Interview: HalestormWritten by Kenny Leys
Each metalhead that didn’t know Halestorm before, has to know them by now after their intense show at Graspop Metal Meeting! Our interviewers had the chance to have a playful chat with Lzzy, her brother Arejay and bass player Josh to talk about their rocketing career, their energetic shows and all the things they do for their fans. So grab a beer and enjoy!
- Hi, we’re long-time fans of Halestorm and we we’re really excited to interview you guys!
Lizzy: That’s awesome! Thank you!
Josh: Yeah, good for you guys, awesome!
Arejay: Cool, dude!
- First of all: welcome to Graspop! It was the first time you’ve played here and the show was really awesome!
L: Thank you so much!
J: Thanks, man!
- You played a couple of shows in Belgium over the years and now you’re here for the first time. How was it to play here at the Graspop festival?
A: A dream come true!
L: The crowd was great, and even though it’s wet and rainy, nobody flinched.
J: No one cared about the rain. And the festivals over here are just incredible. It’s so neat to see the size of them and also see all of our friends backstage and meet new people. It’s wonderful being in Belgium right now.
- Are there any bands you want to see that are also playing here today?
A: Yeah, we’re going to see Cadaver! And I want to see Volbeat tonight; I hope they’re bringing some pyros that would be cool.
J: We’re good friends with Rival Sons so hopefully we could watch them. And hopefully Black Sabbath as well. They’re on our bucket list.
L: Yeah, that would be cool!
- The last time we saw you next to today was at Pukkelpop last year. You hadn’t that much audience at that moment because The Offspring was playing at the same time, but you still gave it all and put out a great show! What’s the most fun to play for: a big audience or a small audience?
L: We like it all! We don’t discriminate.
J: We just like to play music.
A: There are different levels of energy: like with the small, intimate crowds where we’re very close and –
L: – we’re we can sweat all over everyone.
A: Yeah! [Laughs]. You can like reach out and high five people. But playing in front of a massive crowd like this is just so much fun too. You can just get them all chanting, especially in Europe, like they really love to participate and they love to chant and clap and jump. They’re really really interactive.
- You always have a very powerful and energetic live show and you can see as a fan that you guys really enjoy performing. How do you keep that energy up each and every time you enter the stage?
L: Because we love it! You kind of just go on stage and you’re on this high the whole time that you’re on tour. We love each other and we hang out and we laugh a lot with each other. Our crew’s amazing so… I don’t know; I think when you’re having fun –
J: – There’s just such a positive energy all the time.
L: Yeah, you’re just flowing on that level!
J: And we feed off the crowd. If they’re getting excited – well, if I’m watching that I usually make a mistake [laughs] and I’m like “Woops! Well, at least I’m having fun!”.
A: It’s a trip playing for so many people.
- After Graspop you’re going to tour the US, are you excited for this?
J: Very much. When we first started touring nationally in the US, it was with Shinedown. And for two or three years of just touring, we usually toured with Shinedown. But we haven’t in some time, actually in years! In mean, we did a small tour in the UK with them. So it will be like a big family reunion to tour with them again and –
A: – and with Black Stone Cherry!
J: Yeah, indeed. So we’re really excited to have a big US Summer tour. I mean, I think we could do this every day but –
A: – Whiskey Myers will be opening too! There really awesome too. They’re going to be opening for the Carnival tour.
J: So we’re really looking forward to that US Summer tour.
- You recently released your new album “Into The Wild Life”. While recording, you played together at the studio to capture that spontaneous feel, you have at live shows. How was it to record an album this way?
L: It was difficult actually. It was lot harder than putting everything together separately and fitting it together. That was easy! This was much harder because when you’re playing: if one of you screws up, the entire band has to do the whole song all over again so we just kept dogging each other like “What the fuck man, why did you do that?!” It was great!
J: It was very rewarding though once we did get the take and we all knew that that was the one. Sometimes it only took a few takes and sometimes –
L: – it took like twenty! [laughs]
J: It was like “Maybe we should come back tomorrow and try again!” But the whole experience was so rewarding. I think it was something that we wanted to prove to ourselves. We pride ourselves on being a good live band and then we thought “Why not be a good studio band?” [laughs].
- For “record store day” you brought out a limited edition vinyl with four live songs from the album “Into The Wild Life”. Why did you choose those four songs?
L: We chose those four songs because they’re songs that aren’t normally chosen for those special things. Everybody always wants the single, everybody wants full rockers… so we did a lot of unique things on that tour. We did a whole tour that was just us; there was no opening band or nothing so we played for like three hours and did everything. So we really wanted to gift our fans with something a little unique.
- Do you guys have some sort of pre-show ritual?
