Halestorm singer Lzzy Hale on life, death and the last time she cried

A promotional photograph of Lzzy Hale sat with a guitar

Elizabeth Mae ‘Lzzy’ Hale first began performing music in Pennsylvania clubs at the age of 13. Nineteen years on, her band Halestorm are at the forefront of the modern hard rock scene, their third album, Into The Wild Life, debuting in the Billboard Top 10 upon its release in April last year. Having recently completed a European festival tour, Halestorm will spend summer 2016 with long-time friends Shinedown and Black Stone Cherry on the US Carnival Of Madness tour. “If you were living my life, you wouldn’t have the slightest feeling that rock is less important now than it ever was,” she says.

Does anyone still call you Elizabeth Mae?

There are two people in my life who still call me Elizabeth Mae: my mother and my great-aunt. My great-aunt kinda missed the whole Lzzy transition, and while she likes what I do, it’s not her kind of music and she doesn’t really get the whole Lzzy thing. Whenever I’m in the presence of someone who still calls me Elizabeth, I guess I don’t feel like my everyday self – there’s definitely a little part of my brain that flashes back to being a geeky teenager living back at home with my parents.

What were you like at school?

I was actually a very good student, all As and Bs, but that was mainly because I knew that was my vehicle out. I started the band when I was in middle school and it became my mission to have good grades and graduate just so I could keep on with it.

If music hadn’t worked out for you, what would you be doing now?

Oh my goodness. Well, when I was a kid there were three things I wanted to be: a forest ranger or a poet or an artist. I guess I got the poetry thing out there by writing lyrics, so maybe I’d be a forest ranger to please my nine‑year-old self.

Are you a glass half-full or a glass half‑empty kind of person?

Oh, I’m annoyingly optimistic. There are people in my family who feel happier looking at life with a glass half-empty, but I was always looking on the bright side. I think in this business you kinda have to be optimistic, and I think my career choice keeps me this way, because there’s always an out, always light at the end of the tunnel.

Do you believe in God?

Not in a traditional sense, no. I believe that we are not the be-all and end-all, that the human race isn’t entirely in charge, and that we’re just along for the ride. I know that there’s something bigger than us out there, but I have no proof either way to know what this is.

What in your life are you most proud of?

To be perfectly cheesy, I’m proud we’ve kept this band together and proud to have the same relationship with my bandmates as I had from day one: we’re really good friends, and despite living two feet from one another for the thirteen years we’ve been doing this we’ve managed not to kill one another.

When was the last time you cried?

Oh, I got super-emotional for no reason about a week ago, and had a small cry and little meltdown. I get embarrassed about that because I don’t like anyone seeing me cry, but it was much needed. It wasn’t triggered by anything in particular, but it happened and it made me feel better.

Does money, or the lack of it, stress you out?

I’ve never been one of those people who worries about it. I’ve always been able to scrape by on whatever I have. Which is helpful because this was never a money-driven career for me. When I was a teenager I always believed in just jumping head-first into the shark tank and then figuring life out as it went along.

What in life do you regret most?

A few weeks ago I was asked if there was a moment in my life I would change, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t change a thing. Even the things that might have been bad decisions kinda inadvertently turned me in the right direction, because I’m still here, doing what I love with the people I love.

Do your fans know the real Lzzy Hale?

Regardless of how open and honest I am on social media and with a lot of people, there are probably dark corners that haven’t seen the light yet. I try to answer people honestly, and there’s nothing that I’m hiding, but there are still things to be discovered.

As you get older, do thoughts of death enter your mind more often?

They never used to, but I think they do now from time to time. If I get on an airplane I sometimes think: “Hmm, so if this plane goes down, what am I leaving behind?” From the fan letters I get and from the comments I get on social media, I hope I’m leaving a positive impact, something that encourages people to be themselves and be happy being themselves. I feel like I’m in a position to try to be a good example. And I’ve had some amazing letters from fans telling me how much the music we’ve put out and the vibe I put out as a person has helped them, so if that’s true I’m happy with that. And hopefully there’ll be a few decent songs left behind too.

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Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.