I love when a killer band that I love travels through the area for another night of great rock and roll. When that same band agrees to sit down and chat about whatever comes up, it is one of those moments you don't pass on. My moment with Halestorm's namesake, the Hales, lead singer/guitarist Lzzy and drummer Arejay, was a bucket list moment. The siblings really accentuate an interview with humor, a love of their chosen profession, and overwhelming admiration for their fanbase... and a few f-bombs along the way. But you don't care about my intro... ladies and gentlemen, Lzzy and Arejay!!!
Toddstar: Thank you so much for taking time out. We appreciate it. I'm here with the Hales.
Lzzy: Thanks for taking time for us.
Toddstar: Let's talk about why we are here. You guys are out on the road with Three Days Grace, like Arejay was just alluding to, you guys have never been able to do a proper tour with these guys. What's it like to be out there with these guys?
Lzzy: It's amazing. They're taking us on our first real stint through Canada, because we've performed in Canada before, but it's usually up and back, up and back. Here's a festival, here's a one-off show. It's never like a full-fledged tour so we're having a great time going to all these places we've never been to before.
Arejay: The real thing, they brought us to their home country. It was really cool of them.
Lzzy: The motherland.
Arejay: The funny thing about Three Days Grace is that it was one of the first national bands that we got to open up for. When Halestorm was first starting and their record just came out, so we've known them for 12 years, something like that, and they've always been really cool. They're good friends of ours and finally we were able to do a tour with them, so we're stoked.
Toddstar: That's awesome. You guys are finally getting the due exposure, and I think it's due to a lot of the crossover ability. You guys aren't pigeon-holed. You're not that metal band, you're not that hard rock band, you're not that pop band.
Arejay: We've been on That Metal Show, but we're not that metal band.
Toddstar: Is that something you guys have thought about and meticulously made sure you didn't get quote unquote pigeonholed or is it just who you guys are?
Lzzy: I think it's a mission statement more personally for ourselves. We just, for lack of a much more intelligent answer, we do whatever the fuck we want. We do it and what we've noticed as a four-piece and as friends, that when we're bored of something or if we don't like something, it shows through in our music and our performance. We're horrible liars so a lot of this collaboration and the cross-everything is just us chasing whatever gets us excited. Things come down the pipeline and it's "Should we try this? Yeah, let's do it. Why not?" We went out on a country tour last year. It's like, "Why not?"
Arejay: I think it might be our records, too, the ones that aren't all one mood, the ones that go up and down, have diversity. It comes from all of us coming from different corners of the musical world.
Toddstar: Sure. You talk about the country tour and you talk about diversity in the music. You guys have probably the best cover albums out there. You guys are all over the board.
Arejay: Oh, thanks.
Toddstar: I love the studio stuff, but those to me show the real talent that you guys have as musicians, to be able to take something someone else has done and make it Halestorm.
Lzzy: It's a lot of fun and he and I were just talking about this the other day. Not only is it fun but it's a really cool learning experience, because it's a way to push your boundaries without it being detrimental to the powers that be, because the song is already proven usually, so you can explore different genres and see if you can make it your own. For example, if we hadn't done "Slave to the Grind" we would have never realized, 'Oh man, we need something in that tempo,' so we ended up writing "Love Bites," inspired specifically by that song, and so was "Out Ta Get Me."
Arejay: It's like band boot camp. It's like learning.
Lzzy: We did the Fleetwood Mac tune ["Gold Dust Woman"] and then "New Modern Love" came out of that, so it's a cool way to almost gauge where you're going to try to go next.
Arejay: I always stress this to new artists, like they're learning how to write songs or learning how to make music. It is an exercise, learning other peoples' music. It helps you understand how other people write and can inspire your own writing.
Lzzy: I know every time that we would do, I forget what song specifically we were doing, we were covering a great song, but I thought I want to feel this way for one of our songs. I want to feel this way when I'm singing. I want all of our originals to feel like they're covers. We'll have some great songs.
Toddstar: A lot of them do though. A lot of them have that feel, which is nice. On a personal note, your first and your last studio albums are the best to work out to. I run to them almost daily, but you're getting to that tempo, you're getting to that rhythm, so you've done something that real people love. It's not just the Halestorm fans. Everybody can love this.
Arejay: That's great. I'm so glad, man.
Lzzy: Thank you.
Toddstar: You talk about the country tour. You guys have done stuff with Tom Keifer. Going back to the whole genre thing, you've got the 80’s fans, you've got your fans, you're breaking into the country huge. To score the Church tour was great for you guys to get that extra exposure. What was the one move that you guys thought wouldn't pay off that did, as far as the progression of the band?
Lzzy: We were a little nervous of the country tour. Not really. We had met those guys. That was right after we finished our record, so we're like, we have to get on the road at some point anyway and thought it would be a cool challenge.
