By Carl Begai
This interview with Halestorm vocalist/guitarist Lzzy Hale started with an apology.
The band’s rise to fame with their first album in 2009 was punctuated by their association with the tween-angst Twilight movie franchise through their song “Familiar Taste Of Poison” (or so I thought), a connection that acted as an automatic shut-off valve, thus preventing any decay caused by prolonged exposure to formula kiddie rock. Any time or interest spent on Halestorm, which had been sporadic at best, was over and done. A couple years later during a YouTube cruise, however, I stumbled across live footage of the band performing “Slave To The Grind” (12-29-11 Ram’s Head Live). Staring at the sidebar thumbnail, I highly doubted it was the Skid Row song of the same name because no band could possibly hope to match the intensity of the original. They were dreaming or smoking high-quality something if they did.
One click later my jaw was somewhere around my ankles, leading to the purchase of the ReAnimate covers EP. The release of the “Slave…”-inspired “Love Bites (So Do I)” in 2012 as the first single (!!) from Halestorm’s second album, The Strange Case Of…, sealed the deal. Having broken the cardinal rule of Never Judge A Book By Its Cover, I had become a crow-eating fanboy.
“What’s funny about that Twilight thing is that we’ve never officially been associated with it,” says Lzzy. “The video that blew up on YouTube was made by a fan; she was obsessed with Twilight and also cane to a lot of our shows. It’s funny how so many people, especially in the press, would ask us about how it felt to be linked to this smash hit movie (laughs). It means a lot to hear you like us now, especially coming from the perspective of someone who was skeptical at first about us. We hadn’t really proven ourselves when the first album came out, so to hear that we made such a big impact is awesome.”
The unofficial rule for being a music journalist is that if you wear blinders and find worth in only one type of music, you have nothing to offer anyone. It’s important to keep this in mind even as a rivet-chewing, flame-spitting metalhead, and my appreciation for Halestorm boils down to their music being a guilty pleasure I’m not embarrassed admitting to.
“I love it, and I’m probably going to end up quoting you on that,” Lzzy laughs. “It’s weird that, whatever it is that Halestorm is, we have a lot of classic rock influences and the way we interpret ‘heavy’ is Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest heavy. You can’t say we gravitate towards the typical metal scene, so it’s strange playing some of these metal festivals or supporting certain bands when our version of heavy isn’t necessarily theirs. It’s been amazing over the past two years becoming comfortable with whatever it is we are. But, for lack of a better term, fuck it, let’s just do it (laughs).”
Much like Canadian rock trio Danko Jones, Halestorm have won over metal audiences time and again whether in a festival situation or support act capacity. It boils down to the music and its delivery far exceeding any preconceived pop rock notions.
“Maybe this is just me torturing myself and maybe I like it, but I live for that stuff. That’s why we went out with a country artist like Eric Church and opened up for Megadeth. I love that feeling of ‘Okay, 95% of the people here don’t know who we are or don’t like us and don’t want us to be here; let’s prove them wrong.’ I can’t even describe the rush I get after three or four songs and I know we’ve got ’em (laughs). I definitely live for that.”
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