Halestorm:“It´s never been more clear what I like and what I know that I am”

Once I go and travel to Copenhagen (19.10.2012) for watching Halestorm´s concert, nothing felt more natural than sitting down with the band´s singer and guitarist Lzzy Hale and chat about her life, being on the road and music matters.

So, how was your day so far?
So far, so good. Had some good coffee and food across the street (laughing) , I am really happy to be back here in Copenhagen. The last time we were here was actually with Taste of Chaos and that was pretty crazy, I remember the crowd going absolutely nuts. If the crowd´s gonna be anything like that tonight, it´s gonna be awesome.

…and how were the last gigs going?
This tour has been amazing, very surprisingly actually because it´s our first time ever headlining overseas and all these things that we´re doing our own shows – we really were not sure if anyone´s gonna show up. With several shows being sold out and all of that, it really made it a great and memorable trip.

What kind of memories, then?
Ah well, we´ve been throwing down a lot, a lot of beer, and a lot of good times with me and the guys, just those moments here and there – you know, it´s our first time that we´re headlining overseas and getting to do our own show and show everyone what we´re made of, so it´s been crazy. We´ve had unique experiences, for example, I´ve spent my first birthday overseas, too, we´ve been in Munich on that day and in between every song they were singing “Happy Birthday” in German and it was awesome.

Have you been able to do anything special on your birthday?
No, just the show, but that was special enough, it was really good.

In the U.S. you are playing so much bigger venues, so show does it feel now in comparison?
You know what it feels like? It´s good actually, because we´re just beginning over here with our own shows, but it´s already surpassed – like, we did our first headlining tour in the States, it was more like it is here now and they weren´t sold out and they didn´t really know who we were but the fact that we´re coming over here and shows are already sold out and people are coming, knowing who we are, we´re already a couple of steps ahead from where we were when headlining the States. In a lot of ways it´s a beginning again but in many other ways it´s been far surpassed anyways.

When it comes to the shows – there are a few songs that you´re playing already for quite a long time, and then they have disappeared – and then there are songs that seemingly always stay in the setlist. How do choose what to play and what not?
You know, it´s funny. I think it really depends, but now that the new record just came out, a lot of the older songs had to be put into the closet for a while so that we can play the new ones but in many cases we bring them back. I don´t think that there is anything that is permanently gone, people were asking for some really old tunes, like from our 5 Songs EP and we ended up doing one of them so we quickly had to remember how to play them. I don´t know, I think it really depends – some better older songs like “It´s not you”, which we´ve been doing for ten years by now, they just refuse to die (laughing) . And then there is also other songs where we think “oh okay, we´ll take a break from that for a while”.

But is there this thought of just having had enough of playing a certain song live?
I think there´s never been a song that has been like that, the only time a song gets old is when you have to practice it over and over again. Where against whenever you play a song live, the audience gives it new life, every single night is something different so it doesn´t matter if you´ve been playing the song forever.

Being a musician and also known puts you into the situation that people are also highly interested in your private lives…
Oh definitely… (laughing)

…so how does this feel for you?
I don´t have a whole lot that I ever really wanna hide, a lot of stuff from my private life I tell people, I hide in place like, everything´s already out there, you just have to look for it and some people don´t see everything. But, I don´t know, I try to keep things separate, and not tell everybody absolutely everything. But I think in the beginning of your career you have to decide whether you´re going to be a complete recluse, mysterious and not showing anything to anyone or you go the opposite and be just like “here I am!”. I would rather be on the side of honesty and here we are than try to be something that I am not.

But has there ever been the case that, e.g. during an interview, someone crossed the border with his or her questions regarding your private life?
Hm, sometimes. But usually people are respectful of the fact that there are things where I may back out now, maybe the next year but there are some things where I reply “Sorry, but I can´t tell you that right now”, that type of response. You do get a few pushy people every now and then, “come on, now tell me who you´re dating!” or “tell me who you go out with” – it´s like “no, not yet, I´ll tell you sometime…but not yet”.

Sometime…meaning “forget about it”…
Maybe, it depends. There was a point in time where people were – you know, it´s a pretty small dating pool for me and everyone has speculations of it on who I am dating. The problem that I have is that the people who I date and who I have dated, people would probably know (laughing) . And so I have a hard time until both of us are ready to state “here we are!”, so it´s more or less a “I won´t tell you now, but I would probably tell you later, you´ll find out!”.

Is that maybe a downside of your work?
I don´t know, I think it´s fun sometimes. It´s fun to know that you could tell people something that is wrong and it would totally blow up, something like that. It´s fun to kinda know you can hold their part but it´s never really negative that people are interested in you. I think it´s humbling and I´m taken a backside but on the honoured side that people want to get to know me because like, I don´t know why they´d want to (laughing) but it´s nice.

