HALESTORM's LZZY HALE: 'We're Finishing Up Writing A New Album'

March 28, 2024

In an interview with the "Everblack" podcast conducted at the Brisbane date of this month's Knotfest Australia, HALESTORM frontwoman Lzzy Hale spoke about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's follow-up to 2022's "Back From The Dead" album. She said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We're finishing up writing a new album. And we're gonna get back in April to finish it up. We'll be there in a few weeks, and, yeah, we'll see what happens. And then we'll be back here [in Australia] before you know it with some new music."

Asked what the new HALESTORM album will be called, Lzzy said: "Oh, we don't know that yet. As is tradition in HALESTORM, we always have the best ideas right when we start, and then we totally trash it, and it's, like, very last minute, 'What are we calling the record?' Last minute, that's what we do. So, yeah, we don't know. We're gonna let it tell us what it is. It's not up to us; it's the music."

Earlier in the month, HALESTORM guitarist Joe Hottinger told Monica Strut of Knotfest Australia about the songwriting process for the band's next LP: "Our goal as a band is may the best song win. So riffs are great and all, but at the day, it comes down to the song. Is it a good song or not? And not only is it, like, good, but it's gotta be great. We have, like, stupid standards. And so really anything goes. If it's a riff and it starts there, a riff and a melody, cool. Lzzy writes constantly, so she's always got songs that we're putting together.

"We haven't been in a studio since — I mean, recording for a record — since September," he revealed. "We've been busy. We've been traveling a bit. But we've been writing since then. And while we were at the last one, we just kind of rolled in and wrote a song in the morning and recorded it that night, and it was kind of everything fresh. We started out a few riffs, but, really, the idea was more about being in that moment. I was talking with Lzzy about it while we were in there, and it was, like 'Yeah, it's kind of like we came into the studio with nothing but 20 years of being a band together.' [Laughs] So, we know how to play — we're all players, we can play, we can write. So, like, 'It's a good idea. Cool. Yeah, let's do that. All right, let's record it. Here we go.' And I don't even remember what I played. I haven't listened to those songs in a while. And I vaguely remember any of them because it gets so intense. I think we did, like, 13 of them. Day after day after day after day after day, to the point where you're just, like, 'I don't know anything anymore.'"

Joe also talked about HALESTORM's writing and recording approach with producer Dave Cobb after making three records with Nick Raskulinecz.

"We had a few ideas going in, but we told [Dave] we didn't really… We'd been touring constantly and we didn't get together and put together anything solid," Hottinger said. "And he was, like, 'Great. Even better.' And that was exciting, 'cause we've never really done that before for a record, like just sit in a room and knock out a song a day — just go, go, go. And it was really intense. And I think it's great. And that was just round one, the first volley of songs. We'll see if any of 'em even make it. But we've got just a boatload more songs now. We haven't even gotten together and riffed them all out yet or wrapped our heads around them. We just have these demos. We're, like, 'All right.' Lzzy's writing right now. We love doing that. She'll go and write with friends or other people that she respects, which I think is great, 'cause she gets to bounce ideas off of somebody else, somebody that… Every song is like a puzzle, and she gets to put it together with somebody else who's better at different parts of the puzzle than maybe one of us. And then we grab a hold of it and make it a HALESTORM song."

In a separate interview with Niclas Müller-Hansen of RockSverige, Joe stated about HALESTORM's decision to work with Cobb this time around: "We've been a fan of Dave for a long time. He does like everything from country stuff like Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell to EUROPE and GRETA VAN FLEET, RIVAL SONS and AIRBOURNE. He's a rocker at heart and we needed to switch it up. It's our last record on Atlantic. Luckily, he wanted to work with us."

