Ahead of Halestorm‘s debut Australian tour dates, Josh caught up with the dynamic vocalist of the rock band, Lzzy Hale. Producing music in a genre still heavily dominated by male voices, Hale has made a name for herself and her killer talent as frontwoman and musician brilliantly. Halestorm themselves, Grammy winners and relentless tour nuts, will be bringing a bunch of live shows not to be missed to various venues around the country at the end of the year – read on to get a taste of what to be expecting!
Hey Lzzy, how are you doing?
Oh, I’m doing wonderfully actually. I just got off a six week tour and I’ve got a week and a half off; I don’t know what to do with myself in normal life, but no I feel good.
The new single “Amen”, which I love, as well as Into The Wild Life, has some undeniable religious imagery, can you tell me a bit about how those lyrics came together and what you’re trying to communicate?
The religious imagery in a lot of it… I was trying to lyrically bridge the gap between traditional religion, which I’m not necessarily into, and that same type of passion in yourself. I wanted to make this a very empowering record. Specifically, a lot of that type of imagery came into the work subconsciously, because we ended up doing this record in a church. The producer who did this record bought an old church and made it into a studio. So you walk into this place and we would record in the congregation area, you know, a very big room with lots of tall stained glass windows. I think that I was trying to find a way to use that imagery to try and create a sense of empowerment that people could listen to.
That’s a pretty cool story! So where was that church?
That was in Nashville actually, it was nice. You locked yourself away and did the occasional beer run. It was very enjoyable. We did this record very differently from that last one. We ended up recording most of the songs live, just the four of us standing in a circle, playing. So trying to capture that human element, paying attention to making moments rather than perfection. It was a lot of fun.
I’d probably characterise your voice as the angry love child of Kelly Clarkson and Janis Joplin. Which is my way of saying you sing better than Kelly and as well as Janis. Have you had any other special comparisons you’d like to share?
Yeah, what I’ve noticed with fans in particular is who they compare me to depends on who they like. There are a lot of 80’s rocker guys who come to our shows who think I sound like Joan Jett, but then there’s the female fans who think it’s more like Ann Wilson (Heart). You know, I got a guy the other day ask me about my influences because he noticed a lot of Rob Halford (Judas Priest) in my voice, which I hadn’t gotten before. It was interesting too, because a lot of my influences early on were mostly guy singers. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I really got into the female voices. It took singers like Janis and Ann Wilson to bring me into that. Whatever you hear in my voice though, hopefully it’s something that you like!
It sure is! The band’s name is a clever play on words using hail storm and Izzy’s last name. When I first saw it though, I read it as ‘Halestrom’ which reminded me of maelstrom (meaning a large, powerful, or violent whirlpool). Is that a happy coincidence or deliberate?
Definitely a happy coincidence, only because when we named the band I was 13 and my brother was 10 and we had no idea what we were doing! We just ended up keeping it. And by the time we got a bit older and started thinking maybe it was time to change the name, we’d already made a name for ourselves in the regional US, so we stuck with it. But I like that, what you said, because to me, that helps. I often wonder whether we actually sound like our band name, so that’s good!
Well I sure think you do. Your past records have been characterised by a consistently heavy pop rock sound. This album seems to transcend genres a little more. Some songs have a country feel, others are a bit punkish and there’s even a power ballad. Was there a deliberate attempt to diversify the hard rock sound on Into The Wild Life? Or did it just sort of happen?
I think probably a little of both. What we ended up doing this time around was trying not to do what we did on our first two records, and don’t get me wrong I’m very proud of them, but the mentality going into the studio was very different. Going into the first two, the mentality was very much based on, ‘Is it a radio hit? Who do we sound like?’ A lot of questions were always in the air. And then we ended up making those records very assembly line-ish. As in my brother (Arejay Hale) would record all the drum parts, then I would do my guitar parts on top of that, then Joe’s guitar parts, then the bass and then I would sing.
I think with this record, the deliberate plan or the mission statement, was to throw away everything that we thought about and did on the first two records to chase whatever gets us excited. We decided not to worry about if it was a hit or if it fits in a certain genre. It was just, ‘If it feels good let’s just do it!’ When we came out the other side of making this record, we definitely hear all different sides of Halestorm and everything that ‘gets us all’, so to speak. We ended up not layering my vocals as much and there were a ton of happy accidents because everything was done live. There are so many moments (during recording) that we kept that weren’t on the demos, we actually wrote some parts to the songs as we were recording them. I guess the diversity is a reflection of the four of us and the four corners of the world that we come from.
So you guys are headed down here in December. To help ease the anticipation can you tell us what can we expect from Halestorm’s live act?
Our live show is controlled chaos. We have all of these elements to our show in that we’re always on the same wave as the audience and we don’t really know what will happen each night. We switch up the set every night so that it doesn’t get monotonous. A lot of the time we don’t follow the set list because someone will yell something out and I’ll turn to Joe and be like, ‘Do we remember that song?’ It’s become a really fun non-regimented show. We’ll be just as surprised as you are in some moments! It’ll be fun and I’m really excited. It’s going to be our first time there for any reason, so I don’t know what to expect. All I know is that my peers who are in bands that have toured there have all just said there is nothing like Australian rock fans!
Well we go hard, and we drink hard. It’ll be a good time! You recently lived every rock fan’s fantasy on stage at Rock In Rio with The Hollywood Vampires. A few words about that please?
Oh, it was crazy. My inner fan girl was just screaming the whole time. It was probably the first show in a while where, right before I went on, I got really nervous. I kept telling myself, ‘I can do this, I’ve been in a band eighteen years, I can do this’. Then as soon as I walk out on stage, those guys are just such amazing people. Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Joe Perry, Matt Sorum, Duff McKagan… all just great cats. And what I realised was that I had the privilege to play in the middle of these men who aren’t doing it for the money, because they already have that. They aren’t doing it for the fame or for their career, because they already have that. They just wanna rock. So that energy – to be surrounded by that – was amazing and I was truly humbled.
Well thanks again for your time and I’ll definitely be at your show here in Adelaide, Australia so I really look forward to seeing you guys live.
Well, you owe me a hug and we gotta have a beer or something!
Halestorm are touring Australia in December. Tickets and info here. Dates as follows:
December 8th – 170 Russell, Melbourne
December 9th – The Gov, Adelaide
December 11th – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
December 12th – ANU Bar, Canberra
December 13th – Manning Bar, Sydney
December 15th – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Halestorm’s album Into The Wild Life is available now on Spotify and iTunes.
Watch the official music video for “Amen” here:
Watch Lzzy on stage with The Hollywood Vampires live at Rock In Rio here: