OD: The new album “Into the Wildlife” is out in April, can you talk a little about the experience putting this album together and looking back would you have changed anything?
LZZY: We had been talking about this for six months to a year, prior to recording and what we relealised was that what we hadn’t done on the previous albums, was take it right back to the beginning, back to when we were in my parent’s basement. Everything that made us feel comfortable and what we did on the last two records, we threw it out the window. It was really scary then, because what ended up happening, was that the album started and ended with us.
It wasn’t dependent on the sheen that happened after the last two records, where we made them all shining and perfect for radio. What we ended up doing, was recording the tracks live as a performance from beginning to end for every single take, like what we do in shows. We did it in this beautiful church in Nashville, Tennessee, with this producer called Jay Joyce who overhauled this church into a studio. It didn’t feel like a studio, some studios feel like dentist’s offices with heavy doors and all – too professional so it was interesting, because what we wanted to do was truly bridge the gap between what we did live and what people heard on our records. What has been happening is that we put the album together and then developed the songs live and people are like “wow we love you live” so we thought how do we at least get it closer.
So for the second part of your question no, I wouldn’t. As much as it was scary to trust ourselves and not be totally led by the machine, it was the four of us and two other guys, we chased after anything that got us excited and I’m really proud of what we did.
OD: How has the new material been since you started incorporating it into your set, have you adjusted any of the arrangements or do you keep it as is on the record?
LZZY: At the moment we are ahead of the game by recording it live in the studio, because we would do a couple, maybe five, runs the way we wrote the song and then if we were like “there needs to be a moment here” to like break the generic verse, chorus parts we would, for lack of a better term, fuck the whole thing up while recording, so it is part of the record. Like if a song needed a riff that we hadn’t written, we would come together and be like “right you do this and Arejay (drums) can do that” and the energy of the spontaneity would just come naturally.
When musicians create a song for the first time, you record it the day you create it because you can’t ever get that energy back. You become use to it. So we haven’t totally screwed everything up because we did most things in the studio, but that is not saying that we won’t in the future.
OD: It seems that you have really taken your time in building up the release of the album with the mystery letters for the title and then slowly releasing tracks to the public. Do you find that it’s very hard to keep new material under wraps in fear of it being leaked in today’s environment?
LZZY: Yeah, like we have been a band for seventeen years now, so before Twitter and YouTube and phones that can take videos in an instant. I used to do gigs, where I put make up on ten minutes before going on and now I feel I have to look decent and get a shower every now and again. Music wise, we wanted to come out of the gate playing a lot of these songs and a couple of weeks ago we were like “no we can’t” and that is why we are trickling them out. And if anything comes out in the UK before the US we know everyone is going to see it anyway.
OD: This is your first time to Ireland and the first show of a string of European dates to support the new album, will you be planning on returning for a longer stretch of dates later in the year, or any possible festival announcements?
LZZY: Yeah, we are doing this headline run through the beginning of April and then definitely planning on coming back maybe a month or two after that. We love it over here. I think one of the interesting things that we have discovered, is that in the US we talk about Classic Rock in the retrospective, like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, whereas over here, I don’t know if you do too, but I feel like it is more of a genre where it is more appreciated. I am a child of the 90’s, but I am dated in my music choice and love my parent’s music.
OD: Most people think that being in a band is so glamorous and tend to look at the romantic side of things rather than the reality of rigorous touring schedules, loads of press, how have you all adapted to this form of life on the road?
LZZY: I think being the songwriter I am more attached to my emotions than the other guys and I end up channeling that physically, but it is hard. It is a mental game with everything and you have to prepare yourself for the tour. A lot of the time you just have to say fuck it, just do it and not worry so much about you know, “oh man I got four gigs in a row coming up”.
I have had the privilege to talk with a lot of my idols who toured in the 70/80’s and the touring schedule was not like this. They’d go out for a summer and then they would go do another record. Whereas now in rock music, the only way anyone is able to make a living is if you are touring 250 dates a year and the album cycle is like two and half/three years long, so you are playing all these songs that were new two years old.
So yeah, the schedule is crazy and especially now because it is the beginning of an album cycle. We are going to be out for months and we have a week and a half off where you get used to sleeping in a bed that doesn’t move and then you have to go out and do it again. It is definitely not glamorous and questions like “where is your next shower?” or “where will you find the restroom everyday”, become a main focus which people don’t talk about. But, that’s Rock n’ Roll!
OD: How do you maintain your voice when touring, do you have any tips on keeping your vocal chords in check?
