Halestorm is a band that seems like they have been around forever. It’s hard to fathom that they are touring on only their 2nd full length album. That’s the case though and by the name of their new album, what a strange case it’s been. The Strange Case Of… was released over a year ago and the band is quickly becoming one of the hottest rock bands on the planet. It probably doesn’t hurt that the band is fronted by one the sweetest people you will ever meet offstage. Onstage, well that’s where you’ll see how Lzzy Hale got her Mz. Hyde moniker. As if transformed by the crowds energy, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who gives more of themselves than Lzzy. Actually, you could say that about the entire band. High energy is something that is thrown around a lot when describing a bands performance, but when speaking of Halestorm, they have mastered high energy. Couple the great performances with the fact that some of their songs are embedded in our culture (Here’s To Us was featured on Glee, I Miss the Misery is currently airing in a Bud Light commercial), and you’ll soon realize the band isn’t going anywhere. They’re here to stay. They paid their dues and now, they are simply enjoying the ride.
Today I’m welcoming Joe Hottinger or Joe Storm as he’s often referred, to the Unsung Melody family. Joe is a guitarist in the band Halestorm. First off, thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
No, thank you Jonathan. It’s my pleasure
I’m going to start by talking about a small award that I just know no one has asked you about. Something called a Grammy. Not sure if anyone has heard about that. I saw on instagram where you guys finally received them. I’m sure you just threw it in a closet somewhere, right?
Yeah. We did finally get it. So, it’s real now and it’s pretty awesome man. I don’t know how we won it, but we’ll take it. It’s crazy.
You won the Grammy for your guys new album, The Strange Case Of…, which was well deserved in my opinion. The album shows some great growth as a band and really diversifies into several different styles. Was that a goal when you guys were writing this record, or just a direct result of who you’ve become?
Truly our only goal with The Strange Case of….Halestorm was follow what excites us and chase it. We started working on the album less than 48 hours after we finished our last show of the last tour for the first album. We literally packed out bags and headed to LA and we were in the studio right away. One of the first things that came out of it was “Freak Like Me” and “Love Bites” and “American Boys”. All these riff heavy songs. Then Lzzy came in with “Break In”, the piano ballad and we’re like, “Wow, that’s awesome. It’s got to go on the record, but how is that ever gonna fit with these songs?” Then, we finished up Mz. Hyde and we were like, “AHA!!” It’ll work if we just do a Jekyll/Hyde thing right? So you know, it really was just us chasing what excites us and to me, that’s the best way to do it. You don’t have to try to be something you’re not. It was just songs that we like and that we like to play. Ya know.
Obviously, there’s a lot of people that agree with what you guys like, so that’s great. Here’s To Us, is a song that from the first moment I heard it, I knew it was going to be massive. Adding a sloppy guitarist like Slash into mix didn’t hurt anything I suppose. How did Slash become involved with this song?
We kind of had an idea…well, first of all, obviously the song is called Here’s To Us and really it is. Lzzy wrote the lyrics. We had talked about the idea before, where we will celebrate the good times obviously, but we’ll also celebrate the bad times. As a band in rock and roll, it’s a roller coaster when you’re in the business. When we were trying to get our first album made, we had been signed to Atlantic for a couple of years and we didn’t know if we’d even get a record made or get in the studio or just get dropped like so many bands do. There were some setbacks in the road to that first record, that we’d go get a bottle of champagne and we’d be like, “Alright man, we can always go back to Pennsylvania. It’s been a ride. It’s been fun. We’ll just ride this out and see how it goes. Who knows?” We were always celebrating the good and the bad times, so it’s kind of like when life kicks your ass, you can still have a good time. We still have us. It’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with. That sort of idea. With that in mind, we thought it would be cool to got some of our buddies that we’ve made along the way to kind of make it a broader Here’s To Us. Here’s to rock and roll, because rock and roll is kind of a family too. Especially these days, where it’s not as culturally relevant as it used to be. Kind of in the ghetto of music. Here’s To Us. We’re celebrating the good time and the bad and even though isn’t the biggest art form out there musically, it’s still great times. A lot of our friends said yes. We were lucky and here’s to them. (laughter)
It really seems like you guys genuinely enjoy each other’s company. There is always some fun onstage and I personally feel that is as important of an aspect as anything when it comes to music. Living so closely to someone on the road is never easy, but would you say the band is having as much fun as ever?
