November , 2012
By Tim Taylor
Hellcat Rock From Red Lion PA
JAM Interviews Guitarist Joe Hottinger
Halestorm are an infectious, hard-working band from Pennsylvania whose constant touring and creative promotion has made them a recognizable name to everyone in today's hard rock scene. Known for their non-stop touring every year, the band features siblings Elizabeth "Lzzy" Hale on vocals, brother Arejay on drums, guitarist Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith, bass.
Lzzy Hale has used her extraordinary looks (no tattoos on this body), personality and attitude to become the hottest female name in rock n' roll music. She's been on the cover of Revolver Magazine's "Hottest Chicks of Hard Rock" issue, and recently made guest appearances on songs by Shinedown, Adrenaline Mob and Black Stone Cherry. As if that wasn't enough promotion for her band, the hit television show Glee used a Halestorm song "Here's to Us" during one of the most climactic scenes of the last season.
In April, the band released The Strange Case Of…, which is a much more diverse record than their eponymous debut. The lead single "Love Bites (So Do I)" immediately shot to number one on the Active Rock charts, which marked the first time in history that a female-fronted band reached the number one spot. Now they're going all over the world playing their new material to bigger audiences than ever. The band is currently headlining a Fall Jagermeister tour with In This Moment and Eve to Adam.
JAM: It seems congratulations are in order. Your single "Love Bites (So Do I)" hit number one on the Active Rock charts, making history as the first female fronted band to ever reach the top spot, and beating out bands like Rush, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, and Marilyn Manson.
Joe Hottinger - It's kind of surreal when you think about it. At the same time, it's just a great time and moment for us to enjoy and we're all grateful to have experienced. That said, we haven't done anything different, or changed the way we approach music, so there you go.
JAM: One thing that attracted me to "Love Bites" is the fact it's the heaviest song on the record. Most bands these days pick a softer, more radio-friendly tune for the first single.
We were talking to the folks at Atlantic about it, and what they told us was "Love Bites" was a perfect transition song from what we did on the last album to the new stuff. I pretty much agreed with that. It sounds like material we've traditionally done, and then the rest of the record is like a step forward. As you get deeper into the album, you can really hear how we've evolved as a band. Halestorm is at its best live. This album is trying to bridge that gap between the energy of our live performance and what we do in the studio. People always told us, "You're so much better live than what you hear on the record." So, on this recording we tried to bridge the gap between the two. We wanted to bring the vibe of the live performance into the studio, and I think we accomplished that.
JAM: Your song "Here's To Us" received a lot of attention after being performed on the television show Glee. A lot of rock n' roll people have mixed emotions about that show. Groups like Aerosmith, Kiss, and especially Journey have benefitted by having their music performed on the show. Other bands like the Foo Fighters said, "No way!" Do you think that Glee has expanded your fan base in the same way American Idol has had an effect on Aerosmith because of Steven Tyler's stint as a judge on there?
I would definitely say yes. When we learned the show's producers wanted to use that song, we knew the exposure could be a giant step forward for Halestorm. It's really cool to be able to reach a huge group of people who would normally never listen to rock music. Kids who were never into rock n' roll were picking up our album and hearing one of the most bad-ass chicks ever sing rock n' roll music. There's nothing wrong with that type of exposure at all!
JAM: My favorite song on the new album is one of the bonus tracks, "Private Parts", which is a duet with Sixx A.M.'s James Michael. How did that collaboration come about?
We were writing with James in Nashville and just kind of hanging out. Through that process, someone came up with the idea of "Show me your private parts!" When something pops into our heads we always write it down. Especially a potential song title, you know? A song can pretty much write itself if you can come up with a good slant on the song title. A tune like "Private Parts" was cool because everyone's first thought is of a sexual nature. But that's not what the song was about. When they lyrics go, "Show me your private parts", it's referring to two people in a relationship revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings. The song itself is about lowering your defenses to let someone in and trust them.
JAM: Last year, the band released Re-animate, an album of covers that shows your appreciation for music spanning several decades. As a guitarist, do you feel like the era of players like Joe Perry and Eddie Van Halen still rule the rock n' roll world? Have the next breed of players like Slash and Zakk Wylde surpassed them, or have the young guns like yourself, Avenge Sevenfold's Synyster Gates and John 5 taken over?
Wow! What an interesting question. Honestly, I don't know. There are musicians who aren't even alive anymore that are still thriving, like Hendrix. Eddie's rocking his ass off right now on tour. It's hard to compare guitarists these days. Synyster is such a bad ass, he's got his own style and sound. You have to if you want to take that next step as a guitar player. You have to have something unique if you want to make your mark in that territory. When you hear an Avenged Sevenfold song, you know immediately who that is by the vocals and the music. I don't put myself anywhere near those guys. (laughing) I just play what I play, a metal and blues gel. All of those guys that you named have carved their own niche. Most other guitarists try to sound like those guys, but aren't even close to the same caliber.
JAM: Lzzy Hale has done guest appearances on albums by Black Stone Cherry, Adrenaline Mob and Shinedown. Don't you think it's your turn? Whose album do you want to have a guest appearance on?
You know, if anybody asked me, I'd be totally down for it. It's so much fun to come up with guitar parts and solos for other people's songs. My job isn't even a job. I don't classify it as work. I'd play with anyone. The bigger the challenge the better it is in my book. Nobody has asked me yet. (laughing) I'd love to do it however. That would be fun.
JAM: The last few years, it seems like Halestorm has toured with everybody. If you could pick one band to do a tour with, who would it be?
If I had my choice it would be Foo Fighters. I am just a huge fan of everything they do. The world of rock n' roll is a small one, so it's not out of the realms of possibility. I'm sure someday we'll do some shows together. I can't see Dave Grohl ever stopping. They're at the top of their game right now.
JAM: Many of today's popular bands have sort of transitioned themselves into playing boring, Nickelback sounding material just to get airplay. Halestorm has been able to achieve the same kind of success by sticking to what they do best. Songs like "Rock Show", "American Boys", and "Love Bites" are straight forward, hard rock songs that have allowed the band to rule the charts.
I honestly don't have any idea what it is about our music that has clicked with fans. We play the music we love, and it just happens to be hard driving metal. Also on our records, that's actually us playing every instrument and singing every song. I know for a fact that a few rock bands don't even play on their records, and the singer runs the band. It's very liberating to hear our music and know that I'm hearing my guitar on my parts. It wouldn't be as much fun if I was playing somebody else's parts, or vice versa. I put a lot of thought in time into what I'm doing. Every decision in the band is mutual. I guess we're lucky. Well, I don't know if it's lucky. It's how we run our business. Maybe that's why some of these bands sound like Nickelback. They're just out there faking it. I'd be bored doing it any other way than how we've approached it.
JAM: Being in one of the more successful female-fronted bands on the hard rock scene, did you find it more difficult to succeed, or do you think that bands like Halestorm, Dead Sara and Lacuna Coil are the wave of the future for rock n' roll?
I don't really think it's been more difficult. It's actually been really good. Maybe it's because of Evanescence having so much success a few years ago with Amy Lee. Generally, rock is a male dominated genre. I think it's probably harder for the females. You're not gonna have a female-fronted band on the Active Rock charts unless she's got the balls to pull it off. If she doesn't rock, you're not gonna be there. There's a ton of chick bands coming out too. I love Dead Sara. That girl (Emily Armstrong) has a cool voice and is really awesome. Lacuna Coil has some cool new music out there now. There are so many female-fronted bands with unique sounds about to come out, so we'll see how it all pans out.