LZZY: What I do is pretty simple and as long as I follow my good advice we’re okay. I do warm ups and cool downs to some degree every day and a lot of water. Sleep is a huge part of it and staying healthy, eat right. A big rule of mine is ‘if it hurts don’t do it’, I don’t drink on the road unless I have a day to recover, but sometimes not even that because rest days aren’t particularly party days. I don’t bounce back like I used to, so after we do a really good show, I sometimes think ‘screw it I don’t want to deal with a hangover’.
OD: You guys picked up the Grammy for “Love Bites” back in 2013, this year’s Hard Rock Grammy went to Tenacious D for a DIO cover, which caused a bit of a heated debate in the Rock community, can you give me your thoughts on this?
LZZY: I didn’t see that coming, but I didn’t see us winning either. Whatever the mindset is every year, it can be hit or miss. The only thing that I’m disappointed in is that, and we probably ruined this for everyone because we got a lot of flak for getting that Grammy, because so many people wanted it because we won for hard rock/metal performance- they don’t have that category anymore, they don’t even have a hard rock category. What I do wish the academy would do is at least reinstate the hard rock category, give metal their own category, because the problem with rock now is that it is such a wide spectrum now that you are competing with Jack White and Lorde you know? There are too many sub-genres. It is only going to get more difficult as the years go on because there is so much out there.
OD: A couple of years ago, Halestorm went out on tour with Shinedown in support to Alterbridge. You did a show stopping acoustic version of “Watch Over You” with Miles (Kennedy – Alterbridge, Slash). Was this just a spur of the moment decision while on tour and will we ever see a collaboration between you guys in the future? *Check out the fan filmed footage below.
LZZY: Yeah it was totally last minute, we did two or three shows with them and then Miles was like here’s our CD, there is a song called “Watch Over You”, I’d love for you to sing it. The girl who did the original version on the album was Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), who did an amazing job, so there was already a part there to learn, Miles was like “would you be able to do it, like tonight?” I can’t remember where we did it first, but it was just after sound check and I was like “I gotta remember this” and “Oh god I am going to screw this up”. It was so stressful, but he is such an amazing singer and so consistent every night, what a sweetheart of a dude!
Something I am excited about at the moment, which is just rumors at the moment since no one has contacted me, but a couple of friends of mine and some of Rob Halford’s (Judas Priest) people have been talking about us doing something together. It’s funny, because one of his crew guys gave me a number and said that Rob wanted me to call him and I was like yeah right! But I put it into my pocket, it went through the wash and I don’t have it anymore. A couple of weeks later a guy that I know, who worked on his merchandise back in the day was like “By the way Rob Halford says hey and has been trying to get a hold of ya” so I gave him our management’s information just in case. Then I had an interview the other day with Metal Hammer and the girl was like “I just had an interview with Rob Halford and he really wants to do something with you”, so I am like “SOMEBODY TELL ME WHATS GOING ON!” But that’s the only thing at the moment, but I will sing with anybody. It’s crazy that he knows who I am though, I still get a bit fan girl when I think about it.
OD: Do you have any creepy fan stories that still put your hair on end?
LZZY: There are a couple, like weird letters but that’s just depressing, so I won’t talk about that, but I get a lot of letters every day at venues and stuff off awesome kids telling me about their perseverance with music and learning guitar and all. There was this 17-20 year old cute girl, who gave me this envelope and was like “open this when you are on the bus later“. So I remembered later and I open it and there is a tampon (not used) – it gets better – and a letter. The letter read “The next time your time of the month comes will you use this and then tweet me that you did so I have some part of your everyday normal life”. She was this well dressed normal girl and I was like “What the hell!” So that was a little weird. But I talked about it once before to the press and fans started to bring me tampons as jokes which was great – unless you are in a meet and greet which is embarrassing.
OD: Finally, if you could pick one song by any artist that you consider to be perfect in every way, what would it be?
LZZY: Oh man, I am going to say a song that still gets me pumped and is like six minutes long is “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath. I am a huge Dio fan and I was actually introduced to Dio before I ever knew he sang with Black Sabbath. My parents had a mis-match of records and so my first Dio encounter was “Holy Diver” and my dad was like “you know he played with Black Sabbath, here is this record“. The song “Heaven and Hell” in particular I just love, the entire record is amazing. The song we ended up covering back in the day and from the riff to the vocal melodies to the outro it is just phenomenal, if I had to listen to one song over and over again that would be it.
HALESTORM are currently on tour across Europe and their new album “Into The Wildlife” is set for an Irish release on Friday April 10th. For you chance to pre-order an exclusive signed copy of the album. Just click on the graphic below and get them while the limited stock lasts!
Transcription – Karyn Corrigan
Photography – Steve Dempsey: Down The Barrel Photography