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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • 20 questions with Joe Hottinger of Halestorm

  • The guitarist from Halestorm talks tour, Lzzy, and getting people excited about rock again.

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  • 1. What is the history of the band?
    Halestorm was started over 10 years ago by the sister-brother team Lzzy and Arejay Hale.  Josh and I rounded out the lineup in 2003. We were playing over 250 shows a year on our own in the mid-Atlantic region before we signed to Atlantic Records in 2005. After we signed we immediately went out on tour to support a five-song live EP called "One and Done." We finally settled down, recorded our debut album and released it on April 28, 2009. We’ve been touring on this record since February 2009. We’re having a blast!
    2. When you started, did you ever think you would reach this level of success?
    No. Not at all. I dreamed of it. I thought about it every waking moment, but I didn’t think it would ever actually happen. I was realistic in my approach to the music industry. I went to college for music industry thinking I could work at a label or management company. I’m sure glad I met the Hales.
    3. As a guitarist, who inspires you?
    What got me playing guitar originally was a rock station in Milwaukee. I heard Soundgarden, Nirvana, STP, Pearl Jam, etc., and just freaked out. Its what got me into music. For whatever reason I just gravitated toward the guitar. After that I heard Jeff Buckley and freaked out on that music. The chord changes, the variations. He was an amazing guitarist. Then I started really going back. Back to Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. Stuff like that.
    4. Which is your favorite guitar and why?
    My favorite guitar would have to be my Gibson ‘84 Reissue Flying V. Its silver burst, so it looks awesome and sounds even more awesome. I used it on the majority of my parts on the record.
    5. In learning how to play guitar, was it something you picked up right away or was it struggle at first?
    For whatever reason it came easy to me. The shapes of the chords made sense in my head. I have a theory that certain personality types are attracted to certain instruments. Drummers are a strange breed of human that love drums. Talk to any drummer, you’ll know what I mean. Its what makes them so good. Same with guitarists, singers, and bass players. I am a stereotypical guitar player. Which is good and bad. For reasons I can’t explain, people like me are attracted to and find playing guitar easier to learn the other instruments.
    6. Is it safe to assume that the name Halestorm comes from having Lzzy and Arejay Hale in the band?
    That is very safe to assume. Its their last name. Get it?
    Page 2 of 4 - 7. Who does most of the writing for the band?
    Lzzy does the majority of the writing. We are all active writers. She will bring us a baby song on a demo and we will help raise it, so to speak. There really a ton of ways to get a song finished in our band. Sometimes, one of us guys will come in with a part, or a verse, or a chorus and we’ll build a song off of that. There is no set way in which it works. That keeps it more exciting for us.
    8. How would you describe your band’s sound?
    Lzzy has always had a good way of describing the sound. She says, “Its a kick in the teeth and a kiss on the lips.”
    9. As people listen to your music, what would you like them to get out of it?
    I want them to listen and get excited about rock and roll again. Its a lifestyle. Its about fun! Debauchery! I want people to leave a Halestorm show feeling like a rock star.
    10. How has the tour been going so far?
    The tour has been amazing. We are in the middle of our first official headline tour. For the first time we’re playing to crowds that show up to see us. Its exciting. Its what you always dream about. People are singing along to every song and really getting off on the show as much as we do! Its an exciting time for us. I hope the audience can feel it as much as we do.
    11. What part of touring do you like the most? the least?
    I love all parts of touring. This is home for me. This lifestyle is all I’ve thought about and strived for since I heard the rock n roll on that station in Wisconsin in the '90s. It’s a dream come true. That said, it's awful when we have to go home. Which, luckily, isn’t often. But when the train stops rolling, I’m immediately looking forward to hopping back on board and rocking faces. Woo!
    12. What about this tour should get fans excited?
    Its our first headline show. You get to hear all the songs on the record and then some. Not to mention the other surprises we have in store for people that come to the show. If you come to our show to rock, I guarantee you will leave exhausted.
    13. Do you prefer small intimate tours or big festival type shows?
    I love them both. You can get the same energy from a small excited crowd as a big festival crowd. I do love the big rock shows though. I lose my mind a bit. When you go out in front of multiple ten’s of thousands of people and start projecting the rock energy and get it back from that many people. ... Its amazing. There is no drug like it. If there was, it would be illegal. Its awesome!
    Page 3 of 4 - 14. If you could tour with any band out there right now, who would it be?
    I would love to rock with Metallica. At the end of the summer we are doing the Uproar Festival with Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, Hell Yeah, Airbourne, Hail the Villain and New Medicine. That is a dream come true for us.
    15. As a band fronted by a powerful woman, do you feel your band gets treated different?
    I don’t feel that we get treated that different. We get a different response. She was on the cover of Revolver Magazine’s Hottest Chicks in Metal of all time. I know a guy-fronted band won’t get that honor. The cool thing about Lzzy is that she is girlfriend tested, boyfriend approved. We see about a 50/50 split between guys and girls at shows, so I know we are not a typical girl-fronted band that only brings girls out to a show. She rocks hard and the guys know it.
    16. Who is the driving force behind Halestorm?
    I think we all are. We are all driven to keep this train rolling. We do anything and everything we can to take the next step. Thankfully our mouthpiece, Lzzy, is amazing at not only singing, but being our spokesperson. As with any singer, she is the person that most interviewers go to and she does a great job.
    17. When you are hanging backstage at a show, what do you do to keep your focus on the show coming up?
    I like to get ready for the show about an hour before we hit the stage. Its become ritualistic for me. It gets my head in the right place. I do some stretching, warm up on guitar, get changed and things like that. Its good to have a routine.
    18. Has the success of the self-titled album been surprising?
    Definitely. We didn’t know what to expect when we released the album. There are so many ways it could have gone and could still go. It blows my mind that two of are songs have been top 10 singles on rock radio. Our third single is ramping up to be released any week now. Its exciting times. Its just fun to be in this position and I am thankful for it every day. I also believe that I owe it to any musician who has ever tried to be in this position, to live it up and have fun. There is no sense in wasting the good times.
    19. When driving from town to town, how does the band keep entertained?
    We have guitars on the bus. We try to stay busy writing. When that isn’t cutting it we all have iPhones, and there are some mighty addictive games on that device. If those games were crack we’d all be in trouble.
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    20. When it is all said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
    It would be great to be thought of as having a great live show. We pride ourselves on how we do in a concert situation. Its the ultimate test. If a band or musician can’t play, its out there for everyone to see. You can’t trust records anymore; there is to much trickery in the studio. Any Shmoe from off the street can go to a studio and sound good. Its the live show that separates the men from the boys. That’s where we shine and it would be great to be remembered as a great live band.
    Maryville (Mo.) Daily Forum
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