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By Damian Bresenski
First two photos - Publicity
Last photo by Damian Bresenski
Lzzy, Arejay Hale, Josh Smith and Joe Hotttinger of Halestorm
May 27, 2011
Halestorm has Category 5 impact; this band can play! Blasting their way out of Red Lion, Pennsylvania, siblings Lzzy (guitar/vocals) and Arejay Hale (drums) have teamed up with bassist Josh Smith and guitarist Joe Hotttinger to create a snarling, kicking rock sound that blew away 30,000 faithful rock fans at the Carolina Rebellion in Charlotte NC on May 7, 2011.
Livewire caught up with them after their set. Surprisingly, this hard rock juggernaut is actually a tight-knit family-oriented band. Their tour manger, Beth Hale, is Lzzy and Arejay's mom ("we don't like to make that public"says Beth - oops; sorry). The band members give off an easygoing, mellow vibe of family members who genuinely enjoy each other's company. Their close relationships translate easily to the stage, where this group of four has clearly created a rock alchemy not often seen in such young bands. I made it a point to not ask about frontwoman Lzzy's looks or her recent tag of "Hottest Chick in Rock" by Revolver Magazine. I'd heard enough about that. I was interested to see if these guys knew their music...and I was pleasantly surprised:
Livewire: Does your mother know what you do for a living?
Lzzy: (laughs) I guess you met mom. Yup - we are one big dysfunctional rock family.
Arejay: And it goes way back. Dad was in a number of bands and played bass with us before Josh joined the band.
Josh: Clearly a downgrade. (smiles)
Livewire: You guys just lit it up today at the Rebellion.
Joe: Thank you; that felt like a real 'breakthrough' show for the band. We keep pushing ourselves harder and harder to raise that bar. We want it to be clear that we are going for our best every night.
Lzzy: And it has been a process of stretching ourselves and truly going for it. Some bands, and especially some singers, can overthink it and when that moment comes, they don't hit the note take the music to the next level. On a show like the Rebellion, we took all that incredible energy we got from that crowd (of 30,000) and tried to give it right back. Clearly a breakthrough moment for us!
Livewire: Your latest release ReAnimate: The Covers, is as broad a collection of covers, from Skid Row, to the Beatles, to Lady Gaga to Guns and Roses - this strikes me as your GnR Lies - a covers set to satisfy your rabid fans while you load up for your sophomore release.
Arejay: Absolutely! Good observation. While we enjoyed making Reanimate, we are truly loading up with Howard (Benson - producer, Theory of a Deadman, Daughtry, Three Days Grace, etc) for the next release. We have a number of songs completed and cannot wait to get back full time into his studio to work on this project in earnest.
Lzzy: But we thoroughly enjoyed doing Reanimate. We've done so many covers in our time, it seemed natural to put out a covers record at this time. As for the songs that made the covers album, we had about 50 to choose from, and is was a long, long process with us and the label as to who made the cut. For instance, we went back and forth on a Pearl Jam vs Soundgarden cover tune; finally we decided on Temple of the Dog to pay respects to both bands. The Beatles tune "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" was really the first song we ever played together and has been our warm up song for years. As far as "All I wanna do is make love to you" goes; well that's another story. The guys have always punished me with that song at every karoke bar we've ever been in. It doesn't matter where; I will be sitting in a karoke bar and the guy on the mike will call - now here's Izzy Hale to sing a Heart song'. It just seemed natural to put that one in.
Livewire: ...And Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance?"
Joe - You can thank our fans for that one! We put a list of potential cover songs on our website for our fans to vote on and we all agreed that the highest vote getter would be the sixth and final song on the covers disc. Sadly, "Bad Romance" was by far the biggest vote getter - it wasn't even close! It would have been easy to ignore the fans, but it seemed wrong to ask their opinion and not do it in the end.
Lzzy: And when we covered it, we tried to rock it out as much as possible. It's funny; I really didn't know her stuff before. After the cover, I downloaded her music; she has some really good songs!
Livewire: So with ReAnimate: The Covers, that brings you to 2 studio albums, 1 live album, 3 EPs and 4 Singles in about 18 months...
Arejay: ...and don't forget "Don't Mess with the Time Man" from 2000!
Beth Hale: Oh god! A copy of that one just went for a few hundred dollars!
Lzzy: (laughs) - It didn't cost us that much to make it!!!
Livewire: So what does the future hold for Halestorm?
Lzzy: Back to the studio with Howard Benson. You know, he is a Philly boy too, so the Philly Eagles references come out early and often. However, when we get down to business with him, it's magic. We have a mantra "Dare to Suck" when we work with Howard. We will try something once and stretch our abilities as far as we can to see how good we can be. Howard trusts us - he's a gifted musician in his own right, a wonderful piano player - so we trust that he won't take us anywhere we shouldn't go. He has a dark booth up a stairwell that you have to climb up in order to do your vocals. That isolation gives you the chance to vocally go for it every time. So I try to push it as far as I can go with every take. Hopefully it shows in the final mix.
Arejay: And hopefully we can take experiences like the one today here at the Rebellion and translate it into the studio. Our first album (Halestorm, also with Howard Benson) was ok, but it really isn't who we are. It misses the grit and passion you see in a live Halestorm show. We really want to capture that rawness on the new album.