Oh yeah. We have as much fun as you can have, legally. (laughter) We’re spoiled. We have the best job in the world and it’s really been all of our dreams since we were kids. All four of us wanted to be doing what we are doing. We’ve had so many dreams come true and bucket list items checked off, that we’re just so lucky and happy to be out here having a good time. Really just enjoying the ride. We’re lucky enough that our little rock and roll roller coaster is on an upswing right now, but we know that everything that goes up, eventually comes down, so we’re just enjoying the up while we’re doing it.
I see some phenomenal shows coming up, as if this year hadn’t been great already. I see quite a few dates left in the US. But, I also see the UK, Japan, Europe and some tremendous shows coming up. Are there any particular stops on the upcoming tour that you guys are particularly excited about?
Totally. We finish this US leg in the middle of August and we’re home for like half a day. Then we fly to Tokyo and Okinawa. We’re doing some military bases, so it’ll be our first military shows. A lot of our friends have done them and they said they are some of the most fun you can have. Everyone is so appreciative. I can’t wait to play for the troops and give them a little taste of home in a foreign land. From there, we fly to Alaska. We’ll have like four days off in Alaska, then a show. Then we fly to Hawaii and four days off in Hawaii with just one show. So, we’re getting a little mini-vacation in the middle of the tour. We’re all really looking forward to just kind of chilling in some strange places for a few days. I’m looking forward to those and of course Europe again. Can’t wait for that. This time with Alter Bridge and Shinedown is on a few of the shows, so it’ll be great.
That’s a strange journey to pack for. Four days in Alaska, then four days in Hawaii.
Yeah. Definitely a strange journey. It’s like, “What do you bring? I don’t know!” (laughter) Whatever. I pretty much don’t unpack. So, I just always have my suitcase full of my clothes.
Any new surprises coming for the fans?
We’re going in between headline shows and then opening up shows. So, we’ll have like 40 minutes on the 3 Doors Down and Daughtry tour, which is interesting, as it’s a totally different crowd for us. It’s cool though. A lot of fun actually. Then in the middle of that, we’ll do a headline show, like we did the other night. We love headlining so much, we finally get our night and we’ve been just throwing on as many songs as we possibly could. I think we did 22 or 23 songs the other night. It was like a two hour show. It’s great. It’s fun. A lot of rock bands these days aren’t playing that long where they are headliners, but we’re digging it. We’re having fun doing long shows. Sometimes we’ll do a long show, sometimes we’ll throw in some strange covers. Never know.
The journey for Halestorm has been a fun one to watch. You came onboard around the time that all the good things started happening, where you prepared for this crazy journey when you signed up?
Ya know, no. I joined in 2003 and it was great. Lzzy, Arejay and I are all kind of kindred spirits. They have the same drive that I’ve always had. We all started playing music at the exact same time. We just found that out at an interview in Germany last year. We both played our first shows in the same month and the same year, August of 1997. That’s when Arejay and Lzzy had their first show and that’s when I had my first show with a band. We were like 100 miles apart, which is funny, just kind of revolving in different circles. I was always the guy in my band, booking the shows and taking care of everything. Saying, “Hey, let’s practice today.” Lzzy and Arejay both had that same drive, so when I met them, that was great. I was like, “Ahhhh! Finally someone that gets it!” From there, we got signed a few years later. We were just constantly playing out and working at it. It’s never been like, “Hey, I’m ready to get big and tour the world!” It’s been more like, “I’m ready for tomorrow’s show and we’ll see what that brings.”
Absolutely. One day at a time is the way it has to come. I always end on a random question. So, today is no different. I’m looking to see you guys in a couple weeks at Buster’s in Lexington, KY. Last time you played there, it was the end of a run and the guys gave you a cake and flowers. I’m not sure how they’ll top that, but from my end, my wife does make some tremendous cupcakes. She sells quite a few of them. What’s your favorite cupcake flavor?
Hmmmmm. That’s interesting. Well, that is a good question. It depends. Sometimes I like a nice chocolately cupcake. What would be good right now, would be a vanilla cupcake. Maybe the white cake, cupcake with some chocolate frosting on top. That would be fantastic.
I’ll try to have her whip up a few and bring them to Buster’s.
We’re looking forward to playing Buster’s man. We’re looking forward to getting back to Kentucky and doing another rock show there.
Joe, I thank you again for taking the time to speak with us. Please be safe out there on the road and I’ll see you guys in Lexington.
Preview or purchase The Strange Case Of… below:
Halestorm – Freak Like Me Official Video:
Halestorm – Here’s To Us (Lyric Video):