INTERVIEW: Halestorm (13/03/2015)

Having been writing and playing music together for almost 20 years, siblings Lzzy and Arejay Hale, two parts of the four-piece that is Halestorm, it’s crazy to think that almost two decades forward from their very beginnings that they’ll be on the verge of releasing their third full-length effort, ‘Into The Wild Life’.

Before they went ahead and dropped their new record on us, however, the guys and gal set off on their very own headline tour of the UK. So, we caught up with bassist Josh Smith whilst they were at their date in Cardiff to check out how their tour was going, how it feels to be on the up and up, what we can expect from the new album, and a bunch of other stuff too.

DP!: So this is the second to last date of the UK tour so how has it been so far?
J: It’s been amazing. Basically on this tour we’ve rolled out some singles but we don’t have our new album out yet, so to have any sort of momentum at all coming over here is really exciting and the shows have been just wonderful. We’ve gotten to play some new places; last night we played Southampton for the first time, and we went to Ireland which is really cool. The UK is just so good to us. We’re so excited to come over here whenever we can. It’s been great.

DP!: have there been any particular dates or highlights that stand out on this tour?
J: London was a really fun show, that and the night before we played in Wolverhampton and that was an amazing show too; both really big venues and both on a Monday and Tuesday. It seems to us that it doesn’t really matter what day of the week it is, if people come to a rock show they come to rock out, and back in the States that just doesn’t happen. If it;s a Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, chances are the crowd is a little bit sleepier than if you get shows on the back end of the week or on the weekend. So that just blows our mind coming out on a Monday night and the crowd is just rip-roaring. Glasgow was amazing, to be expected, as were a bunch of the other shows. We went up to Inverness for the first time, that was really cool. We saw Loch Ness.

DP!: Did you see Nessie?
J: No, we didn’t see Nessie, but hopefully we’ll get back there to look for her again.

DP!: You’ve done a few UK tours now, how does it feel to be moving up playing bigger venues?
J: It feels amazing. A lot of these places if we played them it was to open up for someone, and to come back on our own steam is just awesome. It’s just really exciting. Lzzy (Hale, vocalist/guitarist) hasn’t asked it lately, but usually when we play a big room that we’ve never played before and there’s just a surprisingly good turnout she’ll ask “How many people are seeing us for the first time”, and it’s usually a pretty good percentage of the crowd. That just blows our minds.

DP!: You played the smaller room in this venue two years ago.
J: Yeah, that’s right. It’s just great. It’s all good. We’ve got the best job ever and we’re having the time of our lives.

DP!: How have the new songs been received live so far?
J: Really, really well. I mean, from the get go you could tell that everyone in the crowd was processing, sort of ingesting the new song and really critically paying attention to it to hear it, but the response was amazing afterwards, people just rocking out. Just a few shows into the tour and people already know all the lyrics, and it’s just crazy. That’s social media and YouTube for you, you just YouTube what you want to listen to and you’ve got your lyrics up, and it’s just really cool to see people singing to a brand new song.

DP!: Are those new songs a good measure of what else on the album?
J: They really are, and so what you’ve heard so far is a really good spread and there’s everything in between. There’s a little bit heavier, there’s a little bit softer than that; but overall it’s a really good representation of what’s to come on the album. The cool thing about the album is it’s a piece. It’s not just song, song, song, song, song; the songs really flow nicely into each other, musically as well as context. We’ve definitely grown as a band, and as musicians I think.

DP!: What was your favourite thing about recording the album, and what’s your favourite song on it?
J: Lzzy and I played piano on a few of the songs, that was really fun. There’s some little in between song stuff that I truly love. They’re sort of like segways between songs, very Pink Floyd-y I guess. I so look forward to that when I’m listening through the album. I really enjoy that. There’s a few vibe-y songs, and there’s just a real hip, chill bassline and I can’t wait to play them live you know, get that vibe out and express it live. I’m really excited for that.

DP!: You mentioned Pink Floyd, are there any other big influences on the album?
J: Absolutely. There’s Pink Floyd from a vibe-y standpoint was definitely an influence. Well, I don’t know if it was an influence, but I think that becomes a comparison when you start doing that vibe-y, jam, segway stuff. It’s funny. We definitely wear our influences on our sleeve, off the top of my head I can’t really say “oh, this definitely influenced that”, or “we ripped this from this song”, but I’ll be curious to hear what fans have to say. Over in the States it’s kind of funny. A lot of our fans think we’ve gone country, and think that these songs that we’ve released sound country, like full on cowboy boot wearing country. That’s just really interesting to pool that from it. I think it’s sort of the power of suggestion, in that we toured with Eric Church who’s a country guy. Maybe they saw that and that we recorded it in Nashville and think “Oh wow, Halestorm’s going country”. I don’t hear country, but again I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks and the comparisons they make from us to whoever.

DP!: You just said you’ve toured with Eric Church, what band would you most like to tour with?
J: Foo Fighters would be really cool. They’re the biggest thing in rock, and it’d be fun to play arenas. That’d be really amazing. I don’t know, we’re talking about who to bring out on tours, and it gets you listening to some upcoming bands and that’s cool. We’ve been lucky this tour, the two bands playing with us are great bands and great people. I’ve started listening to a band called Marmozets. They’re pretty neat, I like them; a lot of attitude, a lot of energy. We’ll tour with anyone.

DP!: What would you say to persuade people to buying ‘Into The Wild Life’?
J: If you want to hear a really great rock album, then this is the album to listen to. I truly think it’s a really great rock album. It’s our best work yet, I’d tell them that. If you want to just hear a great rock ‘n’ roll band, then buy this album.

DP!: So after the album and the tour, what else do you have lined up for this year?
J: After the tour we go home, take a week off, go out on tour in the States where we’re out on tour for about two months stateside. We’ll be back over here, I imagine late July/August we’ll be over here; September we’ll probably be touring stateside again. Touring, a lot of touring. That’s like our plan for the rest of this year. As far as any new music releases go, we’re kind of just focused on getting this album out at the moment. That’s kind of taking up all of our other thoughts about any kind of future music. I’m sure we’ll release some other stuff in the next year/year and a half, be it a covers album or a live album, just to keep getting music out to people in the interim of LPs.

DP!: You said you’ll be back over here in the summer, is that to do some festivals or to do some of your own shows?
J: I’m sure we’ll mix in some festivals, and then maybe a few headliners here and there, hopefully. Festival starts in the spring stateside and we’ve got a whole list of them to play. It’s definitely part of the plan to hit as many festivals as we can this year. Although they’re not announced yet, they should be soon and hopefully we’ll play some over here in the UK.

DP!: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and our readers?
J: Yeah. Thank you guys for the support, it’s because of you guys that we get to play the Great Hall at Cardiff Students Union tonight. We truly have the best job ever and you guys have made it happen. Just keep coming out. Let’s make some memories and have some fun.

The band’s third studio LP, ‘Into The Wild Life’, is out in the UK on April 13th 2015 via Atlantic Records. You can follow Halestorm online on Facebook and Twitter.

Interview by Rhys Hawke