So there has never been the point where you thought that it should be about the music and not only about your life?
Well, it´s interesting. I think that everything is all coming together into one when you´re coming into the music business, and you get into the whole rock´n´roll thing (laughing) , like everyone´s interested in everybody´s life – I remember wanting to know everything about my favourite idols and all that is in the end all natural to be that way, to be curious and so I don´t think it´s a negative side…

Your fans always say that they find the story of their lives in your lyrics – isn´t it putting you a bit under pressure since you might assume that the fans expect to always be delivered such songs?
You know, this record is particularly, I wasn´t thinking too much about it, I kinda had the mindset that if I´ve gone through it, most likely one other person has gone through it, too. I don´t think too much about that, only because I tend to overthink sometimes and I try too hard and then it is backfiring. If you sit down to write a song, and you have too much of a direction or are worrying too much about how it will turn out, it ends up kind of being a crappy song (laughing). You know, you can hear the overthinking, too fiery words instead of getting to the point and saying what you meant to say. So yeah, I try not to think too much because of that, but we do get a lot of letters and people saying how much a certain song has helped them through something or “you´re saying what I wish I could say” through a song and it´s so neat to hear that because in turn that inspires me and I don´t feel so alone in my feelings because I know that I can stand on stage every night and there´s a lot of people just like me that have gone through the same stuff. 

Have music and writing always been your way of expressing yourself, your feelings and experiences?
Yeah, for the most part, yes, especially when I was younger I had a hard time – like if I, hm, let´s say you´re my best friend, or my girlfriend or boyfriend, right, and we´re sitting down because we have a problem, I had a hard time just sitting there face to face and say “look, this is how things are”. I have a much better time now because I´m older, but I´d always write letters, or notes or songs. Sometimes – actually it´s funny, the first time I ever told a boy that I loved him, I didn´t know how to say “I love you”, so few words, but it was so hard so I wrote him a song, hoping that he´d get a hint and he did. But yeah, that has always been a more logical approach in my mind to express your feelings or get some weight off your shoulders. I know any time, even now, that I am upset about something I´ll end up sitting down and write down how I am feeling and it does help.

That so reminds me on myself, writing down just gives you a different feeling towards something…
…you write something and then you get to look at it and understand your feelings better…[more explanations how writing helps me followed] It is funny to hear that from someone else, because I remember, when I was younger there were a lot of people who didn´t understand “why do you choose doing that? Why do you…?”. It is hard, it is sometimes really hard to go down with someone and talk about things, or sometimes I don´t have the best idea in my head about how to express something and it´s always much easier on paper than to just (makes angry, desperate and frustrated noise) you know, you always end up in trouble if you say something you don´t mean, so…

But is there any other kind of arts that you like to use for expressing yourself?
I make jewellery and clothes out of recycled things, I make jewellery out of old car tires or all these things that are broken and not used anymore. So I do that, and in the writing field I also like writing short stories – I have to keep my hands busy, doing something and it´s actually a nice creative outlet making this jewellery and stuff, it´s a nice creative outlet other than Halestorm, you know.

Let´s try to get back to the music related side of the interview – many bands have been collaborating with orchestras during the past years, it seemingly became some sort of a trend – if it is for an album or in a live production. What do you think about it, would it also be an option for you?
I wouldn´t mind – my favourite of all times was when Metallica did it that I thought that it was a lovely combination of heavy and the beautiful sounds, you know. That was very cool. I am not opposed to doing that, we haven´t done it yet – well, we´ve done it two or three times on recording, we did some stuff on our last record for “I´m not an angel” and for “Familiar Taste of Poison” the same thing. It had a quartet, it was lovely, lovely to watch when it was actually being recorded, it´s been amazing. I am not opposed of maybe making it live, it would be awesome, but unfortunately that is very expensive at the moment (laughing) . So there is the money issue here, we´ll see, we´ll see…

Talking about that string quartet – you somewhen said that you´d like to play electric violin…
Yeah, I´d love to learn electric violin…but I´d also like to be good at drums, I can play some drums, I am able to keep a beat but I am not as good as my little brother so it´s like that “aaah I gotta be better”. Electric violin was something that I wanted to do when I was a kid but ended up picking up guitar instead and I so love that, but I think every time you try something new you get inspired and it helps in all areas… that´s why I was happy the school system for music was better in the States because I think music is something that helped me when growing up…

When looking back to your childhood and teenage years, what would you now call your biggest challenge in life back then?

