Interviews are always subject to last minute changes as I found out this afternoon when, scheduled to speak to Arejay Hale ahead of Halestorm’s show in Belfast that evening, I was told he wasn’t available so I’d be speaking to Lzzy instead. After joking about getting “the more attractive Hale” and how “flaky Arejay was,” we chatted to Lzzy about their recent tour with country artist Eric Church, the difference between the UK and US rock fans and, most importantly, their hotly-anticipated new album, Into The Wild Life.
So, how did your first night in Dublin last night go?
Lzzy: It was amazing! We’ve been so looking forward to getting here as we’ve wanted to play show in Ireland since we were kids. It’s a beautiful country and, even though we didn’t get chance to go out of the city, we had a great time.
And you’re coming over to the UK next week, you must be excited about that?
Lzzy: Are you kidding?! I’ll explain something to you, there is a certain breed of rock fan and that breed of rock fan is specifically here in the UK.
Download, the Alter Bridge tour, you must have some really good memories from the UK
Lzzy: We have a lot of memories from the UK. We’re the kind of band who does things and then looks back and says “wow, is this really happening?”. Download was one of those moments. Growing up we’d seen a lot of DVDs of bands playing at that festival and other festivals in the UK so for us to play there was something of a personal triumph. The big thing I can remember from that day at Download is seeing the heat rise of the crowd. You couldn’t make out individual faces, you could just see this mass of people. It was incredible.
You’re coming to the UK off the back of a US tour. How did that go?
Lzzy: It went really well even though it was a bit of a strange tour for us. We toured with a kind of country/rocker guy called Eric Church so I’d say about 90% of that audience hadn’t heard of us and certainly didn’t know what to expect. I think to a lot of them we were like Slayer you know? We usually do rock tours so when we got asked to do this it was something a little different. It’d take a couple of songs where the audience would just stand there at look at us but, by the end, we had them rockin’ out with us. It was great to turn the crowd especially those who had never really experienced a band like Halestorm before.
Check out the song “Mayhem” here.
Did you speak to any converted fans afterwards?
Lzzy: You know the reaction was awesome as it could have gone either way, but it went really well. His show was massive, he had like 80ft inflatable demons so we went up there and just threw out some licks and had a great time getting the crowd rockin’ out by the end of our set.
The two genres aren’t that much different though are they in reality? Big shows, catchy songs….
Lzzy: No, you’re right. I was talking to a journalist here in the UK about how “classic rock” is perceived differently here in the UK and in the US. In the UK, classic rock still has a genre of it’s own whereas, back in the US, when you talk about classic rock, people see it in a retro way and think of bands like Led Zeppelin.
Okay, on the new record then. Fans have had a taster of it already courtesy of the new single “Apocalyptic,” is that track a good indication of the direction of the new record?
Lzzy: You know what, it depends on the listener. Personally, I’d say that “Apocalyptic” sits kind of between tracks like “I Miss The Misery” and “Freak Like Me” and the direction for where we’ve gone for the new record. The thing about this record is that there isn’t a big difference, we’ve kind of chased ourselves down a rabbit hole and gone after what it was that excited us about Halestorm. The thing we did differently on this record was we recorded live. Instead of doing it bit by bit and putting it all together and making it sound perfect, we sat and recorded each song in a take. We’d sit around in a circle and stare each other down and play the songs live. It was a great experience for us and you can hear mistakes on the record but, you know, they’re happy mistakes.
Recording the record live must have been a challenge bearing in mind how you recorded the last record?
Lzzy: Definitely. It was a completely different mindset and we had to learn to trust in our instinct. On the last record we had a team of people bring the record together who had worked on many great hit records so we kind of followed what they suggested. I think, because of that, the last record actually feels more like a collective of songs. With this record, we’re really proud of it because, here in the US, people are saying things like “should we record a full album?” or “should we just record individual songs?” or even “should we even just be putting out MP3s?” but, for us, we did the exact opposite. In fact, I’ll give you a bit of advice for when you hear the album, listen to it all the way through from start to finish. There are loads of different things on there like intros, outros, other stuff that, you know, were off the cuff and are just magical.
