“There were no rules this time…” – hmv.com talks to Halestorm
We’ve all read the lengthy think pieces about how musicians make their living these days, they have to tour, and tour hard to make ends meet. No band has taken this more to heart than Pennsylvania hard rockers Halestorm. According to Song Kick, they’ve already played 94 shows in 2015 alone and clocked up close to 430,000 miles touring the world.
The band, who consist of singer Lzzy Hale, her brother and drummer Arejay Hale, guitarist Joe Hottinger and bassist Josh Smith, did find time in 2014 to head to Nashville with producer Jay Joyce to record new album Into The Wild Life. We sat down with Arejay to find out all about it…
When did you start work on the record?
“We started buckling down on it around the beginning of last year. We toured all the way through 2013 and then at the beginning of 2014 we had three months off from touring, that’s the most time we’ve stopped for, ever! It was incredible! That’s when the process got going, we split up and wrote. We did as much as we possibly could and by the end of August, we had enough to go on. We’d collected a fair few songs on tour too.”
Sounds like a busy time!
“It was! It was quite a year, I wrote an album, got engaged, recorded the album, got married and kept touring.”
When a band tours as much as you do, you must have to write on tour?
“I find it hard to do it on the road, I have a little studio at home and that’s where I really lay down all the song ideas I have on tour. It’s really hard to finish songs on tour, but it’s really easy to get inspired.”
Where did you record the album?
“We did it over in Nashville with this guy called Jay Joyce. We did it in this old church that he’s bought and transformed into a studio. It was cool to be in Nashville, it’s got a great rock and roll scene building, it’s mostly country, which is cool, I like me some country, I’ll go out and see it. It’s quieter than recording in Los Angeles, we were able to look ourselves in and really focus on the record. No distractions.”
Did you decide to work with Jay Joyce?
“We really wanted to work with him. He was the only producer who flew out to see us and it really felt like he wanted it badly. He’s not just a country guy, he’s worked with Cage The Elephant and we love Cage The Elephant, that record he did with them was so great. He was stoked to be making a hard rock record.”
How did he convince you to work with him?
“He saw us play and he came up to us after the show. He told us ‘I loved your last two records, but you still haven’t captured your live energy on record yet’. We said ‘Yeah, we don’t know how to do that’. He got us, he understood us completely, he wanted to capture us, we’re a raw rock band he wanted to show that in the record and I think we have.”
How did you go about that?
“We literally set up in the church and in a circle and hit record. We played live, there were no rules this time, which can be kind of scary. On our early records we worked with people who were more experienced, we learned a lot from Howard Benson and his team, but guys like that have a rigid system. There was no system this time, we’d play and pick the best take. There’s no tricks and no smoke and mirrors.”
Are lyrics left up to Lzzy? Or do you all help out?
“We all contribute. I write lyrics on my own and sometimes I bring it to the band, but I can’t write from another person's point of view, I never feel like it sounds genuine. We all present ideas, but we collaborate more on the music.”
How did you come up with the title?
“That always gets left to the very end, for some reason we’ve never been the kind of band who can title a record after a song. There never seems to be a song that ties the record together. This time the title is inspired by getting out of our comfort zone, challenging ourselves, pushing forward with our sound. This record feels like a huge risk. A lot of people have told us that this band isn’t going anywhere, so this is kind of a f**k you to them.”
You’ve been road testing the songs for a while now…
“People are already starting to sing along to the new ones we’ve dropped in. We’re just waiting for the record to come out so we can put more of them in the live set. People singing songs back to you, that’s the best feeling in the world.”
Finally, when will we see you back in the UK?
“We’ll be back in August. Not sure where yet, but we’re pencilled in for then.”
Halestorm’s new album Into The Wild Life is released on Monday (April 13th). You can pre-order the album in hmv stores across the UK now.