With the success of their latest release, ‘The Strange Case Of The…’ It’s easily to see why Halestorm is quickly becoming one of rock music’s biggest group to see this year. With the dynamic pairing of brother and sister duo, Lzzy Hale, lead vocals and Arejay Hale, drums, and the backing of fellow band members Joe Hottinger, lead guitar and Josh Smith, bass guitar complete the mix.
Hailing from Red Lion Pennsylvania, (no pun intended). Lzzy and Arejay honed their music skills from their early teen years, producing their first EP entitled,’ Don’t Mess With the Time Man.’ This would mark Lzzy’s first appearance as lead vocalist, and would be the paramount of things to come. Little did they know a few years later, they would win the most prestigious award, a music artist’s highest honor, a Grammy, and Arejay would be bestowed the coveted ‘Rock God’ title.
One thing is for sure, Lzzy and Arejay aren’t letting fame change them, which is easy to do in a business like this, in fact the two are having the time of their lives, sticking to their roots, humble, but passionate about what they want to do with their music. So read on, on this very candid interview with them from Moondance Jam 22, and listen to the heart of Halestorm.
On how Halestorm began
Lzzy: I was 13 and he (Arejay) was 10 we jammed together in our parent’s living room for Christmases and we were into music and stuff but we didn’t start the band until we entered ourselves into a talent show, at the Schuylkill County Fair in Pennsylvania if you must know! (laughs) and we were on our way in the family van and little bro here and his 10 year-old wisdom is like ‘it’s not cool were going up there without a band name,’ and I’m like It’s just a talent show, ‘but we gotta have a band name!’, what do you wanna call it? and I remember on the way to the thing, ‘Well what about Halestorm?’ Sure! that will work for today! That was the summer of 97’ and 16 years later, we’re still Halestorm! It was a cool gig, it was really our first time out of the house there was a lot of people a big outside amphitheater, and we were all nervous, so much fun, it was the first time playing in front of people that weren’t our relatives!
On the band name and causing hail storms
Lzzy: I feel we bring the bad weather, be careful what you name your band! There have been like fluke hailstorms that end up outside of the show or whatever and we end up canceling the show all because we’re there! We never have hail!
Arejay: Kind of a way of making fun of our name, because we used to get made fun of in school all the time having the last name of ‘Hale’ any kind of derivative of a hail, hail bop comet, hail storm or silly things like, we’d show up to class and it would be like ‘Oh the halestorm’s here, ahhhh! So we’re like, maybe we should just roll with that (laughs).
On early music sessions
Arejay: We’ve been playing music since we were little.
Lzzy: We can’t do much else well so (laughs) thank god this is starting to work out! (laughs).
Arejay: One Christmas she got a keyboard I got a drum set we used to set up in a walk in closet, and just kind of jammed together.
Lzzy: It was a little while before it was music! (laughs).
Arejay: We cranked the speakers that were built into the keyboard until they blew up (laughs) our parents were really supportive, our dad started playing bass with us about the first year playing together, and they started booking us shows, and playing out we bought a little PA system we started taking it seriously and investing in the band. It helped having supportive parents.
Lzzy: It was cool we saved up our pennies and recorded a 6 song cassette, our first 6 songs we ever wrote went into a little cheap studio we’d be pluggin away and we kind of did the whole outward spiral thing as in like we’re not playing coffee houses and Friendly’s restaurant anymore but (laughs) now were playing arena’s and stuff!
Arejay: It just took playing and trying to expand our fan base and playing all around the area, luckily there was great local support, like a lot of the local bands would let us to open up for them because they liked us, or whatever it was a very cool communal kind of thing in Pennsylvania. That’s the good thing about being in the rock n roll world I feel like we’re a lot more supportive of each other I think rock bands and rock people wanna help each other out for the love of rock n roll. (laughs).
On making it
Lzzy: It’s such a rare form of making it anymore we talk about this a lot, like in the days of now, American Idol and freakin X-Factor and YouTube everybody just thinks, I’m just gonna put out everything I have on the internet and someone is going to discover me and in a way sometimes that does happen, and it is a great way to get yourself out there, but I feel bad for anybody that the only time they’ve ever played was, you know, they go from their parents living room to superstardom on American Idol, I think most people would freak out!; I mean we were a band for 8 years before we got signed and we were still freaking out, we were like, what do we do?
Arejay: When you put that much work and that much time, pretty much our entire childhood was dedicated to the band, you know that kind of makes you appreciate it more and keeps you humble, you know, you gotta work your ass off!
Lzzy: Yeah and you have a better grasp of who you are and what you want, so when the opportunities actually start coming in you can make those yes no decisions and not be like, I don’t know. (laughs).
On label relationship
Lzzy: We give our label far too many problems! (laughs) but thankfully they are respectful of it for the most part, you know, we’ll get into arguments, but ultimately, you know it’s for the good!
Arejay: The cool think about our record label is they get the same thing out of it as we do, this is a long term thing for us, we wanna keep on doing this until we’re fifty and even older and you know they are not just looking for the quick shot to stardom and collect, they are with us for the long haul.
Lzzy: Atlantic Records has really allowed us to grow and to do our thing and even the little arguments that we get through, there’s not many but it’s a good thing because they can’t think about it like an artist will you know, and we can’t think of it like an A&R guy or an marketing guy so it’s a really good partnership, we lucked out.
On what inspired ‘The Strange Case Of…’
Lzzy: It came after the fact we had all these songs that we had written and that we recorded for the record, and they were kinda of split right down the middle, there were songs where we were being obnoxious and loud you know where I’m screaming my head off, and there’s the more vulnerable side of what we can do there’s piano ballads, you know these kind of juvenile smaller subject and intimate songs. One of the last songs that we had recorded for the record was ‘Ms. Hyde’ and the guys were like, hold on that’s exactly what this record is, it’s very Jekyll and Hyde so we ended up mocking the title off of the old novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so that is the strange case of Halestorm.
