymore! Our schoolwork is suffering or whatever. So we had a little bit of free time working with this producer and he said if you put out some ads, you can use my studio as an audition place instead of having them come to your parents house. Joe was like the 50th person to come in, but he was like the only person that was actually honest about his age. We would get a bunch of older guys coming in and they would send a photo from when they were 20, but that was back in 1982! Their hair was long, but they were my dad’s age. I was like well we might as well have my dad back in the band! So Joe showed up and he actually showed up late because my dad gave him the wrong directions to the studio, but it was kudos to him because he actually figured it out. But anyway, the cool thing about Joe is that he was the only person who auditioned that came in that didn’t just solo over everything. He actually wrote some parts to our existing songs that we were teaching him and that’s what we wanted. We wanted someone who we could actually collaborate with. He’ll probably kill me for telling you this, but he didn’t think that he got the audition. I had our producer run out and give him the address to my parents’ place so that we could jam and play a few shows and see how it goes. The rest is history! He’s been with us for ten years.
Josh came after Joe. We would go around the Philadelphia area on the search for a bass player. We basically stole him from his band! We told him that we only needed a temporary bass player. We met him and we all hit it off and became friends. After a couple months of that, he was like so, I’m going to have to call up my best friend in the band I’m with and tell him that I quit because I love this so much! We tricked him and it worked! Again, he’s been with us for ten years as well. It’s just amazing to be surrounded by these people that you have such history with and be able to experience all these new things. It’s pretty crazy.
TAC: How does it feel to be the chick amongst the guys? Do you ever feel like you need any girl time or do you like it?
Lzzy Hale: I like it! Too much estrogen makes it a little weird! I spend so much time with the guys that literally I become a crazy person when there are too many girls around. We’re usually not touring with a bunch of girls. The last tour I had that was consistently with another girl was Carnival of Madness last year with Amy Lee. Within the first five minutes of us meeting it was shoes, boys, makeup, all these things pouring out of me that I never talk about! The guys in my band were like you become a different person when Amy’s around! I like being a girl. I like being with my guys. We all meet in the middle somewhere. They’re not uber agro, they actually have really good hygiene (laughs) and for the most part, they enjoy everything that I like to do too. I think that just comes from growing up together. I’ve never taken being a girl in a band as a negative thing. It’s nice to stick out like a sore thumb on whatever bill and it’s nice to torture all of the guys that are on the tour with you because you can wear the high heels and they can’t! It’s a lot of fun!
TAC: You are a role model to so many of your female fans. How does that make you feel? Does it freak you out at all or do you kind of just go with it?
Lzzy Hale: I always err on the side of honesty. I’m sure I’m going to say something stupid over twitter or something like that if I haven’t already. Either way whether it’s a bad influence or a good influence, I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. It’s just too much work to keep up with this weird façade. People have kind of attached themselves to me because I represent something to certain people and it’s so incredibly flattering. At first it did freak me out to the point of where I was like should I say that? I think the difference between the first record and the second record was kind of like the battle between that in my mind. The first record was uber clean and a little vague. It was me trying to figure out if I should just say what I want to say or if I was going to get angry letters from parents. This last record that we did, The Strange Case Of, I just for lack of a better term, just said f*ck it and wrote what I wanted to write. I think that people gravitate more towards the honesty rather than if you’re trying to be this squeaky, clean person. Hopefully I don’t scar too many people! It’s really flattering because we see a lot of girls coming to our shows that are starting bands and started playing guitar and writing songs. It’s really neat to see. I didn’t have a whole lot of that growing up which is part of the reason why all the people in my band are guys because I connected more to that and that’s what there was. It’s really neat to stand on the stage and see all these girls. I’m very proud.
TAC:What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?
Lzzy Hale: I feel like we’ll continue to figure that out and even for myself! I surprise myself most times. It’s not very rock and roll, but I like to sew. I make a lot of my own jewelry, so there’s that. As far as strange habits, one of my favorite breakfasts is smashed avocado and bananas. People think that’s gross, but I actually like it!
TAC: Your songs from your first to second album have become more intimate. What’s the difference in the writing process there?