Arejay: It was a challenge when Dwight Yoakam was playing, because some of the shows Dwight Yoakam was right in between us and Eric Church, right in the middle, and it's like us, Halestorm, an aggressive rock band; Dwight Yoakam super amazing, he's a legend, he's a country legend, but super traditional country.
Lzzy: Old school, yeah.
Arejay: I think his fans didn't like us very much.
Lzzy: Some of them definitely were upset at f-bombs.
Arejay: You definitely need to see the Eric Church fans and the Yoakam fans. The ones with the flannels and the cowboy hats and the boots were Yoakam fans. A lot of the Eric Church fans dress like us, black t-shirts and skulls. It's like, "Oh." When we opened up for the Eric Church fans it really didn't feel too different, so it was a pleasant surprise, actually.
Lzzy: There was one time, we opened up for Megadeth, and Megadeth doesn't necessarily advertise when they have openings, so lights go down and we knew all their crew. The crew was like, lights go down, the crew was like, 'Oh man, be careful, because they don't like opening bands. They will throw shoes, quarters.' This is at a point in time in the game where I was starting out the set a capella, so all the guys were like 'Go get 'em tiger, have fun.' I'm like 'Oh my God!' That was such a triumphant moment.
Arejay: It took us 2 songs of people looking like, 'What the fuck is this?' Then by the third song, you see the heads bobbing, they're like 'All right.' It's like victory, we've got them. We've got them, so it was a good night.
Lzzy: You get to prove yourself in front of all these different audiences, and we enjoy doing that just as much as we do doing our own shows.
As Arejay shifts on the couch, he pulls a CD out of his back pocket...
Arejay: I had a Justin Zuccato CD in my pocket, really talented dude that was playing at the bar yesterday.
Toddstar: You guys are getting so much exposure. Let’s not candy-coat it. You're guys are huge. You have people coming across the bridge and the tunnel to see you guys tonight here in Windsor.
Lzzy: Across the river.
Arejay: I think it's this area of Canada and the United States, in the middle here. They just love rock and roll. There's something in the air, something in the water. Maybe they're a little bit nuts just like us, but yeah, every time we come out here, they just bring it. The Machine Shop [as we discussed before the interview started], everything around this area, they just love rock and roll.
Lzzy: We're super lucky, too. We've been a band, Arejay and I have been Halestorm 18 years.
Arejay: What are we going to do for our 20-year?
Toddstar: Re-release (Don't Mess With The) Time Man.
Lzzy: That would be cool.
Arejay: That would be cool.
Lzzy: It's a good idea.
Toddstar: It is nearly impossible to get your hands on that.
Lzzy: I've seen a couple floating around on eBay. I only have 5...
Arejay: We should take those old songs and re-record them now.
Lzzy: Oh, God, I am not breaking out the guitar for those... I am not doing it. [Laughs]
Toddstar: We were talking about the area and lengths people will travel to see you, but who do you still want to see? Who out there excites you?
Lzzy: Who do I still want to see? We've gotten to cross a lot off of our bucket lists. A lot of my early influences were a lot of 70s and 80s stuff, so the fact that we were able to share with Tom Kiefer was my dream, and same thing with Ronnie James Dio, and Lita Ford, and all these amazing people that I've had the privilege to meet and to hang out with. Obviously there's still the Foo Fighters.
Arejay: Yeah, I haven't met Dave Grohl yet. He's up there.
Toddstar: Arejay, for you, he's really got to be up there.
Arejay: Oh yeah, Dave Grohl's one of my favorites of all time and you saw what he just did? They cancelled the Europe tour due to Paris, which was really cool. Are you talking about meeting, or bands that we want to travel to go see?
Arejay: Very rarely we get to do that, but a couple of times I have. One time I drove with a friend of mine, way back in 2004, it was right before we got signed. We went up and saw Shinedown, this little club in Syracuse, New York called the Lost Horizons. They just came out with their first record. Watching, the show was incredible. We go up, we get signed, then we go on tour with them, and they blow up. It was pretty cool, it was pretty cool to see their progression, but as far as bucket lists, oh God! All my idols are dead. Keith Moon is dead. John Bonham is dead. Ginger Baker is like, well I've seen that documentary, he's like ehhh. Yeah, I don't know. Foo Fighters would be up there for me.
Toddstar: When was the last time you were star struck?
Arejay: Oh God! Jack White. We were in Nashville, first time in Nashville. It was really early. We were just signed, we were still showcasing. We were at Third Man Records in Nashville and it's like, 'Oh, do you think Jack White's there? No, he's probably not here. It's his record store. He's got a bunch of them. He won't show up.' We're there walking around, all of a sudden he comes round the corner and I freeze, I'm like 'uhhhhhh.' He looks around, he's like, 'What's up?' then walks out and then all of a sudden I remembered I was holding my breath. I was like 'uhhh-huh-huh.'
