Interview with Lzzy Hale, lead singer of Halestorm.
Originally featured in the 2022 Welcome To Rockville Official Commemorative Guide.
SIGT: Let’s start out with some gear talk. Are you still rocking that double neck with the baritone on the bottom?
Lzzy: Yes, I am, probably the heaviest guitar that I own. That was just because of my pride because when they were making it for me, they’re like, “do you want us to chamber this?” And I’m like, “no, it’ll be fine.” It’s a double neck SG and I just did not realize what I was getting myself. So, you know, been lifting weights to make sure I’m prepared for that again. But yeah, I still have the double neck standard up top baritone on bottom. I also have a gold top Explorer baritone that I take out with me and I use for a bunch of songs including “I Get Off” and “Freak Like Me.” That’s usually in drop B. I have my OG signature Explorer, though very beat up right now. I have a new guitar that I’m debuting, a red and black Explorer. I put the 70’s pickups in it so it just screams a little harder, with a rosewood neck, Explorer body, and Firebird headstock. It’s beautiful. I’ve been calling it the Explorer Bird. They ended up making that for me right before the world changed, so I got to use it all throughout our new record.
SIGT: How about the Jerry Cantrell Wah, are you still rocking that?
Lzzy: I am. I’ve gone through a couple of them because apparently I stomp them pretty hard. To the point that it’s become an inside joke with both me and Mr. Cantrell. Every time we see each other, either at a festival or an event or a show, he will seek me out and then proceed to lay down on the floor so I can actually physically step on him with my heels. I’m pretty sure he’s got a thing about that. We have to make it very literal every time that we see each other. So, yes, I do step on him, both proverbally and literally.
SIGT: That is hilarious. Do you have any new pedals you’ve added? Any new favorites, anything you’re crushing on right now?
Lzzy: I’m in the process of looking for the right delay pedal. I’ve been using a couple of different things that we have in our piles, and so I will end up having a couple of new things here on my pedal board because of all of these new songs that we’ve been going over that’s on our album. But one of my favorites, just in a minimalist situation, was actually given to me by a super fan of ours who used to be in bands back in the day. And now, I believe, as the story goes, he is now a dentist, and he had this authentic Klon distortion pedal. I believe his name is Tim because he put it on the back of the pedal, which I’ve since velcroed to my board, but it just gives that nice crunch over time. If I get my Marshall JCM 800 to the point where it’s just about to break up, and then I use the Klon pedal to just kind of push that over to the edge, it’s just a nice base for all of the meat and potatoes parts that I end up doing in this band. You can’t really go wrong with it. So that’s been kind of a standby for me. I have dabbled in the Aqua-Puss delay. I do use a POG Octave pedal every now and again. We’re rehearsing all of our new songs off of our new album that’s out on May 06.
SIGT: You started playing guitar at a young age. Do you have any advice for younger fans interested in making music?
Lzzy: It’s all about grabbing onto whatever you like and not giving up when things seem a little bit too hard. Nothing is ever unreachable. And I have to remind myself that constantly because it is much easier for me to procrastinate or be like, well, I know more about this, so maybe I’ll just stay in that comfort zone. If you don’t jump off the cliff, you never know. And you have to constantly be reminding yourself of things that came before that were hard. Everything is hard. If you want to write a song, it’s hard. If you want to play an instrument, it’s hard. If you want to record an album, it’s hard. If you want to go on tour, it’s hard. If you want to keep a band together, it’s hard. But it’s worth it to make that effort.
SIGT: You also mentioned that this new album has helped you a lot with your identity and mental health. Do you have any advice for someone who is indeed struggling with identity or purpose or meaning?
Lzzy: This is just coming from my personal experience. Anyone who is struggling with, again, that internal identity crisis or trying to find your purpose or your meaning, or even if it’s just finding that place of joy, it is possible to find that. Sometimes it takes longer, even for myself, even for someone who knows inherently. And not only do I know it, but a lot of other people know it, too, that this music thing that I do is a part of me. I’ve had to be reminded of where that place of joy is on occasion. And it happens to everybody. You’re not alone. There have been people that have come up to me and said, well, I can’t believe that you actually still go through that. Because think about it, you have all this reinforcement, and all of these people think you’re cool sometimes and know this about you, but it’s still a personal thing, and it’s still a personal journey. And if you find yourself in a place that you don’t necessarily believe that you have that purpose or you have that North Star that you’re able to follow. When things get really dark, you can get lost in it, but really everything is there, and it’s all within you. And number one, you’re the only one that is going to be standing in your way, and you’re the only one that can save you. And that’s something that I learned through writing this album. And there is something about creating something from nothing. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist or a writer or whatever it is, there is something about the arts that really helps everybody get through something. So I always encourage people like, even if you’re not a writer, I’ve told people to take up free writing, which is basically just word vomiting onto a page for, like, four pages.