Did you enjoy the process then?
Lzzy: You know, although it was totally different, the best bit about it was just ragging on each other when one of screwed something up because we’d have to start all over again. Like we talked about, it was a challenge but it was a lot of fun as the songs on the album were actually performed rather than just us each doing our individual parts then making them perfect. This was the old-fashioned way of recording as you had to do each song from start to finish. I’ll tell you, the most challenging bit was when you couldn’t get a part right but you knew that you could go back to the old way. For example, there is a song on the album called “I Am The Fire” and it has a really long note so I said to the producer “if I can’t hit this note, can we still record it like we used to?” and he said, “sure you can but we’re not going to because you’ve said you wanted to do it this way, you’re stuck with it now.””
Last year you posted a series of “In The Studio” videos online documenting the album. What has the reaction been like to the new material so far?
Lzzy: It’s been amazing. I think a lot of people, especially after the tour we just did, are expecting a country record and I can see why if I’m being honest. We did the Eric Church tour, we recorded in Nashville and those classic country records are all full of guitar solos and have really raw recordings. The thing that makes me laugh though and it goes back to what I was saying earlier about cultural differences between the US and the UK. Over here in the UK, reviews have described the record as a good rock n’ roll record in the classic rock vein whereas the reviews in the US have been different. I don’t get offended by it though as I find it funny. Our goal was to be a little selfish on this record regardless of what anyone else thinks.
What has been inspiring you lyrically this time?
Lzzy: This record is a little all over the place lyrically and I think that was down simply to the way we recorded the album. As we were working on the album we had a new found confidence so, lyrically, a lot of that part came later in the process by which time, rather than thinking about whether certain lyrics would fit with certain parts, I just wrote what I wanted and, honestly, didn’t give a fuck. I know that isn’t a particularly eloquent way of putting it but it’s probably the best way. The whole process for this album was extremely freeing. This time I went with my gut rather than my head.
Was that rewarding for you?
Lzzy: I’ll tell you something now. One thing I get a lot of is letters from fans. To me that is really humbling. We’re just a rock band, we’re not out to save the world or anything. It’s wonderful to have that relationship with our fans and that they feel comfortable enough to reach out to us so, for some of the lyrics, I had particular stories in mind. What I mean by that is, for example, I’d get a note from a fan on Twitter about how she was having a hard time then, when I’d be writing lyrics, in my mind, I’d be thinking how much that particular fan is going to dig this song. They may not directly be about that particular story but there is a story to them.
Okay, moving on then. You’re heading out after this tour and the album release with The Pretty Reckless…
Lzzy: Yes, I’m so excited about that. Both bands have been wanting to tour together for ages but, you know how it is with rock bands wanting to tour together… never the twain shall meet. They were busy, we were busy and we never had the same time in our schedule to sort something out. Now it’s finally happening and I’m so excited. The thing I love most about going on tour is going out with bands I really love. Like on this tour with Wilson and Nothing More.
Your schedule takes you up to the end of May. What is happening after that?
Lzzy: Touring till the end of time I think. Ha. Well, it’s festival season for a start so we’ll be hitting all the festivals again then it’s just touring and touring. I think this time though it feels like a real personal triumph because I started in this band when I was thirteen years old and you’d play the odd gig here and there but now, I was looking at our schedule with our tour manager and we’re scheduled in as far as I can see so it really feels like we’ve achieved something. Many bands don’t make it past their first or second record but, for us, to be on our third and to have our schedule already filling up, it really feels like we’ve made it.
Those must have been dreams for you when you were thirteen?
Lzzy: They were, you’re right and, like I said earlier, we have so many moments which are milestones when we just sit there and have to ask ourselves if they’re really happening. A milestone for me was playing my first bar at fifteen years old. We were playing the corner of a room and none of the people in the bar really cared about us and we weren’t old enough to drink but we could play live and it felt like we were successful. The next milestone from there was to headline a bigger venue then maybe a tour of the area and from there just keep moving outwards onto bigger things. I think our goal has always been to keep on rocking forward. Yes, that’s it, all we want to do is make sure that we keep on rocking forward!
Check out the song “Apocalyptic” here.