By Carl Begai
Halestorn vocalist Lzzy Hale clearly has no concept of downtime, having used whatever breathing room she had in between tours to speak with me for a new BraveWords feature story. That interview can be found here. Following are a few extra bits of insight from that discussion:
Lzzy is, of course, known for her killer voice and good looks, but in keeping with her next generation Joan Jett appeal, she also plays guitar. In fact, she looks rather strange on stage without her signature Explorer in hand.Asked if she’s at all disappointed by most people treating her axe-playing as as afterthought – although Premier Guitar recently did their best to remedy that with a rig rundown – Lzzy doesn’t worry about it.
“I got into playing guitar because I wanted to be a bad-ass,” she admits. “That really was the only reason. I followed Tom Keifer from Cinderella and decided I had to get off the piano (laughs). As I learned more about the instrument it became more of a personal journey for me. I don’t really mind being in the shadows guitar-wise because I’m becoming a better player year after year. As that happens people will start noticing me as a guitar player. I don’t pay a lot of attention to people paying a whole lot of attention to me (laughs).” Continue Reading
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.” Continue Reading
So, me and my extended BW&BK family have issued our individual Best Of 2012 lists because that’s the sort of thing you do in this biz as the new year kicks off. I’ve decided to post my long-winded overview of the last 12 months here, with a link provided leading to my Top 10 Albums list along with other honourable (and dishonourable) mentions…
It was a rollercoaster of a year, as they all are in the music biz.
From being blindsided by Halestorm’s new album The Strange Case Of… and becoming a fan against my will, to dealing with a fuckwit promo rep at Roadrunner Records who decided to change my questions in an email interview because she felt they were “too harsh” for her artist (um, shouldn’t that be for the artist to decide?), to bucket list interviews with Brighton Rock’s Gerry McGhee and the lovely Lita Ford, to witnessing some amazing shows on both sides of the pond, 2012 has been quite the adventure.
See the list here for the Hot and Not albums of my year, then pick apart my sanity at your leisure.
Gotta say that I was surprised at not being disappointed by any of the shows I was able to attend this year. The third annual European run of Rock Meets Classic featuring Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Steve Lukather (Toto), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), three-fifths of Primal Fear’s roster and Trillium vocalist Amanda Somerville was positively brilliant, with PF singer Ralf Scheepers going above and beyond lending his voice to the Toto hit ‘Rosanna’ (!). Watching Devin Townsend successfully manipulate a Motörhead crowd into doing his bidding was a gut-buster, seeing former Helloween members Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen on stage together with Unisonic belting out classics ‘I Want Out’ and ‘Future World’ was ’87 surreal, and the Leaves’ Eyes / Firewind tour that looked so weird on paper turned out to be one of the best gigs of the past 12 months.
Nightwish gets a scrapbook all its own due to a brilliant show in Nuremberg – featuring more pyro than the sun – and a day and night hanging with some of the finest people in the metal business. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
It’s rare that a commercially successful rock band is good for a surprise. The vast majority would much rather stick to a proven formula – and understandably so – than throw their fanbase a curve. Pennsylvania-based rockers Halestorm, on the other hand, took the plunge with only one official full length album under their belt. Two years after the band’s self-titled debut touched down and started a buzz, the quartet issued the six song ReAniMate covers EP, which gave the people that thought they had Halestorm nailed down something to choke on. Covers of the Skid Row classic ‘Slave To The Grind’ – now a fan favourite in the band’s nightly set – and Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Out Ta Get Me’ left many a naysayer’s jaw on the floor, Yours Truly included, largely due to the explosive delivery by vocalist/guitarist Lzzy Hale. The EP set the stage and reined in a new batch of fans for Halestorm’s second record The Strange Case Of…, which rocks harder and heavier than what folks expect of a so-called “average” mainstream band.
“We chose the six songs on ReAniMate for all sorts of reasons,” says Lzzy, agreeing that it was one of the building blocks going in to make The Strange Case Of… “The cover of The Beatles’ ‘She’s So Heavy’ was the first song the guys and I ever jammed to as a band. The Heart cover of ‘All I Wanna Do…’ used to be my go-to karaoke song; the guys would sign me up in hopes of getting free beer from people who liked the way I sang. ‘Slave To The Grind’ and ‘Out Ta Get Me’ were some of my influences, growing up on my parents’ music, and they had tempos that we’ve never experimented with before. In turn, they directly inspired our fastest original song to date, ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’. ‘Hunger Strike’ was a nod to one of Joe’s (Hottinger / guitars) influences, and the Lady Gaga cover (‘Bad Romance’) was the #1 most requested song in a poll we put up for our fans to determine what our final pick for the EP was. It’s a great mix.”
Considering that Halestorm gained notoriety with radio-safe hits like ‘I Get Off’ and the Twilight-fuelled ‘Familiar Taste Of Poison’, choosing ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’ as the first single off The Strange Case Of… was a ballsy move. Folks that respect the band as a live act but have no use for the debut album have embraced the track, which is Halestorm’s take on ‘Slave To The Grind’ at its heart.
“‘Love Bites’ is a great ‘re-introduction’ song. It was a reflection of what people saw at our live shows while touring on our last album cycle. We wanted to give people a first single that was a step up from our last recording, but was familiar to the energy they get from us live.” Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
When Halestorm surfaced in 2009 with their self-titled major league debut – after a decade in the trenches creating a buzz – they hit a home run with fans of modern day radio rock. The band was immediately lumped into the Nickelback / Shinedown section of the bus and rewarded with a legion of fans for their trouble. Safe, predictable and formulaic, they became a success through a mix of pushing the right commercial buttons, good looks, and touring their collective asses off on some big-name road trips. For all the accolades, however, Halestorm was considered by those listening from the sidelines as a solid act but not worth writing home about. The release of the ReAniMate covers EP in 2011 punched a king-sized hole in the “safe and predictable” tag-line, scaring the hell out of the naysayers (and some fans) with wonderfully obnoxious covers of anthems ‘Slave To The Grind’ (Skid Row) and ‘Out Ta Get Me’ (Guns N’ Roses), and a ballsy rendition of The Beatles’ classic ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’. The live shows around the release sent a clear message that in spite of popular fluff in their repertoire, Halestorm is a tooth and nail rock band capable of bringing the roof down around your ears.
For anyone that didn’t jump on board at the beginning of the Halestorm trip, new outing The Strange Case Of… is exactly that: strange. It kicks off with a tip of the hat to the fans of all things heavy with ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’, essentially daring rivet-heads everywhere not to get roped in by the up-tempo shred and vocalist/guitarist Lzzy Hale’s rant-tastic delivery. Second track ‘Mz. Hyde’ is just as much of a surprise thanks to a chugging Stray Cats groove (!), followed by the soaring crush of ‘I Miss The Misery’ and the too-Papa-Roach-for-its-own-good rocker, ‘Freak Like Me’. Only four songs in, it’s clear as to why Lzzy is considered to be one of, if not the best female vocalist on the scene today. Her delivery is classic Joan Jett attitude mixed with Corey Taylor intensity (as needed) and a young Sebastian Bach’s insane vocal range. Everything you hear has been and can be pulled off live, with interest. Continue Reading