SIGT: It’s such a cool practice. I love that.
Lzzy: Everything you’re doing, exactly everything you’re feeling and put it down. And then from there, an exercise that I do that I actually use for songwriting is if I don’t really know what I’m feeling at the moment, but I know that you have to kind of tap into that in order to figure out what you even want to write about at the moment. I’ll give myself four pages of gibberish, and then I’ll go back and I’ll circle some things that maybe I feel like stand out a little bit, even if I think it’s silly or whatever. And then I put those at the top of a new page and just ramble on from there. And there’s something about doing that physically just on a piece of paper or even if you’re typing it out, it’s like you’re venting to somebody. It’s like you’re cleaning out your closet, so to speak. And so I encourage everybody to try it. Again, I guess the biggest thing that I learned through writing this album, too, is that I was not alone in any of my feelings that I was feeling, because now that I listen to this album, it started in such a personal place but because I was writing from that selfish personal place, it becomes more universal. That’s just the way it is, because you know that if you were feeling those feelings, millions of other people are also feeling the exact same way that you are. So we are not alone in the paths that we take and the risks that we take and the darkness that we feel, and then the fight to get through it. And it’s worth it to be on the other side. It really is. Absolutely. Don’t give up on yourself just yet.
SIGT: Practicing that form of self love is so important.
Lzzy: It is. It’s the most important love that you can give. And for someone like me who is an inherent people pleaser and will put a lot of the things that maybe are a part of me or that I want or that I need, I will put that on the back burner. And what I realized is that and I keep calling this the dawn of no, because if you can’t fill that cup for yourself, if you can’t fill that love ,that hole for yourself, then you can’t spill it for anybody else. And so you’re not doing anybody any favors by not appreciating everything that you are, and that’s both your dark and light. I’m not saying just love the things that you like about yourself. You have to have both of those sides of yourself. And I definitely discovered that during this album, too, they both form some kind of a truce to coexist. I can still appreciate the things that maybe make me not necessarily like myself versus the things that I know some of my superpowers.
SIGT: Exactly. As the great philosopher Andrew W. K. once put it, “You must party with your demons.” I know that you really love a nice glass of wine at times. Do you have any favorites that you think we should try?
Lzzy: Oh, my goodness. I’ve been trying to figure this out, actually, lately, because my usual go to is honestly, it’s about $12 to $14, so it’s not an expensive bottle wine, but you can get it at any store. And that’s the Josh wines. That’s usually kind of what I’m used to. Whereas to the point that I was out with the wonderful boys in Disturbed a couple of years ago, and they’re complete wine fanatics. They had me testing all of this wine. And so they put in my left hand one example of wine, here’s another. So I was double fisting and they’re like, you got to tell us what you think is better. So I took a sip out of the wine and I’m like, oh, man, that’s just really, it almost tasted like tomato sauce. I don’t know. It’s very strange. I didn’t like it. And then I taste the other one like, oh, I totally like the one in my left hand better. And they’re like, what? That’s a twelve dollar bottle of wine. The one in your right hand is like, $150. And I’m like well I guess I have cheap taste. I have had some really nice bottles of wine that I always take pictures of, and then I never end up finding them again. So it’s always like, that’s really good. I should try that again. I’m on the journey. I’m on a personal mission. There’s got to be something that you’re a little bit nicer than $12. That could just be my go to now. My brother is worse. My brother does the box wine. Which is totally fine. The box wine is fine. But people get into a lot of trouble with the box wine because it’s like wine on tap. You don’t just stop after the bottle is done. It’s like four bottles in a bag.
SIGT: It’s like a gallon bag. Oh, my gosh.
Lzzy: Yeah! There have been many hotel hangs with the crew where everyone’s just taking out the bag and, like, slapping it. It gets gnarly. So I recommend just a nice little mid range bottle of wine.
SIGT: I’ll go for it. I got to try it. Will you be hiding any of your Lzzy’s famous love letters at Rockville this year?
Lzzy: Yes, I will. I will be hiding. I have a new guitar pick that I’ll be hiding. Yeah, that’s something that I used to do on occasion with Lzzy’s love letter. I used to do it on occasion. And then after everything we’ve gone through and like, the past few tours that we’ve done, I’ve written one specifically for every town. I’ll either hide it somewhere or I’m going to be tossing it from the stage. So keep your eyes peeled.
SIGT: Very stoked. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans at Rockville this year?
Lzzy: To our fans at Rockville and just the fans of Rock in general, not even specifically our fans as Halestorm. But thank you so much for keeping this genre alive and well, even through everything that we’ve gone through the past couple of years. And I cannot wait to celebrate that fellowship, that communion and scream our anthems of survival now that we’re on the other side and celebrate the triumphant return of live music with all of you. So I’ll see all your sweaty faces real soon.
Halestorm Interview by Mitch Foster.
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