Thinking Out Loud: Lzzy Hale
The Halestorm vocalist on fame, family and rock'n'roll
Born in Pennsylvania on October 10, 1983, Elizabeth Mae Hale is better known as Lzzy Hale, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist in Halestorm, the band she co-founded with her brother Arejay Hale when she was just 13.
They released their debut EP Don’t Mess With The Man in 1999, and with the line-up completed by guitarist Joe Hottinger and bassist Josh Smith, the band signed to Atlantic Records in 2005.
Since then, they’ve released three studio albums (Halestorm, The Strange Case Of… and Into the Wild Life), one live album (Live in Philly 2010) and a further six EPs, whilst the lead single from their second album (Love Bites (So Do I)) earned the band a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 2013.
Outside of Halestorm, Lzzy has performed alongside Amy Lee, David Draiman, Myles Kennedy and Corey Taylor, and she recently picked up the Dimebag Darrell Shredder Of The Year award at the 2016 Metal Hammer Golden Gods.
Here then, are a few of the things that are on Lzzy’s mind…
“Family is very important to me. It’s literally the centre of everything that is happening in my life right now. Without that family core – obviously my little brother is in the band – I don’t know if we would have the same camaraderie that we do. I think it took having that core to find the right band and crew members, and that family vibe really bled through to everybody else, so I’d say family has been an incredibly significant keystone to Halestorm.”
“The cool thing about my mom and dad is they kind of had this childish, reckless abandon approach to parenting. They actually waited 10 years to have me because they wanted to sow their wild oats first, and my dad was in bands so they travelled a lot. Then when they finally settled down they had me and Arejay. We just had this conversation recently with our parents and they admitted that they were fucking terrified that we were going to pursue music. But they saw the fire in our eyes and they realised that we were going to do it anyway, and they supported us every step of the way regardless of the outcome or the ups and downs. And they never encouraged us to get a normal job or a back up plan. I think if they had sat us down and said, ‘Wait five years and go to college first’, then maybe we wouldn’t have started the band, or maybe it would’ve just been a hobby or we would have started late and maybe all this stuff wouldn’t have happened. Sure, there is determination and the stars aligning and all that stuff, and the luck and sweat that goes into being in a successful band, but it’s also about surrounding yourself with people that belief in you and our parents were the first two people to do that.”
“Fame is a funny thing. For me personally, it’s only been in the past couple of years in my meagre world that I’ve gotten a small taste of it, and I think it all comes down to how you handle yourself. I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of amazing role models and a lot of my peers, specifically Mr David Draiman, carry themselves very well. There are a lot of people that I look up to that have taught me how to handle yourself with fans and how to stand up for yourself and not get walked over. Tom Kiefer from Cinderella, for instance, has always been an amazing human being and he never let fame change him. Same thing with Ronnie James Dio - he remained himself up until the last day. I think it’s important for any young band climbing up the ladder to remember that you’re still human, and it’s important to remain human.”
“When we released our first record I was worried about what people were going to think of me. I kept thinking, ‘Should I project this image or that image? Should I say this or say that?’ What I’ve realised in the past couple of years is that the more honest you are, right or wrong, the more respect you get. Plus, I’m a horrible liar.”
“I still know what it feels like to be in the audience waiting to see my favourite band play my favourite song. I don’t care if I’m wet or muddy, I still love that aspect of live music, even though I’ve seen behind the scenes and I know what goes on back stage. From the fan’s point of view it’s a magical thing; that’s why everybody stands in the mud to see this band that’s semi-unreachable but has touched your life in such a way. It’s the amazing power of music, and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
“I think equality is getting better every year. That comes from each generation letting go of their parent’s ideals and the last generation’s idea of how things are supposed to be. We’ve come a long way, not just with feminism but with gay and transgender rights, and I honestly have a lot of hope for all the young kids growing now who think all that stuff is just normal. There’s always going to be somebody that’s living in the stone age and has that old world mentality, but for the most part I see a lot of positivity and equality shining through. And as a girl, I enjoy having that soapbox every now and then to be a voice of encouragement. We get a lot of little girls coming to our shows nowadays and regardless of whether they want to be musicians or not it’s really important for people in my position to encourage their fans to be whatever they want to be. I don’t have kids, but if I did then I’d be encouraging them to do what they want in life and follow their dreams regardless of their gender.”
“As a band, we’ve always tried to stay away from politics. That’s partly because we’re on the road all the time and we don’t always have all the facts, and I’ve seen other bands pretend like they do and they often just make an ass of themselves. There are some bands that make politics work of course, aka Rage Against The Machine, but as a band we’re kind of at a loss right now and we don’t know what we’re going to do come election time. The main problem with what’s going on in the US right now is there really aren’t any great choices, and everybody’s suffering because of it. We’d really like to have a positive impact on our country, but at the same time we’re not quite sure if there is one to be had this time around; it’s going to come down to the lesser of two evils and it shouldn’t be that way. The other thing that bothers me is that if you’re going to get into politics then there has to be this hunger for power, and you’re unlikely to be like this nice humble dude that I’d want to have a beer with – you’re not that guy. You’re probably the guy in high school that I hated. So I don’t really like or trust politicians in general.”
“There’s too much politics in this business, and that’s it’s own animal in itself. Right now we’re kind of on a climb and the phone doesn’t stop ringing, which is great and we’ve been very busy, but with that comes a lot of opinions. We’ve been lucky enough to have been linked with the same companies, labels and management for eleven years now, and we all know each other quite well, but at the same time there are many Mexican stand offs. I consider myself a fairly pleasant, non-confrontational person, but sometimes I have to put my big girl pants on and say, ‘Absolutely fuck no!’ And as much as I hate doing that it is a necessary evil, and maybe deep down there’s a part of me that secretly enjoys having to push myself in that direction because the only reason I’m not a depressed and shy person is because I’m in this band, and doing those things everyone now and then keeps me clear on what I want from my career and my life.”
“I’ve wrapped my entire life around rock ‘n’ roll. If it wasn’t for rock ‘n’ roll I’d be a very different person, and I probably wouldn’t be who I am right now. I’d most likely be some weird waitress at a diner somewhere, and I’m a terrible waitress so there’s no way I want that back up plan. There’s the healing power of rock ‘n’ roll as well; I can’t tell you how many letters we get just talking about music in general, and how it saves and changes the course of people’s lives. Every emotion is wrapped up in music in general, but rock ‘n’ roll in particular is a force and I still love the magic of it. Every time I listen to Black Sabbath or Alice Cooper, there’s that intangible thing that you can’t even really describe, but it’s a feeling that I still get every night before I go on stage. It’s like going up the ramp on a rollercoaster right before that first drop; you’ve done it a million times before and you know what’s coming but the whole way up you’re like, ‘Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god’, and then you go down the ramp and the rock show happens and absolutely everything in your life makes sense. I’m telling you now, I owe so much to this genre.”
Halestorm's album Into The Wild Life is out now. The band are on tour in July.