July 6, 2020 Interview – Lzzy Hale & Joe Hottinger of Halestorm Talk Unity During COVID-19
Life on the road for a Rock-n-Roll band can be an adventure. There is the adrenaline rush of the live performance, the interaction with listeners, and much more. But have you ever stopped to think about all that happens behind the scenes to make the show possible? Halestorm has, and that is why they are teaming up for the #ROADIESTRONG campaign. A worthy cause, the band has released #ROADIESTRONG merchandise to raise money for Crew Nation, Live Nation’s global relief fund to help out music crews who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, fans can also donate directly to help these crew members and their families during these tough times.
Proud to offer support their friends, who help make each live show magic, Lzzy Hale and Joe Hottinger recently sat down to talk about #RoadieStrong, explain what their road crew means to them, provide insight about new music on the horizon, plus a much more.
Cryptic Rock – The last we spoke was just prior to the release of Vicious in 2018. Since then you have been quite busy touring in support of the album. What have the last few years been like for Halestorm?
Lzzy Hale – The last few years have been a whirlwind. We headlined some of the biggest venues we have ever done.
Joe Hottinger – We made the Vicious album and hit the road! We played some killer festivals all over the world. We finished up our last tour the middle of December in Australia, and it started in Paris. We moved all around the world. It was fun.
Lzzy Hale – Yeah, we played the legendary Ally Pally in London. It was a really good time and record cycle. It’s funny that you mention that, because we were recently talking about it saying, “Remember that tour?”
Joe Hottinger – I am having dreams about being on stage again. I’m ready!
Cryptic Rock – It is those things that we all take for granted, right? Some people may have thought their life was boring and benign prior to the pandemic, but it really wasn’t.
Lzzy Hale – Yes. I have never enjoyed going to the car wash so much than right now. (Laughs) There is a car wash close to us that is all enclosed and no one touches each other or gets out out of their car. That’s an activity I really enjoy. It’s like a dog thinking, “Ooh, a car ride – absolutely!”
It’s a crazy thing. We live pretty much in the moment every time we go on tour. We have a great appreciation for what we do. We are really lucky to be doing what we do, but it’s tough with the future being unknown.
Cryptic Rock – That is understandable. In the time you are unable to tour you have become involved with the Roadie Strong campaign. How did this come about for you?
Joe Hottinger – Basically just feeling bad for all the road families; not just our crew, every crew. You go to a festival, go on stage, and there is 10 bands worth of gear on there; you just know everybody. Their whole year of income is gone and whatever they had planned. A lot of people are facing this all over the world. Our road family is our family, those guys and girls know us better than anybody; they’re our best friends.
I know it’s going to be tough for a lot of folks. I have been seeing guitar tech buddies of mine on social media who have no idea what to do; they may have to change industries to support their family. I know a lot of people are going through it, but we are just trying to make people more aware, especially live music lovers. Getting a t-shirt or donating a little to the Crew Nation fund goes a really long way.
Lzzy Hale – It really does. We wanted to create this call to arms, not only with our musician buddies, but with all of our fans. We wanted to get on and support it, because I don’t think people realize how integral these guys are to the Rock show; the Rock show wouldn’t happen without them. We’re up there goofing around, being musicians, and yes, we’re a part of it and a poster children for it, but everything you see at a Rock show – all the lights, sound, the way your band sounds – is because of them. They get up at around 7 AM to load in equipment, they’re the last to leave, and they still manage to party afterwards. They are pretty much superheroes! (Laughs)
Joe Hottinger – Load in doesn’t even start until 9 AM or 10 AM, usually. Our tour manager, and some of the other guys, are up at 7 AM to check the stage and make sure it’s safe. They make sure the PA for that day is being hung right, chalk it out, etc. You don’t realize these guys are up at 7 AM busting their ass and we get up at 1 PM and everything is half together.
Lzzy Hale – Yes, the stage is magically set up, it’s amazing. (Laughs)
Joe Hottinger – Then we do a show, party, and they’re still loading up. They’re the first in and last out. We love those guys and we would do anything for them. We are trying to do whatever we can.
Lzzy Hale – We are asking everybody to go to LiveNation.com/crewnation, and if you want a simpler way to do it, is just google #ROADIESTRONG; there are a bunch of links that go directly to what we are talking about.
Joe Hottinger – We have some shirts and masks. It is a little bit of support. Plus, a lot of bands have their own crew shirts, including us. Anytime you go to a show, whenever they happen again, if you are wearing a crew support shirt, I think it’s a pretty solid statement to let the crew guys and girls know you support them.
Cryptic Rock – That is great that you are getting involved to help out. The average person usually does not think about what happens behind the scenes that make a Rock show happen. If anything, the positive that comes out of this pandemic is hopefully people will start to appreciate things more.
Joe Hottinger – Absolutely, across the board, not just Rock shows. Everything! Just going out and saying ‘hi’ to people is amazing.