Lzzy added: "We were seeking him out for a while and the people at our label and everybody was, like, 'No. He's too busy. He's not gonna wanna work with you.' And we were, like, 'Well, just ask him. Just reach out to him. We can take the rejection because we've been doing it our entire life.' It's, like, why be all sensitive now? They went ahead, like, 'Hey, Cobb, there's this band HALESTORM…' and he went, 'Oh my God, I love HALESTORM! What are they doing?' and they told him, 'Well, they're thinking about doing a record…' and he said, 'I wanna do a record with HALESTORM.' He had a whole plan apparently."

Joe continued: "And it's not, like, 'Fuck Nick,' because he's one of our best friends. We talked to him and he went, 'Fuck, yeah. Switch it up.' We made a bunch of records. It's not like we'll never not record again."

Regarding HALESTORM's overall approach to writing and recording with Cobb, Joe said: "We dive in, but it's just like trial by fire and you see what works. 'Oh, somebody's getting a little pissed.' [Laughs] It's fun and spicy, but it's nothing bad. Everyone is good people and we all have the same goal to make some good music.

Lzzy added: "We definitely dive in, like, 'Okay, who's got a riff? Who's got a line? Let's go.'"

Joe continued: "And I love him because he doesn't make demos, so we just start recording. 'Let's put the drums down.' And we're flying by the seat of our pants."

Lzzy said: "He literally wanted us to come in without a plan, which we're not used to. Usually, with every single release, it's, like, 'So, what do you wanna do? What's the vision? What's the idea?' Usually you start out with a vision and then the music tells you what do to half way through.

Joe stated: I was, like, 'Well, let me just work out this guitar part before we get there.' And he was, like, 'Why worry about that? You'll get it.' And it was, like, 'Oh yeah, we've got a new thing now. Time to learn again.'"

This past December, Lzzy told Jorge Botas of Portugal's Metal Global that she and her HALESTORM bandmates "went in with nothing" for their session with Cobb. "We had no songs, no ideas. We had some riffs and choruses, but it wasn't like we came in with these demos. And, to be honest, Dave Cobb didn't want that at all. We walked in and we were almost apologetic, like, 'I'm sorry, but we've been really busy, and I just have bits and pieces of things I think are special.' He was, like, 'Good. I don't want any demos. No plan, no nothing.' So were, like, 'What do you mean, no plan?' And it was amazing."

She continued: "We woke up every single day, we [worked] from 11 a.m. to 11 p. m. on average, every single day. [We'd] wake up, and I'm, like, at my desk and I'm figuring out lyrics from yesterday's demo, and then, 'Okay, but you know what? Scratch that. We're gonna work on a new song right now, and we'll go back to that.' So we were working on, like, four different things at once. We finished, what, like 12 songs in three weeks. So that's the magic of it all, was that we rediscovered how we as a band individually, uniquely operate and we thrive in that chaos."

Lzzy added: "As soon as you start thinking, like, 'Okay, this is the concept, these are the songs, this is what we go in, this is what we do,' it just becomes like an office job and there's no room to create, whereas this is totally not like that. You go in and you're, like, 'Wow. Anything is possible and anything could happen.' And then, as you are writing it and finishing it, you are recording it for real."

Added Joe: "It was cool. We didn't go in with anything but the shirt on our back, except that the shirt is, like, 20 years of being a band."

Continued Lzzy: "Obviously, you go in there with experience. We could have never done that 20 years ago."

Asked by Botas if the songs that were written in that chaotic environment ended up being heavier somehow because of the way they were put together, Joe said: "Yeah, a lot of them got like really weirdly heavy in a cool way. I don't know. It's not necessarily the record. That's what we did in those few weeks. And they're not all keepers, but they're great and they're good fun, and it's a reflection of where we were musically at that time."

Added Lzzy: "Yeah, and I think that comes from, even if it got darker or more intimate, especially I guess, on my end, and lyric-wise… It's a weird balancing act between, 'Okay, I'm comfortable with all of you guys enough to spill my guts because you've seen me at my worst, you've seen me at my best,' so having that experience with people that you trust, it bleeds itself into the music 'cause you're not holding anything back. But at the same time, I didn't have time to overthink either. It's, like, 'Okay, hey, by the way, we're getting a surprise visit from you're a&R guy, and we still have six songs to sing.' And I'm, like, 'Oh my god.' So I finished six songs within a weekend. And so there's a beauty in taking the too much thinking out of it too. So therefore, the song has no choice but to just be what it is, whatever it is at the moment."

