Hailing from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, a small town outside of York, hard rock and metal band, Halestorm, have been pursuing the musical route for many years. Their journey began with Lzzy Hale (vocals, guitar), and her brother Arejay Hale (drums) rocking out and playing their instruments in their parent’s basement since they were pre-teens. Rounding out the band are Josh Storm (bass and backing voals), and Joe Storm (guitar and backing vocals). Halestorm has had a prolific year after winning the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Metal Performance at this year’s 55th Annual Grammy Awards for their single “Love Bites (So Do I)”. With that win accolade, Lzzy is the first female to win a Grammy in the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance category. She has also graced the cover of Revolver magazine’s “Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock” twice, and is a regular advice columnist for the magazine. The single that they won the Grammy for is from their most recent album, The Strange Case Of… which has reached number 15 on the Billboard 200, and placed in the top Hard Rock Albums chart.
Not only have they had success with their second full-length album, their first self-titled album also had two top ten singles with “I Get Off” and “It’s Not You”. They are known for their extensive touring and have toured with such well-known acts as Avenged Sevenfold, Megadeath, Alice Cooper, Staind, and many others. Lzzy and the band are currently on tour and make their way to The Masquerade in Atlanta for a revved up and lively show on July 24. We had the incredible opportunity to chat with Lzzy about her band and their writing process, the incredible, inspirational advice she gives to her female fans wanting to pursue music, and much more.
Lzzy: Hi Lindsey, how are ya?
I’m good! How are you, Lzzy?
Lzzy: I’m very good. Thanks for taking the time for me today!
Oh, thank you for taking the time for me. You’re a busy gal!
Lzzy: Haha, ah never too busy, never too busy (laughs).
By the way, Congratulations on the Grammy Award! I was very proud of you all!
Lzzy: Aw, thank you so much! That was crazy, and it’s still crazy when I think about it. I remember hearing “And the Grammy goes to…” and I still get those little tightens in my chest every time I think about it. It was pretty cool.
How’s the tour going so far? Is it going good?
Lzzy: So far it’s going great! We’re doing a lot of headlining dates, and then we’re also doing a couple of shows with Daughtry and Three Doors Down, which is awesome. We’ve known these guys for years; we’ve known Daughtry personally, and the Three Doors Down guys for years, but we’ve never actually toured together. So, it’s kind of neat to have everybody together and they’re just a lot of fun. They’re some Southern boys, man. Lots of Southern hospitality. You know, there’s something about these guys calling me darling that just makes me smile, you know (laughs).
You started out on piano. What led you to progress to guitar, and how old were you when you made the switch?
Lzzy: I made the switch when I was 15 years old, and to be completely honest, it was just because I wanted to be a bad-ass (laughs). I love music and started out playing piano and started out writing on piano. My musical interests were always in rock n’ roll and it gets to the certain point where you have to decide whether you want to be the Elton John or Billy Joel side of that genre. Or, do you want to be Black Sabbath (laughs). So, I went to the dark side and picked up guitar when I was 15 and haven’t really looked back. You know, I’m still kind of learning, but it’s such a fun instrument to play.
What gear do you use when you play?
Lzzy: I’m kind of stereotypical rock package here. I’ve got my Gibson guitars here, and then I have Marshall amplifiers. I keep my set-up pretty simple. My guitar player, Joe, is the complete opposite of me, where he’ll have all these pedals; his pedal board can probably go to the moon, you know. He’s got all of these crazy things, and he’s very much a gear-head. I’m not really a gear-head. I like plugging in and playing. I like my sounds and my tones to come from my guitars, my amplifiers and my fingers. You know, I really don’t have much other than that. I really enjoy keeping it simple, because then my guitar player can make everything a little more complicated on his end (laughs).
What’s your writing process like?