Lzzy Hale – Yes. We had to take recycling out recently and around 12-15 feet away was the only other woman there and she gave me the biggest smile like, “Oh, humans!” (Laughs)
There is no hand shaking anymore. It’s even getting to the point if you are watching a show on Netflix, and they hug or are in a crowded space, you think, “That was so 2019.”
Cryptic Rock – Right. Hopefully we can return to some more normalcy soon. Have you seen a good return from the Roadie Strong campaign thus far?
Lzzy Hale – Absolutely. A bunch of our rock-star buddies have been making videos telling their own stories about how much they appreciate their roadies.
Joe Hottinger – There have been some great fan stories, too. We have a really killer crew; they are all sweethearts and respect everybody. I know my guitar tech will give out guitar picks to little kids in the front row. People have so many good stories interacting with them and they are sharing their stories as well.
Lzzy Hale – It has become this call to arms that we are all in this together and we support our roadies – it’s amazing. These guys know us better than our own family at most points; we spend 90% of our time with them. We have been talking a lot with our crew via texting, and their lives are also turned upside down because they say, “My family doesn’t get my humor.” They are having a difficult time acclimating to just normal life.
Joe Hottinger – You can’t have road conversations at home. (Laughs) It’s a different conversation structure – those jokes don’t fly. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Yes, it is completely different. With this down time, has Halestorm been inspired to write any new music?
Joe Hottinger – Yeah, we have a lot of new music. We had a ton of new music that we had been working on before this thing went down. Now, since we’ve been stuck here, Lzzy has written a ton of songs and I’ve been working on those. It all feels kind of fresh again, topics have deeper, new meanings.
Lzzy Hale – There is that dichotomy of, I’m sad that we can’t be in a studio right now to make our new record. However, we were one of the lucky ones because we actually slated this time to be able to write a record. Right now we are supposed to be in pre-production in the studio, but we can’t do that.
The positive is, I think, we are writing better songs right now with everything at a standstill. It has become less of a career move, less of “We have to do a record and promote it.” It’s more looking deeper inward, but also looking at that big picture in all aspects; everything means something different now. I’m trying to take advantage of that as much as I can.
Cryptic Rock – It will be exciting to hear the new music when it comes out. It has been fun to watch the progression of Halestorm; 2019 was the 10 year anniversary of the debut album. Halestorm has been going on for a long time now; even longer than some fans might realize. Have you had time to stop to think about how far the band has come?
Lzzy Hale – Yeah, I think we do that all the time. It feels like every couple of months you’re a different person. Our analogy has always been, Halestorm is this long and never-ending highway with all these mile markers on it. Sometimes you breakdown, you have to pull over and figure it out, but you just keep trucking.
It’s great to look back. We have these talks all the time with all four of us how crazy it is that we are still a band. One of our biggest accomplishments is that we haven’t kill each other yet and we still like each other. (Laughs) We still go out together besides with music; we’ll have band outings or dates to go bowling or something.
Beyond that, it’s amazing all the things we’ve accomplished. I’m living out my teenage fantasy now in my 30s. I would never had thought, when I was 13 and first starting this band with my little bro, we’d have a home studio, we’d win a Grammy, or have all these amazing fans telling us how songs have touched their lives. We’re just dorks from Pennsylvania, this stuff doesn’t happen to us! We really do appreciate where we’re at.
Cryptic Rock – It is a testament to the hard work Halestorm has put in as a band to be where you are. You have been one of the hardest working Hard Rock bands over the last decade. Talking about the progression, you have changed things up. Each album has a different direction. That said, what direction is the new album going?
Joe Hottinger – We’re letting it reveal itself. The song is what matters most: how we dress it up is whatever mood we are in at the time. We’re going to work with Nick Raskulinecz again. He’s the best big picture guy I’ve ever met. We already made Vicious, we’re not going to make Vicious 2 – we’re going to make a new record. We’ll see where we end up.
Lzzy Hale – The mentality now is to be honest and write songs that move us.
Joe Hottinger – As long as we’re excited, hopefully, other people are too. That’s the big goal.
Cryptic Rock – Right, the best music comes out of being sincere. Sometimes a song may not resonate right away, but it’s about the longevity of that song.
Lzzy Hale – Absolutely. There are songs we never thought were going to do what they did. We just thought, it would be fun to play live, but all of a sudden we win a Grammy for it. Just recently, I’ve seen an influx of tattoos for songs off the Into the Wildlife record from our fans. I think that album was a slow burn… who knows. An album is just that though: it’s a snapshot of where you’re at that point in your life.
Cryptic Rock – Exactly. Last question for you is about movies. Since many of us are staying home, many are watching movies. What have you been watching?
Lzzy Hale – If you’re into Horror, the one movie I can’t stop thinking about is Midsommar (2019). We’ve been watching a lot of series lately, such as Rick and Morty. We just finished Westworld. and Ozark is great, too.