My main struggle when I was a kid, around 14, we started the band when I was 13 and I thought everybody would be really happy for me ´cause I found out what I wanted to do with my life and it became my passion, but a lot of people didn´t understand that. My parents did, thank god. But my friends didn´t really like the idea. When I was in school, I ended up, they literally were…well it was like having some kind of an intervention every day, there would be somebody every day asking “are you sure you wanna do this, it´s weird, I think it´s not a good idea. You should have a back-up plan” and I was like “no no no, this is it, I swear to god I´m gonna do it and I´m gonna make it” and these kinds of things, they didn´t understand the type of music I liked either, so…And then, all of a sudden, people who I thought they were my friends decided not be over night, and I was like “wait a second, what is this, you should be happy for me”. So yeah, that was a big struggle for me, because you´re carving out your own path for yourself and do things your way and don´t do other things. I didn´t go to college, I didn´t marry my highschool sweetheart, I didn´t have any kids, I didn´t get a normal job and I never have because I was very obsessive about my idea…So I think it´s hard for some people to understand that and just be happy for me, this was my main struggle when I was a kid to say “screw it” and do what I want to. You know, it is tough because you always think in the back of your head “am I really this crazy?” for doing this, maybe they´re right, maybe they´re having a point but I´m glad I didn´t listen.

But do you now have a plan B in case…
…if there is no Halestorm anymore at some point? You know what? No (laughing) . The only thing that I – if Halestorm decided to disband – I would probably still do something with music, I would still be writing. The good thing is that I feel like we´ve made it to a certain point that we could go and play a few shows but if there was no label anymore and we couldn´t afford going overseas anymore…we could do something else as musicians, but yeah, I am not really good at anything else (laughing) . And I´m a terrible waitress, so even that…I am very clumsy, it´s a challenge, I don´t know – you could have a glass of wine set down in the middle of a football field and somehow I could figure out how to knock it over even if I knew it was there. It´s hilarious.

Everyone is changing over time, so what do you think has changed the most with you in the time that you´ve been working as a professional musician?
Hmm, as I get older my confidence level is getting better, I used to be a very very shy kid. Even in the beginning years of Halestorm I kinda had to put on my big-girl-boots and go out there on stage and try not to be shy. I feel like, in this moment right now, it´s never been more clear what I like and what I know that I am, it took me many years to figure that out and to be comfortable in my own skin and not try to put on a face and pretend everything is okay. I think I am more honest with myself now. I don´t know, it´s been a crazy ride…

Let´s turn over to a few fun questions now…If you had to put all the band members into a fairytale, which one would it be and who´d play which role?
Oh man (silence). In one fairytale, that´s a tough question. Let me think (silence) . I would say Snow White because it would be easy to put them with a couple of the dwarfs but that would be just too easy, so I gotta think of something else. I cannot think of any other right now…I´m gonna try this now and I´m gonna pick Beauty and the Beast, but noone´s the beast, maybe me, maybe I´m the beast. I´m gonna do this: I´m the beast, but the guys are the inanimate objects – Joe would be the clock because he doesn´t like to be late, Josh would be the candelabra and I think my brother (Arejay) would be the teapot. We´ll go with that because it´s funny… (laughing)

You have unannounced visitors. What is the first thing you hide underneath your bed?
Oh in my room? Ääähmmm (silence) It´s been a long time since anyone´s been in an actual room…Oh oh…I mean, I´m living with a bunch of guys so there is not a whole lot of things you can hide quickly but…I have a…even my journal, I have like a five-years journal, so stuff from five years in one book, so that would maybe be I would hide. That, and I´m sure I have some dirty clothes, dirty underwear, somewhere piled, that I would push underneath my bed…

Imagine you were stuck in an elevator, which would be the person you least wanted to be stuck in there with you and why?
Wow…would be so easy to tell who I would like to be stuck in an elevator with, the first persons I´d want to be stuck with there would be my guys, the guys who make me laugh so hard…but that would be too easy…The worst person…probably (long silence) – he´s gonna hate me for saying this – no, hold on, this is funny. It would be my old manager, not the current one but my first ever manager. He was a little overbearing and I would always try to figure out things and he´d be all like “No, this not, we have to act serious now”…my first ever manager it would I guess…I haven´t seen him in years, hopefully he won´t read this magazine…

Since time is running around for this interview, any last words for the readers?
Just thank you so much, thanks so much for taking the time to read this article and check us out, and thank you for letting us into your beautiful country (laughing) not having us standing at the border and saying “no, sorry”. No, it means a lot for us to come over here and do our headlining tour and have everyone be so warm and welcoming. We´ll definitely be coming back as long as you guys want to have us!

Carina Ullmann - reports, reviews, photos - - - Favorite genres? - - - From classical music to metal - it all depends on the band and my mood ;) - - - Favorite bands? - - - would be a too long list to write them all down... - - - Other interests? - - - Photography, travelling, culture, reading, writing