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
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
Maybe it was a full moon, the previous evening’s entertainment, or a case of pre-flight jitters, but my first run through Kicking & Screaming left me cold and underwhelmed. Bach’s voice was shot full of holes, the songs were toothless, and there were too many damn ballads to be take the album title seriously. The 21-year-old fanboy rattling inside my brain was having none of it, however, and for the next month at home in Toronto the album received regular airplay on a set of cheap-ass portable iPod speakers (due to a bizarre gardening accident involving the car stereo). Slowly but surely, Kicking & Screaming revealed its true self. By the time it hit the big metalhead approved junk-in-the-trunk office sound system, there was no choice but to drown those first impressions.
Putting the bottom line before wiseguy prose, this is the album Skid Row wishes they could cough up. Call it shades and reflections of the Skids’ classic first two albums (the self-titled debut and Slave To The Grind). And while there’s no ‘Youth Gone Wild’, ’18 & Life’ or ‘Monkey Business’ to be had after a dozen listens, it far surpasses anything Baz’ former bandmates have done since Johnny Sollinger was tapped to try and follow the Bacharoo Banzai Show.
The jury is still out on whether it overpowers Bach’s previous ton of bricks, Angel Down, as Kicking & Screaming is a grower that has to be absorbed over time rather than pounded back like a free Jäger shot. Continue Reading