Interview: Halestorm Team Up With Alice In Chains Collaborator, Honor Chris Cornell

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Halestorm, consisting of vocalist and rhythm guitarist Lzzy Hale, lead guitarist Joe Hottinger, bassist Josh Smith, and drummer Arejay Hale, is getting revved and ready to drop their fourth studio album, Vicious. The album is produced by Alice In Chains producer Nick Raskulinecz, and addresses mental health issues in the wake of deaths like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. Hale recently told Alternative Nation, “Chris Cornell was a medium to another world. His voice oozed beauty, pain, and darkness. Through his art he inspired and gave so much hope to all who experienced it. We will continue to carry that hope and his legend forever.”

After breaking history by being the first female-fronted band to have a song reach Number 1 on the Active Rock radio chart with their hit “Love Bites (So Do I),” Halestorm is one of the most ferocious bands in rock and roll today.

Vicious is the follow-up to the 2015 release “Into the Wild Life,” which generated anthems like “I Am the Fire” and “Amen.” This new record was written by the band and a dismayed Lzzy Hale, who claims she was in a difficult place mentally at the time. Alternative Nation recently had the opportunity to speak with Lzzy and Joe in a roundtable interview about the making of the album, depression, and what the future holds for women in rock.

Read Alternative Nation’s full interview below and our review of Vicious here.

Vicious comes out Friday, congrats on the release of your fourth album!

Joe: Thank you!

Lzzy: Thank you, there’s still a couple of days to screw it up, though (laughs). So don’t congratulate us just yet!

(Laughs) Oh no, I doubt that. Well I know you guys have explained that this is the most unapologetic record of them all so far, what made the writing process so much more raw this time around?

Joe: Really, it was just the way we did it. We’ve never approached a record like this, so it was more like when we were starting out in the basement.

Lzzy: Yeah.

Joe: We had written a bunch of songs for the record at the end of the last album cycle, and we weren’t very inspired by them which is just funny, ‘cause you think you write a bunch of songs then you’d be like yeah! But it was kind of the opposite of that, and we’re like man, this just wasn’t right. We took it in to Nick Raskulinecz, our producer, and he agreed with us totally. He was like, “Yeah man, that’s not the Halestorm record I wanna make.” And we’re like, well we want to make something that challenges us and our fans and listeners and maybe the genre, but without going too far into left field. How do we do that – can we do that? I don’t even know! And Nick just sat the four of us in a small room with our instruments and was like, “Who’s got a riff? We’re starting there.” And he kind of became a fifth member of the band and we just started hatching out music, and it was awesome.

Lzzy: Yeah, it was pretty cool because while we were writing the record, we were recording everything. So all of the subject matter and everything that we were feeling at the moment and all that excitement was being captured. And again, like Joe said, it’s a huge testament to Nick Raskulinecz and the way that he ultimately became a fifth member of the band and really helped capture that.

Vicious has this overall very empowering message about being true to yourself through thick and thin. With some of the big losses we’ve had in rock over the past year or so, like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, it seems like this kind of message is more important to hear now than ever. What advice do you guys have for people who are finding themselves in the pit of issues like addiction and depression?

Lzzy: It does seem purely in my corner, because I like being involved in that, especially within our community and our fanbase. I think the overall message is that you aren’t alone. I talk to thousands of people all the time online that are going through all of that every single day, and it doesn’t matter what walk of life you are. We go through it, too. At the beginning of this record, I was going through strange mental gymnastics just trying to convince myself that I could still do this and that I still had that fire that got me into this in the first place. That took me on an emotional and mental rollercoaster. So for me, on this record I’m just kind of hoping to reach out to a lot of the people – not just the people that follow us avidly, but anybody, just reminding them that they’re not alone. I think that’s a big thing with depression is that it’s a lonely struggle, and you more often than not think that you’re the only one going through it. And the reality is that you’re not, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a legend like Chris Cornell or if you’re just a guy down the street that works at a Walmart. We’re all the same. So I think by addressing some of those issues, and for us being a little bit more vulnerable or, I guess I should speak for myself as in being able to put those emotions out there with music, I’m just hoping to spread type of positivity. Because, I can ha, and I want to (laughs)!

Awesome. We got exciting news that you have added another leg of your tour with New Years Day and In This Moment. With Into the Wild Life, you toured with Lita Ford and Dorothy. Rock and roll has always been a kind of predominantly male atmosphere, what do you think the future holds for women in rock and roll?

Lzzy: If I can be so bold, I think that we’re taking over. I’m not saying that as in, “hey it’s my responsibility for ‘girl power’ to say that.” I’m just saying that in our world, we’re out on tour 90% of the time. At any given day, at any given festival, there are more girls than not now. I am no longer the only one on the bill. And also, on this particular leg with these women, we’ve all been great friends for years, so we put together this tour because we really just wanted to hang out (laughs) because we never see each other! We didn’t realize how amazing this tour would end up, especially for the audience, not just for us. I mean it’s pretty much turned on its head, it’s usually about 60:40 male:female in the audience, and now it’s completely the opposite of that. There are more girls buying the tickets and coming out to see the shows. I just think it’s the right time for it. And it’s really neat to kind of be on that other side and be able to stand up on a stage with my sisters of this genre and kind of show everybody that we are more or less living proof that you can carve out your own path and be anything that you wanna be. That’s kind of been the general message of the tour, is that regardless of whether it’s hard rock, heavy metal or whether the people in the audience are chasing after their own dreams, we’re all doing this together. We’re kind of proving that music is genderless at this point. So it’s been pretty special.

Hell yeah! Well thank you guys for taking the time to talk to us!

Lzzy and Joe: Thank you guys!

Vicious comes out July 27th. 

  • Olga Stewart

    “Chris Cornell was a medium to another world. His voice oozed beauty,
    pain, and darkness. Through his art he inspired and gave so much hope to
    all who experienced it. We will continue to carry that hope and his
    legend forever.”- ♥♥