On Mz. Hyde
Lzzy: The guys have told me time and time again, yes, unfortunately are two very distinct sides to what I can do, and to what I am as a person and that kind of shows through not only in my songs and Mz. Hyde gets me in a lot of trouble sometimes! (laughs).
Arejay: I feel Mz. Hyde comes out on stage when we’re on stage, I think that goes for all of us you kind of put on a different character when you are on stage, and you want to be larger than life you know, Lzzy being the frontwoman, I think that is her more aggressive side; then when you meet her backstage, and she’s just like very quiet and sweet a lot people are like, are you the same person that was on stage going (mimics Lzzy and screams) ‘WHYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!’ and now you’re just like, hello nice to meet you! (laughs).
Lzzy: It’s funny I feel like I needed to create a character, I was a very shy child as a kid I more or less had to create Mz. Hyde or whatever the character is, to put on my big girl boots and go out there and be who I wanted to be on stage, and you know after a while the line starts getting a little blurry, but then you know there’s so many different things that ended up in songs, coming out in certain subjects ended up coming out of me on this record and so instead of saying let’s go one side or the other we just said let’s put them all out there.
On the Twitter challenge
Lzzy: It’s funny I actually forgot that I had promised that I would do that cause that was like a year ago that I ended up sick cause somebody asked me, what are you gonna do when you get a 100,000 twitter followers? So I’m like, I’m going to sit naked in a high back chair and smoke a Cuban (chuckles) and drink a glass of wine! It’s funny cause I was nearing a 100,000 and this fan remembered that, and he had snapped a picture of it when I did that, a screen shot and I’m like Oh Jesus! now I got to frickin go through with it, I gotta be a woman of my word right?
Arejay: I might hit 100,000 in maybe 10 years, (laughs) I’m happy with my 20,000 (laughs).
Lzzy: You’ll get there, buddy, (laughs) you just gotta say you are going to pose naked in something, (laughs).
Arejay: That will scare people away I think, (laughs). To tell you the truth this is my first time hearing about this! (laughs).
Lzzy: We don’t talk about some of those things, (laughs) he’s little brother so yeah (laughs).
On winning their first Grammy
Lzzy: We found out we were nominated in Madison Wisconsin of all places and we were on stage at the time and our label called our management, our management texted our tour manager who was running sound at that time, who texted our crew guy who then told my guitar player Joe, right in the middle of the set I ended up sitting down at the piano and doing some songs and he came running over to me, and he’s like We just got nominated for a Grammy!, and I must have looked like somebody had died on my face because everyone in the front row was like What, what happened?!’
Arejay: That was my initial reaction I was still behind my drums, just getting ready to step off for a few songs and I just see Joe whisper something to her ear and I hear, what are you kidding me? and I’m thinking like, who died?!’what tragedy happened? Then she said, we just won a Grammy, and there was like a second of silence, then all of a sudden the whole place erupted. I had a hot flash; I thought it was a joke!
Lzzy: It was such an incredible thing, the rest of the show was a frickin’ wash because we couldn’t wipe the stupid smiles off our faces!
Arejay: Even the angry songs were like, (making fun of himself) ‘Hey what’s up, how are you doing?’ (laughs).
Lzzy: Because the fact this doesn’t happen to bands like us and then we found out because we’re nominated we get to go experience the Grammy’s, the party’s and do the red carpets and we were like, holy sh*t!
Arejay: We never thought in a million years that we would actually do that, watching the Grammy’s growing up, it was incredible!
Lzzy: But we had said to ourselves look guys, look at our competition we’re not gonna win, but we get to go and have a good time so let’s just like, we’re settled with that, literally we were like golden, we didn’t care what happened we were nominated for a Grammy, nobody can take that away from us, you know? We had absolutely nothing prepared at all for actually winning the Grammy…they said the Grammy goes to, and even to this day like now I think about it, I still get that little mini heart attack in my chest because that’s what it was, and they said the Grammy goes to and they said the name of the song we were nominated for first, so they were like Love Bites (So Do I) by Halestorm, who’s love bites? I didn’t even hear Halestorm I just heard Love Bites and I’m like holy sh*t!; that’s us! And everybody was like screaming and Arejay ran and I’m like, wait for me! So I’m running with my heels and gown!
Arejay: I was on the end of the row so I start walking over to the podium and the guys are back there, and I get to the stage and I look back and I’m like, f*ck everyone’s back there! We’ve played in front of 50,000, people 100,000 people these big festivals no big deal, but getting behind that podium and having to say something was the most nerve wrecking moment of all of our entire lives, it’s all a blur to this day.
Lzzy: I’m glad you said something cause I was not speaking, we’re not one of those people that’s a loss for words, it was an incredible experience. Even like now that we actually have the Grammy’s, because each of us got an individual one and it’s like I don’t know it’s just crazy I know like less than a handful of people that have a Grammy, you know, (laughs) it’s like, why are we in this club?
Lzzy: I love it though, we say this a lot, Touring is home, and then home is vacation! (laughs) It’s like what do I do with this refrigerator, I don’t know it’s empty, where’s catering? (laughs).
On where Halestorm is headed next
Lzzy: We’ve begun writing for another record, that’s another great thing; the success that we’ve had this year is literally enabling us to do another record so we’ll probably stop to do that when we’ve squeezed the life out of this one probably next summer! We’ll end up settling down, but we still got a few continents to hit, we’re releasing another cover EP a live thing, going to Australia in February for the first time, hitting Alaska and Hawaii for the first time so we will finally be completing the 50 states.