J: We do! And if we don’t do it, we know why we didn’t have the best show [laughs]. But usually one hour before show, it’s time to start warming up and get everything ready. But it’s also time to write out the set list; we change the set list every day, every show is different and so we all need to just get together and talk like “Hey, let’s do this,” and “Let’s try that” and just all get thinking the same way. Because we have had shows where we don’t do that, where we were like “Yeah, just go out and have fun!” and afterwards we’re just like “What the fuck just happened?”. So that’s really our ritual: just to start creating that communication, that musical language and having those talks one hour before we go on stage to get us all centered and together.
L: And then we also have our ‘good luck handshake’! Arejay’s looking at me now like “I don’t want to do that with you now; it’s not show time!” [laughs].
A: Yeah, sis, no! [laughs] Anyway, for me, I always try to focus like doing some cardio before I hit the stage. Not just my hands or wrists warmed up but I want to get my whole body warmed up and just get liberatingly loose before we hit the stage.
L: I always do the complete opposite actually. No exercises the entire tour!
J: We start drinking an hour before! [laughs]
- Arejay, you started to play the drums at the age of three. So you’ve been playing drums for almost whole your life. Have you always made music with your sister?
A: Yeah, I was ten years old when we started the band –
L: – Who else were you going to play with? [laughs]
A: It was originally me, my sister and our dad who was playing bass at the time until it got uncool to play in a band with your dad.
L: Sorry dad!
A: Yeah, so got Josh because he’s way cooler!
J: Oh, lucky me!
L: Yeah, you’re actually cooler than our dad!
J: Well, you know for a bass player that’s pretty good! [laughs]
A: Yeah, for me it felt like the best way to express my voice was through drums, you know. I was stoked to start a band and have a kind of a family band and it is kind of that way ‘til this day. Even Josh and Joe, our guitar player, who is sick right now, that’s why he’s not here, and our crew; it’s just all a big travelling family, you know. So I think that ‘family vibes’ sums up the entire band, you know.
- Arejay, you have the big trick with the big drumsticks. Are those sticks custom made? Or how did you come up with this idea?
A: No! Those we’re just big novelty drumsticks. You can get them… probably at any music store or whatever.
L: They’re meant to be hung on the wall.
A: Yeah… well, I got a pair as a gift once from a buddy of mine and he was like “Here are some big sticks! You can put them on your wall!” and I was like “No, I’m going to see if I can actually play drums with them!”. So I did it at a show and the crowd was like “Oh my God, how did you do that?” and I was like “It’s not hard, I’m just hitting drums with big sticks!”
L: We’re going to get him really tiny sticks next!
A: It’s kind of become a staple of our live shows now, like “Wow, that drummer was playing with baseball bats or whatever!”.
J: Or we could give him a really big drum kit. And really tiny sticks.
A: Or a really tiny drum kit and really big sticks!
L: That would be fun!
A: Yeah, it’s fun. It’s kind of helps me getting rid of some aggression so I don’t take it out on them [laughs].
- Josh, as mentioned previously: you replaced Roger Hale as the bass player.
A: The great Roger Hale [laughs]!
- How was it to replace the father of two of your bandmates?
L: It was such a relief [laughs]!
J: He gave me a very stern talk [laughs]. No, no, I knew their band a year or two before I joined so we had become acquaintances. Before that, when they asked me, I was very excited and it was easy for me, I mean, it was like it had always been family, as it still is. So it was a very easy transition or whatever. I picked up, we started playing; for me, I came from a more jazzy background but also from more singer songwriter stuff, not very rock ‘n’ roll so they had to teach me the ways of metal [laughs]!
A: It’s really cool, like the drum and the bass, like the rhythm section has to really lock in together. I had a great chemistry playing with my dad because we are related, you know, when Josh came and play with us, it was just an instant click. He just chilled right in there.
J: I’m just the bass player.
A: Yeah, Joe on the other hand [laughs]!
J: He’s not here because –
L: – we poisoned his food [laughs]!
A: Yeah, he did a bad show, he’s on time-out [laughs]!
- Lzzy, you also released a clothing line. Can you tell us more about that?
L: Sure! It’s something I do occasionally. I’ve actually been focussing most of my creativeness on music right now so I actually haven’t been doing that for a couple of months. But it’s just something fun. I think I do it kind of selfishly because I want to create clothes that I like so that I could just have them and then yeah, I just want to share that with other people obviously. I like doing clothes and a create a lot of my own jewellery because it’s cheaper to do that than to pay 300 dollars for something that you could just make. But it’s also a kind of therapy for me because it keeps my hands busy and I stay out of a little bit of trouble by focussing on that [laughs].
- Thank you very much for the interview. Do you have any last words for our readers?
L: Thank you so much for listening to our music and thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. That’s what it’s all about, we all do this together.
A: And thanks for keep rock, metal and punk alive!