HALESTORM // Rock ‘n’ Roll 101

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Christmas will come early for Halestorm fans when the band hit our shores this December. The Pennsylvanian hard rockers will be tearing it up in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne—and they’ll be bringing fellow rockers Black Stone Cherry along for the ride.

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Ahead of the tour Hysteria sat down with frontwoman Lzzy Hale to chat about the shows, the rock community and Australian crowds. 

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Where are we catching you from today?

I’m actually at home! I’ve been back for a couple of days and things are a little blurry because we were just in Helsinki, Finland and I don’t know what time it is in my brain right now [laughs]. I’m probably at home for another week or so and then we’re back on tour. I’ve just been doing normal things like laundry [laughs].

This visit to Australia’s coming off some huge appearances at Download Festival earlier this year. How did you find those shows?

They were wonderful, apart from the weather but that’s to be expected! It was wonderful to walk out onto the stage to so many people. Rock fans are so wonderful… it just feels like everyone is the same, we’re all part of the same family and everyone lifts each other up. Rock fans aren’t there for casual entertainment, I think that’s the difference… it’s a primal need to be there, it’s a human need. We get to talk to so many people that have been touched by music and it’s an amazing feeling of community. 

We’re all very much the same people we were when we started this band and probably are just as immature, but we still get that same feeling from music. Being a part of it is the definition of living the dream [laughs].

Those Download sets were real standouts to so many people. Did the band feel that too and walk off the stage planning their next visit?

Absolutely, we just wanted to make sure that we were available. It’s kind of addictive [laughs]. I know people say it all the time but there’s really no high like returning to a place where you were so well received. That communal aspect is so addictive too so we quite literally walked off stage and said we have to do this again. I’m glad we’re coming back.

How are you expecting this tour to compare to Download?

I think it’s going to be a little beyond the handshake, it’s going to be more of an intimate experience. There’s a difference between playing festivals and playing smaller venues. When you play a festival, you’re showing broad strokes of everything that you are. I think now that we’re coming back, a lot of those kids who may have seen us for the first time at Download will be coming back too, to see what else we have to offer. 

We’ll be able to go a little deeper down the rabbit hole so I’m looking forward to throwing some interesting wrenches into the works [laughs]. 

I love Australian rock fans, it’s still a lifestyle to them and they’re living it in the same way that I am. I’m looking forward to the debauchery that is them, I’m just coming along for the ride.

This tour’s coming off the back of Vicious, could you tell us a bit about the making of that album?

We made this album with Nick Raskulinecz, he’s THE rock producer of our generation (Deftones, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters). With every album I’ve ever loved and flipped over to see who produced it, it’s been him. It was quite an honour to work with him. The difference between doing this record with Nick and our other albums was that he was there [laughs].

Literally, he was two feet from any one of us when we were performing in the studio, he was in the thick of it.  We called him ‘Coach Nick’ because he’d be there when we were playing the guitar or singing. When my little brother was playing the drums he was in the drum room too, with a stick in his hand going just as hard as Arejay does. That energy really translated into the music, it was so exciting and he essentially became the fifth member of the band.

In comparison to our other records, we also started Vicious from the ground up. We went into the studio with a handful of ideas, but nothing was really finished. We were basically writing as we were recording, I feel like you can hear the excitement and you can hear the movement of these ideas. On a personal level, I learnt a lot about myself while making this record.  It turns out that you never stop learning and you never run out of dreams! We’re hoping to go back and do a record with Nick again. 

You’ve been on the Vicious tour cycle for a while, how’s it been going?

It’s been overwhelmingly positive. Anytime you create something, there’s no way to predict how people are going to receive it. It’s nerve-wracking, you put your blood, sweat and tears and your heart and soul out into the world… it’s like showing someone pictures of you in a bikini and asking them what they think [laughs]. 

It’s been so amazing to not only see this album be so well received but to also see how it’s elevated our fanbase, especially the females. Our audience has flipped over this last album cycle, it used to be 60/40 male to female but now it’s completely on its head. It’s been amazing to me because I didn’t realise how important it was for me to stand out on a stage and literally look out and see all these girls that are just like me. They’re not there because their boyfriends dragged them to the rock show, they’re there because they need to rage and they need that outlet. It’s such a beautiful thing to see and that was one of the more surprising things we discovered. 

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I’m a complete dork from a 20-acre farm in Pennsylvania, I’m not cool. I didn’t get into music because I was cool, I got into it because I wasn’t. It’s a wonderful thing to be a female in a rock band because you see these girls reevaluate their lives a little bit or discover something about themselves. Just over the past 23 years of being in Halestorm, by the fact that I’m doing it and building my empire… you can see it clicks with them. It’s almost like they say, well she did it so there’s hope for me to do whatever I want as well. I get the most amazing letters from these girls and it’s truly humbling. I remember when I was growing up I listened to a lot of male-fronted bands, my Dad introduced me to Van Halen, Dio, Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. My mum bought me this live CD from Heart, it was called The Road Home and I had never heard a female sing like that. I remember it clicking in my head that I was a female and I could do it, just like she could. I do think it’s important for women to be represented and for them to pursue whatever it is that makes them happy because they inadvertently inspire other women to do the same. 

Tell us a bit about the decision to have Black Stone Cherry as supports for this tour.

I think I’ve known those boys for 13 years, they’re our brothers and we’ve always had such similar views. They plug in and they play, they write their own tunes and they actually sing- like us they don’t use any tracks or trickery. We’ve always had those conversations with the boys, especially when it became really on trend to chase perfection at a live show. Part of that human element is knowing when you walk out onto stage there’s nothing to fall back on and things can either be magical or they can go horribly wrong [laughs]. That rush that you have on stage, that rock ‘n’ roll 101 is something we definitely see eye to eye on.  We bonded over that in the beginning, so just to see them evolve and grow is truly special to us. They’re so funny too, we laugh to the point of tears with them and that’s almost the most important thing [laughs]. 

What are you really looking forward to on this tour run?

On a personal note, I’m looking forward to the conversations I’ll be eavesdropping on between John Fred Young [of Black Stone Cherry] and my little brother because when you get those two drummers together it’s like a hurricane meeting a tornado, it’s complete chaos. 

I love Australian rock fans, it’s still a lifestyle to them and they’re living it in the same way that I am. I’m looking forward to the debauchery that is them, I’m just coming along for the ride [laughs]. 

Catch Halestorm with special guests Black Stone Cherry at the following dates:

SYDNEY // Friday 6 December // Enmore Theatre
BRISBANE // Saturday 7 December // The Tivoli
ADELAIDE // Monday 9 December // The Gov
MELBOURNE // Tuesday 10 December // The Forum

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