Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale Talks ‘Mayhem,’ Touring With Lita Ford + More
Halestorm are one of rock’s top acts, building their success on stellar music, a relentless touring schedule and a devoted fan base. We recently had a chance to speak with Halestorm vocalist Lzzy Hale about her collaboration with DJ duo Dada Life on the song “Tic Tic Tic” and that part of the interview can be found here.
In this portion of the interview, we focus more on what’s going on with Halestorm. Lzzy speaks about getting a chance to tour with Lita Ford, how their current single “Mayhem” came together, their participation in Eagles of Death Metal‘s Play It Forward campaign, the open nature of her online blog and the camaraderie developed with some of the band’s peers. Check out the chat below.
You’ve got major touring ahead of you. How psyched are you to tour with Lita Ford and maybe get a chance to pick her brain a bit?
I am so totally incredibly excited, what an honor. I met her once before at the Ronnie James Dio gala in L.A. for the Stand Up and Shout benefit. What a sweetheart, she is just a nice lady, very classy. When we were trying to put this tour together, we’re like, “Let’s just put our feelers out and maybe she’ll say yes.” I was so thrilled, because you never know. This is very humbling for it to be our tour and have her on there. As well as our other acts going out with us, I think she’s fantastic. It’s something we’ve totally wanted to do for a long time and just the timing and then the lineup never really meshed. This is going to be so much fun. Lita, just because she’s really a staple in rock and roll, obviously not only for chicks, but I mean, everybody knows her songs and who she is. It’s rock and roll 101 right there, so I’m just excited for her to come out. Definitely pick her brain, I’m gonna try and see if we can get something together with all three acts and maybe do some duets, or something together, I think that would be important.
The “Mayhem” video is out now. I love that track. Let’s talk a little bit about the recording …
That’s actually an interesting one — it was the first song that we recorded for the album. So it’s first day, we walk in and the first time working with a new producer, and we’re just, “OK let’s hit record and see what happens.” So, [laughs] we had the demo written. We had approved it for the record and had been rehearsing it. Like we talked about before, Chad, we did all of these tracks live. We’re performing the song while we’re recording it and then Jay [Joyce], our producer, comes in. Oh man! This is such a typical arrangement, we have to f–k this up. We have to do something with this. We take five minutes and he points at me, you write a riff, then points at Joey [Hottinger], you have a solo over it and we’re gonna cut out the click halfway through, but we’re not going to tell you when. I was like, “OK, what did I get myself into?”
So we did it. We wrote this middle part and kinda had an idea about how I was vocally going to get out of it, but wasn’t really sure how to end it. This is the fourth take through. I was literally running out of words in that breakdown in the middle. So I just ended up repeating “Shake it” for some reason and for some strange miracle my brother and the rest of the band came back in with me and we could not duplicate that after. It was like, “OK this is without a click track or anything, here we are. Here’s this happy accident that happened and that we can’t actually replicate or double it.” It was the flagship for the rest of the record, because we weren’t necessarily afraid to throw something out or to completely rewrite a song or write interludes and outros. That was kind of the day and the song that really kicked it up a notch and said, “OK, this is the type of record we’re going to make.”
I’ve loved reading your blog as of late. It’s great that you even have a piece in there on honesty and what that means to you. I know a lot of artists approach social media in different ways, but can you talk a little bit about how open and frank you’ve chosen to be and what has that experience given you in terms of connecting with your fans?
In the beginning, we started really building the fan base and trying to figure out what our relationship with them was. I was actually a little nervous about saying too much or the wrong things. I would kick myself if I said something stupid on Twitter, beat myself up over it. Over the years, what I’ve come to find is first of all I’m a bad faker and liar. In a lot of ways, it ends up showing through musically. That’s why we’ve always just chased whatever got us excited because if it’s boring or it’s not who we are, it does show. Same thing in my life, I think that I can’t bulls–t people and pretend I am this amazing rock star of a person that never makes a mistake. In turn, I’ve gotten such a bigger and very loving response from everybody — I think a bigger response than I’ve ever gotten by putting myself out there and explaining certain things that are important to me regardless of whether everybody would agree with it or if it’s PC or not.
I don’t know, to me maybe it’s selfish but the Tumblr blog is in a lot of ways, therapy for me because I think that in turn in the same way that fans have completely embraced my honesty to them, by me putting it out to them they are helping me. It makes it, I don’t know. It’s almost like stress reliving. It’s already out there and everything that I think about and talk about is out there, so what do I have to hide? Nothing. So you don’t have to worry about that. It’s been an awesome project and I thank these kids every single day to allowing me to be myself. It’s a very strange thing, because you would think by exposing yourself as being really – a normal freaking dork from PA would ruin whatever mystique or something anyone might think of you as but, I don’t think I could keep up the mystique anyway so it doesn’t matter.
