Even though Halestorm released their first album only three years ago, Arejay and Lzzy Hale formed the Pennsylvania band way back in 1997 when they were still in their teens. In fact, their dad initially served as both their chaperone and bassist. Shortly after forming, the Hale siblings added guitarist Joe Hottinger and then bassist Josh Smith. The group's new album, The Strange Case Of ..., includes a broad balance of hard rock anthems and poppier ballads. Smith talked to us about their music, as well as what it was like to hear the cast of Glee covering one of their songs.
When you joined the band in 2004, you took the place of Lzzy and Arejay's father, right?
Sort of. He was the bass player, but before me, they had a couple of fill-ins, and then one of Joe's friends from college wanted to play in the band and was a great bassist. He played with them for a little while, but he was never going to be permanent. I heard they were looking for a bass player, and my project was fizzling [so] I filled in. As soon as I joined, I played a huge show with them when we opened for Finger Eleven. I was like, "OK, this is cool."
Prior to joining the group, had you heard the band's synth-pop EP (Don't Mess With the) Time Man?
I hadn't. But in the scheme of things, it all makes sense. They were kids when they recorded that. They showed me that stuff and I was laughing, but at the same time I thought it was so fucking cool. It's adorable in a way. They were kids, and the album has a theme. They actually gave me a cassette of something they did even before that. It's called Halestorm: Forecast for the Future. It has lightening bolts on it. It's pretty serious.
Lzzy has said the new album has more depth and heart.
This time around, we had a much better idea of where we wanted to go. We just matured as songwriters and musicians. We went to the studio with nothing put together and pieced together some ideas, and came up with eight to 10 songs, which we recorded in 16 days, and then we took some time off to think about what we regurgitated. Then Lzzy started writing these personal songs like "Break In." It was going somewhere we hadn't gone before. We really got to breathe more on this record, and it definitely shows.
Earlier this year, you became the first female-fronted band to top the Active Rock airplay chart with "Love Bites ... (So Do I)." Do you get some kind of plaque for that?
I doubt it. That's very cool, but we're in disbelief. I can't believe Evanescence never topped that chart. They were huge. We thought it was impossible they wouldn't have hit No. 1, but I think they topped out at No. 3. I couldn't be more proud of Lzzy for taking that title.
What did you think of the Glee cast version of "Here's to Us"?
It was pretty cool. We didn't know what to expect. There are four words in that song that can't be said on national television, so we recorded a clean version. They still changed it up quite a bit and added a key change after the bridge. We joked about doing that ourselves. We had a get-together at Atlantic Records the night that episode aired. Lzzy sat on the coach next to our A&R guy's two daughters, who are 13 and nine, and they gave us the scoop on the show because we had never seen it before.
You covered Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" on last year's ReAnimate. What inspired the choice?
We put it up on our website as a contest. All the names started coming in, and we narrowed it down to the names we saw the most. It was no contest that our fans wanted us to do Lady Gaga. I don't know why. Maybe because Gaga was huge and it was another woman singer. So we just decided to go for it, and it took us a couple of days to get it right.