By Myki Angeline
Lzzy Hale and her younger brother Arejay began writing music long before becoming the powerhouse rock band known has Halestorm. In fact, they were 10 and 13 years old when they first performed their own original songs with Lzzy on guitar, Arejay on drums, and their father on bass. This resulted in the release of their first EP back in 1999. Since then, the siblings have rocked their way to success releasing four studio albums, appearing in several magazines, and maintaining a rigorous touring schedule that averages to the tune of 200+ shows each year. The band garnered two GRAMMY nominations, including a GRAMMY win in 2013 for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for “Love Bites (So Do I)”. Halestorm is the first female-fronted band to be both nominated and to receive a GRAMMY. The band’s live performances are a must-attend event largely due to Lzzy’s ferocious front woman energy and wicked vocals.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Lzzy always knew she was different than most girls. That self-realization came to her at age 11 when she brought an Alice Cooper CD to a slumber party. Rock music has always been in her blood. She is an accomplished pianist, guitarist, singer, and songwriter who has always lived her life unapologetically. Lzzy has a deep appreciation for her fans keeping them engaged with her blog The Diary of Lzzy Hale.
I had the unique honor of interviewing Lzzy at the 2019 Aftershock Festival in Sacramento. There we engaged in a wonderful, candid conversation right before she took the stage at California’s biggest rock festival. The three day festival boasted a record attendance of over 97,000 people. Their show-stopping performance happened the day after Lzzy turned 36 where she was treated to a surprise ‘Happy Birthday’ serenade from the crowd! You can watch my full interview with Lzzy Hale here.
Visit the Halestorm website at www.halestormrocks.com
WiMN: You have been in the music business for several years now. In fact, this year marks the 20th anniversary of your first EP with your brother, Arejay!
LH: My brother and I have been really digging into this year [reminiscing] – “Remember when were were playing the back of the bowling alley because they would pay us in free pizza and it would be a place to play?” That was the summer of 1997. Specifically August 9, 1997 was our first show as Halestorm and we literally haven’t looked back since.
WiMN: Your band name is truly the best name ever. Not only does it combine your actual name, but you two really are a storm to be reckoned with.
LH: I always say that bands end up making their name. Finding a band name is hard anyway, and literally we did it as a last minute whim because of our name. On the way to our first gig, my little brother in his 10 year old wisdom was like, “Lzzy we can’t go up there as Lzzy and Arejay!” After a few ideas, we finally settled on going out onstage as Halestorm, and that one stuck.
WiMN: Let’s talk about the video for your latest single, “Vicious”. The video provides an intriguing story with you fighting bad guys all throughout the video. Did you train as a fighter specifically for those scenes? (see video at the end of this interview)
LH: I learned fighting techniques specifically for this video. We had just returned from being on tour and had basically a day to do it. While we are filming the video, in between scenes they had stunt people showing me how to position myself and make it look real without hurting anyone. Although, I did end up accidentally kicking one of the stunt men with my high heels, lol. I got a little too close, not hitting my mark when I heard a quiet “ow”. They all were so nice and made me look absolutely good. I always say ‘yes’ to adventure first, before knowing what it really entails.
WiMN: Congratulations on being a recipient for our 2020 She Rocks Awards! What does this mean to you?
LH: Thank you! To me, it’s odd because I’m just this dork from Pennsylvania who, when I was 11 and brought an Alice Cooper CD to a slumber party, I found out I was not like other girls. I’ve never been cool and have had to literally build this thing [Halestorm] and keep this thing going. This band is my baby, this is my legacy. This is what I want to do with my life.
So, to be honored among peers and women who understand those very different situations that you have to put yourself into – in order to make it – to make something happen. The things you must stand up against, even the things you have to lose because you have standards. To not sell your soul for the sake of having a hit song. The fact that only us women truly understand what that takes… to be honored like this means the absolute world to me.
WiMN: You inspire women to play guitar, front a band, and be your true self. In your 22 year career have you seen progression for women in music, especially in the rock genre?
LH: Oh, absolutely. In just a short amount of time there has been a huge wave of young women who have been encouraged to. In my personal experience, nothing good as ever come from me doing something that someone wanted me to do just for the sake that I am a girl… or, taking the advice from somebody that discourages me from pursuing music because “women in rock is not really a thing”.
To forge your own path has been such a huge tool in my own arsenal in order to navigate through those obstacles. In the beginning I was often mistaken for the girlfriend carrying in her boyfriend’s gear or the merch girl. I used that as fuel to lay waste to the place once I got up on stage. Then, you take it to the next level of shopping labels with a fan base you grew organically on your own only to be told that in order to become attractive to a music label, you should dress a certain way, write a certain song, or don a specific look. Age becomes a factor, as does subject matter in your lyrics. Labels have even gone as far as telling me they could not sell me as a girl, or the popular, “we already have that slot filled.” But, because I have consistently stood my ground and stayed true to myself, I have created this empire that has this beautiful mission statement where everyone stands up for themselves and each other saying it is OK to be weird and different. That is where songs like “Freak Like Me”, “Amen”, and “I Am The Fire” were inspired from.
Now in present day it is so amazing to see all of these girls at the live shows where it has completely flipped on its head. Because during the early days of Halestorm, the audience was usually 60/40 percent male to female whereas now it is 60/40 percent female to male that come to our rock shows. I am happy to say I haven’t been asked if I am the merch girl in a long time.
WiMN: How would you like to be remembered?
LH: I would like to be remembered as my best self, really. When I am on stage I am unapologetically me. I am not afraid to talk to anyone, nor show all the aspects of myself. But, more so than the music, I want to be remembered for the connection I have with people. I love people, and I love the fact that this music is so much more than a career choice for me. It’s this universal language that I am able to spread all over the world. It enables me to connect with all of these people that I might otherwise have never met. If I can die and have touch this many people in a positive way as much as possible, then I will be okay with that.