You covered the Eagles of Death Metal song “I Love You All the Time” as part of their Play It Forward campaign after the terrorist attack? Can you talk a little bit about your experience of recording the song and the response that it’s gotten?
First, the attack definitely hit very close to home. We were very emotional that day, watching everything go down. We’ve played that venue, we know the people that work there. We know where the exits are and where the dressing rooms are. It’s just impossible situation for those poor people to go through. So, as soon as the Eagles guys challenged everybody with OK, here’s this play it forward thing and we’re going to give all of our publishing and all of the proceeds to these families and any of the victims of that night, we had already decided that we were going to do that.
They just ended up organizing it for us, like OK here’s what we’re gonna do. Sweet, we’ll be involved. As soon as we could record it, we were on tour at the time and we were going through Japan and ended up being able to have a recording rig come in and rent some gear out, so we ended up doing it live in Japan and sending it in immediately. I’m just glad everybody liked it, but I’m glad we were able to be involved, even in some small way for that because, I don’t know. It was a no brainer. It was something that we had to do.
I know there’s a lot of touring coming, but is new music always on the mind in terms of what might be coming next?
It’s a conversation we have every day at this point. We’ve gotten really good in the past couple of years of doing both. I have a small recording rig that I travel with while we’re on tour in between press, meet and greets, humming stupid things. You haven’t lived until all of your bandmates only have heard you do weird harmonies and don’t have any clue what the context of the song is, because you’re wearing headphones recording it. They make fun of me a lot because of that. We’re writing every day, compiling ideas, we’ve begun having major band meetings without label or management involved yet, but just trying figure out what we’re doing next and who we’re doing it with — how many songs, what does that mean. There’s definitely new music on the way. Now, it’s just a matter of us stopping touring for any given amount of time to record something [laughs]. We’re gonna have to run out the clock on the touring before we have a nice chunk of time to really hunker down and do another record. It’s definitely a conversation that we have every day, batting ideas back and forth, writing. Who knows? It’s just the way it goes, until something really starts falling into place and clicks, it’s gonna be writing for writing’s sake.
We recently spoke with Elias Soriano from Nonpoint and he was very complimentary and fond of you and the band in general. He expressed that he would love to do a duet with you at some point. There’s even a quote where he states, “It reinstates my hope for the rock industry as a whole, to see bands like Halestorm do well.”
That is so sweet of him, I’ll give those guys a shout out and see if we can work something out because that would be awesome.
There’s a lot of respect for Halestorm within the industry and from your peers. Can you discuss how you were influenced in term of establishing good relationships with other bands?
We all gotta stick together, especially in the past 10 years. I can’t afford to act like we’re all in competition with each other, because we’re not. We have to tour together, support each other. Every generation has a time where rock and roll has dipped, and people either don’t want to play it or they’re smashing records back in the day. They’re censoring everything — it’s historic. We’re now in this generation’s time of OK, rock ‘n’ roll isn’t the most incredibly popular thing, especially the active rock genre. But we don’t go away because we keep touring, and people keep buying tickets. If we start thinking about it like, “Oh, we’re better than them or they’re better than us or we don’t like their song, or why did they get that and we didn’t get that, then the whole thing falls apart! It’s so unnecessary and petty and childish. It’s a local, let’s start a band mentality. We’ve all worked very hard to get to where we are, us and Nonpoint, Disturbed, Avenged. Everybody out here has been working so hard to get to where we all are. Let’s all just freakin’ Kumbaya it out. [laughs]
But really, I learn a lot from these ’80s cats I know. I literally have, what the guys call a gaggle, of ’80s rocker friends that all went through a few generations of music and whether they were egotistical or not, back in the day, they aren’t anymore [laughs] because it doesn’t pay. Two things I always tell young bands, I get asked that a lot. No. 1 is obviously you have to practice and be good at your craft, so that when you have an opportunity to show your stuff, you’re good. No. 2 — Don’t be an asshole. It doesn’t fit! For instance, getting gigs. We weren’t the Halestorm we are now when I was 14 years old, we just weren’t. We were green. We sucked. We rocked hard, but we sucked. We had a handful of songs that maybe we’re good, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. A lot of the early gigs that we ended up getting we’re because the promoter in the area had a choice. Well, I can have these nice kids who aren’t going to trash the dressing room and aren’t going to think that they’re gods among men, or I can have this other band that’s obviously drawing more but they’re assholes! So, we would get the gig because of that. It’s one of those things that you always keep in the back of your mind.
Our thanks to Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale for the interview. As stated, part one of our interview was about her contribution to Dada Life’s “Tic Tic Tic” and you can read that by clicking the red button below. Halestorm have a full tour schedule ahead of them that you can check out here.
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