Soundcheck: Lzzy Hale

Halestorm singer-guitarist

Papa Roach, Halestorm, Ohio Sky 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9 House of Blues 308 Euclid Ave. 216.523.2583 Tickets: $26 advance, $28 day of show

Central Pennsylvania-based hard-rockers Halestorm released their self-titled debut earlier this year, but the band has been kicking around for about a decade. Singer-guitarist Lzzy Hale formed the group with her brother, drummer Arejaye Hale, when they were teenagers. Since then, they've toured relentlessly and spent most of this year supporting Shinedown and Staind. Lzzy Hale recently discussed the band's current tour with Papa Roach and what it's like being on the cover of Revolver magazine's "Hottest Chicks in Metal" issue.

How does it feel to be named one of the "hottest chicks in metal"?

Oh, it's crazy. For some odd reason, there's so many amazing chicks that are featured in that issue, and for some odd reason, they wanted me on the cover. I'm more of a belter than a screamer. It's cool. It's awesome. We get a lot of people coming to the show with the magazine, and it's pretty sweet. Mostly the biggest response is from my bandmates. They'll look for it at Borders. The other day, my guitarist found it and was yelling across the store. I was like, "Shut the hell up."

Seems like there are lots of hot chicks in metal right now. What's the deal with that?

I don't know. All of a sudden, we discovered how to take care of ourselves. It's like being accepted into this exclusive club of chick rockers. Every generation has their select few that break through the mold.

Do you worry that people pay too much attention to your looks?

Well, we always say, "Where looks start, hopefully music finishes." This is part of rock 'n' roll, which is a sexually charged genre. I absolutely don't mind that people come to the show to see the hot chick. It got them to the show, and hopefully there's some substance they see too.

Did you grow up idolizing women rockers?

I grew up with [Cinderalla singer] Tom Keifer on my wall. I've always been 10 years behind. My dad is into any band with a color in its name: Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd. My mom gave me Heart, Janis Joplin and Pat Benatar. When I was in my teenybopper years, I discovered '80s metal. When all my friends were listing to Backstreet Boys, I was listening to Cinderella, Van Halen, Alice Cooper and Dio.

I'm not sure people know how long the band's been around. Talk about the early days.

My brother is the drummer, and he and I started it when I was 13 and he was 10. Thank God we have a rock 'n' roll family. My family is pretty much Partridge Family-meets-Spinal Tap. They were very, very supportive. At first, they thought it would be a weekend thing. When my brother and I got tunnel vision and said this is really what we want to do, my mom and dad told us to go for it now and they'd be behind it the whole way. If they had said no, we wouldn't be doing this right now. We played anywhere and everywhere they would let us play as young kids. We played a family restaurant for free ice cream, and we even played a funeral once.

Did you write new songs for your full-length debut or revisit old ones?

It was both. Writing is something we've done from an early age. When we were getting ready to write for the album, we culled together all the songs we had. During the whole process, we wrote new ones. One of the oldest songs on the record is "It's Not You," which is our current single. We spent 19 months whittling down songs.

I like the way a song like "It's Not You" isn't gender specific. It's just a good, nasty break-up song.

Completely. We added the cowbell this time so that sealed the deal.

And ballads like "Bet U Wish U Had Me Back" and "Familiar Taste of Poison" still have an edge.

One thing I had fun with — and it's something I never really tapped into before — was walking the line. I wanted to make sure there were some things that, as my bass player so eloquently put it, would make you feel funny. I had been a fan of Alice Cooper, who was the king of walking the line. After you get into that mentality, it kind of flows out and all the sexual innuendos come pouring out into the songs, especially with "Bet U Wish U Had Me Back." It was fun to do, and I wanted to make sure it was done in a way that's kind of tongue-in-cheek. Yeah, it's a kick in the teeth but always said with a smile. It is fun to make someone tweak a little bit.

Your bio says you bring a "hypnotic intensity" to the band. Have you ever hypnotized anyone?

Who writes these things? One of the things I have gotten into recently is something that was born out of what I did when I was 13 to combat a little bit of stage fright. It wasn't that I was afraid of doing what I was doing, but I was intimidated by people looking at me. I thought, "Look at Pat Benatar. Look at Dio. They can just look at someone and stare them down." I would pick out one person and have a staring match. They would look away and then I'd move on to someone else. It became more or less effortless. Right now, I have an intimate relationship with the people I'm playing with onstage, and people come up afterwards and say, "Thanks for looking at me when you were playing." It's less of an intimidation thing and more of an inclusion thing.

Well, it is hard to win a staring match with a hot chick.

It sounds like you speak from experience.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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