It's been a little over a decade since Halestorm first toured the UK, working their way up from club basements and backwater bars to being an arena headliner in their own right.
With triumphant new album Back From The Dead in the bag, Hammer caught up to singer Lzzy Hale and guitarist Joe Hottinger for a candid conversation that delved into the demons and adversities they had to overcome to make sure Halestorm's post-pandemic return would be as epic as possible.
Here are 10 things we learned from the band in our cover feature, available in the latest issue of Metal Hammer out now...
Lzzy wasn't always comfortable using her voice
Lzzy Hale has one of rock's most powerful voices and hasn't shied away from letting it be heard - but she wasn't always like that. Recounting a story where she and her classmates were being taught about fire safety, they were told to yell out so firemen could find them. "Apparently I wouldn't do it," she chuckles. "Which is funny, because most of my career is built on yelling at this point."
Playing live helped Lzzy overcome anxiety
Refusing to take part in the school fire drill wasn't an act of rebellion - it was a manifestation of how "painfully shy" Lzzy was as a child, prone to having panic attacks. Music became her salvation; playing shows with her brother Arejay at local shopping malls was a trial by fire that helped her confront her anxiety. "The more I was forced to be onstage, that want to perform overrode that fear," she explains.
At first, lockdown gave the band some much-needed 'me' time
Like most musicians, Halestorm have spent much of their adult lives on the road, or otherwise holed away in studios recording new material. So when the first lockdowns hit in 2020, they felt like it was "kind of like a snowed-in day” according to guitarist Joe Hottinger. Rest and relaxation is just what every rising rock'n'roll band needs, right?
But it didn't take long for bad habits to set in
It turns out not having anything to look forward to on a day-to-day can really mess with your head. Without tours and recordings to keep them active and engaged, Halestorm barely moved.
“It’s really hard for me to do nothing,” Lzzy explains. “When lockdown first happened, I started using it as an excuse to do nothing. Everyone was delivering to your door, so I’m like, ‘I’m gonna order pizza.’ There was a brewery that delivered right to your door, so we’d get beer every week – a case of stuff. Like, ‘This is awesome, just like a backstage party the whole time.’”
Lzzy's mental health took a nosedive during lockdown
Isolated from the world and unable to perform, Lzzy's personal demons re-appeared. “I was left without this armour I had put on myself," she says. "I had to figure out how to deal with it without this ‘Lzzy Hale’ character."
But now she's better equipped to deal with the future
Halestorm have soundtracked enough triumph over adversity in their time to know when it's time to pull yourself out of a hole and find the much-vaunted silver lining. For Lzzy, that was recognising tendencies that could lead her astray.
"I got to know a little bit about myself," she says. "I don’t know if I should call it addictive tendencies, but I know I can go there if I’m not careful. I don’t think I would have realised that if we hadn’t gone through [lockdown].”
Mental health struggles don't make you a bad person
One of the most difficult facets of mental health is finding ways to not only recognise issues, but vocalise them in a way that can express complex thought processes and emotions to others. Lzzy tells us she was attending therapy sessions pre-pandemic, but doubled down when she realised what was happening.
“It was really nice to have someone professional say, ‘Hey, it’s OK to feel these things. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or a bad person... it’s just your body trying to deal with what’s going on and these new old feelings.’”
Halestorm have vault of oddities stored away
Halestorm were so excited to get back to work that they ended up with a "full album's worth of B-sides that are really weird that didn’t make it on the record.” We can't pretend we're not entirely intrigued by that...
Back From The Dead cranks the dial to 11...
If there were any criticisms of Halestorm's fourth album Vicious, it was that the band were feeling a bit too polished. There's no risk of that with Back From The Dead though, their new album booting the doors in from start to finish.
"I think it’s the most consistent and consistently rocking album we’ve done," Joe says. "Even the ballads have weight to them in their own way. We weren’t thinking, ‘Let’s make it heavy.’ We just tried to be our best selves. But we like hard rock, we like riffs.”
...And is all about healing
In typical Halestorm fashion, they turned adversity into something truly empowering on Back From The Dead. Bringing the kind of bombast and swagger that's helped them leap up to arena status in the UK (not to mention fully sell out their 'an Evening With' tour earlier this year), Back From The Dead is everything you could hope to hear from a new Halestorm album, kickstarting their post-pandemic careers with a triumphant rallying cry.
But don't take our word for it - as the lyrics to The Steeple go, ‘This is my kingdom, this is my cathedral, this is my castle, these are my people’, putting their love for the music - and the fans - right at the forefront of what they do.
Read more about Halestorm's triumphant return in our cover feature in the new issue of Metal Hammer. Order your copy now.
Halestorm tour the UK this winter with Alter Bridge and Mammoth WVH