Track-by-track: Halestorm – Into The Wild Life

Pennsylvania quartet Halestorm’s ‘Into The Wild Life’ is out now. TeamRock sat down with lead guitarist Joe Hottinger to get the lowdown on their third studio album, so here’s the first part, from opening song ‘Scream’ to ‘Mayhem’. Look out for the second part on April 14…

**SCREAM **_Joe: _“When you know exactly who you are and what you want, and you don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks, to me that’s living the wild life. That’s the idea behind this record: you’re whoever you want to be. Find yourself. Be yourself. Own it. So going in with Scream, it starts out rocking and then there’s this keyboard part, and it almost sounds electronic. We thought it’d be hilarious to throw everyone for a loop into thinking this is going to be an electronic rock record, which would obviously be a weird thing for us to do. Lyrically, this song is about living out loud and living your dreams out loud. Scream until they hear you. Live until they hear you. Make yourself heard. You’re going to see a lot of that creeping into the songs on this record. And with the sequencing of the tracks, it’s almost like a story. It wasn’t written that way but it kind of worked out that way. And Scream segues perfectly into I Am The Fire.”

**I AM THE FIRE **“We have a few really cool transitions on the record and this is one of my favourites. This was another step forward for us in terms of making a record that connects the songs. Our producer Jay Joyce worked a lot on those transitions with us. He played a big part in sequencing the songs together for the record. I remember when we came up with the title for this song, we were thinking about all the different things I Am The Fire could mean. I think the lyric that sums up the whole song best is, ‘I am the one that I’ve been waiting for.’ It’s the idea that nobody is holding you back except yourself. So be the fire. If you listen to the song closely, there’s no doubled vocals or harmonies or anything like that. It’s all Lzzy (Hale, guitar and vocals) on her own, owning it. I am the fire. There is nobody else. That’s the message of this song.”

**The artwork for ‘Into The Wild Life’ and right, Hottinger with Lzzy Hale at London’s Roundhouse in March, 2015 **Photo: Joseph Okpako/Redferns

SICK INDIVIDUAL “With this record we wanted to bridge the gap between our live show and a studio recording. We wanted to use the studio as an instrument but also capture the energy of our live shows, because we’ve done over 2,000 shows and we’re a live band first. Jay had the four of us set up in a circle and play together. He told us, ‘Records are really easy to make if you want them to be. They’re only hard to make if you make them that way.’ He really wanted to get our personalities across in the music. He wanted you to hear Arejay (Hale, drums) the way you see him when we play live. And he knew exactly where and how to fuck up a song in the right way. He’d say to Arejay, ‘Why don’t you just go crazy for a second.’ And that’s what you hear in the drum intro. Then he’d say, ‘You guys just write a riff; something big and heavy.’ And that’s the Sabbath-y riff that you hear. There’s a lot of that live immediacy on this record, and I love hearing it. It’s real and it’s exactly what we were going for. So Sick Individual, again, is about doing whatever the fuck you want. That’s the main theme of this record, and also one of the main ones of how we live our life.”

AMEN “Amen was written before we knew we were going to be recording the record in a church. But it’s a song about ownership. And if you’re going to write an album about doing whatever the fuck you want, you better own it and stand tall. ‘My life, my love, my sex, my drug’, you know. Whatever gets you off. ‘Can I get an Amen?’ It’s preaching, man. Whatever you are, just do it. And we talked a lot about arena rock going into the writing of this record. If you want to start taking things to the next level and grow as a band, you have to play that way. So we wanted songs that’ll sound great in a huge hall. This is one of those. It’s an anthem. There’s nothing for or against religion in this music. Amen is just about the religion of one’s self. You’re your own God. Respect yourself in that way. That’s about as deep as it goes. But recording a song called Amen in a church was obviously great. I mean, what more could you ask for?”

**DEAR DAUGHTER **“Lzzy told me she was talking to her mom one day and her mom had asked her, ‘Did I do a good job raising you?’ That question. And of course she did. Halestorm wouldn’t be here if her parents hadn’t supported Lzzy and Arejay to be in a band growing up. So the idea for the song was bouncing around in her head. And she talks on Twitter a lot, so she asked people about things they wished their parents had said to them while they were growing up. Because there’s a lot of kids out there that didn’t have as good parents as she or I. They came back with all kinds of stuff, and a lot of inspiration came from words people had sent her. When we started trying to turn all of these lyrics and ideas into music, Lzzy started hitting these pianos chords and it just flowed. So she went into the church and sat down at the piano. She had a microphone in front of her. I think what you hear on the song is actually the second take. And she does that amazing Neil Young-meets-Purple Rain guitar solo in there. It’s a super special song, for all of those reasons. It’s so beautiful. And it’s probably the most emotional song that we’ve ever put on a record.”

**NEW MODERN LOVE **“This was the second song we wrote and it helped define where we were going to go with this record. It has this groove that we’ve never really done before. And Arejay killed it man. We wrote a demo and it was OK, but then he came in with this beat and it took on such a cool groove. Let’s give it up for Arejay on this record, because everyone knows the kid can rock his face off. He’s David Lee Roth-meets-Animal on drums back there; he can destroy kits. But finally on this record you hear him dropping into these deep pockets of groove, and New Modern Love has such a cool groove. That swampy blues riff is awesome too. To me the song’s like cruise control. It reminds me of a sunny day in California, driving along with the top down and the music blasting. It’s one gear, which maintains the same throughout, and it just feels good. It’s New Modern Love, man. It’s more of this ‘do what I want’ sort of thing.”

**MAYHEM **“This is probably the heaviest song on the record – it’s got more of a metal riff going on. I remember writing the riff after hearing Royal Blood for the first time, because they blew my mind. I tweeted about their track Out Of The Black in February or March last year when we were writing our record, telling people to listen to the song. It sounded so cool; like Rage Against The Machine-meets-Jack White. It was so fresh sounding and it rocked so hard. I was really inspired by it. Jay rocked out with us on Mayhem too. He threw some keyboard parts in there. Here’s a fun little fact: if you commit mayhem, you’ve hurt someone enough that they can’t fight or go into battle. It’s some English medieval term. If you cause mayhem on somebody, it does in fact hurt them. So you gotta watch out for Mayhem, kids!”

Read the second part below….

The second part of your guide to Halestorm's new album

Into The Wild Life is out now through Atlantic.

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.