In October, HALESTORM bassist Josh Smith revealed to Metal Global that the band was working with Cobb.

"We went down to [Dave's] place and all lived together for three weeks, which is — we live together on tour all the time, yeah, but to be in a creative space, it was incredible," Josh said. "And the music that came out is undeniably HALESTORM. There's going to be a lot of fan favorites."

Describing HALESTORM's recording process with Cobb, Josh said: "What we're doing and how he wants to work, how he's capturing us is what we do on stage. For instance, we're not using a click track; there's no time keep. It's us doing it, and so there's a lot of movement to the music… It's so human."

He continued: "I think naturally when you're even talking, just from building tension to releasing it and how that happens, and sometimes from a verse maybe is building and the tempo feels like it's building, and then the chorus — well, at least on stage — naturally probably bumps up a few BPM [beats per minute] or slows down, depending. And even our transitions or Arejay's [Hale, HALESTORM drummer] fills will push or pull. It's very human."

When Botas noted that it's "always fun to work with new people and create new ideas when someone has a different view from the one you normally have," Smith said: "Yeah, for sure. I mean, that's what you hope for in working [with] a producer. It's this person you really have to vibe with that fits into this, in this case our little world. And that chemistry between a band is so unique to every group. And so for someone to fit in, that's a special trait to have. [It's] essentially [bringing in] a fifth member of the band that can extract the uniqueness of that band. It's big shoes to fill for a producer. And thankfully we've been lucky with it, with [previous HALESTORM producers] Nick and Jay [Joyce], and Howard [Benson] was great. But, yeah, starting with someone new and also someone who has had a very different approach from the previous one, it's really exciting. And he really is bringing out the best of us. So, yeah, it's really exciting to find someone who is so good at their craft… And he just wants to catch what everyone is excited about — lightning in a bottle. And we've been doing that. And we've caught a lot. I can't wait to go back. It's really fun. I can't wait to get back to writing new music."

Cobb has shared in nine Grammy wins, including four for "Best Americana Album" and three for "Best Country Album". He's also been named "Producer Of The Year" by the Country Music Awards, the Americana Music Association (twice) and the Music Row Awards, and has been a Grammy nominee in the category.

Also in October, Hale told TotalRock's "Hobo On The Radio" show about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's follow-up to 2022's "Back From The Dead" album: "We're always working on new music, but we've actually kind of started to buckle down and really kind of write with a purpose as to whatever we wanna kind of put out in the world next. It's kind of an exciting time because I feel like even since the last record, even beyond 'Back From The Dead', I feel like we're kind of shedding our skin in a way that's kind of beautiful where we all kind of feel like different people than who we were when we were writing the last record. So it's time for whatever that next chapter is. So it's very exciting."

She continued: "I've been writing in a lot of subjects that I haven't necessarily touched on before and been kind of exploring those things. And I've become even more of a serial eavesdropper. I will be sitting at a pub or something and I will kind of zone out, and it's amazing the conversations you hear other people talking about. And so sometimes those leech their way into the songs."

Lzzy and her brother Arejay (drums) formed HALESTORM in 1998 while in middle school. Hottinger joined the group in 2003, followed by Smith in 2004.

Last May, HALESTORM teamed up with country singer Ashley McBryde for a reimagined version of the band's song "Terrible Things", which was originally featured on "Back From The Dead".

In December 2022, HALESTORM released a deluxe edition of "Back From The Dead". "Back From The Dead: Deluxe Edition" includes seven previously unreleased B-sides, including "Mine", a 1980s-inspired rocker. "Back From The Dead: Deluxe Edition" is available digitally, on CD, and cassette tape, marking the first time that the album has been offered in those physical formats.

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