Interview with Lzzy Hale

Lzzy Hale is the singer of the rock group Halestorm. The bands has a new album out is currently on tour with Staind and Godsmack as part of the Mass Chaos Tour. Media Mikes had a chance to be a part of a teleconference with Lzzy to discuss the tour.

Adam Lawton: When did Halestorm realize they were different or differentiating from the local area bands? And was there ever a time that you wanted to walk away from music?
Lzzy Hale: As far as being discouraged or anything, I mean, this is a crazy business and there’s no real set way to do it. 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 over the course of many years, it’s a little bit more towards the obsession. 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. 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.”  We can always go back and play bars and clubs. We would love to do that anyway. It’s never really going to stop. I just think that it’s all about putting one foot in front of the other and we’ve just always had that goal. As far as setting ourselves apart from the local band scene, I mean, we definitely stick out. I started when I was 13; my little brother was 10. 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! 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. We did a mini tour with a couple of them. I owe our first real leg up as a band to all of those bands. It take 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. We were little tikes. We want to thank the entire scene there for that.

AL: Who are the influences that helped create the sound and presence you have?
LH: I’ve always been about 10 to 20 years behind when it comes to my interest in music, much to my little friend’s chagrins. So, when I was growing up, I listened to a lot of my parent’s music. It was a lot of 70s and 80s hard rock. Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, anything with  a color basically. Ha! Black Sabbath. 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?” The great thing about a lot of those old records, though, is that even now you can still go back to them and learn something new and still be inspired. Those records are definitely responsible for how I identify with HEAVY music. When I was a teen the Spice Girls were what all of my friends wanted to be. I was listening to Alice Cooper. I feel it was the wiser choice.

AL: You started performing when you were about 13. How does the Lzzy of today compare to back when you started? What’s been the biggest change as a musician and what has stayed the same?
LH: I am definitely more confident now than I was at 13. We started out playing anywhere and everywhere. After we started making a name for ourselves you could see that it became my identity and it’s just something that I couldn’t live without. So 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 and you’re having fun because you are just getting a little bit of a taste of it. You don’t care what’s going to happen. 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. 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’m got some big gigs coming up. 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 that I love it as much as I ever did. 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!

AL: After the success of the bands first CD, what aspects of the new release are you most excited about?
LH: 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″ 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 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 going to think.

AL: How did “Love Bites” set the tone for the new record? And what was the thought process behind putting out the digital EP in advance of the album?
LH: Yes that 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. We ended recruiting “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., and 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, It definitely set the tone for the record because we were barely off tour, the amps were still ringing in our ears. There’s a lot of energy that we captured while we were still kind of in that tour mode. 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. They’re very riff heavy and I’m screaming my head off, It’s funny because what happened 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.
The finished product ended up being this record that has a very strange duality  to it and showing literally all sides of myself. “Loves Bites” gave us the road map for keeping that sort of live, human element throughout this record.

AL: Are any of the songs on the new record leftover from the last studio album sessions? Or that have been around longer?
LH: It’s kind of all of the above. They aren’t necessarily the same songs from what was considered for last record. Basically that entire time is the cut off and we started anew. However, there were a lot of riffs and small parts that were written around that time that we incorporated into some of the new songs.  “Love Bites” was a song we played on our last tour 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, 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.

AL: Halestorm are known for having a really awesome support schedule and you have played with some of the biggest names in rock music. Do you guys ever get star struck with some of the people that you’re touring with?
LH: 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! You learn so much from all these people and the fact that both 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, listening, and 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 am 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 idol such as Megadeth, Black Sabbath with Dio, Alice Cooper. 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?”

AL: How did you prepare yourself vocally for this tour?
LH: 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. I will do warm-ups and cool-downs and drink my water, and do a live show. It’s really quite simple on my end.

AL: Are you going to be performing any cover songs on this tour?
LH: Probably not. We might throw in one or two depending on the show, but considering the new album is dropping, we’re going to be playing most of our new stuff!

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