Halestorm Is the Rock Artist of the Decade
Halestorm have been one of the most active rock bands over the last 10 years. Between releasing three albums, they've toured the world extensively and have become a household name.
As we prepare to enter a new decade that will be abundant with new rock bands, we wanted to reflect on the last 10 years and praise those who've made a large impact within the rock community. That's why Halestorm have been chosen as Loudwire's Rock Artist of the Decade. We had the pleasure of speaking with frontwoman Lzzy Hale regarding the band's accomplishments so far.
"If my 13-year-old self could see me now," Hale says, humbly accepting the title. "This is wild!"
Formed in 1997 by Hale and her younger brother Arejay, the talented siblings were destined for greatness after being raised on rock 'n' roll. Bassist Josh Smith and guitarist Joe Hottinger later joined them, and Halestorm were born. It was a long journey before they signed with Atlantic Records in 2005, but every minute counted.
"I will say that we did everything a little backwards," the vocalist explains of their success route. "In a lot of ways, I think that it's been steps. What we most recently call 'mile markers' in this long highway that's just never-ending, we kind of just keep going because there's glory in doing it."
By the time Halestorm's self-titled debut album came out, they had already built a fanbase due to their time spent on the road between '05 and '07. "I think that we were just very gung-ho in all these different ways," Hale reflects. "You just chase everything that gets you excited."
"You can dream big and you can joke about things, but you never really think it's going to happen."
Keeping a band together for over 20 years is certainly no small feat, especially when rock 'n' roll is consistently shunned by the rest of pop culture and mainstream society. "We always wore that as a badge of pride," the singer says confidently. "All four of us really loved rock music, but also loved the fact that not a lot of people did because we really loved it. It was something we could call our own."
While Hale acknowledges that every member of the band brings something unique to the table, she thinks the closeness of their bond with each other is what has really kept them going for so long. On tour, they regularly engage in nights out together, whether it be bowling or going to the movies.
"I think that's a big accomplishment in our world — the fact that we haven't killed each other yet and we still actually enjoy playing with each other and doing this whole thing, even when it gets tough or there's an uphill battle. I'm thankful."
Halestorm released The Strange Case Of... in 2012, which featured the hit single "Love Bites (So Do I)." The song ended up winning the Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance the following year, defeating Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Lamb of God, Megadeth and Marilyn Manson.
"The day that we found out that we were nominated, we were in Madison, Wisconsin, playing a show. We found out in the middle of the show," Hale recalls. "Joe ran out onstage right before I'm about to start this song and told me in my ear."
Hale turned to the audience and told them the band had just been nominated for a Grammy. "And the entire place just roared," she says. "It was like we were at a football game and the team scored. It was just really cool, an amazing moment to share with the audience, too."
When the category was being announced at the ceremony, Halestorm waited patiently, hoping to hear an H-sound. The announcer, however, read off the song title first. "We're all thinking for a split second, everybody went silent because we're like, 'Who's Love Bites? Oh, that's us! Oh my god!'" the singer remembers.
"I think with each record, you're striving to be better, but you're striving to push even your own boundaries to what you thought was possible. We enjoy that pressure."
"There's a difference between believing that you're capable of achieving these things, and then those things actually happening in reality," she admits. "You can dream big and you can joke about things, but you never really think it's going to happen."
"It was just an honor to be picked amongst our peers," she continues. "I made sure to tell our fellow nominees every time that I saw them, 'You know that you guys influenced us.' All of them did in one way or another. In a lot of ways we would never have written 'Love Bites' if it wasn't for those people that we were up against."
Halestorm would go on to release Into the Wildlife in 2015 and Vicious in 2018. Hale looks back on the band's growth between each album, assuring that they always urge each other to get better every time they step foot off the stage after a performance. "It's like all four of us are pushing this cart on wheels up a hill," she compares. "And if one of us falls off the train a little bit or gets lazy, we're all not going to be able to push it up the hill. So it takes all four of us in that same mentality."
No two Halestorm records sound alike, which the singer attributes to both internal and external reasons. Not only did they want to get more experimental on their third release, but they recorded it in Nashville, Tenn., which had a heavy influence on the resulting sound.
"I think with each record, you're striving to be better, but you're striving to push even your own boundaries to what you thought was possible. We enjoy that pressure," she adds.
Aside from stylistic changes in the studio, a big portion of Halestorm's focus is their live show, which in recent years, they've started adding improv sections into the set. Prior to heading out on stage, the group collectively decides which song they're going to extend, and are then forced to really listen to each other in the midst of the action to ensure they end at the same time. It's a way of challenging themselves and tightening their onstage connection as a whole.
Though Halestorm are one of many rock bands led by a woman today, this wasn't always the case. The singer looks back to the start of the decade, admitting that it was difficult to even get radio airplay because it would exceed the station's quota for women.
"Basically you'd find out they already have their 'token girl,'" she sighs. "'We're already playing Amy Lee or Evanescence,' or something of the like."
After years of rejection and being mistaken for her guitarist's girlfriend rather than the lead vocalist, Hale is happy to point out that things have changed in the rock world for women. She sees a much higher ratio of women to men in the audiences than there used to be, and there are a plethora of popular bands fronted by women, as well.
"I've seen such growth in all areas," she says cheerfully. "It's so beautiful because I can be onstage and I can look at any one of these girls, and I'm so proud to be able to point to them and literally tell them, 'Don't let anybody tell you what you can't be, because I'm standing up here onstage doing exactly what I've always wanted to do since I was 13. I'm living proof that you can.'"
"We're all the part of the same club, we're all part of this community."
As much of an icon Hale is to her fans, she'll never forget the moments where she was inspired by her idols. The late Ronnie James Dio was one of her biggest heroes, and one night after Halestorm opened for Heaven and Hell, he gave her a piece of advice that would change her life.
"Ronnie pointed his finger in my face," she recalls. "He's like, 'Lzzy, it's a moment in time. You're never gonna remember all of the people that you meet or all the venues that you've been to, but they are gonna remember meeting you for the rest of their lives. You gotta make it absolutely special and you gotta make it good for everyone.'"
Hale has reflected that attitude ever since, expressing that she loves connecting with her fans and making their day if she's able to. "I don't even consider it like they're our fans and we're the rockstars. We're all the part of the same club, we're all part of this community."
To hear about the time Pat Benatar threatened to slap Hale, her words of wisdom for aspiring rock bands and more, listen to the full interview above.
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