Backstage Pass: Halestorm At Stage AE
By: Casey Shea
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Grammy Awards have come and gone this year, but you may not know that a rock band from right here in Pennsylvania took home some hardware.
Halestorm won this year’s Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Grammy for their song “Love Bites (So Do I),” off their second studio album “The Strange Case Of…”
The band is comprised of singer/guitarist Lzzy Hale, drummer Arejay Hale, guitarist Joe Hottinger and bassist Josh Smith.
On Friday, Halestorm blew the roof off of Stage AE. Before the show, I had the incredible honor of sitting down with Arejay and Lzzy to talk about their success.
Watch the entire interview here:
Being nominated came as a shock to the band, who were actually on stage when the news came down.
“We were in Madison, Wisc. and it was in the middle of our set. I just sat down at the piano to do one of our ballads and I’m kind of talking with the audience before I start. The guys had walked off stage and they got the text from our management through our tour manager,” Lzzy said. “My guitar player comes running over to me and tells me this and I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ and I’m yelling to everybody on stage. We all come out and hug it out and the entire front row was like, ‘What? What happened? Who died?’”
“I was behind the drums when Joe told Lzzy and I just hear her going, ‘What? Are you kidding me?’ And I’m thinking, ‘What disaster happened,’ you know? Then, she said, ‘We just got nominated for a Grammy,’ on the mic and the whole crowd was silent for three seconds then [went crazy],” Arejay said.
So, how unexpected was the win on the night of the Grammys for Halestorm? The band did not prepare anything ahead of time for a possible acceptance speech.
“I remember them saying, ‘The Grammy goes to,’ and then I think I blacked out after that because we all didn’t respond right away. They say ‘Love Bites (So Do I) by Halestorm,’ and we were all like, ‘Who is that? Oh my God, that’s us!’” Lzzy said. “We didn’t have anything prepared because we had all said, ‘Well, we’re definitely not going to win, look at our competition. Let’s just be lucky that we get to be here, let’s be happy.’”
“I pull out my phone, and I’m like, ‘Oh God, I hope I don’t forget anybody,’” Arejay said.
Lzzy and her younger brother, Arejay, have been performing together since 1997.
If you listen to their music or see them live, one thing that will strike you is Lzzy’s incredible vocal range. From ballads to rock anthems, she can do it all, but she credits help along the way.
“I started singing with Arejay when we were kids and just because I could, I didn’t really think about it too much. I didn’t really realize I could do everything that now I know I can do with it until I was 16 or 17,” Lzzy said.
Early on, they had the opportunity to open up for Kix. After the show, Lzzy approached front man Steve Whiteman seeking pointers on how to get better.
Whiteman offered to give her vocal lessons at Marty’s Music Shop in Harrisburg, where she went every week for almost two years. To this day, Lzzy still uses the same warm-up techniques and guidelines she learned with Whiteman.
One of the other things you’ll quickly notice during a live show is that the band thoroughly enjoys every second they are on stage. They bring a non-stop, in your face presence to the stage that is infectious.
“That’s the only time in this crazy life that we live where everything makes sense. We’re up on stage, we’re free from everything and we’re just having a blast,” Arejay said.
“Nobody can take anything away from you when you’re on stage. You can do whatever you want. You might get in trouble afterward, but you can do what you want,” Lzzy said.
While other bands may use backing tracks during their live show, Halestorm prides themselves on giving an authentic performance.
“What you see is what you get with us. We don’t play with any tracks or trickery or anything. So, it’s literally plug in and play. If you hear mistakes, that’s because we actually made them. Sometimes I forget lyrics, sometimes Arejay doesn’t come in right. It’s very unpredictable and I think it’s very fun for us that way and it keeps it extremely fresh,” Lzzy said.
If you’re a rock music fan, you’ve probably heard of the band Disturbed. Lead singer David Draiman has a new side project called Device and their first album came out in April. One of the tracks is a cover of Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Close My Eyes Forever,” which features Lzzy.
Draiman approached Lzzy about joining him on the track a couple of years ago.
“The dude is insanely talented and insanely smart and always there for advice. He said, ‘I have this great idea. Remember the Ozzy and Lita ‘Close My Eyes Forever?’ No one’s done that yet and I’d love to have you sing on something of mine if I can get something going,’” Lzzy said.
Well, a couple of years passed, but then Lzzy got the phone call from Draiman saying the project was on.
“It was a really special thing that happened with the two of us singing together and this doesn’t happen often. We were listening to it back and the two of us got goose bumps at the same time. Right before the bridge I’m like, ‘Okay this is cool, this is an exciting thing.’ I’ve sung it a couple times with him live and it’s a great honor,” Lzzy said.
5 Questions For Halestorm
For every backstage interview we do, we’ll ask the same five questions. Some are music related, others are just for fun. Here’s what Halestorm had to say:
What was the first album you ever bought?
“It was two cassette tapes. One was Van Halen ‘1984’ and the other was Bad Company. I remember I wanted to learn the songs,” Lzzy said.
“I was obsessed with my dad’s back catalog of vinyl records. When I first started getting into music, Led Zeppelin was one of the first bands that kind of made me want to play drums and play music,” Arejay said. “I think the first record I ever bought might have been ‘Supernatural’ by DC Talk.”
What is your most embarrassing moment on tour?
“After the drum solo, I like to yell out the city name just to get everybody pumped up to go on to the next song. The first night was in Denver so I’m like, ‘What’s up Denver!’ The second night was in Salt Lake City and what do I do? I go on the mic and I say ‘What’s up Denver!’ them I [said] “Sorry, we were there last night,’ and then I said, ‘What’s up Tokyo? What’s up Honolulu?’” Arejay said.
“We have a lot of those moments, but we say there’s nothing you can really do to embarrass us anymore. There’s a lot on YouTube that probably shouldn’t be out there.” Lzzy jokingly said. “There’s a commercial we did in a creepy guy’s basement and I was 15-years-old and it was just painful.”
What is your favorite home-cooked meal?
“I love good old Italian. My girlfriend is Italian, her entire family is severely Italian. Huge family, her grandmother can’t even speak English, she’s off-the-boat Italian, but she makes the most incredible eggplant parmesan,” Arejay said.
“I have discovered a hidden talent of mine that I didn’t know. I just got my own place and I’m starting to cook. I actually make a pretty mean sea salt crusted steak with vegetables,” Lzzy said. “I make sweet potato burritos that are pretty banging too.”
What’s your highest bowling score?
“We don’t even keep track. Probably like 3,000,” Arejay said. “Whoever doesn’t have carpal tunnel the next day wins. But, I couldn’t tell you. We’ll have to have a bowl-off.”
“We suck,” Lzzy said. “Whoever doesn’t break their finger wins.”
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of music?
“I’m a little crafty. I make jewelry out of [stuff] I that I find or broken pieces of other jewelry because you can’t give me anything nice, I end up breaking it. So, I’ll make it into something else and then wear it out for a little while and then break that,” Lzzy said.
“I’m kind of a social media junkie, but if I wasn’t in music I’d probably be in some kind of art. Whether it be some kind of acting or making movies or even on the business side of the music business,” Arejay said.
Halestorm currently has tour dates booked through the middle of November around the world, so be sure to check when they are coming to a town near you.
Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Check out Halestorm’s website to see their tour schedule, blog and much, much more!
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sheavedice