Lzzy: He's not necessarily one of our influences but he has tremendous star power.
Arejay: His presence was incredible, but I think a big part of it was that it was unexpected. We were there and we were like, we're not going to - then all of a sudden it was like "Bam!" If you're at, like a concert, and you see an artist, you're like "Whoa, cool!" If you're in the middle of nowhere and you see somebody you're like, what the... so cool.
Lzzy: There are certain people who have that It factor. I went to see my first country show. I wanted to go see Dolly Parton a month or so ago, when she was in Nashville, and just floored by the woman. You can't stop staring at her, and you want to hear everything she's got to say. She's got that weird It thing, you know?
Arejay: She's got like 100 pounds of diamonds on her. She comes out like a human mirror ball.
Lzzy: She IS a human mirror ball.
Lzzy: I got to meet the Heart sisters and I was at a huge loss for words, which my mother will tell you is very rare for me, but yeah.
Toddstar: I'm in the middle right now between the two, because I'm a fan of the band and I have to put that aside to do this side of it, but at the end of the day I'm still just a fan of the band. So what's next? You guys have hit so many plateaus for a young band in this day and age, because let's be honest, most bands don't get past that second album. For you guys personally what do you see as that next plateau for Halestorm?
Arejay: I'm just thankful that we're looking at it, looking at what we are. It's tough when you're in it to see exactly what the status is for the band. A lot of people look at the band and think "You guys made it." You guys are huge. We look at it and we're like, we're still the same four crazy kids that started a silly rock band in '97.
Lzzy: Sense of humor hasn’t changed either.
Arejay: Yeah, so but one thing I have noticed is that I'm so thankful, and you're right, a lot of bands don't get to make a first record and we're on our third one. We got so lucky that enough people believed in us that we were able to make enough, do well enough to actually say 'Okay, we'll let you go make another record.' I feel like we're at the point now where no matter what happens, no matter what goes on, because the music industry is constantly changing. It could be all gone tomorrow but I feel like we're at a point where we can continue to do this.
Lzzy: I agree. I think for the first time in our career we're not necessarily making the five-year plan. It's like let's live in the now, do the absolute best job for the show tonight that we absolutely can, and see what happens next. I think that we've gotten to a point where, as scary as it is, we're able to trust ourselves a little bit and just be like okay, wherever we are in our life when we're making the next record, that's what it's going to be. We're going to be okay with that and not going to think too much about, is it going to be successful or not? I think that we're at that point and that could end up biting us in the ass at some point but it’s also comforting.
Arejay: We're all older, we're all more experienced, and every year that goes by there's less and less fucks that we have to give, because it's just 'Whatever.'
Lzzy: I think I have five more.
Arejay: I've a couple more in my pocket here, but that's it.
Lzzy: But they've got to be really good ones.
Arejay: Saving for a rainy day.
Toddstar: You've got a lot to do and I've got to get ready to watch a great show tonight, so one more for you. Looking back over the last few years for you guys, what's the one thing that you're most proud of that you want to be remembered for if it all ended today?
Lzzy: If it all ended today I think for me personally, you step out on stage every night, and when I look at what our demographic has become now and our fan base is 7-year-olds and their parents, and then obviously the 20-year-olds, and we had a 77-year-old lady at the show the other day, and she was rocked out, decked out in Halestorm gear. It's so cool to see everybody. They're coming to these shows to exchange this positive energy. I hope if it all ended today we would be remembered or at least could live on in that kind of positivity. I think that it's something that we weren't really planning on happening in our band. We weren't like "We're going to be this empowering band, "but it's become that, but not just us rocking and them listening and being empowered. It's something that we all get to do together. It's unlike any feeling that I've ever had before and this is why I'm still doing it. This is why we do 250 plus dates a year, because of that feeling and hopefully that continues on even after we kick the bucket.
Arejay: Yeah, like you said, we have a very diverse audience and one diversity that I notice is that we have an audience of all ages, very wide span. I see the parents that are raised on the real good rock and roll that somehow got lost over the years, looking at us and saying you guys are bringing back the raw rock and roll. I see the kids that never even heard of the bands that their parents were raised on this new thing it's like you guys are a real rock band. It's so new. I think it's cool that it's bringing all the ages together. The parents and the kids, it's something that everyone can be a part of it. It's a great positive community.
Lzzy: What was that cereal, kid-tested mother approved? [Laughs]
Toddstar: Thanks so much for the time and I can't wait to experience a killer show tonight.
Lzzy: Any time.
Arejay: Thanks man.
Lzzy: Thanks man, I hope you like it.