Lzzy: It’s kind of different every time. A lot of times, lately I guess I should say, it’s been the idea for a song first. A lot of times it will be music first or a melody. Lately, it’s been lyrics first, which is kind of interesting. My process kind of evolves. I like to switch it up because if I have a kind of stuck-process, you end up writing the same song over and over. So I like to mix it up, and that’s the benefit of being able to play a couple of different instruments. You can write a song on guitar, and then switch it up on piano and it sounds like a completely different song. Maybe there’s a different mood that maybe helps you finish a song because you’re maybe thinking about it in a different way. So, out on the road, the writing process is very crude. We don’t always have a whole lot of time, and we don’t have the best recording equipment with us out on the road. Usually I’ll be in the back of the bus with an acoustic guitar recording something into my phone (laughs), just to play later for the guys. But, it’s hard to finish and make amazing demos out on the road. I think we’re still trying to figure that out, because we’re just always out on the road. Usually what happens is we collect our ideas; I’ll have a bank full of a song in it’s simplest form of about 30 or 40 ideas. Then, when we have a little bit of time off, I’ll end up making demos at home and just trying to build it up and finish them. It’s kind of a mish-mosh of everything (laughs). You know you kinda gotta almost always throw and go when it comes to songwriting out here (out on the road).
You have a legion of female fans that really look up to you and consider you as a role-model. What is the best advise you can give young females wanting to play guitar, and leading an all-male rock band?
Lzzy: Oh, well I’ll tell you what. It is an absolute honor to be that person for so many people, because I didn’t have a whole lot of that in my generation that I looked up to. I’m a girl of the 90s, but my interests in music during the 90s was the 80s. So, I was very much into my parents’ generation of music. The problem with that was that those people were never really around for me to actually seek out and ask advice. It’s quite humbling to be that for people. My advice is almost always that nothing is impossible. I mean, like, girls aren’t entirely encouraged to be in this business, you know. Some people are like “Oh, that’s a nice hobby,” but to go after it wholeheartedly and no back-up plan and just being thrust into a very unpredictable, hard business to make a name for yourself. Honestly, it’s a lot of hard work and you can’t get discouraged. Especially when you’re learning an instrument or trying to make it in this business; you can’t get discouraged. Just because there’s not a whole lot of us doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do this. My advice is to literally go for it and take the risk! Go after it with all of your heart. I’ll tell you what, man, I’ve been in this band since I was 13 years old and I would have never guessed I would still be here, now with a Grammy under my belt, and so many milestones that have been reached this year. I’m living proof that nothing is impossible.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has done for you guys?
Lzzy: (laughs) We have so many! Let me pick one…I mean we have some absolutely crazy fans, but you kind of have to respect the crazy. Recently, a fan came into a venue and threw a vibrator at me on stage with a note attached that said, “For Lzzy,” so that was interesting (laughs). There’s a lot of people that get not only our logo tattooed on themselves, but our names as well. There’s a couple of people that have my face tattooed on them. There was a couple that came up to me, and the woman is pregnant, and said that she got impregnated during one of our shows. So, that was interesting. Obviously, I feel honored (laughs). I had never heard that one before, so that’s a new one. It’s amazing. It’s like a circus out here. Anything goes. Those are the more bizarre, some of them are more fanatical, but so many incredibly wonderful things happen for us. I get physical letters now from kids, like actual pens and paper, you know. And that’s the most amazing thing ever. We literally read every one. Some of the most amazing kids, man; just to be a part of their lives is so humbling. I’m more surprised that it’s pens and paper, and not just a tweet or a message on Facebook. So, it’s very heartwarming.
You guys tour extensively, and you’re known for that. What has been your best gig as a band so far?
Lzzy: Oh my goodness! Well, we just got back from South America. I’m telling you, one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever experienced was in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The audience and the rock fans there are just amazing. Not only did we need three security guards on us at all times, or we would have gotten our clothes ripped, but when we took the stage, these fans took it upon themselves to distribute posters and signs out amongst themselves in the audience. So, when we played “Freak Like Me,” they all held up signs that said “Freak,” and then flipped them around for our song, “I Miss the Misery,” and they said “Oh,” for the “ooohhh” part. I don’t know how they were hiding these things, but when we played, they all pulled balloons from somewhere and started tossing them in the air. It was just the most amazing thing. Just to have, these are hundreds of people, and having them all organize it amongst themselves; this is not something we did or our fan club did, it was the Halestorm fans from Brazil. For them to take it upon themselves to literally be a part of our show like that, and show us love like that, that was incredible. I got a little emotional that night, that was very cool.
Hope you got tickets to Halestorm’s show at The Masquerade, because it’s now SOLD OUT!