Lzzy Hale: Taking a lot of the brain out of it. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to put everything together, so a lot of the songs that were written, we’re writing while we were in the studio. There were only a handful of songs, “Love Bites” and “American Boys” that we had before we went into the studio. Everything else was kind of creative purging if you will. Again, it was a lot less thinking, maybe more out of necessity because we didn’t have a whole lot of time to think. On the first record it was a lot of is this going to work for radio? Is it too long for radio? Is the label going to like it? Is the A&R guy going to like it? More or less, on this record we basically said okay, is it good or is it not? I think we were too obsessed on the first record with making it all be like a theme. We had a theme before we put all the songs together where as this one was we have this crazy piano ballad, we have this song where I’m screaming my head off, we have an intimate song that I’m sure my mother would love. We had all this stuff going on, but we all loved all of it. We had to find a way to put everything on that we loved. That’s why there’s such an eclectic mixture. It’s kind of freeing to only have that question in your mind.
TAC: Do you feel as though this has changed the direction of your career in any way?
Lzzy Hale: I think that a lot has changed kind of fast, but like we were talking about before, we’ve been a band for ten years. Whether you take two steps back or one step forward, you’re still moving forward. This has been the biggest forward moving step that we’ve made considering the Grammy and the touring we’re doing. We’ll have done over 300 shows by the end of this year. It’s the busiest year we’ve had. I can only hope that we will continue to move forward and go in this direction. Hopefully the next record is everything we want it to be.
TAC: You and the rest of your band seem to have as much fun off stage as you do on stage. How will you occupy your off stage time when you’re here in Atlantic City?
Lzzy Hale: That’s always a crazy time because I’m from Pennsylvania, so I know all about Jersey! This is the first time that we’re coming close to that in a couple months now, so we’re probably going to see a lot of family. I’m excited for it because this is one of the shows that I get to play with one of my idols. We have Tom Keifer from Cinderella on with us. It’s going to be a very exciting time for me because I’ll be trying not to fan girl out! During our off time, I’m sure the guys will want to have a few beers, that’s kind of a given, and hang out with a lot of people we haven’t seen in awhile. Not only our family, but a lot of our friends in the local scene there as well. Every time we come through, I always meet somebody that gave us a leg up back in the day; somebody that was in a band that we opened up for or was part of radio at the time and actually spun one of our songs. It’s always wonderful coming back.
TAC: You also seem very disciplined on the road too. You follow a specific diet plan, workout plan and a vocal warm up and cool down plan. How have you found that all of these help you perform better?
Lzzy Hale: As of recently, this year, I’ve finally figured this out! I started doing it out of necessity just because our schedule is so busy. I remember in like 2006, when we had no responsibilities but to play a 20-minute opening set in front of four bands. Every night was tequila and it didn’t matter because we didn’t have anything to do the next day! Now a typical day of mine is you wake up, you do a bunch of interviews, and then you have to go and do sound check, and then you have meet and greets and probably an acoustic show for the station and then you do the show and a meet and greet after the show. There’s only a window of time to get some good sleep. I did notice that I perform so much better when I take care of myself. Maybe it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t have all these things I need to do, but I try to take it as a badge of honor. I’m finally at a point where I have to pay attention to that stuff, so I’m trying to look at it in that light. Not like man, the guys get to have more fun than me! You have to look at it like well, I’ve made it to a point where I’m successful enough where I have to be responsible.
TAC: And the obvious question: What can fans expect from your show here at House Of Blues next week?
Lzzy Hale: It’s gonna be a blast. We take this in a very selfish light where we’re going to throw in all the stops in the set list. We’re going to throw in a couple covers. We’re about to release another cover EP, so we’re probably going to throw in some more covers and just have a great time. I’m sure anybody who sees the show will see any of us trying to mess the other one up. The guys usually try to make me laugh when I’m trying to sing, we just have a good time. We plug in and we play. There’s no tracks or tickery, we just have a great time no matter what. There probably will be lots of surprises for us too because if you’ve ever gotten the chance to see or meet my little brother, he’s a very unpredictable drummer, so we’ll probably have some surprises of our own on stage!