Music News & Reviews

Fourth album brings family band Halestorm to Rupp with its hard rock, metal sound

Halestorm will perform at Rupp Arena Dec. 5. From left, Halestorm members are Josh Smith, Joe Hottinger, Lzzy Hale and Arejay Hale.
Halestorm will perform at Rupp Arena Dec. 5. From left, Halestorm members are Josh Smith, Joe Hottinger, Lzzy Hale and Arejay Hale. Jimmy Fontaine

So you think hard rock and metal music is strictly a boys club? If so, you need to give a listen to Lzzy Hale. As one of the genres’ leading female artists, she has filled arenas internationally fronting the Pennsylvania band Halestorm.

Sure, she’s not the first woman to go knuckle to knuckle with the guys when rock ‘n’ roll turns heavy. But Hale may well be the first to spearhead an arena tour tying together two other similarly loud and proud bands — In This Moment and New Years Day — that also put the ladies in charge.

“I think it’s a sign of the times,” Hale said. “With this heavy music, girls are finding their voices in this generation. For me, I’m reminded of the way I felt when I was 17, when I was maybe only one of five girls owning this music. Being on the other side of it for this tour, Maria Brink (of In This Moment) and Ash Costello (of New Years Day) and myself can show these girls at the shows that it’s totally possible to do what you love as a career, to carve out your own path. It’s like, ‘Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, because we’re living proof that you can.’ It’s been an ongoing conversation that has been really cool to be a part of.”

What has Halestorm out on the road in the first place is its fourth studio album, “Vicious.” The record is full of typically tuneful but aggressively textured music with Hale’s tireless wail leading the way. Though the band has proven stylistically adaptable to a number of settings throughout its history (Hale sang the National Anthem at a Syracuse Crunch hockey game as recently as last weekend), the singer/guitarist said it was important the band’s new album reassert an ensemble sound that answered to nobody but itself.

“When we were writing this record, I put down a lot of songs I put a lot of work into. I ended up reviewing them later when we were deciding what was going to go on this record and, to be honest, I hated all of them. The songs sounded like I was trying to please everybody but myself. You could almost pick them out. ‘OK, this song is for radio. That one is a crossover song for the label.’ It sounded like whatever was trendy. I just didn’t like that feeling, so we scrapped all of that and started again.

“It’s interesting when you decide to start again like that. I started questioning myself a lot. Can I even write in an exciting form that I’m really into anymore? Can I write my truth anymore? Do I even deserve to be here?’ I mean, I’ve had so much success, you would think I would have all this figured out by now. It was that kind of thing. But what you realize through the process is that by pleasing yourself and by sticking to your truth, you make what you’re doing more universal. So I’ve had a renewed view of how I felt about music and how I used music to work through my own stuff in my head.”

What guys and girls alike may not realize about Halestorm is that it is, at heart, a family band. The singer/guitarist and her younger brother, drummer Arejay Hale, began the band while in their teens and (in Arejay’s case) pre-teens. Their original bassist, in fact, was their father, Roger Hale. Lead guitarist Joe Hittinger and bassist/keyboardist Josh Smith have completed the current Halestorm lineup for the past 15 years.

“Arejay has followed me down every proverbial rabbit hole since we were kids,” Hale said. “When we first had the conversation about starting a band and calling it Halestorm, he was almost 11. I was at the dinner table talking to mom and dad. We were having Shake ‘n Bake Chicken. Remember that? I was like, ‘We’re going to do this. I’ve got to do this.’ Arejay was sitting there with a mouthful of mashed potatoes going, ‘I still get to play drums with you, right, Sis?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, man. We’re a band.’

“We’ve still got the same contract. He’s like, ‘Yeah. I still get to play. We get to do this in front of all these people. It’s amazing.”

If you go:

Halestorm/In This Moment/New Year’s Day

When: 6:45 p.m. Dec. 5

Where: Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine

Tickets: $29.50-$49.50

Call: 859-233-3535